Chapter 10. Maggot Puree and Deep Fried Jalapeno Peppers
Exiting the parkway at Dulles International, Brennan can’t help but notice how empty Booth’s SUV feels without him in it. She knows that the integrity of the vehicle’s dimensions had not been compromised during the brief interim it was parked at the curb at Dulles. She notices that she finds it interesting that when Booth was with her in the SUV, his presence appeared to fill the space, making it appear much smaller than it empirically was. She also notes that she felt physically at least 20% smaller in stature while alone in Booth’s SUV. Perhaps this is a sensorial illusion, perhaps a trompe l’oeil of some sort ( wiki/Trompe-l’œil). Could it be that one’s perception of space and dimension could appear altered as a result of physical orientation?Was this because she was in the driver’s seat of his SUV instead of the passenger’s side? This conundrum disoriented her.
Perhaps this spatial disorientation is a neurological manifestation of the simple bodily requirement for regular sustenance. When was the last time she had eaten? Stopping by the diner on her way to the Jeffersonion, she orders a fresh spinach salad with walnuts and raspberry vinaigrette in a Styrofoam to-go box. As she waits for her order her best friend and colleague, Angela, calls.
“Hey Sweetie, where ARE you?” is the first thing out of Angela’s mouth.
“I am waiting at the diner for a to-go order. I’m on my way back to the Jeffersonian. Should I bring you something? I understand the potato cheese soup is quite excellent.”
“No – stay right where you are. Cam is out of the office today and I’ve been stuck here with the two stooges and almost nothing to do for the last three hours. I need to take a breather. I’ll be there in five.”
“Is it good for the baby for you to walk four and a half blocks this late in the pregnancy? I can bring you anything you need.”
“Did you not hear me, Sweetie? If these boys run into my office one more time begging me to judge who has concocted the vilest combination of unknown slimy crap, I will personally castrate the two of them with my fingernail file.”
“Ange, we need a case. I myself have been experiencing uncharacteristic neurological anomalies that cause me to question my sensory perception. Let me order you something so it will be ready when you get here.”
“Thank you, Sweetie. I’ll have a bowl of that soup, a slice of that kidney pie if they have any left, a large order of fries with mayo on the side … ”
“Got it, Ange. It will be …”
“Potato salad, a banana milk shake, and deep fried jalapeno peppers. Do you think they still serve those?”
“If not, I know kumquats are in season. They serve an unusual yet delightful – ”
“Oh, and a vat of Tabasco sauce on the side. That’s all I can think of now …”
“Ange, is this for Hodgens and Mr. Bray as well, or is that all for you?”
“Oh, its not all for me, honey. All I want is the soup. It’s the baby who’s craving the rest of that stuff. See you in a minute.’
“Wait, Ange. I find that it might be best if I advise you that my mood is not as festive as you are accustomed to.”
“What? Honey, you gotta give me more than that if I’m gonna be left alone to my own imagination for 4½ blocks.”
“Ange, I think Booth and Hannah might be getting back together.”
“Shut the front door, Brennan. If that is the truth I will swallow whatever Hodgens and Wendell have in their blender RIGHT NOW.”
“You might want to reconsider, Ange. Earlier today I saw Booth and Hannah at the diner holding hands and leaning toward each other in what I can only assume was deep conversation.”
“Did you ask him about it on the way to Dulles?”
“What did he say?”
“He said it was personal. Then, he was acting strange at the airport when I dropped him off …”
“Strange? Wait, what? Just hold on. Bren, hold that thought. I’ll be right there!”
Chapter 11. Hanky Panky Under the Blankie
“This has been great, Liz, but I’m still gonna need that cheese burger and fries for my husband – so could you make that to-go? He’s working so hard, he just can’t get away from the office.”
Angela had arrived just fifteen minutes ago and was already surrounded by empty plates containing only crumbs, drippings, and the remnants of what had once been steak and kidney pie though now resembled the carcass of a small woodland creature. Angela didn’t actually like kidney pie. She just liked to pick out the savory steak parts and nibble the puff pastry soaked in gravy.
“Sure, Ms. Montenegro. Do you think he’ll want a big ol’ chunk a’ this here chocolate fudge cake I made this mornin’? I’ll put it in a separate box so he can save it for later,” suggests Liz, her right eyebrow raised like a sideways question mark.
Liz knows full well this whole mess is for Angela anyway. But that’s okay. Liz went through five pregnancies herself and understands that when a pregnant woman needs to eat, she needs to eat. It don’t matter what time it is or what you think about her diet choices – because she don’t give a damn what you think. And why the he11 should she? She’s the one preparin’ to shoot a watermelon out her privates and spend the rest of her life trying to erase stretch marks with coconut oil.
“Yowsa. That chocolate fudge cake sounds perfect,” purrs Angela with a wide beautiful grin that showcases her gorgeous teeth. “Why don’t you make that two pieces of cake and I’ll have some too.” Turing to face Brennan, she adds, “Hodgens knows I don’t believe in sharing cake … unless there are two pieces of cake.”
“Comin’ up!” Liz walks behind the counter to place the grill order and gather the Styrofoam containers. “You gonna be here for a while or should I get this going now?”
Angela looks at Brennan and chews on the inside of her bottom lip. “I think you better assume we’ll be here at least another half hour.”
“You got it sugar,” replies Liz and heeds into the kitchen.
Now that Angela (and the baby) is no longer famished (at least for now), she is all ears.
“Okay, Bren. Spill!” Angela eyeballs her best friend and prepares for a tale of highly uninformed and disconnected details about what’s up with Booth and his ex-girlfriend. Deciphering what was really going on is Angela’s specialty. This is the ex-girlfriend of Booth’s, by the way, whom he had brought back from Afghanistan, invited to move-in, made googly eyes at for several months, proposed marriage to, and then unceremoniously dumped when she shot him down. Not that there was anything wrong with that. The dumping, at least.
“What is the deal with men and proposing marriage all the time, anyway?” mused Angela. This question plagued Angela after, once again, having to perform another premature eject-ulation on some adorable yet deluded suitor after the proffer of excessive adulation and expensive gifts though after still way too few dates. “Nip it in the bud if you don’t plan to take it home,” was her philosophy. “Life is too short to be saddled with a puppy.” Though she had to admit she did like the gifts … and puppies. I digress. Back to Brennan and Booth …
The verdict had been handed down a l-o-n-g time ago that Booth and Brennan belong together. Already are together, some would say, even though they hadn’t yet managed to seal the deal with more than a sous-mistletoe lip-lock motivated by Brennan’s commitment to gathering her incarcerated family together for a Christmas celebration in a conjugal trailer on prison grounds a couple years back. (Try saying that ten times fast, Dear Reader!)
“Well, as I mentioned on the phone,” Brennan began, “Booth and Hannah were at the diner earlier today. They were holding hands across the table and had their heads very close together. I find that quite disturbing, considering our recent discussions about our potential and theoretical sexual compatibility. Mine and Booth’s I’m referring to, of course. I have no interest in delving into the …”
“I … know what you meant, Brennan.”
“Thank you. It was not my intention to offend. It appears I am quite traditional when it comes to my choices of partners …”
“Okay – that was not at all awkward,” teased Angela, her mouth dropping open exaggeratedly. She knew there was not a single topic on God’s beautiful green earth that she and Brennan couldn’t discuss with ease. That is part of what made their friendship special.
“Why didn’t you go into the diner and join them?” she asked? “That would have been a ballsy, yet somewhat bunny-boiler-y move. If you didn’t want to intrude or feel like you were stalking them, you could have called me. I’m not above a little espionage in the name of getting the real scoop on the poop.
Angela, I know you are speaking English, at least I think you are, despite your half-Chinese facial musculature and bone structure … but I don’t know what anything you just said means past the words that would have been a …”
“Never mind, Sweetie. It was more of a rhetorical question anyway,” Angela said, considering a different approach. “So, exactly where are you and Booth with the whole ‘You’re-unattached-I’m-unattached-so-why-don’t-we-get-drunk-and … act-like-more-than-partners’ situation? You said you got into bed with him the night Vincent was killed, but you didn’t give any details. So dish, girlie, or are you going to make me drag it out of you?”
“There’s really not much to tell, Ange. I was considerably upset. I couldn’t get back to sleep. The couch was uncomfortable. I thought Mr. Nigel-Murray had been afraid I would make him leave the Jeffersonian and I was feeling remorseful that he may not have been aware that he was my favorite squin – – I mean, intern.”
“And?” prodded Angela, her eyes wide and her chin dipped toward her chest in a posture of true rapt attention. “And then what happened? Details. I need details!”
“Nothing happened. I cried myself to sleep in Booth’s arms …”
“In Booth’s arms. In Booth’s arms and in his bed.”
“Correct. … And woke up on the other side of the bed. In the morning we got up, got dressed in separate bathrooms, grabbed some toast, though I had a bagel, and headed straight back to the lab.”
“You’re joking,” said Angela, an expression of incredulity plastered across her face.
“No, Angela. I wish I were.”
“But you gave me that … that … that I-just-romped-all-night-and-could-really- use-a-nap-and-a-fresh-change-of-clothes look after dropping the got-in-bed-with-Booth bomb.”
“Angela. I admit there was a certain … peacefulness … about me … as a result of … as a result of … I mean, when I told you … but it was more about – – – oh, Angela, you know I am no good at sticking my phalanges in this kind of thing.”
“Do you mean – ‘putting your finger on’ – which feeling you experienced?”
“Precisely. Thank you.”
“Okay. So, just to be clear: there was no hanky-panky under the blankie and nobody woke up with fewer clothes than they had on when you got into the bed? With Booth.”
“Succinctly, Ange. And I actually understood you this time. No hanky-panky. No Bingo Baby. No intercourse … but there was something that I cannot explain. Maybe I hallucinated it. There was something ethereal about the experience.”
Angela regarded her friend and slowly raised a suspicious eyebrow. “Ethereal? Ethereal, meaning extremely delicate, heavenly, or spiritual in a way that seems too perfect for this world? And you’re … sure … there was no sex?”
“Ange, I may be awkward and lacking in some interpersonal acuity, but I know when I’ve been visited in the biblical sense,” explained Brennan, straight-faced. Then she sat up straight and laughed at her own cleverness. “Ha, ha, ha. Angela, ha, ha, ha. – that could be considered a joke, as Booth … is Catholic,” she explained, delighted.
“Bren, I think it is a good thing that nothing happened that night.”
“You do? I don’t understand. Why is that? I thought maybe there was something wrong. And now I think it must be that Booth has been considering reconciling with Hannah. His heart was very much broken by her refusal to marry him.”
“No, Bren. Booth is a lot smarter than you think. This proves it. You will thank him one day for this stroke of genius on his part.”
“I am acutely aware of Booth’s … intelligence … brilliance is a more accurate descriptor when it comes to Booth in that it includes a component of clarity of insight that illuminates … something … which he uses to figure out … ” She pauses, then exhales and closes her eyes. “Now I have no idea what I am talking about, Angela. Make me shut up.”
“I think we’re finally getting somewhere, Bren,” declares Angela. “Liz, I’ll take that food to-go now. Better make it three slices of cake, and Dr. Brennan will be paying.”
“Not to disagree, Angela, but why am I paying for your order?” asks Brennan.
“Listen, Sweetie, its cheaper than what I’d bill you for this one session alone.”
Brennan pauses, then smiles and slowly nods her head in agreement. “On this point we are in agreement, my sister-friend.”
“Bingo, baby,” Angela replies with a grin.
Brennan picks up the take-out tab, grabs the two large white bags of Styrofoam-encased food and cake, and offers her elbow to Angela to hold onto as they exit the diner in the direction of the Jeffersonian.