"I'm quite fine, Andrew. Thank you for asking."
Booth hated the familiarity, the intimacy of Temperance using his first name. His boss. But he swallowed that jealousy and stood by watching, just watching, not saying a word. He'd speak to Hacker out in the hallway and voice the concerns that had been poking holes in his stomach all day.
"I was so worried." Hacker squeezed her hand. This made Booth twitch just a little, but he held back knowing how Temperance would feel if he aired even the slightest bit of annoyance. "I am beyond relieved that we have you back safe and sound."
Hacker turned to Booth. "You too, Booth." Turning back to Temperance he resumed staring down at her with a hint of adoration in his eyes. "I don't know what I'd do without my best team."
Booth cleared his throat. "I'm uh – I'll be out in the hall."
He made eye contact with Hacker and motioned for him to follow. His boss nodded but didn't move. Booth listened to them chatting as he went out in the hallway, leaving the door open. He would wait.
"I understand your concern, Booth, I really do." Hacker tilted his head and smiled.
This infuriated Booth. How could that smile be appropriate at such a serious moment? He felt like he was a child being reassured about a thunderstorm or something. Hacker continued to babble on about safety concerns. Booth only caught part of it; the noise in his head was just too loud.
"We have this under control, Booth. You need to take care of Temperance."
At that Hacker paused, clearing his throat, and both men stared at the floor for a few seconds. Booth didn't like him calling her Temperance. It was petty and childish. Maybe he did need a babysitter.
"I'll put another man on your door. Temperance listed your address on her release form. If that will make you feel any better. Because I assume you won't be letting her out of your sight."
"Uh yea, boss. My place is-"
"You don't need to say it, Booth. I am well aware of your special relationship with our girl."
This made Booth all the more uncomfortable. Thankfully they were interrupted by a hospital team moving a patient down the hall. As the procession passed, both men seemingly looked for a way out of the awkward conversation. Hacker beat Booth to the punch.
"Well, I have to get back to DC. Duty calls." Hacker smoothed his dress shirt and stood a little taller. "You call me if you need anything. I assume you have some vacation time coming."
He looked up the hall toward the automatic doors. Booth sensed he was nervous about something.
"Booth, I really don't have much time."
"I'm not done yet."
"Alright, what is it?" Hacker glanced at his watch. "I can give you five minutes."
Booth took a deep breath and prepared to lay out his case. He wanted to be calm, reserved with his emotions, but it came out in a whoosh, and later he wouldn't be sure if he really wanted to know the true reasons behind the Bureau's lack of concern.
"One guard?" Booth could barely contain himself. "One frickin guard."
"Yes Booth." Hacker backed away a few steps, suddenly regretting his decision to argue. "You've already said it. And I agree with you. But word came down from above."
"What aren't you telling me?"
Hacker looked everywhere but Booth for a moment, chewing on his lip. Then he steadied himself. He was the superior after all. "This case does not have a high priority any longer. You've both been found."
He closed his eyes and took a deep breath, letting it out slowly but with some force. "You've already caused enough bad publicity. The Bureau is not pleased with all the media attention. They don't like the unsavory, salacious angle. The words love and triangle have been mentioned."
"What?" Booth could not think of any other word to say.
"Your case has been deemed a domestic-"
He cut off his boss. "What are you saying here, Andrew?"
Hacker did a bit of a double take at the use of his first name. While he and Booth were chummy at times, he was still his boss and this situation seemed to call for a bit more decorum though he knew emotions were running high.
"It is known that you and Gina were in some sort of relationship. In Afghanistan. There are pictures."
Booth could feel his face turning red. From anger and a little embarrassment. "Pictures? What the hell?"
His cool was mostly lost now.
"The two of you holding hands and entering your housing unit."
"Have you ever been in a CHU, Andrew? Mine wasn't a whole lot bigger than a tin can." There he went with the familiar name again. Hacker bristled at the slight and the informality. He didn't need to say that he hadn't been in combat.
Hacker cleared his throat and continued. "Gina apparently confided in some friends that she thought you were going to propose when you both got back to the States."
"This is pure insanity." Booth threw his arms over his head in disgust and dismay. "She is delusional. Which is evident because not only did she shoot Temperance on the street, she murdered her roommate and then kidnapped us."
"Which wouldn't have happened if you'd obeyed orders and stayed at your apartment, Agent Booth." His voice had stiffened a little. His tone suddenly became serious. "Not only did you endanger our investigation, you cost the Bureau resources and then put yourself in undue danger.
It was like he was reading from a script. Booth hardened his face, breathing slowly through his nose and making uncomfortable eye contact with Hacker.
"If I had not gone after Gina, we wouldn't – Temperance would not have been found."
Hacker dipped his head a little and pursed his lips together. Then he nodded.
"I know – the gum wrapper. Sure. A lucky break. We would have found Gina without it." Hacker shook off what little sympathy he might have had for Booth. He had to be all business. "Did you ever think she might have wanted you to find her? She knew this would end. It was all part of the game."
"It wasn't a game. There wasn't any kind of triangle going on." Booth tilted his head back to look at the ceiling. "End of story."
"Look, I'm really sorry, Booth. It was all I could do to get you an agent on her door. You shot Gina. She should be incapacitated for more than a few days, giving you and Temperance time to get out of here. And we'll ship Gina off to a sturdy psychiatric facility somewhere on the other side of the country."
"I thought the Bureau didn't want anything to do with this."
"They don't really. I still have some pull and a few friends who owe me some favors." Hacker put his hands in his pockets. "It's no secret that I care for Tempe. I know you'll take good care of her. And I'll help where I can, but the official Bureau stance is that the two of you should take what you get and watch your own backs."
"Looks like we're on our own, Bones."
Temperance opened her mouth to speak, but Booth put his hand up.
"Hacker will do what he can to help. He can put two guys on my apartment for a few days. But that's it. No more."
There was a pause. He let it sink in.
"So we're on our own." Temperance squeezed his hand. "Which shouldn't be a problem. Gina is in custody."
Booth couldn't make eye contact with her.
"Your gut is speaking to you, isn't it?"
"Yea Bones, my gut is speaking to me."