Author: snuffnyc PM
Beginning midway through the first season with "I Kissed A Girl," a look at how things might've gone. Includes graphic sexual content. PLEASE BE ADVISED.Rated: Fiction M - English - Drama/Romance - J. Rizzoli & M. Isles - Chapters: 49 - Words: 150,493 - Reviews: 610 - Favs: 534 - Follows: 657 - Updated: 02-14-13 - Published: 06-08-11 - id: 7063042
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Under ordinary circumstances, Jane didn't much care for the cold. The way it bit into her skin and didn't let go, the way it made her scarred hands cringe into arthritic fits. But occasionally there were moments when freezing temperatures were so fitting, so perfect, that Jane had a healthy respect for the howling wind and its attendant icy bitterness.
She was up on the ladder, leather work gloves protecting her hands, keeping them serviceable at least. Somewhere below her, Frankie was puttering around, his work on the bushes going slower than he'd like, if his constant grumbling was any indication. The afternoon had given way to dusk, and Jane knew they were short on time. The lights in her hands were suddenly aglow, and she smiled.
"Timer's working," she shouted down.
Frankie's dark hair was covered with a light dusting of snow, and from up above Jane could see he was, inevitably, thinning a little on top. She made a mental note to tease him about it when they went inside.
He huffed and went right on with his own string of lights, enjoying the cold perhaps a little less than Jane was. She straightened the strand on the plastic clips that she'd fastened to the gutter, and leaned back cautiously to size them up.
"Looks great!" came a voice below her, nearer to the street. She looked over her shoulder and found her neighbor Monique, walking her cat on a thin, limp leash.
"Oh," Jane breathed a cloud into the air, "thanks."
"I heard the news," Monique shouted up, smiling broadly. "Congratulations."
"Thanks," Jane repeated. She could hear Maura's voice in her head, reminding her to be a good neighbor. "You know, we're having a thing tomorrow. A little pre-Christmas party. You should stop by."
"How nice! Maybe I will. You know-"
From beneath her, Jane could hear the heavy door lumber open and her mother's scolding voice ricochet off the row of brick homes.
"The whole neighborhood need to hear your conversation, Janie? Come down here and speak with Mrs. Cleary like a civilized human being, for shit's sake."
Only Angela Rizzoli could shout a foul-mouthed command demanding civility down a Boston street with a straight face. Jane clattered down the ladder, finished anyway, and the metal rungs shook just enough to give her a shot of fright in her gut.
Safely on the ground, Jane caught her breath and smiled at the woman, but not before scowling at her mother and shooing her back inside.
"Sorry 'bout that. Anyway, you should come by. Around 7-ish."
Monique looked pleased, and agreed before taking her leave down the cobblestone sidewalk, cat in tow.
"Who the fuck walks a cat?" Frankie muttered from behind her.
"She's a lonely old widow, Frankie. Give her a break."
"Sheesh," he shook his shoulders, melted snow flying off his flannel shirt. "You're losing your edge, Janie."
Just because he had a point didn't mean Jane wasn't bound by the older sibling code to let him have it. She tossed a handful of snow in his direction, but he dodged it and lobbed his own with ease, spraying her cheeks with light flakes that immediately turned liquid on her warm skin.
"Goddammit," she gave chase as he retreated, both of them laughing so hard they mostly missed each other with each subsequent throw. "This snow's no good for snowballs!"
"Says you," Frankie reached into an old pile that sat near the edge of the back deck, turned to slush from the days of roller coaster temperatures.
Before she could react, the whole mess of it- thick, wet, and speckled with dirt and gravel- assaulted her senses. It traveled down her face and under the neck of her jacket. It was cold, shockingly so, but again Jane couldn't help but feel comforted by the rightness of it. She howled into the rapidly darkening night, and Frankie relented, leaning breathlessly on a tree trunk.
"All that time in the gym every day and you're still slow as shit," he goaded. "Must be gettin' old."
Jane shook out the wet sleeves of her coat. "At least I'm not going bald, Mr. Clean."
"Hardly!" he jumped back. "A little off the top. Maybe. But I am not going bald."
She pulled off her gloves and tossed them into the bucket of supplies. "Remember when Pop used to make us help him hang the lights?"
"Yeah," he laughed. "Remember how him and Tommy used to go at it? They'd end up fighting..."
"And we'd end up doing the whole damn thing," Jane smiled wistfully. "It's always been you and me, brother, hasn't it?"
"Kinda," he shrugged. "But I'm cool with that. We didn't turn out so bad."
"True. And now here we are," Jane widened her arms in front of her, staring up at the house and the shrubbery all lit up. "It's crazy. I still feel like it was just last Christmas we were sneaking around the house, trying to find where Ma hid the presents."
"And now your kids are doing it."
Jane's head whipped around. Her eyes narrowed. "Are they?"
"Hell yeah. I found Alexei ass-up with his head in the crawl space just last week. He thinks you got him that trampoline he asked for."
"What'd you tell him? The little cheat."
He chuckled again. "The same thing Pop used to tell us. That Santa doesn't like a snoop."
Jane nodded approvingly, and stared up at the clear night sky.
"You've been great, Frank. Through everything... I know I forget to say it sometimes, but thank you."
Off Jane's unusual outpouring of emotion, he cringed. "Quit it. I haven't done anything you wouldn't have done. If it'd been me."
From his pocket he withdrew a fat cigar, the end already clipped, and lit it with a Zippo from his pocket.
"What's that all about?"
He looked at the freshly formed cloud of smoke. "Maybe I don't just get my male pattern baldness from Pop."
Jane absorbed the remarkable changes in her younger brother. His face was covered in a scruffy beard, and his usually average build looked swollen under his work shirt. He looked healthy, but different.
"Something you wanna tell me, little bro?"
"Ah, no..." he kicked at the snow. "Maybe. Been thinking."
"I knew I smelled burning."
He glared at her. "I didn't want to bring it up. With all you got going on these days."
"But?" she prodded.
"I took the LSAT a while back. Did pretty good. I'm thinking about maybe going to law school."
Jane's surprise was genuine, but pleasant. "I think that's great. You should do that if you think it will make you happy."
"I'm not saying I regret following in your footsteps, because I don't-"
"-but I think I finally realized I was following you a little too literally. I think I missed the most important part you tried to hammer into my head all those years ago."
"Oh? And what's that exactly?"
Frankie regarded her flippant tone without any amusement. "To never be afraid to go after what you want! That's there's more to bravery than wearing some stupid badge."
"I taught you that?" Jane's eyebrow spiked, but she was secretly elated that her brother had, at long last, read between the lines.
"Yeah, you did. 'Specially after all this stuff with Maura. I think it's the bravest I ever saw you."
Tears threatened, but Jane's pride would not allow them to fall.
"And I still want what you got, Jane. I want the family, the wife. Someday maybe."
She grunted, aware of the twinge in her back from carrying her daughter all day. "It ain't all it's cracked up to be."
"Sure it is. Your kids... they're awesome. Little dude's turning into a real person. And Antonia's gonna be a knockout. A spitfire like you, except with maybe a little more sense."
"You'll have your own kids to screw up someday, Frankie."
"And Maura..." he kept on, despite her teasing. "I don't bring it up, 'cause I know it makes you uncomfortable, but she's perfect for you. Keeps that Rizzoli tendency to fly off the handle in check."
Jane rubbed at her neck, now sharing in the awkward unfamiliarity of their frankness.
"Scared me for a while, I'm not gonna lie. You invest so much into somebody, into this life with another person... you start to think that without them you won't know how to go on."
"But you don't have to."
"For now," Jane smiled sadly. "It's still got me shook up."
"She's really coming home tomorrow?"
"Yeah," Jane's hands started to get cold, so she thrust them into her pockets. "Doctor says she's ready. I still can't believe it."
Her hair was starting to frost over, in the places where Frankie's snow attack had moistened it. It hung, tendrils of ice, in her face. She really did feel like a kid again, excited about the future but nervous about it as well. She was wiggling her toes in her boots, trying to fend off the cold just a little while longer, when she heard a car door slam in the distance.
"You're probably not gonna believe this then."
She was only half-listening, instead thinking about all they'd discussed, memories of her father, and of Frankie's confession. But when her brother shouted across the lawn, Jane looked up.
"Holy crap, are you kidding me?"
There, in the haze of flurries and Fantasy Land glow of the Christmas lights, was Maura Isles, standing ankle deep in snow, a fur-lined parka hood slung over her head.
Jane stood there, frozen in place, while Frankie ran over to her. Her mother and father were a few feet away on the walk, Constance's vigilant eyes fixed on her daughter. They were trying to hide it, but underneath their tight expressions were two giant smiles waiting to surface.
There were muffled sounds as Frankie grabbed Maura and threw his arms around her, her diminutive form dwarfed by his newfound bulk.
"Jane?" Constance called out. "Are you alright, dear?"
She stumbled over slowly, nearly toppled by the shock and the cumbersome, half-frozen boots. She didn't stop plodding until she stood toe-to-toe with Maura, her chin dipped into the shadow of the lights.
"Maura?" Jane whispered. "What are you doing here?"
When her wife looked up at her, she had the ruddy coloring of a blustery Boston winter. A beet red nose and slightly watery eyes never looked so good.
"I didn't want to wait anymore. I wanted to come home. Now."
She could hear Frankie greet Maura's parents and escort them inside. And when they were completely alone on their front lawn, surrounded by a thousand twinkling lights, Jane opened her mouth, but all that came out was a soundless cloud of air.
"You're not angry, are you?"
Her voice was softer than Jane could ever remember hearing it, the words practically floating from her lips and landing on Jane's heaving chest like so many snowflakes. But they did not melt and disappear. She did not melt and disappear. Maura was real. Maura was alive.
"No," Jane sobbed. "God, no."
"Mother put up a fight, but eventually I wore her down." When Jane still said nothing, she motioned to her legs. "I'm wearing one of the nurses' pants. My father's boots."
Jane swallowed, and laughed lightly at the oversized clothing.
"You look gorgeous."
The kiss was short, cold, and tinged with the salt that covered Jane's face. She felt Maura's still-warm hands crawl up her torso and stop at her cheeks.
"Let's get you inside. You'll freeze out here."
She tugged Maura but the woman did not give way. She stood firmly.
"Just another minute? I forgot what it feels like. Winter, I mean."
She'd been away from home for three months. Jane grabbed hold of her, drew her close, and tried with all her might not to sway.
"As long as you'd like, Maura. As long as you'd like."
It was dizzying, the entire thing. The impromptu trip home, the ruckus it caused at the hospital. It felt foreign, to fly by the seat of her borrowed pants, but Maura was emboldened by her second chance at life. She knew she'd ruffled a few feathers by absconding in the late evening, against hospital protocol, but she'd made a pact with herself to never waste another minute. And by her count, another night spent away from her family was seven hundred twenty minutes too long.
Inside the house was loud, louder than she'd expected. Everyone- Angela, Korsak, her parents, and Frankie- was talking. Talking over one another, but deliberately not saying her name. Not saying a coherent thing, really, besides excited utterances and gasps and claps.
They were saving the surprise for the children.
Maura smiled at Angela, who embraced her eagerly the moment she stepped into the family room.
"Thank god," she whispered. "We missed you so much, Maura."
It felt nice, to be missed. To be wanted. Truthfully, she'd struggled with the idea that her birth mother, the donor that saved her life, did not want to have contact with her. And it was easy to forget, while lying alone in a hospital bed, that all these other people cared for her. Loved her.
This was her family.
"Ease up, Ma. You'll snap her like a toothpick."
"Oh, Jane, she's tough as nails! She can take it!"
But still, Jane pulled her away, smiling all the while.
"I'm sorry I look like shit," Jane tried to pull her hair back. "Me and Frankie kinda got into it outside."
Maura looked at her brother and he shrugged.
"It's okay," she evened her emotion-riddled voice. "I haven't had time to really fix it, but..."
As she slipped off the hood, everyone's mouths dropped. There was an odd silence, but Angela Rizzoli could always be counted on to dispel any awkwardness.
"That is the most amazing wig I have ever seen. You look like you! But thinner. But still wonderful! But really, we need to get you some eggplant parm. Fast."
There were more hugs, and then more confusion, and then Jane helped her out of her jacket and boots and sat her down on the couch.
"Where is he, Ma?"
"He's upstairs," Angela was leaning her head against Korsak's shoulder. "He should be out of the bath by now."
"And Antonia?" Jane was gracefully weaving about the crowded room as she asked, efficient in her movements. Maura imagined it was from so much practice, being left alone to care for two young children. "She still asleep?"
"Napping, yeah," Frankie pointed a thumb towards the sunroom, where her daughter always loved to snuggle with Jo Friday on the floor. "You want me to wake her up?"
"No," Maura forestalled anyone else's meddling. "Let her sleep if she's tired. When she wakes for dinner, I'll see her then. I don't want to be too much of a disruption."
Constance knelt down at Maura's side. "Disruption? My darling, you're their mother. You're never a disturbance."
"Adequate rest is extremely important for toddlers. They burn energy at a much faster rate than we do. In fact-"
"Oh God, she's back," Korsak bellowed. "She's really back!"
"I know, right?" Jane squeezed her shoulder gently. "We can't wait to hear all about the exciting world of kiddie naps, Maura, but right now? I think there's a young man who'd like to see you."
They all waited, the silence nearly unbearable, until the familiar sounds of Alexei's footfalls rang out above them. Staccato thuds, interrupted only by what Maura assumed was a quick stop in his bedroom to dress.
"Can I... Can't I just go up there?"
It was strange, to make such a request. Maura felt squarely in control of her mental faculties, but it was the physical that seemed to worry everyone so much. She could command the world from this couch, but she felt she had to ask permission to stand up.
Jane stuttered, clearly as taken off balance as she was by the idea.
"Of course. Jesus, look at us. You... you want a hand up the stairs?"
Maura rose to her feet. "Not really, no."
Everyone stood back, and Maura felt incredibly silly. All the fuss proved unnecessary, as she made it to the top of the stairs just fine. She was delighted to see that Jane had taken her advice and painted the hallway just the right shade of downy gray while she was gone.
At the door to Alexei's room, she paused. The door was ajar, and he was humming to himself. Maura considered retreating for a moment, but then pushed through a few inches.
"Alexei? May I come in?"
The shadow that had been dancing across the wall came to an immediate stop. The humming ceased as well.
The door flung open before she could answer, and he stood there, hand on the knob, frozen in much the same way Jane had just been.
His sweatpants were stuck up over his knee on one side, and his t-shirt was far too big for him. It was one of Jane's, emblazoned with a golden Bruins logo. It was also, much to Maura's chagrin, splattered with the same shade of gray paint that graced the hallway.
The stalemate continued, each of them staring at the other. It reminded Maura of the early visits she had with Alexei when she went to Moscow to adopt him. The distance, the uncertainty. But instead of giving in to her natural urge to wonder, sometimes painfully, what was wrong, Maura took a stab at it. He was her boy, after all.
"I won't break, Alexei. I promise."
He came tumbling into her arms, his face no longer buried in her knees. He was far too tall for that now. She felt his nose digging into her ribs, and the heat of his heavy sobs through the fabric of her shirt.
"Mommy," he mumbled. "You're here. You're really here."
"I am," she knelt down with some effort, and cradled him in her arms. "For good. I'm not going anywhere. I know I've said that a few times but this time it's real."
"But," he pulled back and looked her square in the face. He so very rarely cried that it didn't alarm her that he was as stone-faced as ever, albeit with a quivering lower lip. "You aren't supposed to be here until tomorrow!" He looked guiltily over his shoulder. "I haven't cleaned!"
She laughed out loud, the fullness of the sound surprising her. There would be an adjustment period, that was clear, but she began to consider the possibility that it wouldn't be all that long.
"It looks very organized to me. I see you've got your Legos arranged nicely."
Along the wall, there was a chest of tiny clear drawers.
"Yeah, oh my gosh, Maddy put the nails in but I did the rest!" He ran over to them and pulled open one drawer. "First by color then by the size of the piece! I thought it up all on my own."
"That's very logical. I couldn't have done it better myself."
On her hands and knees, Maura scooted closer, sitting on the floor next to Alexei.
"And I built everything. A whole town. There's the police station, the fire station, the grocery. It's all in the basement! We could go down and I could show you?"
She pulled him close again, kissing the top of his head. His hair had grown back in a long time ago, and it was wet from his shower. It smelled like raspberries.
"Aw jeez," he wriggled as he sensed her starting to cry. "Don't cry, Mom. I built a special spot for you too."
Maura wiped her eyes. "Let me guess. A hospital?"
It had been so much a part of their lives for so long now. Even before she left home, Alexei had been dragged to more hospitals and doctors' offices than she cared to count. Maura hoped he could recover from the emotional havoc the cancer had wreaked on them.
"No," he looked at her with a patently Jane expression. It was an adorable mix of disbelief and mild annoyance. "A morgue! I even made a table out of the silver Legos I had left! Hey, when you go back to work, can I see a brain? I want to see a brain."
It wasn't many a parent that would be relieved at their child building a morgue out of Legos and requesting to see a human brain, but in Maura's case, it felt exactly right.
"Sure," she shrugged. "Why not?"