Title: Wise Mind
Relationship(s): Brennan/Booth, Hodgins/Angela
Content Rating: M
Warnings: canon events, minor violence, and you know… murder solving
Summary: Temperance had made the – perfectly logical – decision to rebuff Booth’s advances not once, but twice. After all, she was a mundane and he was an online, high order Sentinel and would one day find his Guide. To her mind, there was no point in starting something with the man, no matter how attracted they were to each other, because in the end he would leave her.
Note: Thank you, Jilly, for beta’ing, and for letting me play in your sandbox.
Walking through the Jeffersonian, Temperance could admit to being happy to be back home again. Much as she had enjoyed being out on a dig and trying to find the missing link to humanity, there was just something about this place that made it feel like ‘home’ to her. Maybe it was because she had known true friendship here, something she had never had before.
Sighing softly, her gaze drifted along the displays. The Jeffersonian no longer had the forensics unit on the premises, but that didn’t stop her from walking the halls. She needed the peace she had always found here after talking to Booth earlier. Though it had been only seven months and not the year they had agreed on to meet again, they had nonetheless both gone to the reflecting pool at the Mall. It had been good to see him again, looking healthy and handsome as always. She had been relieved that he had come through his tour unscathed, more than she had thought she could be. Temperance knew Booth was a more than capable Sentinel, whether he was working for the FBI or the Army didn’t matter. Still, she had been worried about him being in Afghanistan.
Temperance paused in front of a display of animals found in the Sahara. It was her favorite exhibition, though she never could explain why. Thinking about Booth’s news, she smiled sadly at the tiny Fennec fox that seemed to be staring at her. And wasn’t it strange, how alive it appeared? She had to give credit to the taxidermist for his excellent skills. Booth had fallen in love while in Afghanistan, with a journalist. He had shown her a picture and Temperance wasn’t surprised to see a woman with beautiful bone structure. It had stung to hear him sound so happy, to see that smile on his face that had always belonged to her and now no longer would.
She had genuinely tried to be pleased for Booth. After all, she was the one who had denied his advances, not once but twice. But how could she do otherwise? It was only logical not to enter into a relationship with someone who could at any time find their Guide. It was inevitable that Booth would leave her for his Guide. That’s what Sentinels did, at least when they were high order like Booth. There would only be one person for him. Temperance didn’t know as much about Sentinels or Guides as she probably should, considering her relationships with Booth and Angela, but she did know enough to know that. Mostly thanks to Angela, who would happily talk about everything.
For example, Temperance knew that Angela was considered a low order Guide, and that that meant she could function without a Sentinel. Could even be in a relationship with a mundane, like Hodgins. She had helped Sentinels in distress a few times, including Booth once or twice. Something she was only able to do because she was an unbonded low-order Guide.
Temperance herself was a mundane, so why should she knowingly start something with someone who would leave her? Relationships were not for her. Everybody left in the end. They always had. Besides, she liked what she had with Booth, and she wouldn’t risk their working relationship for anything. That was one part of Booth that was and always would be hers.
So why did she feel so unsettled now? Like she had missed her chance? Her fingers trailed idly over the plaque with information about the Fennec fox. Shaking her head, she sighed. No, there was nothing for it. She needed to push whatever hurt, however illogical, aside and focus on why she was here. Cam needed her – needed all of them – to help solve a case so she wouldn’t lose her job, and Temperance would do just that. She was the best forensic anthropologist, after all. Tomorrow, she thought. Tomorrow they would all go back to do the jobs they did best. Tonight, she would allow herself to go to her apartment and rest.
“By ‘pretty good’, Mr. Bray means a better than eighty-five percent chance,” Temperance added to Wendell’s assertion that the body they were examining was not that of the missing child, but that of a young Asian boy.
“Hey!” Angela said as she walked into the examination room. “Hodgins found some bug evidence.”
Temperance frowned at herself, though she didn’t bother to look up from the body before her. It was unlike Angela to be quite so excited about Hodgins when it came to his bugs. Still, she supposed it could simply be because her friend was happy to be back. Angela had always been the more emotional in their group. Temperance wasn’t entirely sure whether that was merely a Guide thing, or not, though she supposed it was moot as her friend most definitely was a Guide.
“Hey, Hodgins, what’s up?” Wendell enthused as he hugged the man.
“Hey, brother,” Hodgins said, grinning as he slapped Wendell on the back before turning his attention on the room. “Woooow. What’s up with this scuzzy hell-hole? And where is my office?”
Temperance cast a quick glance at Cam, who answered, “You see that desk over there? That’s your office.” Her grin widening, she added, pointing between everyone, “And you have to share.”
Temperance felt a pang of amusement at that, though she was uncertain why. Shaking it off, she refocused on her task, listening with half an ear to Cam as she tried to assess whether their assurances would be enough to determine they hadn’t found the missing child.
Hodgins piped up. “It’s not Logan Bartlett. Cam’s bug-guy – really not top-shelf, by the way – says that insect activity indicates that the child died between six and twelve weeks ago, but he didn’t take into account the fact he was wrapped up.”
“The blanket retarded insect activity,” Temperance stated, straightening up to frown at Angela who was staring at her husband with fondness, pride, and something else Temperance couldn’t immediately define. She thought that her behaviour was bordering on inappropriate for the occasion, however.
“Again, not a blanket,” Angela interjected before turning her attention to Hodgins again.
Hodgins pulled up an image on the computer he had taken over and began explaining in detail what he had found. Temperance listened as attentively as she ever did, though she was mildly distracted by the impatience Cam was showing. When Hodgins turned around, he noticed too and trailed off. “And you’re not interested in the details. Okay. Up shot. This child died at least sixteen weeks ago. Long before Logan Bartlett went missing.”
Temperance felt a measure of pride in her people and how skilled they had once again shown themselves to be. “I think that we’re all agreed,” she started, “that this is not the missing child.”
Angela shifted, her gaze on the body on the table. “Maybe not the famous one, but this is still somebody’s missing child.”
Temperance thought that her friend seemed more out of sorts than the situation warranted. It was almost as if Angela felt the loss as if it were her own, which was highly unusual. Well, Temperance amended to herself, perhaps not so unusual. Angela had always reacted more strongly to the cases where children, Sentinels, or Guides were involved, but this seemed even more so. There was something else going on with her.
“I will go tell Booth,” she said and walked out of the room. When she passed Angela, she added sotto voce, “Angela, I get that these cases are difficult for you with you being a Guide, but there is no reason for you – for this – to be so personal.” Tilting her head for a moment, she had the oddest thought and blurted it out before she was able to think better of it. “It isn’t healthy for you.”
Angela stared at her, apparently stunned speechless. Temperance gave her an awkward pat on her arm, attempting to smile but no doubt missing by a mile as usual. Then, with a tight nod, she went to go find Booth so she could relay their findings to him.
Caroline had drilled both her and Booth on their certainty that the boy in Cam’s lab wasn’t the missing boy everyone was looking for. Temperance had been mildly annoyed. Wasn’t her expertise the reason Caroline had asked her to come back from Maluku? Why would she doubt her now? Once Caroline was satisfied about their findings, Booth had walked with Temperance to the elevator, but declined going to the Royal for lunch, stating he was expecting a phone call from his girlfriend. Temperance had brushed past her hurt and told him she would meet up with him later.
On her way to the diner, Temperance had picked up the x-rays of the boy, wanting to go over them again. Something was nagging at her and she could not pin-point what it was, so she hoped the change in venue would help spark something. She really wished that she could go back to their lab at the Jeffersonian, but that was not an option. She was working on getting the Jeffersonian to reinstate it, but such things did take time. And money. She had both.
She joined Wendell at his table upon finding the man already there, and they both ordered food. When it arrived, Wendell immediately began eating, but Temperance ignored her food and kept trying different ways of looking at the x-ray, hoping to figure out what was eluding her.
“If you don’t mind me asking, Dr. B. Why do you keep staring at that x-ray?” Wendell asked before taking a bite of his sandwich.
Holding a glass up in front of the x-ray, she attempted to enlarge a section of it. Peering closer, she said absently, “Because I’m suffering the nagging certainty that my eyes are seeing something which my brain is refusing the process.”
“Isn’t your brain supposed to be the smart one?” Wendell asked, sounding both amused and confused. “Hey, Ang, you want something to eat?”
Temperance was vaguely aware of Angela taking a seat next to her, still intent on the x-ray in her hands.
“I do, yes, but I want it in Paris,” Angela answered blithely. “Are her eyeballs and brain pan arguing again?”
“Yeah, clash of the Titans,” Wendell quipped.
Temperance’s pulse quickened slightly as it clicked. “Got it. There’s nearly imperceptible damage to the hyoid,” she said, showing the x-ray to Wendell.
He leaned in, frowning. “That little boy got strangled?”
She shook her head. “No, it’s not cracked or crushed,” she said, pulling the x-ray to her again and squinting closely at it. “It looks more like a hole or a puncture.”
“I’ll check it out on the actual bone,” Wendell said, wiping his mouth with his napkin.
Temperance was barely aware of his departure, leaving her alone with Angela. She was still intent on the puzzle that was this boy, completely focused on it to the point that everything else fell by the wayside.
Angela waited for a moment before running out of patience. “Sweetie? Sweetie, can I have your attention here for a moment?”
Temperance blinked, slowly lowering the glass and the x-ray she was still holding. “Oh. Oh yes, it is very good to see you.” Which was true, even if there was something about Angela that felt odd to her. Chalking it up to their long separation, she added, “Because you are my best friend, and I love you like a sister.” After a beat, she added, “I assume, not having an actual sister to use as a control.”
This seemed to amuse Angela, who smiled, though it was tempered by something else. “So, um, sweetie,” she said, glancing hesitantly at Temperance. “What is the deal with Booth? Is it weird seeing him again?”
“Not at all weird. Very nice.” Which was also true. It had been tremendously nice to be near him again. To talk with him after seven months apart.
“Are there any old… surges? Feelings?” Angela pressed. “Anything like that?”
Pursing her lips, Temperance gazed down at the table, trying to push away that twinge of hurt – of wrongness – even as she wondered why Angela would ask. Temperance thought her friend was fishing for something in particular but she didn’t have a clue what that might be. “Booth fell in love with someone in Afghanistan.”
“Oh… oh sweetie, I’m so sorry.” Angela placed her hand over Temperance’s, who had to push against the sudden rush of grief that washed through her.
“Why? Are you in love with Booth?” Temperance asked. Her friend might be married to a mundane, but what if Booth was more suitable for the Guide in Angela? She felt an odd twinge of jealousy at the thought, irrational as it was on several fronts.
“Well, a little bit, but that’s not what I mean,” Angela admitted.
Temperance frowned at that, wondering what her friend meant. Finally turning her attention to her food, she began to eat her soup in an effort to shy away from how uncomfortable she was.
“Don’t tell me that you’re happy for him that he found somebody else,” Angela challenged.
Taking a steadying breath, she looked her friend in the eye. “I’m very pleased for him. A committed, romantic dyad is exactly what Booth seems to require to be happy. “
“Right,” Angela said doubtfully. “Did you think about Booth at all while you were away?”
Why was she pushing the matter, Temperance wondered. “Yes, I did. A few times, I actually dreamed about him,” she admitted.
Angela’s face lit up briefly. “Oh, well there you go. Dreams are very meaningful.”
Temperance was confused by what her friend meant by that, considering what hers had been about. She never had held much stock in them having any hidden meanings. “I dreamed about the work we do. I dreamed about catching murderers and getting justice for people who were killed.” See? Pretty straightforward in her opinion. Angela seemed to deflate. “What does that mean?” Temperance couldn’t help asking.
Sighing, Angela smiled sadly. “It means you’re going to die loveless and alone.”
She frowned at her friend. “I don’t follow your reasoning.” Why would dreaming about finding justice bear any meaning on whether she would die alone and without love? She didn’t understand her friend at all sometimes. Temperance resumed eating her soup, even though it had gone cold. It was her own fault for letting it sit so long, so she saw no point in sending it back for a new bowl.
Angela seemed content to watch her eat in silence, but after a couple of minutes she said, “Sweetie… about what you said earlier. What exactly did you mean?”
“At Cam’s lab. About not taking it so personal and it not being healthy for me.”
“Oh.” Temperance frowned slightly, trying to find the words, but found herself unable to adequately explain herself. “I’m not sure, to be honest.”
Angela took a steadying breath. “I’m pregnant.”
Temperance flung her arms around her friend, genuinely pleased for her.
Laughing, Angela teased, “I hope you’re happy because you’re about to be an aunt.”
Pulling away, Temperance looked puzzled. “But I can’t be, I’d have to be your sister for that.” Then it dawned on her. “Which, I am. Metaphorically.”
“Metaphorically,” Angela agreed. Taking her hand again, Angela squeezed it slightly. “Sweetie, what am I feeling right now?” she asked earnestly.
Brow furrowing further at the unusual question, she shook her head. “I don’t know, Angela.” Eyeing her friend, she added reluctantly, “You appear to be happy. Excited. Hopeful.” Then, shaking her head again, this time in dismissal, she went on, “But you’re my friend, and you just told me you’re pregnant, so it would be normal for you to feel that way. Plus you’re a Guide. You’re probably just projecting those things to me for some reason.”
This time, it was Angela who shook her head, smiling broadly, though her eyes held a tinge of sadness, too. “You’re right about all those, sweetie, but you’re wrong, too. I’m not projecting anything.”
Eyes widening, Temperance stammered, “But… of course you are. How else would I know all of that?” Was Angela playing some sort of joke on her? The only logical explanation for the feelings she was getting from her friend had to be that she was projecting them on her. Everyone knew that Temperance was not very good at reading people’s emotions. Those simply weren’t her thing.
Squeezing Temperance’s hand again, she smiled indulgently as she nodded toward the pheasant that had appeared on their table. “This is my spirit guide, Grace.”
Temperance glanced around the diner. “Is it even allowed in here? Animals are generally frowned upon in eating establishments.”
Angela laughed softly. “Sweetie, she’s my spirit guide. Not your average pheasant, so don’t worry. So you can see her?” she pressed.
“Yes, of course.” Why wouldn’t she be able to see it? It was right in front of her.
Taking a steadying breath, Angela said quietly, “Temperance, you can see Grace because you’re a Guide.”
Temperance shook her head emphatically. “No. I’m a mundane.” What Angela was suggesting was preposterous. She couldn’t possibly be a Guide. She wasn’t in tune with people’s emotions. Wasn’t someone who people wanted to be around or found comforting in the slightest. Temperance knew full well that she was no good with the living. Bones were what she knew. Those she could read like no other person could.
“Trust me, sweetie, you’re a Guide,” Angela insisted. “Otherwise you wouldn’t be able to see Grace right now.”
“I can’t be. My parents are mundanes. And you know I’m no good when it comes to feelings. It’s… it’s just not possible,” Temperance countered stubbornly. Though even as she denied it, she could feel a slight pang in her chest. She wasn’t certain whether it was guilt or something else. She rubbed the spot absently, trying to soothe the ache, as if something fragile had severed, which was completely ludicrous of course.
The pheasant disappeared from view, leaving Temperance with a sense of loss she couldn’t explain. Shaking her head, she got to her feet, brushing off Angela’s concerned question about her upset. “I’ve got to get back to work. We have to figure out what happened to that little boy.” Yes, back to work. Bones were safe. Bones were logical and ordered and could tell her everything she needed to know as long as she listened to them, just as they always had.