Author: milk3002 PM
Jane isn't the only one coping with memories of Hoyt. Rizzles implied.Rated: Fiction M - English - Drama - M. Isles & J. Rizzoli - Chapters: 3 - Words: 14,101 - Reviews: 46 - Favs: 23 - Follows: 87 - Updated: 08-12-12 - Published: 02-28-12 - id: 7880146
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Disclaimer: Rizzoli & Isles and all its parts belong to Tess Gerritsen, Janet Tamaro, and TNT.
A/N: Testing the waters again. Please let me know if there's interest in seeing this continued.
She glanced down at the watch on her wrist, a habit she performed at the start of each appointment, as if she were afraid to cheat even an extra second out of her allotted time. "Thank you for agreeing to change our schedule," she said with a forced smile. "I know it's early."
"It's your hour, Maura. You can take it any time you like."
Dr. Maura Isles sat rigidly in her chair, willing the muscles in her back to loosen as she stared into the clear green eyes of her psychiatrist, and felt the need to qualify her request to reschedule their sessions. "It's just my work hours can tend to be a little difficult to negotiate. Mornings are best, from what I remember."
The red-haired woman nodded patiently, but a brief glance at her recorder signaled that she was ready to delve into their morning's work and to cease with the formalities. "And how are you feeling about returning to work?"
Maura's practiced response, the one she'd offered to her parents, her boss, even to Jane, floated on the tip of her tongue, but she exchanged it for a more reflective answer, knowing it was futile to offer anything less. Dr. Ellen Cabot was one of the best psychiatrists in Massachusetts, and it didn't take her long to rip beneath the surface of a statement and bare the truth behind it. "I want to go back to work," Maura replied evenly. "I just have to realign my expectations about what it will accomplish."
The green eyes looked at her approvingly, as if she'd said something right. Or maybe Maura just imagined it. "It's perfectly natural to want to gravitate toward a previous routine," Ellen replied.
Their sessions always began like this. Formal and encouraging, up until Ellen sent her right back over the edge that she had worked so hard to grasp, free-falling her back into a dark, deep hole. Dangling her lower and lower into the depths of hell until she was facing Hoyt all over again.
"This is a classic response to post-traumatic stress," Maura replied. "I've read it in hundreds of journal articles. I'm regaining normality based on pre-trauma routine, in hopes that the physical cues will help me regain some balance."
Ellen raised a placating eyebrow, but Maura knew her psychiatrist wouldn't let her linger too long on her clinical constructions. The medical examiner had spent most of her time outside their sessions trying to diagnose herself, but each meeting gave Ellen another opportunity to unravel all of her studious work, taking her right back to square one. "And what were the outcomes of these studies that you read?"
"For most, the associations of pre-traumatic routine only exacerbated the occurrence of flashbacks. Many had increased night terrors. For all of the subjects, it seemed only the passage of time helped." Maura flashed a modest wave of her hand. "And paid professional help, of course."
The psychiatrist allowed a slight smile, but kept her voice level. "Why do you think returning to work will help you?"
Maura's voice wasn't as strong as she wanted it to be. "It's what I know how to do. It's how I help people."
"Has the nature of the work changed for you?"
Maura glanced down at her hands, which sat clasped tightly in her lap. "I'm not thinking about the mechanics of the work." She had been performing only the formal duties of her job, signing paperwork when needed, conferring with an interim director on a weekly basis, but aside from that, she hadn't laid eyes on a cadaver in over two months. "I'm only thinking about what used to make me normal." She shrugged, harnessing the levity in her voice. "Or, whatever passed for normal for a forensic pathologist."
"Tell me what normal means for you."
Maura felt the two of them sliding down that slippery slope. Soon, she would be knee deep in emotions that she had managed to keep at bay since their last appointment. Ellen simply pulled her into them, and left her drowning until she had learned how to navigate them. "Normal is a pretty macabre state in my world," she replied. "I dissect bodies for a living."
"You're a forensic scientist, Maura. You have a whole professional cadre of colleagues who would argue that it is a perfectly normal endeavor."
Maura gave her a slight, albeit unconvincing nod, all too ready to move onto the next tier of their discussion, but something gave her pause. "I don't know where the line is anymore," she said softly. "Between normality and insanity."
Ellen studied her for a moment. She never seemed to be in a rush, and let the silence mirror Maura's words back to her. "Are you comparing yourself to Hoyt?"
"Of course not. He's a much superior surgeon than I am." The laugh that knifed through her throat was painful, and she pressed a hand hard against her temple, as if punishing her mind for such intrusive thoughts. Again, Ellen let the silence engulf them, and Maura worked to fill the void. "Isn't it insane to think of him like this?"
"Like a man." She wrung her hands in her lap. "He's a monster."
"Maura, he's a man with a deep, permanent psychosis. You utilized a survivor's instinct during your abduction and you're still using it to cope with the aftermath. There is no right or wrong way as long as you are safely processing your emotions."
This is when she changed the course of the conversation, back to something concrete and clinical. Maura could almost see the page right out of the textbook. Not that she was complaining about Ellen's method. She felt better when she could identify what was coming next.
"Have you been sleeping?"
"No. I haven't needed to. No job," she reminded the woman with an apologetic shrug. Her use of irony had gotten much more practiced over the past two months.
"Maura, I think you're as well-versed as I am in the clinical case for sleep," Ellen replied.
"I know my limits. I take a pill every three days."
Ellen sighed. "Before the hallucinations start kicking in, I assume?"
"Benzodiazepine releases too much gamma-aminobutyric acid. I can't wake up right away. I have to be able to wake up." The pills kept her trapped in her nightmares long after she would have normally pulled herself out of them. It was a lack of control that she avoided at all costs.
"Are you feeling any side effects?"
Ellen's words echoed in her mind, their timbre changing, and the office blurred around her until she felt the distinct familiarity of a scene that she never wanted to recall, her breath clinching in her throat as she was thrust backwards in time.
"Feel any side effects, Doctor?" He crouched down towards her, peering into her half-closed eyes as she struggled to open them, seeing him in a blur of white above her. It was his voice that sent her nervous system into overdrive, attempting to make up for her sluggishness. She yanked her hands, but felt only a sharp pain as the metal handcuffs bit into her wrists, clanking against whatever she was bound to.
"I'm guessing slight nausea, lethargy, and more than likely a headache just behind the eyes. Correct?"
She didn't answer. Her mouth was dry. Her heart felt as if it were about to break through her thoracic cavity.
"I bet you can figure this one out easily, Doctor. An NMDA receptor antagonist, thirteen parts carbon, sixteen parts hydrogen, dash of iodine, nitrogen, and oxygen."
The words barely penetrated the fog in her brain, and she could do little but loll her head against the metal behind her.
"This will help with the dry mouth and nausea," he said, holding up a water bottle towards her lips. He mistook her reticence for something more sinister, and she felt a sharp sting in her scalp as her hair was yanked backwards. "I have had much experience with unwilling patients," he said. "And I have many, many methods that you don't want me to explore with you." He poured a stream of the liquid into her now open mouth, wrenching her jaw closed with his fingers and pinching her nostrils, forcing the bubbly, carbonated water down her throat. She choked, not able to taste it, and felt her lungs burn.
"Don't worry," he said, caressing her throat. "It's just soda water." He uncuffed one of her hands, and pressed the bottle into it. "Drink it down. Then eat." He pushed a plate of dry toast towards her.
She didn't move, but he studied her intently, patiently waiting for the side effects to pass. "How did you pass the time as a little girl?" he asked. "Probably the same as me. Let me take a guess..." He rubbed his hands together, as if playing a game. "Frogs. I bet you dissected a lot of frogs, no?"
She tried to keep her eyes on him, her gaze hard, but she could feel her fear trickle through her like a rivulet of cold water. "Where is Jane?" she asked, the river hardening into a frozen line from her throat down to her gut.
"I assume she is now scouring your home," he answered with a smile. "But why waste our time worrying about that? She'll join us eventually."
"Maura, tell me where you are."
The calm, patient voice seemed lodged someplace in her brain, as if in a dream, but she had been taught over the past two months to follow it, and she did, concentrating on its tone, the familiarity of it. The question always confused her, the clash of her physical surroundings and mental flashbacks always jarring her out of her memory, but leaving her mildly confused. "I don't know," she responded.
"Breathe," came the response. "And tell me where you are."
It helped sometimes if she focused on her brain. If she recalled where the memories were held, it gave her some sort of control over them, and reminded her that she could make them stop at any moment. "Medial temporal lobe," she whispered. "Precunius, prefrontal cortex."
"Maura, look around you, tell me what you see."
It was as if she was locked in her mind, afraid to say anything for fear that any words would send her spiraling back to that same dark place. She started to speak, but the words came out gargled in her throat and she felt the blood rush towards her cheeks, as if she should be embarrassed at her lack of eloquence.
"Maura, tell me how the couch feels under your fingertips."
Why was her brain betraying her like this? "Soft. Cool and smooth." The touch brought her back, until she could focus on the leather, could focus back on Ellen, who sat across from her, hands still clasped gently in her lap, eyes alert with tempered concern.
"What triggered that for you?"
Side effects. The words echoed in her head, and only after registering Ellen's still questioning gaze did she realize she had not spoken them aloud. "You asked about side effects," she answered. "Hoyt used those same words." She let out a shaky breath, using the process to calm her body, waiting for her heart rate to return to normal. "Flashbacks don't happen to everyone." She had scoured the journals for physiological explanations, wanting to know why her mind seemed so deft at deceiving her.
"They happen to many people, though."
"What's the biological imperative? What is my body getting out of having a flashback? Absolutely nothing. It's a fluke of the brain."
Maura was fully aware that Ellen could more than likely talk at length about the mechanics behind a flashback, but the psychiatrist never delved too long inside of science. "What do you get out of coping through a flashback?"
Maura cocked her head. This was the point during the session when Ellen would test the therapeutic tools they had been working on, to see if they actually were making a difference. The medical examiner always placated her. "I gain control," she replied, knowing that it was the right response. After she confirmed her stability, her ability to deal with the madness that was sure to come, they would delve lower. Pine some of the memories.
Today, however, Ellen took a different route, and the deviation jarred Maura from the resignation of routine. "Have you thought about volunteering at a clinic?" she asked.
Maura felt the anger flash behind her eyes, a response to the panic she felt flutter through her. She shook her head. "No. I can handle decedents. I can't handle patients."
"Have you always told yourself that, or is this since the abduction?"
Ellen didn't mince words. She was technical, and called everything by its true name. For that, Maura was grateful. She had never cared for euphemisms. "I've always had a steadier hand in the lab than I ever did during rotations, or during my volunteer work. It's just where I'm most comfortable."
They must be half way through the session. Ellen abandoned her kid gloves, and went straight for the pain. "
How is your relationship with Jane?"
"Fine." It was an easy question to answer. Jane had been nothing but supportive, and the two had eased back into some semblance of their life together. They punctuated their days with mundane tasks and little pleasures, eagerly embracing anything routine.
Once again, Ellen's silence belied her skepticism, prompting Maura to delve deeper. "We give each other space," the medical examiner replied. "She gives me space to have my sleepless nights, and I give her space to let out her frustration with a marathon jog. It works."
"And you're content with this level of communication?"
"I want us to go forward, not backwards. Jane understands that, after what she went through." Maura felt her face burn.
"Do you compare your abduction to Jane's encounter with Hoyt?"
Her mouth was dry, and she debated taking a sip of the water that sat on the table next to her, but was afraid the shake of her hand would betray her anxiety. "They were different," she replied. Jane had been a hero. She hadn't morphed into the very monster that had trapped her.
"Yes, they were different, which means that you deal with the aftermath differently."
"I just want to prove that I'm the same person that she fell in love with," she said quietly, her hands wrapped around her water glass. "I don't want her to think that Hoyt destroyed me."
"Why would she think that?"
"Because sometimes I think he did."
She heard him taunting her, even as Korsak dragged him out of the house, finally silencing him with a blow to his head. She turned to Frost, her eyes panicked. "Every room," she said, shaking with fear and adrenaline. "Find her."
She passed through a small hallway, the walls feeling as if they were swallowing her. Closet. Bathroom. She slammed one door after another, her breath hitching after each empty room. Stairwell. Flipping on the switch at the top of the steps, she let her eyes adjust to the dim lighting before descending, the sound of her own breathing eclipsing the silence. She came upon a large room with a metal gurney sitting in the middle of its concrete floor. A dilapidated shelf lined with bottles and scattered with scalpels lined one wall, straight out of a nineteenth century medical text. The sound of water clinked somewhere against a pipe.
Two doors stood to her right, and she swiped a hand over her brow as she went toward the first one, her gun shaking in her grip as she kicked open the door. A chilling burst of air hit her, chilling her, and then she caught the distinct smell, one that wafted over her whenever Maura opened the refrigerator in the morgue. She gagged, registering the bodies that hung like pieces of meat along the side walls. She stumbled out of the room, fighting the urge to slump to the ground, unable to concentrate on their faces.
Her eyes caught the last door, and she walked slowly towards it, Maura's name circling in her head like a silent prayer. The room was cold, but not freezer cold, and it was dark, the only light coming in from a small, square window at the top of one wall. She flipped the light.
She recognized the turquoise blouse. She remembered when she had last seen it, eleven days before, and she felt an unrecognizable sob rip from her throat. Maura didn't move as she approached, simply lifted her head slowly, as if she expected Jane to be standing in front of her.
"Maura," she said, bending towards the woman.
"No," the blonde said. "No, you're not here. You're not here. You're not here." She squeezed her eyes shut, shaking her head, as if willing away a ghost. It was only when Jane reached out and touched the binds at her feet, uttering a soft, 'It's me, sweetheart,' did the hazel eyes flash open, staring blankly for a moment before the tears began to fall.
Jane bolted upright in her bed, the sheets tangled at her feet. She shivered as she registered the cool air against her sweat-soaked skin. Her eyes darted immediately to the empty space next to her. Rarely did she awake from a nightmare and find Maura beside her. More often than not, she found the blonde sitting at the kitchen counter nursing a mug of tea and a medical text, the early hours of the morning ticking away around her.
Jane glanced at her clock, surprised that she had slept through the night. Maura would have left early for her therapy appointment before heading to her office for the first time in over two months. Jane felt the ever-creeping worry that had rattled ever since Maura had first expressed her desire to return to work. She knew Maura the routine. They both did. The only thought that comforted her was that she would be right upstairs. It was the only thought that ever comforted her anymore: the thought that if she was near, nothing bad would happen. She was determined to prove that sentiment true.
Ellen sat behind her desk, scrolling through the labeled audio files of her sessions with Dr. Isles. She opened one dated two weeks after the medical examiner's rescue, replaying a snippet that she had listened to again and again since the blonde had first sat in her office.
"There were times when I thought about just ending it for them, there on the table."
"Why didn't you?"
"Because I didn't have a choice. In that place, he was God."
It was the only time the doctor had allowed herself to view her survival as anything other than something governed by rational, clinical choices. Maura was a creature of science and order, and Hoyt had interminably destroyed that structure, leaving her to formulate some wholly new equilibrium between mind and reality. She rubbed her eyes, glancing at the clock in the lower right corner of her screen. It was only 8:30, a time when she was normally juggling her office keys and a cup of coffee, only just anticipating the horrors of her day.
Korsak heard the three muffled bangs, the recoil shooting up his arms, and he felt a sudden, familiar release. He slid his earphones off, as he stared at the human-shaped paper target that hung several yards in front of him. Holes splattered through the paper dummy right between the eyes, his marks so close together was as if they had been made with one bullet instead of three. He laid his gun down on the table beside him, but the shots in his head continued to ring, beckoning forth a memory that he revisited almost daily.
Hoyt continued calling Jane's name, almost singing it, smiling as Korsak drug him across the wet leaves, away from the house. The blow to the back of his head had not silenced him for long.
"I can smell her fear from here," he said, inhaling deeply, his feet shuffling along the wet grass as Korsak struggled with his stubborn, dead weight. "Tell me, Detective. Do you think you're too late?"
Korsak shoved him hard, the taller, lankier man stumbling to his knees, unable to regain his balance with his hands cuffed behind him. The detective ignored him, keeping his gun trained on him as he waited for backup. He needed to get back inside that house.
"I'll save you some agony," Hoyt said, smiling up at him from a pile of wet earth. "She's alive. But you're still too late. Just like you were last time, remember? Too late to save my Jane from her pain and suffering. That guilt you carry around with you, Detective, that eats you alive every time you see her scars? That's what Jane will feel now. Forever."
The shots rang out, three of them, echoing off the trees, resounding back to him as he lowered his gun and stared into Hoyt's lifeless eyes. Footsteps behind him, the sound of Frost's voice, and he turned calmly, looking back at the younger detective, who stared wide-eyed at the demon that had plagued them all for the last time.
"What's this?" Frost asked the uniform officer who sat a small cardboard box, no bigger than a shoebox, on his desk.
"It was sent over by the Forest Hills police. Been in their evidence room, untouched, since the Hoyt case a couple of months ago. This is what happens when you got Barney Fife running your precinct." He shrugged. "Not like it makes any difference, I guess, considering how the case ended."
Frost peered into the box, the black markered name across the evidence bags sending a wave of nausea through his gut. Inside sat a metal box, bagged and dated, along with several small leather bound notebooks, each bagged and dated separately.
Frost glanced back up at the cop, dismissing him with a nod. The man shrugged, seemingly disappointed that he wasn't asked to stay longer, and turned back toward the door. Frost pulled a notebook out of one of the bags, flipping through the pages, which were covered with a black, slanted scrawl.
"February 5: She is fighting me. As if she has any control in this place. Her first patient is almost ready. A simple procedure, as I plan only to damage the tissue, nothing further. We will see how talented she is when it comes to living, breathing humans. Especially those that bear such a distinct resemblance to our Jane.
"February 8: Yesterday's debacle has left her with a loss of confidence. Her hands shake, which prevents her from performing an expert stitch. But they live. For now."
Frost slammed the notebook shut, sliding it away from him. A loud clunk from behind him sent him reeling around, and he gave Korsak a scowl as the older detective settled into his desk.
"What's got you so jumpy?" the gray-haired man asked, giving him his usual scowl. His eyes moved immediately to the books on Frost's desk. "You keeping a diary? What the hell's all this?" His eyes narrowed as he caught the name on the evidence bags.
Frost looked up at him, his voice sullen. "A ghost from the past."
Maura passed by the glass windows of the lab, glancing inside briefly. It was stark, sterile, and clean, unlike the dank room that plagued her memories. There, she had constantly heard the sound of dripping water as she worked, its repetitive, steady sound marking the passage of time as Hoyt watched her. Swallowing the memory away, she walked into her office, hitting the lights. Nothing had changed, other than the piles of reports that now sat on her desk, ready to be filed.
She slipped her coat off, hanging it on the rack by her door, drinking in the familiarity of the space that she had helped design. It was a sign of control, of autonomy, a promise that, at least in this place, she could be what she always had been. Something new sat in the bright orange chair that sat near her desk, and she smiled down at a small stuffed turtle, a card sitting atop its furry shell. Recognizing Jane's handiwork, she flipped open the card, its message simple, sweet, and containing just the right amount of levity to make her smile.
With a deep breath, she walked behind her desk and slipped on her lab coat, ready to face the dead for the first time in two months. It was time to reclaim her life.