"Drop by my office first thing tomorrow morning," Deputy Director Cullen had said when he called last night. Booth had asked if there was a problem, but hadn't received a satisfactory answer. "We'll talk about it tomorrow," was all he would say.
That morning, as Booth put on his professional suit and unprofessional socks (they were black with green shamrocks and leprechauns saying "Happy St. Patrick's Day"), he wondered what Cullen was going to say to him. Maybe he was going to congratulate him for solving the Cugini case, or give him a heartfelt "Welcome back, Booth. We're glad that you recovered from your showdown with Dr. Brennan's refrigerator and are ready to get back to work.. We've really missed you around here." Yes, that was it, he decided as he drove to the FBI building. His boss was going to shower him with praise. He probably wanted to recommend him for a medal of honor, but Booth didn't care about medals. If he ever received one he would leave it in a drawer somewhere until Parker needed something special for Show and Tell.
As soon as Booth entered Cullen's office, however, all his hopes of a warm welcome evaporated. His boss's face told him that this would not be a pleasant meeting. "Sit down, Booth," Cullen said. Booth did as he was told. "I have to talk to you about Agent Kenton."
Kenton. Booth bristled at the mere mention of him. He had thought that Kenton was a decent guy and a respectable agent. He had trusted him with his partner's life, and the bastard had tried to kill her. If Booth had had Brennan go to the refrigerator to get his drink, or if he had reached the warehouse a few minutes later than he did, she would be dead right now. He shuddered to think of the squints looking at her body on an examining table. He pushed the unwelcome image to the back of his mind. "What about Kenton, sir?"
"The district attorney is offering him immunity in exchange for his testimony against the Romano family," Cullen answered.
"What?!" Booth was outraged. "He's a murderer. He killed Cugini and Hollins and tried to kill my partner."
"Cugini was a mob boss and Hollins was a serial killer. Not exactly pillars of the community," Cullen reasoned. "Both men would have certainly killed again. You could argue that Kenton saved lives by killing them."
"And his attempts to kill Dr. Brennan? They don't count for anything?" Booth asked. " Dr. Brennan's not a killer. She's the best forensic anthropologist in the country. Her work has stopped dozens of murderers. Who knows how many lives she's saved?" Too late Booth realized that he was practically screaming at his boss.
Cullen wasn't surprised at the intensity of Booth's response. He had suspected there was something going on between Booth and the doctor. "What is your relationship with Dr. Brennan, Agent Booth?" he asked, calm in the face of Booth's shouting.
Booth shifted uncomfortably in his chair. "She's my partner, sir. And my friend." He was pleased to hear that his voice had returned to its normal volume.
Cullen wasn't convinced. "Really? Is that all?"
"Yes, sir." Booth felt his anger rising again and fought to control it. "Why do you ask?"
"Several agents who were at the warehouse expressed their concerns to me about your behavior," Cullen responded. "They said that you were highly agitated. You wanted to enter the warehouse with them despite your injuries. You demanded your gun. You gave your vest to a squint and let him come with you. After you shot Kenton, they say you and Dr. Brennan shared a long embrace."
Booth's mind returned to that moment. He had thought she would never let go of him and he hadn't wanted her to. "Is it a crime to comfort your partner after she's nearly killed? Fine. Arrest me," Booth snapped. He stood up abruptly and gave his boss a defiant stare.
Cullen motioned for Booth to sit down again. "Settle down, Booth. If you maintain that your relationship with her is strictly professional, then I believe you. I know that you would never let emotions interfere with your job."
Booth returned to his seat. "Thank you, sir."
"Which is why I've assigned you to escort Agent Kenton to a safe house," Cullen continued. "You'll leave this afternoon."
"Sir, you can't ask me to protect the man who put a gun to my partner's head," Booth argued. If only I'd killed him when I shot him, he thought. Then I wouldn't be in this mess
"I'm asking you to do your job, Agent Booth. If you can't do your job, feel free to take more time off...either on a temporary or permanent basis." Cullen paused to judge Booth's reaction. "Well, Booth? What will it be?"
Booth had never wanted to think of Kenton again, let alone see him. How could he look at him and not be reminded of Bones gagged and tied up? How could he look at him and not want to kill him? But he didn't have a choice. If he wanted to continue his partnership with Brennan, he needed to keep his job with the FBI. If he wanted to keep his job, he would have to deal with Kenton. "I'll do it," he said finally.
"Great," Cullen said. "You leave in four hours."
Four hours, Booth repeated mentally. In four hours I have to face the man who tried to murder my partner... the woman I love so much it scares me.
Screw the Romanos, Booth decided. I'll kill him myself.
Thanks for reading! Please let me know if you think I should continue this story. All comments are greatly appreciated. :)