“You decked the guy?” Angela asked as she walked into Temperance’s office. Booth had dropped her off on his way to incarcerate Mr. Sandstrom an hour earlier, but she had managed to take refuge in her office without encountering anyone. No minor feat, considering.
Glancing up from her computer, she blinked at her friend in surprise. “How-?”
Angela waved her off, rolling her eyes. “Booth just called to ask me to check on you. He was worried because you were… upset.”
Temperance watched in silence as her friend took a seat across from her. “I found the man’s utter lack of concern or remorse reprehensible.”
Angela huffed a laugh. “I wish I could’ve been there.”
Shaking her head, Temperance disagreed. “No, you would have only been hurt by his presence. He was most disagreeable.”
“I don’t doubt that,” Angela agreed. “So, are you okay?”
“I’m fine,” Temperance assured with a nod. It wasn’t even a lie. Now that she had had time to calm down, she felt perfectly normal again, though she still didn’t regret hitting the man.
“Listen, sweetie, you know I’m here if you-” Angela started, but Temperance cut her off.
“I should get back to work on my report for the FBI.” Temperance really did not wish to entertain another discussion with her friend. Really, where on Earth had Angela gotten the idea from that Temperance could possibly be a Guide? It was preposterous. It made no sense to her that her friend kept bringing the subject up. She hadn’t thought Angela to be mean spirited, but this was bordering on it.
With a heavy sigh, Angela capitulated and got to her feet. “Alright, sweetie. I’ll leave you to it.”
Temperance nodded, already turning her attention back to her computer. She was having a harder time than normal focusing for once, her mind seemingly unable to stay on task. Her thoughts kept circling back to her confrontation with Mr. Sandstrom, and every now and then she had the distinct impression she was being watched, though she could find no source for it. Once she had finalized her report, she e-mailed it to Cam so she could gather all their evidence and send it to the FBI.
Sitting back in her chair, she gazed absently into her office without really seeing anything. She felt edgy, as if everything was just slightly out of phase and it unsettled her greatly. The more because she was at a loss to the reason. Something seemed to flicker just out of sight so she turned to look, only to find nothing out of the ordinary, though for a moment she could have sworn it had been the little Fennec fox. Impossible, she thought. This case had gotten to her, that was all.
Glancing at the clock, she was pleased to find that it was time to call it a day. Dinner sounded good, and on a whim she picked up her phone and dialed Booth. She needed the calm reassurance of her partner, or so she told herself as she waited for him to pick up.
“Hey, Bones. What’s up?”
She could hear the shuffling of paper in the background, which made her smile. In her mind’s eye she could picture Booth standing at his desk, his phone tucked into his neck while putting his desk to rights for the day. “Nothing. I was just… calling to see if you wanted to meet for dinner?” Why was she suddenly feeling so nervous? It was just Booth, yet she felt as awkward as she had when she was younger and not as confident in herself as she was now.
There was a pause in the noise on the other end of the line, and Temperance was certain that Booth had straightened and was actively holding his phone now. “Sorry, Bones. Raincheck? Hannah just called to let me know she’s back in the States. I’m about to pick her up at the S&G center.”
Temperance sat back heavily in her chair, stunned. “Hannah’s a Guide?” she stammered, her heart both racing and feeling like it was ripping in two.
“Yeah, didn’t I tell you?”
She frowned. “No. No, you didn’t mention her status.” After a beat, she breathed shakily and added, “So you found your Guide, huh?”
The sudden snarling from the corner of her desk nearly had Temperance dropping her phone as she whipped around to look at the source. A very angry Fennec fox stood facing her, snarling and appearing poised to leap right at her. She was vaguely aware of Booth talking, but couldn’t hear the words, so focused was she on the little creature. “I… I’m sorry, Booth, I gotta go,” she cut in and hung up without waiting for a response.
The fox stared her down, still snarling and Temperance was uncertain what to do. Should she call for help? Try to run for it? Slowly, she got to her feet, needing to feel more in control and less vulnerable than being seated would allow for. It watched her closely, its snarls decreasing somewhat. “This isn’t real,” she muttered to herself, her eyes widening when the little fox stepped closer, its ears twitching and its tail slashing. It reminded her a little of an angry cat, in a way.
Heart racing, Temperance shifted to the side, but before she could even think to do more, the Fennec fox sprang at her. For a moment, her world seemed to flash brightly and suddenly she could feel. Everything! Everyone around her. She stumbled backwards into her chair at the onslaught of anger, awe, elation, worry, alarm, and so much more hit her all at once.
Just as suddenly as it had started, it all stopped and Temperance felt as if a wall had come down around her. A shield, came from the recesses of her mind. Her eyes welled up and she blinked quickly, willing the tears away even as Angela and Hodgins came running into her office.
“Sweetie! Are you okay?” Angela asked, kneeling beside her and taking both of Temperance’s hands in hers.
“You were right,” Temperance whispered hoarsely. “I am a Guide.” It felt so strange, yet so right. She was a Guide. How this was even possible was beyond her at the moment, but there could be no denying it now. Not in the face of the wave of emotions that had hit her just now, nor the fact that her little Fennec fox – her spirit guide, she marveled – had jumped her. She could feel it – her, she corrected herself – feel the comfort she offered her.
Angela beamed at her, touching her face lightly. “You sure are, sweetie. And a high-order one, too, by the feel of you.”
“Congrats, Dr. B.,” Hodgins said, smiling from the doorway.
“Thanks,” Temperance managed, though it was automatic. She was still trying to process everything.
“How are your shields?” Angela asked, then added, “We need to get you to the Center right away.”
Shaking her head, she gazed at her friends with wide eyes. “No! I can’t go there, Angela. Booth’ll be there.” She couldn’t face him yet.
Frowning, Angela squeezed her hand. “Temperance, you need to be evaluated, and you’ll need training or you’ll be a complete mess. All high-order Guides have to go through it.”
“No. Can’t we go to your clinic?” Temperance really did not feel comfortable with the idea of going to the S&G Center and risk running into Booth. Not just yet, at any rate. She knew she couldn’t avoid him forever even if she had wanted to, which she most definitely didn’t. She just needed some time to come to rights with herself first.
Angela and Hodgins shared a glance as he stepped closer to the desk. “I don’t think that’s a good idea, sweetie,” Angela hedged.
“Why not?” That’s why they had started the clinic, hadn’t they? To help Sentinels and Guides in distress? She had heard Angela and Hodgins mention it more than once over the years. Hodgins had decided to set one up when he and Angela had first started dating and had kept it going even during their separation. With the DC Center being always ‘over capacity’, it had been important to both of them to help the local S&G community.
Temperance herself had even donated to the clinics in the area a few times after she had learned of the need. She figured she had the money, and would never want anyone to suffer needlessly. Mostly, she had been thinking that she wanted Angela and Booth to always have help if they needed it, even if Hodgins was more than capable of funding their clinic.
With a small sigh, Angela explained that they didn’t have a high-order Guide available at the moment to be able to help Temperance. “I’m sorry, sweetie.”
Hodgins checked his hip against the desk and folded his arms, looking thoughtful. “We could call Kyle, see if he’d be willing to do us a favor?”
Angela brightened at the idea and immediately stood to use the phone. Temperance only half-listened to the conversation, her mind still too pre-occupied with what had just transpired. She frowned, rubbing at her sternum. It was as if she had a hole inside of her, filled with a yearning for something. The juxtaposition was vexing to her, but the longing even more so. Angela, who was still on the phone, noticed and squeezed Temperance’s shoulder gently, giving her a knowing look. She would have to ask her friend later.
“Alright, thanks, Kyle. We’ll meet you there,” Angela said, nodding to Hodgins.
Hodgins straightened with a grin. “I’ll go get the car.”
“Oh, no, I can drive, you don’t have to-” Temperance started.
Angela shook her head. “No, sweetie. I know you’re feeling alright now and your shields are up, but you’re still a baby-Guide, so to speak, and if something were to happen to cause your shields to fail… You need to at least have been checked over and had your first session before I’d let you think about driving on your own.”
Hodgins nodded. “It’s no problem, Dr. B. Ang and I’ll take care of you,” he said before heading out.
“Now come on. Grab your things. Kyle and Scott will meet us at the clinic in twenty minutes, so we need to go.” Angela herded Temperance out of her office.
Deciding that it wasn’t worth arguing with her friend – for the moment, at least – she allowed herself to be guided. Once she had folded herself into the backseat of Hodgins’ mini Cooper, she commented idly. “You should probably invest in a larger, safer vehicle, Hodgins.”
Angela chuckled, and Temperance could see Jack’s eyes flicker to hers in the mirror. “I know! I’m not giving up my baby, or the car Angie’s dad gave me, but you can be assured we’ll be getting a car fit for a baby.” After a beat, he added with a slight bounce in his seat, “I’m gonna be a dad!”
At this, Angela laughed and patted his arm. “Easy there, big guy. If you get us into a wreck, there likely won’t be a baby at all.”
“Right. Sorry,” Hodgins demured, cheeks flushing slightly.
Temperance tilted her head slightly, observing her friends, noting the excitement, happiness, and anticipation coming from them. At least, she assumed they were emoting such, given their news. She scowled at her hands, which she had clasped tightly in her lap. How was she ever supposed to manage as a Guide? Temperance didn’t do feelings. She barely managed to understand her own on a good day, never mind those of others.
Angela turned in her seat, placing her hand on both Temperance’s. “Sweetie, what’s going on in that head of yours?” she asked quietly.
Glancing up, she smiled timidly, half-shrugging. “I’m going to be a terrible Guide, aren’t I?”
Angela’s lips twitched, though she seemed to stifle the urge to smile. “Temperance, you’ll be the best Guide you were meant to be.”
Frowning, Temperance shook her head. “How can you say that, Angela? You know I’m not the person who’s in touch with their emotions like you are.”
This time, Angela did smile, though rather than feel offended, Temperance felt reassurance. “Because I know you, and because you wouldn’t be the only Guide who is less than inclined to be overtly emotional. The Alpha Guide that runs the S&G Center in Cascade is not unlike you. His name is Morgan Davis, and is probably considered one of the most un-Guide-like Guides out there by most people’s standards. But he is exactly the right kind of Guide for Marcus, his Sentinel, and the right Guide for running the S&G Center.” Angela paused for a moment to allow Temperance to process everything, then added, “Sweetie, there is no right or wrong way to be a Guide. You simply are one.”
“She’s right, you know, Dr. B.,” Hodgins put in. “I know I’m only a mundane, but I’ve been around plenty of Sentinels and Guides in my life and there’s not one who really fits a mold. I think it’s something that mundanes have tried to do, pigeonhole Sentinels and Guides? Suppose it makes them feel more comfortable or something, I don’t know. Point is, you’ll do great once you get a handle on your gifts.”
Temperance’s phone rang. Seeing it was Booth, she frowned and ignored the call. She wasn’t up to talking to him. Angela frowned slightly. “You okay, sweetie?”
Nodding, she sighed. “I’m fine, Angela. I’ll call him back later.”
Angela hummed, eyeing her with worry. They were silent the rest of the drive, allowing Temperance to contemplate what her friends had said. She wanted to believe them, but she wasn’t sure she could in this instance. They were her friends after all. Who was to say whether they were merely attempting to make her feel better about the whole thing, rather than tell her the truth of it. Friends did that sometimes, didn’t they?
Hodgins pulled into his parking spot at the clinic. “Kyle and Scott are already here,” he said, jerking his chin toward the elevator where the couple stood waiting.
Making their way over to them, Temperance was struck by how fierce the Sentinel looked, as if he were expecting a fight any moment. She could tell at a glance that the Sentinel had been in his fair share of fights, judging by the man’s hands. The Guide on the other hand was almost too pretty, she supposed. His facial structure was quite appealing.
The Guide’s lips twitched as if he had read her mind, which she knew to be impossible as no Guide could do any such thing. Though she supposed he could have picked up on her emotional tone, whatever that was at the moment, as she wasn’t even sure herself.
Holding out his hand in greeting, the Guide stepped forward. “Hi, I’m Kyle Monahan, and this is my Sentinel, Scott Thompson. It’s nice to meet you, Dr. Brennan. I’m sure you get this a lot, but I thoroughly enjoy your books.”
Shaking his hand, she gave him a polite smile. “Thank you, I do. And I can’t say the pleasure is mine as I don’t know you yet, but I will say meeting you isn’t completely disagreeable. You have very good facial bone structure.”
Kyle’s eyebrows shot up in apparent amusement. “You don’t say,” he murmured, shooting his Sentinel a look.
Temperance glanced over to Scott and blinked. The stern-faced Sentinel was leaning into Hodgins, whispering something in her friend’s ear. Hodgins for his part seemed to be trying not to laugh. When he caught her eye, Hodgins cleared his throat guiltily. “Scott was just asking if you were always like that, Dr. B. Literal, that is.” Hodgins shrugged a little.
Angela patted Temperance’s shoulder in what she thought was supposed to be a consoling fashion. “You kinda are, sweetie, but that’s not a bad thing.”
“Of course it’s not.” Temperance frowned slightly, wondering why it would be. Though she could concede that there were times when things would go over her head, as unbelievable as that might be, but usually only when people talked about things metaphorically. But she was doing better with that. She was learning. After all, hadn’t she told Angela she loved her like a sister? That counted, right?
“Okay, why don’t we move this party inside, shall we? No sense being uncomfortable when we could be sitting down,” Kyle said amicably as he hit the button to call the elevator.
“I’m quite comfortable,” Temperance stated.
Kyle’s lips pursed slightly, his eyes twinkling. “Right.”
Temperance thought she heard Scott mutter, “Great. Another Morgan.”
Hodgins’ laughter as he smacked the Sentinel’s back in a familiar fashion made her frown. Scott merely appeared amused by it, even shooting a quick grin at the man. Angela hooked her arm through Temperance’s as they stepped inside. “I’ll see if I can’t introduce you to Morgan, sweetie. I think you two would get along fabulously.”
“Somehow, I think you’re right, Ang,” Kyle said, smiling widely.
Almost as soon as they stepped out of the elevator, Angela’s phone began to ring. “It’s Booth.” She made to answer, but Temperance put her hand on Angela’s wrist.
“Please, don’t tell him what happened, or that we’re here, Ang,” she pleaded. She wasn’t even really sure why she didn’t want Booth to know. Merely that he couldn’t right now. At her friend’s quizzical look, she added, “He’s supposed to pick up Hannah from the Center. If he finds out I’ve come online, he’ll be worried and want to come here. He-” her voice hitched and everything in her rebelled at the thought, but she forced the words out anyway, “he should be with his Guide, Angela.”
Angela and Kyle shared a look that Temperance had no hope of interpreting. After a while, Angela nodded. “Okay, sweetie. I won’t tell him, but he will know soon enough. You go with Kyle and he’ll get you sorted. Hodgins and I will wait here for you.”
“Thank you,” she murmured, allowing Kyle to escort her to one of the treatment rooms.
She heard Angela say, “Hey, Booth,” just as Kyle closed the door behind them.
He flipped a couple of switches, which turned on both the lights and a white noise machine. At her questioning glance, Kyle smiled reassuringly. “It’s to give you privacy. Not turning one on when you’re in a place like this is basically inviting a Sentinel to keep tabs on you, to ensure you don’t need help when in distress. Please, sit down.”
They sat on the small couch, half-facing each other. Temperance had no idea what to do or say, so she opted to wait. Kyle simply watched her for a moment, then said, “I need to do a scan to see how your shields are holding up, and to estimate what level Guide you are. It won’t hurt, but you will feel my presence. Try not to fight it, or you risk damaging yourself.” Quirking a grin, he added, “I’ll be gentle, promise.”
She had no idea what to make of the man next to her. He appeared genuinely friendly, easy going, and had what some might call an interesting sense of humor. Yet she couldn’t shake the feeling that there was much more to him. After a moment’s contemplation, she nodded.
“It works better if I’m in contact with you, so I will hold your wrist lightly, is that okay?”
Holding out her hand in answer, she watched intently as his fingers curled around her wrist. Her eyes widened slightly at the sudden sensation of his mental touch. She thought it was rather like being wrapped in a warm blanket in front of a fire.
His scan only lasted minutes and when he was done, he hummed, sounding pleased. “Your shields are holding up remarkably well, though after we’re done here in a bit, I’ll run you through your first lesson before releasing you. You’ll need to have daily lessons for the next few weeks to learn the ins and outs of all your gifts, so you’ll have to arrange for your schedule to accommodate that.”
Temperance nodded. “Very well. I don’t think Cam would object to me coming in a little later, or to leave early. Provided there isn’t a case, of course,” she amended.
“A case?” Kyle asked, surprised, though that quickly turned into comprehension. “Ah, of course. I almost forgot what it is you do for a living.”
Temperance nodded gracefully. “I find the work fulfilling, Mr. Monahan.”
“Kyle, please,” he insisted. “Very well. Scott and I are pretty busy at the Center, since it’s a complete disaster at the moment.That said, the community owes Angela and Jack a lot for everything they’ve done to help out. I’ve already told Ang that I’d be willing to handle your lessons myself, so I’m sure we can figure something out.”
“I would appreciate that a lot, Kyle. You may call me Temperance,” she added with a soft smile. She was rather enjoying being around the man. He had a very soothing way about him.
Kyle’s lips twitched. “Temperance, it is.”
They spent the next hour meditating, doing some basic tests, and Kyle showed her how to adjust her shields. Part of Temperance still thought that it was exceedingly odd that she of all people was a Guide, yet she seemed to be taking to Kyle’s teachings like a duck to water. When he commented on it, she merely said, “I am a very fast learner.” As an afterthought, she added, “And I’m brilliant.”
Kyle laughed. “No argument there. Okay. So, you’ve gotten a pretty good handle on things so far. Would you like to meet your spirit guide?”
Tilting her head, she looked at him in confusion. “You mean the Fennec fox? I’ve already seen her.”
“Yes, I know. We all see our spirit guides prior to coming online, Sentinels and Guides alike. I meant, would you like to learn to call it to you?”
“Oh,” she said, staring at the arctic wolf that suddenly flopped down next to Kyle.
His fingers clenched briefly in the wolf’s fur before petting him. “This is Bryce, and as you can see, he’s an apex predator. All high-order guides have them. You’re a level nine Guide, hence your Fennec fox.” When she nodded, he continued. “I don’t know how aware you are of all things S&G, or how much Angela has told you about spirit guides, but they are as ‘real’ as we want or need them to be. They’re mostly a source of comfort, but they also help you with your gifts. It’s easier to call them, if you will, if you name them.”
Kyle allowed her a few moments to gather her thoughts. Temperance’s brow furrowed as she pondered over what to name her fox, quickly running through a list of potentials before finally settling on one and nodding. “Zora.” At his questioning brow, she added, “After a female anthropologist and author from the early twentieth century.”
Smiling, Kyle nodded, and Temperance thought that even his wolf seemed pleased as it chuffed. “Excellent choice. Now focus on her name, ask her to show herself.” At her hesitation, he added, “You don’t need to verbalize, just think it.”
Taking a steadying breath, Temperance closed her eyes, silently asking Zora to come to her. A soft snarling sound alerted her to Zora’s presence and she turned to look at her, startled. “I don’t think she likes me very much,” she noted, feeling a little disconcerted.
Kyle’s eyes widened at the somewhat hostile spirit guide. “That sometimes happens, unfortunately. Well, not the not liking part, but the spirit guides being annoyed part,” he hastened to add. “Any idea what got her dander up?”
Cheeks flushing slightly, Temperance remembered what had happened earlier that evening. “I… I was talking to Booth on the phone and he had just told me his new girlfriend is a Guide.” Jerking her chin at Zora, she continued. “Then suddenly she stood on my desk, looking rather pissed.”
Kyle’s eyebrows rose a fraction. “Booth? As in, Seely Booth? Sentinel, FBI?”
“Yes, that’s him,” she confirmed, wondering how he knew him.
Kyle hummed, not making any further comment for a full minute. “I think you’ll understand soon enough. Zora’ll settle after a while, I’m sure.”
Zora swung her little head toward Kyle, her ears flicking as she gazed at him. Temperance had the oddest sense that Zora was taking his measure. Suddenly, she sneezed and shook her head, then trotted over to Temperance. They stared at each other for long moments before Zora finally curled up against her thigh, tucking her snout under her tail. The moment they touched, Temperance felt acceptance and mild annoyance, but nothing as what she had thought Zora had displayed earlier.
“See?” Kyle said, nodding at Zora. “Everything’ll be fine. Don’t worry.” Bryce rumbled in apparent agreement.
Gingerly, Temperance rested her hand on the fox’s head, gently stroking her thumb along her ear. She blinked in surprise when Zora emitted something akin to a purr and Temperance looked up at Kyle to find him smiling. “So, about your lessons…”