“Sweetie, would you mind if we swing by the S&G Center real quick?” Angela asked once they were back in Hodgins’ car. “Scott asked if I could drop some papers off for them.”
Temperance frowned. “Why didn’t they take them with them?”
Angela half-shrugged, smiling. “Scott got a call while you were talking to Kyle. Something came up that required their urgent attention.” After a beat, she added, “I’m sure Booth and Hannah’ll be long gone by now, sweetie, if that’s what you’re worried about.”
She couldn’t deny that she had worried about that. She thought about it for a moment, then nodded. “I suppose since they came here for me, I can’t really complain about returning a favor.”
With a look of pleased satisfaction Angela settled back in her seat, her hand resting on Hodgins’ thigh. “The S&G Center it is. If you like, I can give you the five-cent tour while we’re there, so you know where to go for your sessions with Kyle.”
“That would be prudent, yes.” She had agreed to meet with Kyle at the Center starting tomorrow, after all.
The drive to the Center took only fifteen minutes, and Temperance hadn’t been able to resist calling Zora again. The little Fennec fox was curled up on her lap, nearly purring as she petted her. The animosity Zora had first displayed had lessened significantly for which Temperance was grateful. Zora felt content to her, though there was a slight edginess as well that became worse the closer they got to the Center. “Ang, why would Zora become…” she struggled for a moment to find the correct word, finally settling on, “restless?”
Turning to look over her shoulder, Angela raised an eyebrow in surprise, though Temperance thought there might be something her friend was not telling her. “I’m not sure. There could be several reasons.”
“We’re here,” Hodgins said, sharing a look with his wife. “Do you want me to wait in the car, or-?”
“We won’t be long,” Ang said by way of answer.
Temperance followed her friend inside, unsure what to expect. Zora had remained by her side, seeking contact every couple of steps. Temperance was grateful as it settled her sudden nerves some. If she didn’t know better, she thought there was a sense of anticipation coming from both Angela and Zora, but Temperance could not fathom why.
And then everything seemed to stop. A strangled sort of sound came from her right, at the same time as a thrill of anguish, hope, and longing shot through her. Her instincts told her the sound came from a Sentinel in distress.
Before she had turned fully to meet a startled Booth, Temperance noticed Zora dart toward him. About two feet away from him, a dingo popped into view and ran right at Zora. Instinctively, Temperance reached out, though she had no hope of stopping the collision. Surprisingly, it never happened, both the dingo and Zora coming to an abrupt halt mere inches apart. They stared at each other, and Temperance watched in puzzlement as the two creatures moved in a slow circle with gazes locked.
Another small sound of distress brought her attention back to Booth, and this time she noticed Hannah beside him, her hand hovering over Booth’s arm. “You’re a Guide?” His voice was strangled, tight, his body language betraying hyper-alertness.
Temperance had seen him on the cusp of action many times over the years, yet it startled her to find him poised to attack her. Well, not ‘attack’, but she didn’t know what other word to use that would adequately describe his current behavior. To her eyes, Booth looked ready to move, and move fast, while still barely in control of himself. She nodded, not trusting herself to speak.
Booth took an involuntary step forward, then seemed to force himself to stop. Temperance thought he looked pained as his eyes drifted to Hannah. Hannah, who was watching Booth with an unreadable expression on her face. When Booth turned and lifted his hand to touch her, both Zora and the dingo emitted a low, warning growl.
Smiling sadly, Hannah shook her head. “Best not, Seely.”
“Right. I-” his voice faltered.
“What does that mean?” Temperance whispered to Angela as she gestured first to the spirit animals, then to Booth and Hannah. She was starting to feel some distress herself, but she couldn’t figure out why. That empty feeling inside her chest was changing, too, though Temperance could not articulate how. She had no frame of reference and she thoroughly disliked not knowing.
“Oh, sweetie, it-” Angela started, but Temperance’s attention was grabbed by Hannah’s voice.
“Go, Seely. It’s okay.”
What was okay, Temperance wondered, feeling more and more frustrated and something else she could not define. Unease, maybe? Yes, that was it, but why she didn’t know. Just that Booth and Hannah being so close, looking still so intimate… it rankled on a level she had never experienced before. Not with any of his other liaisons over the years. Zora’s soft snarls made her want to join in yet she could not understand the sudden urge to claim. She felt trapped, unable to move or speak as she watched them.
Booth struggled. Temperance could sense it. Her Guide sensed it. Wanted to reach out to the Sentinel – her Sentinel – to soothe him. That brought her up short. Her Sentinel? Wide-eyed, she turned on Angela, pointing an accusing finger at her. “You knew! You arranged for this, didn’t you?!”
Angela’s doe-eyed look of innocence would have fooled most people, but for once Temperance was sure she was right. “I don’t know what you’re talking about, sweetie,” Angela said, waving the folder of papers she held in her hand. “I’m just here to deliver these for Scott and to show you where you’ll be meeting with Kyle.”
Narrowing her eyes, Temperance tried to muster up enough indignation at being handled in this manner but found she couldn’t. She was vaguely aware of Hannah saying goodbye to Booth and of her leaving the Center. Her senses were mostly focused on Booth himself, on the whirl of emotions – too many for her to track – that came off of him in waves as he waited. Temperance hugged Angela tight, and murmured, “Thank you.”
She could feel Angela’s smile widen as she whispered in Temperance’s ear, “You’re welcome, sweetie. Now go. Your Sentinel is waiting. Don’t worry about your work, or Booth’s. I’ll make all the necessary arrangements there, and with Kyle.”
“Won’t start until after your nesting period. I’ll take care of it, promise.”
“Nesting period?” Temperance’s heart beat faster. She wasn’t quite sure whether it was out of anticipation or fear. Maybe a little of both, since she didn’t have the first clue what that might entail.
“Yes. It’s what you and Booth’ll be doing for the next week or so. The Guide in you will lead you to bond. It’s totally instinctual, so don’t even stress about it. Just listen to your instincts, open your gifts to Booth and let him do his sensory imprint on you. Don’t fight it, sweetie, just go with it. I know that’s difficult for you, just trust me in this, okay?”
Temperance nodded, hoping her friend was right. The wealth of emotions coming at her from Booth was driving her to distraction, the need to go to him almost too much to resist. “Angela,” she started, not sure what she was trying to say.
Angela hugged her again, smiling. Temperance thought that while her friend was very pleased, she also held a note of sadness that Temperance couldn’t understand. Before she could ask, Angela waved her off. “Now shoo. Go, before Zora and Teddy decide to take matters into their own hands, so to speak.”
“Go where?” Temperance asked, confused.
Closing her eyes briefly, Angela seemed to rally herself. “Right. Sorry, forgot for a second you’ve never actually been here before.” Jerking her chin to Booth, she said, “Follow me, you two, and no touching until you’re in the bonding suite.”
“Why?” Temperance asked, thinking that was a rather strange thing for Angela to say.
“Because it’ll start the bonding process and trust me, you will want privacy for that,” Angela said teasingly.
She winked at Booth, who seemed to be beyond words at the moment, as he merely nodded and swallowed back another sound of distress. The dingo padded back to Booth and leaned against him, which visibly calmed him some.
Once they arrived at their destination, Angela opened the door for them and with a wave and a, “Good luck,” she left them.
They stood a few feet apart, staring at each other. Temperance was uncertain what to do or say, so she waited for Booth. His hand twitched, as if he wanted to reach out for her but stopped himself. “You’re a Guide,” he said again, this time in wonderment.
She nodded. “Yes.” It was a simple enough truth.
Temperance could feel herself blush faintly, which was odd. She didn’t usually react that way to anything, so why now, she wondered. “Earlier tonight, right after I hung up on you.”
Booth’s eyes widened as they sought out Zora. “That sound in the background? That was her?”
“Yes,” Temperance said simply. Zora stood on her hind legs, giving Temperance the most pleading look she had ever seen on any animal. Reaching down, she placed her hand on Zora’s head and the longing she had felt earlier intensified.
When she looked up, she almost smiled at the sight of Booth’s dingo butting his head against Booth’s backside in an effort to get him to move toward her. Booth swatted at his spirit guide, muttering, “Knock it off already.”
The dingo abated, but not without a plaintive whine. Booth closed his eyes briefly, taking a deep, steadying breath before meeting Temperance’s gaze again. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
The hurt in his voice was a near-physical thing. “Tell you what?” Temperance looked at him, confused. Did he think she would have kept this from him indefinitely?
“That you were a latent Guide,” he said quietly.
“Oh,” she said, startled. “I didn’t know.”
“All this time,” he muttered, shaking his head, his eyes never leaving hers. “You-” He shook his head again, closing his eyes to gather his thoughts. Temperance could see he was struggling to keep it together. When he looked at her again, he sighed. “Temperance… I couldn’t…”
Tilting her head, she frowned. Remembering what Angela had said about opening her gifts to Booth, and her lesson with Kyle earlier, she attempted to do just that. It was both easier and harder than she would have thought. Easier because this was Booth, not only her Sentinel but also her friend of many years now. She trusted him. Always had. And it was harder because the moment she opened herself empathically to him, she could feel the myriad emotions from him. Guilt. Upset. Fear. Relief. Hope. And strangely grief. “I don’t understand,” she whispered, raising her hand as she took a step forward.
She could comprehend his feeling of guilt. After all, Booth was as honorable a man as she had ever known, and he had just parted with Hannah, someone whom he had loved enough to be with. She thought she understood the hope and the relief, because she felt those, too. Even some of the fear. But the rest was beyond her grasp. His obvious hesitation to move toward her, to close the distance between them put her on edge. What if Angela was wrong? What if Booth didn’t want her; what if she turned out to be a horrible Guide and his Sentinel could sense that and that’s why he hadn’t done anything?
Booth’s voice was raw with emotion, with the need to bond. “Temperance, I need…”
“What, Booth?” Anything. She would give him anything if it meant he would be hers. The longing she felt for him seemed to grow with every passing second and it was becoming harder and harder to deal with.
He seemed to grapple with himself for a moment, searching for the words. “Tell me you’re really mine,” he managed finally, closing his eyes as if her denial would be too difficult to face.
With that, the pieces slotted into place for Temperance and relief washed over her. “Booth,” she breathed as she rushed over to him and threw her arms around his neck.
His arms folded around her more slowly, his whole body rigid with self-control. “Bones, please.”
Leaning back, she cupped his face in her hands and waited to speak until he was looking at her again. “Sentinel,” she said reverently. “You’re my Sentinel, Seely Booth.”
Booth’s face lit up with a smile and Temperance could feel the overwhelming happiness and relief coming from him as he lifted her off her feet in a bone crushing hug. Tucking his face into her neck, he breathed deeply, contentment washing over them both. “You’re really my Guide,” he said, sounding awed.
“Yours, Sentinel,” she promised.