A/N This is my first challenge story. And what fun it has been! It may be a little OC, and perhaps not my usual fare, but I hope you will enjoy it nonetheless. I saw a performance of the event featured in this fluffy, bawdy fic over a decade ago and it moved me to tears of both laughter and valudation. The topic is one not all people will be comfortable with - but I found it liberating. Because of its topic, one which Booth especially, finds very high on the oogie scale, the opportunity to use it as a vehicle to test Booth and Hodgins' tolerance and their commitment to ... what they are committed to ... was irresistible.
Merry Christmas to my Secret Santa Sweetheart, Penandra, who's specifications for the story included that it have Booth and Brennan and any other characters (except a couple she'd prefer to leave in the dust - me too, btw!), that it include the diner, the Jeffersonian, and a monument (I used a famous old movie theatre), and that it not be rated higher than NC-17 - which I think 'T' qualifies for.
I hope you enjoy this, Penandra, and Merry Christmas/Happy Hanukah or Kwanza, and a beautiful 2012!
~MoxieGirl44 on Twitter
The Culture in the Club
Secret Santa Story for Penandra
This lovely little story is set during the trimester after Brennan and Booth announce that they are, indeed, a couple in every sense of the word, and are making plans to celebrate the birth of their highly-anticipated child sometime before the earth makes another complete revolution around the sun.
In all other respects, life has gone on as usual.
Well, as usual as it could for this unexpectedly pregnant and extraordinary gifted anthropologist and her mind-blowingly smokin' hot FBI issued Special Agent partner.
One might even assume, if one were an assuming kind of person, that the sex has been phenomenal, that they never argue – except for entertainment purposes only– and that issues from the past never creep up and cause problems in their relationship.
Or, we can be more realistic and admit that they are both still very much in shock over their impending shared parenthood, that the sex is … getting better as they get used to each other's likes and dislikes and spermicidal allergies, and that they are more grateful than ever to have a psychiatrist on the payroll because their issues – Man, they've got some doozies! – have a tendency to sneak up and drop-kick their asses all over D.C. on a semi-regular basis.
That is the environment into which this story is thrust. Not the ass-kicking, but the newness as well as the 'business as usualness' of life.
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"Ah, good. Two birds with one stone!" Exclaims Dr. Camille Saroyan, poking her immaculately coiffed head through Brennan's Jeffersonian office doorway. "Dr. Brennan, Angela, are you both still interested?"
Snapping her head toward Camille, Brennan is confused by the comment about the birds and the stone. Looking around the room, Brennan listens carefully for the sound of flapping wings, then scans Camille's fists for the lump of igneous, sedimentary, or metamorphic material. Finding none, she squints at Camille.
"I assure you, Dr. Saroyan, there are no birds in here," she says, sounding slightly disturbed by the absurdity of the presumption. "If you're looking for the resident mineralogist, he's right behind you," says Brennan blandly, nodding toward the platform at their approaching colleague, Dr. Jack Hodgins.
"No, it's you I'm after, Dr. Brennan. And you," she chirps, crinkling her eyes into a cunning smile aimed at Angela. Over the years, these three women have worked alongside each other, come to respect each other, and, on occasion, made a concerted effort to gather socially for an evening of frivolity usually involving a cultural event followed by dessert and wine at one of their homes.
"Are you both still in?" Camille takes two steps into the room and crosses her arms in anticipation. "For a week from next Saturday? If you're still interested, Paul is picking up the tickets this afternoon."
She looks at both women with an expression of anticipation and excited delight. It's been three months since they've gotten out together, what with new babies, and pregnancies and daughters going back to college. Though this won't be a 'girls only event', none of them mind, as long as they get out. After all, Camille's boyfriend Paul is the genius with access to the marvelous tickets for this highly anticipated performance produced by 'The In Series' at the Atlas Performing Arts Center.
"Oh!" The two women blurt knowingly and in unison.
"Absolutely, count me in," says Angela warmly, with a huge grin and a mischievous twinkle in her eye.
"I am as well. I find I am quite intrigued at the prospect of hearing the revelations of such a disturbingly neglected topic. I believe I will find this performance quite informative, perhaps even invigorating," Brennan nods with anticipation and a broad, toothy grin for her female companions.
"Hey. What's this all about?" Pipes up the agent who until now has been slouched on the couch waiting for Brennan to finish up with Angela. "Is this another one of your cultural events?" His voice oozes haughty sarcasm.
All three women shoot Booth the stink eye and proceed to ignore him, returning their attention solely to each other. "Did you say Paul is getting us center stage seats, Row D?" Brennan asks the question of Camille.
"Oh, hell yeah," says Angela who'd already confirmed this with Camille earlier today. "Count this culture-starved, girly-girl time-starved baby mama in!"
"That goes for me as well," says Brennan. "I shall look forward to it!"
"Now, wait a minute," says Hodgins, stepping into the room. "Paul is going? Why does Paul get to go?"
"Well," starts Camille hesitantly, "this kind of performance is right up Paul's alley," she says, glancing deviously at her co-conspirators, "and this is an unusual kind of performance." Camille shrugs and grimaces as if trying to let Hodgins down easily. "Paul, well, Paul's not your usual kind of guy. I really don't think-"
"How come I've never been invited to one of these estrogen fests?" Hodgins hasn't had enough sleep. The excess of caffeine I his blood stream makes him stutter and blink rapidly when he gets frustrated or intrigued. He's doing both now.
"Don't go there, Hodgins," warns Booth. "What's gotten into you? Has someone spiked your latte with breast milk? This is a lady thing. You wanna go out for some guy time? That's what sports and guns are for."
"Well, I'm sick of hearing how great this Paul dude is. I've got just as much culture as Paul does."
"Yeah, Jack, but all of his culture isn't in his throat," snorts Angela, shooting Camille and Bren a conspiratorial grin.
"Hey, I could out-culture your man Paul any day," ejaculates Hodgins, sticking out his chest and standing up to his full height, his hands on his hips defiantly.
"Care to put your money where your mouth is, big guy," challenges Angela snarkily, turning to face him straight on, nailing him with a flinty grin and a cocked eyebrow.
"Don't do it," sings Booth in falsetto from behind the group where he's still lounging on the couch examining his tie tack. "It's gotta be a trap. Besides, you haven't had enough sleep to intelligently combat threats against your manhood. Believe me," chortles Booth, staring off into the distance with a knowing smirk on his face. "I been there," he says, straightening his tie. A father himself, Booth knows parenthood-induced sleep deprivation makes a person stupid. But Hodgins is new at this, and isn't interested in Booth's opinion.
"Sleep deprived or not, I'm just as cultured as the next guy. I won't be up-staged by a supercilious gynecologist," he says defiantly. "And neither will you, Booth. Get up here with me, buddy."
"Oh, my God. Nope, you're on your own, Dr. Delusional Ass Hat, PhD.," chuckles Booth.
"Buy that extra ticket, ladies," asserts Hodgins, thrusting his index finger into the air toward Camille. "Looks like Paul and I are the only males worth our weight in sodium chloride," he says. "That means salt, Booth," he stage whispers toward the lounging man's shaking head.
"You think you're smarter than me, Hodgins?" says Booth, eyebrows raised in mock offense, knowing a dare when he hears one. He sits up and shoots his pal a challenging smirk. "You think you can out class me with all your degrees and your vintage cars? Oh, hell no."
He stands up and walks toward the women. "Count me in, Bones. You buy the tickets and we'll make it a six-some."
"Six individuals isn't a six-some in the same way three individuals would be a threesome, Booth. Six is a sextet," Bones corrects Booth evenly.
"I'm liking the sound of that already," he says, chuffing. "The sex part – not all six of us together. I mean … I'm all for community, but not that kind of-"
"Shut up, Seeley," says Camille, trying to suppress an amused smirk as she turns to leave the room. "I'll tell Paul we're six altogether."
"Don't you even want to know what the performance is? You may not even be interested in seeing it when you hear-" begins Brennan before she's stopped short by her best friend.
"No, no, no, Bren. I think they know what they are doing." She cocks her head to the side and attempts to wordlessly alert Brennan that this could prove quite entertaining; if they can keep it a secret until then. "We should allow them to bask in the confidence that their masculinity is secure, confident that whatever Paul is man enough to do, they can also do, and probably with much greater finesse," she chortles, clearly amused.
"Ahhh. I see what you mean, Ange. Very astute observation," replies Brennan, nodding slowly, a sneaky, lop-sided grin spreading across her face. "Far be it from me to deny them the joy of displaying their enlightened intellectual prowess for their mates. I shall look forward to this event a week from Saturday. What shall we serve for dessert?"
"I say … Cherries Jubile. I'm buying," she tosses back as she leaves the room.
Brennan goes back to her computer monitor while the two men rock back and forth on their feet, exchanging smug congratulatory glances. Booth holds out his fist toward Hodgins, who bumps him back, then turns on his heal to leave, murmuring, "We'll show them who wears the jock straps in this lab."
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"Hank!" Shouts Max Keenan, walking toward the back of the Royal diner.
"Well, Max!" Replies Hank Booth, standing and extending his hand. "Where are the kids?"
"They're dropping off Parker at Rebecca's. They'll be right back. How ya' been?"
"I've been great. Keeping the ladies company at the home as always. It's a man's job, but some poor sucker's gotta do it. What's your poison, young man?" Hank lifts a finger toward the waitress.
"Oh, I'll have some Joe with a side of Metamucil, maybe a bran muffin."
"Old age's a bitch, ain't it?" Chuckles Hank. "You hear the latest?"
"Hoh, yeah. The 'cultural event of the millennium'? I heard, alright," says Max, with a nod. "Please tell me we were never that stupid when we were their age …" he says in mock disgust, then chuckles.
"Oh … I suppose they got those genes from us," says Hank leaning back and shooting Max a highly amused grin. They both break into a hearty laugh.
"You gonna tell him?" Max thanks Lucy for the cup of steaming liquid and shakes two blue packets of NutraSweet® as if he were righting the mercury in a glass oral thermometer. "I mean, tell him what he's in for?" Upending the white powder into his coffee cup, Max can't help chuckling once again. "You know Tempe would kill you if you did-"
"I figured as much-"
"And they'd never find the body-" Max grins at Hank, looking up through his lashes.
"She's a sassy little thing, your Tempe," says Hank. "Don't tell Seeley I told you this, but I think I'm secretly in love with her-" he chuckles, his eyes all a-twinkle.
"Hey, can't say's I blame you, Hank. I'm her own father and I have an embarrassingly hefty crush on her myself," he admits, shrugging. "So, mums the word?"
"How could I tell him? I can't even say the title of the damn thing! Listen, I was married for 35 years. Not once in that entire time did that word pass through these lips, nor those of my wife in my presence. I sure as hell am not going to break that perfect record to save a fool from a lesson he should already have learned by this age!"
They look each other, then crack up again.
"You're not, uh, going with them-"
"Hell, no!" Max grabs his chest dramatically as if he's just been shot through his manhood. "Though I have contemplated getting a case of beer, a couple of Chilli Dogs, a video camera, and a couple of lawn chairs and planting myself outside the entrance to the thing just to see their faces when they run out of there. What do you say?"
"It's tempting," says Hank, "I just hope their balls don't shrink to the size of raisins." Looking over Max's head, he shouts, "We're over here, Shrimp!" He waves to Booth, who nods at him and steers Brennan toward them with a hand at the small of her back.
"Hank, Dad!" Kisses all around. Booth hugs Pops, shakes Max's hand until Max pulls him off balance and grabs him in a bear hug. Once seated, they all stare at each other until Hank and Max burst into laughter.
"What?" Booth asks. "What's so funny?"
"Nothing, son. We were just talking about you two," glows Hank.
"Yeah, and how happy we are that you are finally together …" adds Max.
"Well, everything good and wonderful happens eventually, you always told me, Pops.
"That I did, Shrimp. That I did."
Hank winks at Brennan, who smiles back. She knows exactly what they must have been discussing. She told each of her father figures about The Vagina Monologues tickets Camille's gynecologist boyfriend got for the group and the challenge Booth and Hodgins were dragged into by own misguided pride.
The Vagina Monologues
The Vagina Monologues is an episodic play written by Eve Ensler which ran at the Off Broadway Westside Theatre in 1996. It is made up of a varying number of monologues read by a varying number of women. Every monologue somehow relates to the vagina, be it through sex, love, rape, menstruation, female genitalia, mutilation, masturbation, birth, orgasm, the variety of names for the vagina, or simply as a physical aspect of the body. A recurring theme throughout the piece is the vagina as a tool of female empowerment, and the ultimate embodiment of individuality.
In 1998, Ensler, it's creator, and others, including Willa Shalit, a producer of the Westside Theatre production, launched V-Day, a global non-profit movement that has raised over $75 million for women's anti-violence groups through benefits of The Vagina Monologues.
The sextet, the women in heals and lipstick, the men in ties and cologne, approaches the Atlas Performing Art Center. Renovated in 2001, the old 1938 Kogod-Burka movie theater in the H Street Corridor of the Swampoodle neighborhood still holds the same night-on-the-town charm and elegance it had back when it was showing Mickey Rooney flicks, 1000 ticket-holders at a time.
Outside the theater hangs a poster publicizing the already raving reviews this show has received around the globe. Surrounding the reviews, which are spelled out in the shape of a pyramid from top to bottom, is a photographed image of an enormous pair of shapely female legs. The legs, healed in shiny red stilettos, stand parted reaching to each bottom corner of the poster. Those legs go all the way up to the top, stopping just sort of the Holy Land. The reviews are followed by a three-word title that would make a Catholic school girl, not to mention an FBI agent and an thrice-degreed entomologist, blush one shade lighter than those stilettos. The title: The Vagina Monologues.
This should have been their first clue.
"D'you see that?" Hodgens asks the question with a smirk on his face and an amused twinkle in his eye as he points toward the poster.
"What is it? It reminds me of that album cover from the '80s," says Booth absently, squinting. "Nice set of gams though."
"This place used to be a movie theater. Now they have live performances, a different show every other night. I didn't know that was here," he says, nodding toward the poster off to the right. "Someone should really change that," he mumbles before turning back toward Angela.
"What's-" Booth pauses. "The Virgin … ia, the Virginia Chronicles?" He taps on Hodgins' shoulder.
"It's not 'The Virginia Chronicles', Brainiac, it's 'The Vajayjay Monologues'," snorts Hodgins. "Can you imagine? If we produced a show called The Penis, do you think anyone would come?"
"Not unless you called it, 'The Dick'," chortles Booth.
Once past the glowing light bulbs and the fluorescent marquis of the exterior, the six join an almost all-female crowd funneling toward the awaiting double doors. This should have been their second clue, but it was subtle, so we'll let that one slide.
The doors opening off the lobby into the auditorium are flanked with thick, flesh-colored papier mâché railings at waist level. The railings are tunnel-like, round and wide at the end where they lead to seating, tapering as they jut into the lobby fanning out to each side to accommodate the acceptance of more patrons.
Mid lobby, the each railing makes a sharp turn toward the floor, where it finally slopes and slides into what appears to be a red stiletto high heal. And that's exactly what they are, red stilettos. With some perspective, or, perhaps more information about what show they were attending, either of the men could have realized that they are walking through a giant pair of legs, at the apex of which is the entrance into the auditorium.
This should have been their third clue.
Seated in row D, the six sit comfortably, Booth and Hodgins elbow to elbow, their lady loves to each man's opposite side.
"I have to admit that I am quite impressed that you've made it this far, Booth," says Brennan, leaning over to bus him on the cheek, landing a second tender kiss on his lips, and gifting him with an admiring toothy smile. "After more than six years, it appears you still have the power to surprise me. I am quite delighted," she says, encouragingly.
"Oh, Ye of little faith. I'm made of tougher stuff than even you are aware of," he says, returning her smile with a rakish grin that turns sheepish at the end. He's tickled that she's acknowledging his tenacity, his fortitude, his character. He kisses her back sweetly behind her ear, breathing in that wonderful Bones-y scent, then exhaling with a throaty sigh.
"I predicted you wouldn't make it as far as the lobby doors," she says, apologetically. "Well done, you." She winks at him sweetly. This still makes his heart skip a beat, even after all this time. He's glad he came tonight, happy to have made her proud. They fall into a companionable silence.
The deep red velvet curtains, fringed in black satin make the four silver barstools and four sparkling microphone stands pop out.
"I think it's a quartet," whispers Booth, leaning over to Hodgins. "Even I can handle four pasty guys with instruments and toupés. No problem."
"I love classical," whispers Hodgins back. "Maybe a stringed quartet, you think?"
"Or one of those groups of people who sing without accompaniment," suggests Booth, nodding, raising his eyebrows in consideration of that possibility.
"A cappella? I can handle that too. Hope it's barbershop," he says, turning toward the stage when the audience starts clapping. "I didn't get a program. Why weren't there any programs for this show?" Hodgins looks back toward the entrance, then turns forward again.
"Maybe they ran out during the last show," suggests Booth as the lights grow dimmer. "Shhh. Here we go!"
Out walks a beautiful woman in a clingy, mid thigh, strapless red satin dress. Her hair is black, straight, just to her shoulders. Her bangs hang in a perfect shiny fringe across her wide brow. Her lipstick is bright red. When she opens her mouth to speak, she flashes a mouth full of brilliantly white straight teeth.
She removes one microphone from its stand and steps in front of the other three.
"Good evening, ladies!" she murmurs, with a broad grin, the microphone projecting for her what she can't on her own.
The crowd claps enthusiastically.
Her voice is a low, rich, baritone; smooth like chocolate and velvet and an hour-long massage. She enunciates perfectly, her mouth close enough to the microphone that she can probably taste the metal when she inhales. She speaks without much inflection at first, almost as if she were hiding behind that fringe of black bangs. Her eyes are black, warm, piercing, and intelligent. The left corner of her mouth is twisted up in a permanent beguiling grin, matched by the same perfectly shaped eyebrow, which is cocked in a severe sideways question mark. When you look at her, you can't wait to hear what she's going to say.
After the clapping dies down, she begins.
"Have you ever been thanked for coming?" She purses her lips, accepting the love from the audience.
The audience roars with hearty feminine laughter.
"Well," she says, smirking, a glint in her eye, cocking her to address the other side of the house, "Let me be your first." She pauses. "Thank you. For coming." She smiles. Beguiling. Definitely.
Laughter all around.
"Has anyone ever … stopped," she says, "and thanked you for making them come along with you?"
Laughter. Lots of nodding. Grinning. Lots of manicured hands clapping.
"Okay," she says, that curvy eyebrow dancing, "I thought not. They're just men, after all. Right ladies?" She walks two steps across the stage and stops.
"It's comedy. Lady comedy!" Hodgins rasps excitedly. "I'll gladly sit here and listen to man-bashing to prove a point!"
"Yeah, what the hell? What was all the fuss about? Piece of cake! I'd gladly endure this for a weekend with the guys at a Flyers game."
"Shhhh. Nothing," he replies distractedly.
"I see some men out there in the audience tonight," says the beautiful woman who Booth thinks looks like her name is probably Betty, or Cassandra, Marilyn, or Talulah. Certainly not Bambi. She raises a perfectly manicured hand, nails perfectly tapered and coated in crimson to match her dress. She shields her eyes from the bright stage lights. "Can you shine those on the audience for a minute, Cheryl?" She's talking to some faceless light technician who is somewhere above them all. "Thanks," she says, when Cheryl does exactly that.
"There you are! Brave souls. And, you are brave," she says, peering into the audience, pacing back and forth like a she-lion awaiting a delicious steak. She smiles, but you know you shouldn't trust her. There's something wicked behind those eyes.
"She dragged you here, didn't she, boys?" She nods.
The groans of agreement from about twenty men and the chuckling of 600 women wafts up from the audience.
"Yeah. I thought so," she purrs, her voice still as calm and smooth as her taut satin dress. "What did she promise you, huh?"
The crowd roars with laughter.
"Did she tell you how long this little … event … is tonight? Huh? Yeah, I know you're usually the ones with the tape measures, aren't you, boys?"
Female giggling from the audience, male chuckling.
"You don't like us to get our hands on those tape measures do you? We might learn a thing or two, right? Am I right, ladies?" she drops her chin to her chest and peers over the microphone at the crowd. She snickers, her eyebrow rising even further.
"We're not talking about dick inches, here, Sweetheart. Are we, ladies?" She flashes her dazzling smile at the audience, pausing dramatically. "Yes, I said it. I said dick inches. Did you know that's an actual Urban Dictionary term, dick inches? Look it up when you get home. Eh, you probably already know what it means," her chuckling breath sounds like a flag flapping against the pole.
"Anyway," she says, "We're talking time, duration, fellas. Know anything about duration?"
Crowd laughs enthusiastically, then claps.
"Yeah, I didn't think so," she says. "See, men, women have an altogether different idea about length and duration… than you do."
Laughter, some hands being clasped over mouths. Those not laughing are grinning toward the stage.
"Anyway, I want to thank each and every one of you for coming out tonight. We'll be together for two hours. That's right, fellas. In case you've forgotten, that's as long as the foreplay for about a hundred sessions of love-making."
The crowd falls to pieces. Even the men.
"This isn't so bad, huh?" Comments Booth out of the side of his mouth toward Hodgins.
"She's actually really good," he says back, surprised. "I'd forgotten how much I love stand-up, and how great it feels to really, really laugh!"
"Suck it up, Buttercup, you're a parent now," murmurs Booth.
"Nah. You're going to be fine, gentlemen," continues the black haired devil with the microphone. "You'll survive, I promise. We like to give you men a hard time … Oops! Man, that wasn't even planned!" she giggles at herself. "Anyway, we do it because we can. You're outnumbered here tonight, boys."
Laughter all around. Women nodding at the few men present.
"Why do I do it, you might ask," she says, turning and walking to the other side of the stage, looking at the ground the whole time. "Well, primarily … because I have the microphone!" She laughs at her own joke.
"Nah, do not worry guys, we have some love and appreciation for the blessings you bring to our lives … some true appreciation in this show. I think you will agree, those of you who have seen this before, am I right?" She holds her hand out, palm up, to the audience, wiggling her fingers as she nods, encouraging a response.
Three hundred random female voices shout their affirmation.
"Well, we have to appreciate you, men, do you know why?" She pauses for dramatic effect. Her voice has yet to rise during this entire time. She remains smooth, witty, and sexy. You can tell even the women agree.
"We have to appreciate you – do you know why? Because you have something that is very important to us," she says, raising her other eyebrow suggestively. "Yes. You know what I am talking about," she pauses again. "You have us, right?"
Laughter, guffaws, clapping.
"And we need you, men. To take care of us, right? We need you to take care of us. And we love you." She pauses once again. When it feels like she's finished, she looks at the audience again, stands perfectly still and perfectly delivers this line: "That is why we make you come ... ... ... to The Vagina Monologues."
The place falls apart. People are bending over laughing. Some are choking on their own spit. The men can't help themselves, they are wiping tears from their eyes.
"That, and we love jewelry," she mumbles into the microphone and quickly continues. "Now, you may feel like leaving in the middle of our show, but, I will let you in on a little secret. Now listen carefully, boys," she says, lowering her voice. "If you stay, if you stick it out … Sorry, there I go again," she says, leaning her forehead on the microphone in mock shame. "You people are nasty. Get your minds out of the gutter! Where was I?" She can't help laughing at herself. She steps back and takes a moment, then steps forward once again.
"Men, if you stick-, if you make it, if your survive through the end of this show without bolting, do you know what you are going to get?"
"Laid!" Shouts an anonymous patron from the back of the theater. Chuckles all around.
"Well, you might get that … but I was going for respect. You are going to get respect from your lady friends. That is what you are going to get."
"I bring up respect because that is what this show is all about. Respect. And we expect that from all of you, okay? I'm talking to everyone, but specifically to the four drunk assholes in the back of the auditorium," she says. The whole audience turns to look toward the back.
"Yes," she says, shading her eyes once more and leaning forward. "You know who you are. There are always a small number of men, boys, here – and you can always tell who they are because they come without women." She stops her jaunt across the stage and stares straight at the crowd while hesitant laughter builds and then pours over the whole auditorium.
"Get your minds out of the gutter!" After a pregnant pause, she continues, "They arrive here in response to a dare from their fraternity brothers. Pay attention, boys, you just might learn something. Then won't your brothers be envious?" She giggles to herself, but everyone hears it.
"Okay. There will be no cajoling, no cat calls," she says, ticking off each item on her fingers, "no heckling, no whooping, or hollering-" She looks up at the audience and smiles for a beat. "-Unless you've got a vagina. In that case, you can do or say whatever the hell you want."
The crowd whoops and hollers, claps, whistles. Most of the souls in the room are proud to meet that criterion.
She looks at the rows closer to the stage and puts her fist on her hip. "You sober assholes, I am not worried about you. That woman sitting next to you will keep you in line," she says, snickering.
"Shall we get on with the show?"
"That's not the show?" Booth turns to Brennan. "That was fantastic. Is there more?"
"Well, yes, and no," says Brennan hesitantly. "There's definitely more talking, more humor, and more women, but it's not only a comedy. Just wait. You'll see," she says, smiling at her highly evolved mate.
"Booth, they mentioned cat calling and whooping," rasps Hodgins leaning toward Booth. "It can't be a dance of some sort, can it? Maybe some strip tease … pole dancing. I don't know man, this might end up to be awesome."
"You're wacked. No way Bones would bring us to a strip show unless it was for educational purposes.," says Booth, chuckling and grimacing at Hodgins.
He turns back toward Brennan and laces his fingers between hers. "Is this a strip tease, Bones?"
"Not hardly," she says, a quizzical expression her face. "Well … not technically, that is. But feel free to imagine anything you want," she replies without looking away from the stage.
The audience quiets as a white, screen-printed canvass unrolls as the backdrop against the red velvet curtains. On it is that beautiful pair of legs wearing the red stilettos. In bold red type is written: The Vagina Monologues.
This should have been their fourth clue. But, denial being what it is, neither has caught on yet.
"Holy shit! Talk about a stage malfunction. Do you see that?" Hodgins exclaims, tapping Booth on the shoulder and pointing toward the stage. He's laughing his ass off. "Someone's head's gonna roll for that one!"
Booth gets very still. He's not sure if his head is draining of all its blood, or filling and turning him beet red. In his mind, a lock clicks, a wheel turns, a door flies open. Booth has figured it out.
"The Who-hah Monologues', Dude! Holy f*ck! How embarrassing!" Hodgins is still not getting it. "I'll bet the stage hands are freaking …"
Hodgins looks toward the back. The lights are dimming and he can barely see. Booth has grown preternaturally quiet.
"Maybe they don't realize it, Jesus! Dude!"
Booth's arm shoots across Hodgins. He looks sideways at his colleague and friend.
"We are so f*cked," he says, his heartbeat pounding in his ears. Hodgins looks at him strangely.
"What?" He blurts, caught off guard, slightly irritated. He slowly turns toward the stage again.
Walking onto the stage are three more beautiful women. Each dressed elegantly and perfectly coiffed. Each rests her rear on a stool and slides gingerly up onto it. Each takes a microphone. In unison, all for women say: "Welcome to The Vagina Monologues."
Both men stare at the stage with their mouths hanging open, their pulses pounding in their ears, their intestines gurgling. They look at each other at the same time as if in a synchronized dance.
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Booth and Hodgins sit through the first twenty minutes of The Vagina Monologues holding their breath. Brennan has refused to hold Booth's hand any longer because he was sweating all over her.
The women aren't sure which is more satisfying, watching the show or watching their men wither into puddles of self-loathing. Their inane pride and cocksure attitudes have, once again, been used expertly against them.
"You'd think we'd know better by now," squeeks Hodgins to Booth under his breath. Both of them have sunk in their seats, praying no one who would recognize them is in the audience.
"Hey, man, meet me in the bathroom," chokes Hodgins toward Booth.
"What?" Booth's eyes are glued to the woman describing how uncomfortable a dry cotton tampon is.
"Dude! Meet me in the john!"
"What are you, a little girl? I'm not meeting you in the can!"
"We gotta huddle, man. This cannot go on." Without another word, Hodgins stands and shoots toward the closest aisle. He ducks his head and covers his face with his hand as well as he can without appearing idiotic.
After two minutes, Booth joins Hodgins in the men's bathroom.
"Booth! What the hell have we gotten ourselves into? You better not have known anything about this!"
"Listen, I am as freaked as you are."
"Okay, what do we do? I cannot sit through another hour and forty minutes of vajayjay! What if someone sees us?"
"Hodgins, relax, man! Pull yourself together," rasps Booth, dragging his hand through his hair. His color has returned to normal, but he's still rather freaked out himself.
"Okay. Let's think," he says, hands on hips, butt leaning up against one of the cold, wide-tiled walls. "What's the worst that could happen? It's not like this is going to kill us, for Christ's sake!"
"Yeah, but I'd rather dig my own eye balls out with a syringe and a spoon than sit in the middle of all those … women … and listen to those for women on stage … talk about … their … private parts!"
"You wanna go? You wanna ditch? There are at least three bars on this block."
"Ange would kill me. Oh, Dude!" Hodgins is anguished, splashing water up onto his face and through his short, wavy light brown hair. "She's been looking forward to this night out for two weeks," he chokes out. "She's been crossing off every day on the calendar … for fourteen days, man!"
"Jesus Christ, get a hold of yourself! What really is the big deal, huh? Lets just go back in there and sit down. Close your eyes and imagine you're at a game or asleep."
"Hey, that's brilliant! They can't blame us for falling asleep, right? We'd still be here, right? We'd still make it to the end of the thing and win the prize," Hodgins enthuses, energized, his mind bussing with possibilities.
"What prizes? Hodgins, I think you've lost it man," blurts Booth. "Listen, I gotta stay. I promised Bones. And … it's not so bad, really," he almost gags on his words. "Oh, man, I can't even pretend," he moans as he slides his ass down the wall and ends up squatting near the floor. "But I gotta stay, Jack. I can't go," he whines, defeated.
"What? What are you talking about?"
"I- I gotta stay. You go. Here," he says, digging in his back pocket. "Here's fifty bucks. See if you can get a bottle of something the women will appreciate – something that says … 'I'm sorry for ending up proving that I'm a little girl!'"
"Booth, Dude! What has gotten into you? You gotta go with me! Where's your pride, man?"
"No can do. My pride is in the back pocket of the forensic anthropologist in center row D. I just can't go."
Hodgins slides down the wall next to Booth. "She's got you whipped, Booth. This is a sad, sad day when Seeley Booth lets a woman make him sit through one hundred and twenty minutes of vajayjay! VAJAYJAY, MAN!"
Booth stares forward, sighing exasperatedly. Hodgins stands up.
"Wait!" He starts pacing. "What a minute! What did she promise you?" He narrows his eyes suspiciously and shakes an accusatory fist at Booth. "What did she promise you she'd give you if you make it to the end of this show?"
"Wha –What? What are you … no! Come on … Jack!"
"Give it up, brother! Give. It. Up! What the hell is she giving you?"
Booth hangs his head, draping his arms over his knees.
"Look man, Bones has this … symposium in two weeks," he begins, resignation written all over him.
"Yeah, 'The Northern People and Landscapes in Times of Change'."
"Yeah, well, it's in freakin' Iowa!"
"Yeah. So? She seems pretty psyched about it."
"Except that … she doesn't really want to go alone."
"Ah, I see. So you have to go with her," Hodgins hisses.
"When I'd rather be in Minneapolis with the guys at The Flyers versus The Wild game! The guys and I have been planning and looking forward to going to this game for months! I didn't realize it was the same weekend. And I promised Bones …"
"Oh, and if you … stay here … tonight … you get to go with the guys?" It's all coming together now.
"Exactly, and Bones will take an intern with her to the conference," Booth gets up and splashes water on his own pathetic, downtrodden face, turning to Hodgins again, he leans back on the sink, not even caring if his pants get wet.
"Oh, just Brilliant!" cries Hodgins, exasperated. "What about me? What about your brother, here, Man?"
"You go. You have a drink."
Hodgins paces nervously, chewing on his bottom lip, then his top, then his fingernail.
"Shit, shit, shit!" he scowls.
"Just go! Go! What are you waiting for?"
Hodgins pounds the white metal paper dispenser hanging next to the sink. The dispenser door flaps down, opening wide and spilling cheap, mulchy, brownish-gray paper towels all over the floor. Hodgins bends, grabs the pile of paper, and tosses it into the tall gray garbage can. He slams the dispenser door up to close it. It swings back down, almost hitting him in the head. He slams it again with a hollow smack. Flop, swing, swing. He tosses his hands up in the air and leaves it. Turning, he stares into the mirror, hands on hips, head shaking back and forth, eyes closed in defeat. Defeat over everything.
"Hodgins. Hodgins?" Booth stands square in front of Hodgins. Why isn't he just going? "Why are you still here? Go. Go!"
Hodgins shakes his head slowly, biting his bottom lip. He exhales a sigh of mutual defeat.
"Oh." Booth gets it. Hodgens bargained with Angela as well!
Hodgins hangs his head in shame. "Yeah," he says.
"What did Ange promise you? Out with it, Ass Hat!"
"She promised to let me do that thing."
"That thing? What thing?"
"That thing in Dr. Brennan's book."
He's referring to the (as yet undisclosed to the Bones-viewing hoards) love-making technique that Angela told Brennan about which Brennan subsequently included in one of her Kathy Reich novels. It's an innovative and highly respected technique. Not easy to accomplish, but well worth the effort. Hodgins, well, he created that technique. And perfected it.
"What? Oh … you mean, that thing on page …"
"Yeah … if I stay until the end of the show … Ange will let me do that thing," he explains, biting his words as he spits them off.
Booth squinches his face up in confusion.
"Jack, that thing … is really for … for her. I don't get it. How is that … what … where's the benefit for you?"
"You mean, why didn't I ask for something bigger? Like a weekend with the boys at some hockey arena?"
"Shhhh yeah! Man!"
"Well, we have a kid now. She won't let me go anywhere for more than two hours in a row! Besides … " he stops cold.
"Besides …?" Booth prompts him.
"Well, for twelve hours after … that thing … I can do no wrong."
"Yeah? Huh?" Booth is taken aback, not sure what this means. "I'm not sure I …"
"It's like I walk on water. For twelve hours. I. Can. Do. No. Wrong," he says, enunciating every word as it drops from his lips, following it up with a smug grin.
"Twelve hours? Damn."
"Yeah, right? I can sit around all day in my boxers, drink out of the milk carton, go play golf, sleep. WHatever the hell I want - no complaints. No requestes to go to the grocery store. No questions about the check book. It's glorious man. And she's happy, satisfied. That's really why I do it," he says, attempting to look sincere. THey both crack up.
"Twelve. Hours. Damn."
"Why? Don't you get some grace after the thing?" Hodgins stares at Booth who won't meet his eyes.
"You have done the thing? The thing on page …"
"Yeah. Oh, yeah! Tons of times," Booth says, his eyes growing wide then shrinking as he squints at the ground. "But, I only ever get a good … I don't know … three hours of grace out of it," he says dejectedly.
"Dude," chortles Hodgins. "Maybe you're not doing it right."
"Wha – shut up, Hodgins," spits Booth, smirking. He's shooting Hodgins the 'of course, I do, you idiot' expression.
"Nooo, Dude!" Hodgins recognizes insecure posturing when he sees it. "Are you doing that thing at the end? You got a do that thing at the end," he says plaintively.
"What thing at the end? What do you mean?" Booth is alarmed now, dropping a pretense of denial.
"You know, the little … thing … with the … thing? Come one. You know. You did read the whole chapter, right?"
"Of course I read the whole chapter, Jack. I read the whole damn book. Twice!"
"I don't think you're doing it right," says Hodgins with finality, screwing up half of his mouth as he chews on his bottom lip.
"We're done here," blurts Booth, turning and leaving the restroom. "Let's get back to the Vajayjays."
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Sitting across the street from the Atlas Performing Arts Center in a pair of lawn chairs are two elderly gentlemen. Between them sits a small camp table. On top of the table are two bottles of beer and a couple of Chilli Dogs. Under each bottle of beer is a one hundred dollar bill. That is the value of the friendly bet between the future grandfathers-in-law. Max says Booth will bolt. Hank says he won't.
"My boy loves his hockey. And he loves his Flyers, Max," Hank had assured him. "But I'll gladly take your money!"
As the patrons begin to file out of the theatre, Hank and Max watch. "Maybe we should have gone, Hank," says Max. "Who knew there would be so many fine women in one place at the same time?"
"My boy did," says Hank, with a sneer. "But there's only one he's interested in, and that's the one that's hanging on his arm right now, tossing her head back, and laughing like she's a satisfied woman in love with a really fine man who makes her happy."
"You're a romantic old cuss, Hank," croons Max, chuckling. "Here. Take your money. And you know what?"
"What's that, young man?"
"I'm glad I lost. If the thing that makes me lose is the same thing that makes my Tempe smile and laugh like that, I'd bet a hundred more of those bills," he says proudly.
"And I'll take every one of them from ya'" says Hank, offering his fist for a bump.
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"Hodgins?" Booth scoots closer to Hodgins while the women are in the kitchen getting the Cherries Jubilee prepared. "I will kill you if you ever bring this up again. But I have an important, uh, question," says Booth, hesitating, turning a little red around the collar.
"Sure, what is it?"
Booth's lips pucker, his eyes pensive. He can't believe he's about to ask this, but when it comes to Brennan, he'll do just about anything to make her happy.
"Booth, is this about … the thing?" Hodgins helps him out, feeling some empathy for his brother in arms.
Booth shrugs, then looks up at Hodgins. "What the hell? I can't be doing it wrong, could I?"
"I don't know man, but I'll tell you what, if you want to talk about ... that," he swallows, furrows his brow, "I'm gonna need something a little stronger than beer … "
"I've got some Scotch …"
"That'll do," he chuckles. "Hey, Ange! You're driving home tonight, right?"
"Men!" Paul, the gynecologist, walks back into the room. "You are two very impressive men, my friends. I can't wait to tell my nurses that I was at The Vagina Monologues with three fine women and their partners. You have won my respect … and my loyalty," he says, holding up his bottle of beer for a toast.
"Nah, nah, nah," chuffs Booth, taking Paul's beer and giving him a tumbler of Scotch. Here's a man's drink. And I have to say, I'm glad we've earned your loyalty …"
"And why's that?" Paul swings sideways to look back into the kitchen. The women are relaxing against the counters, chatting and laughing. No worries between the three of them. No worries here between the three men who have gotten to know each other much better through the sharing of this … unique … experience.
"What did you say you do for a living?" Asks Booth, feigning ignorance.
"I'm an ... OBGYN. That's how I got us those great seats," he says.
The other two men consider what Paul might actually mean by that. They can't really figure out … I mean … he's a gynecologist and that was a performance about … but how the one translates into that kind of fringe benefit is beyond them.
"Don't ask how if it makes you uncomfortable," says Paul, meekly, hoping he hasn't crossed a line somehow.
"Um, we won't," says Booth, staring at Hodgins, the two of them cracking up. Paul joins in.
"The thing is … because of your job … you're kind of an … expert … at some stuff, right?" It's Hodgins swallowing dryly and trying to find the words.
Booth jumps in and saves him. "Paul, have you read Bones' book … ?"
If you enjoyed this romp, and this is the first time you've read a MoxieGirl fic, please check out my other fics, The When and the How: A Bone to Pick, (In progress, but long enough to keep you quite entertained for a while) which provides a story and an explanation for all that happened at the end of S6 to bring our favorite couple together, and "The Meaning in the Episode," which is a series of one shots intended to accompany each Season 7 televised episode. Meaning supplies the missing fluff and conversations that HH left out of the show! Thanks for reading ~ and have a blessed year.
~MoxieGirl44 on Twitter.
If you are Penandra - Merry new Year! : )
Okay, I'll be honest.
I'm really nervous about this one.
If you could review this for me,
I would be ever so grateful ...