Title: Seven Minutes(5/5)
Fandom: Rizzoli & Isles
Category: Hurt/comfort. Ep cont. for When The Gun Goes… So big ol' spoilers for anyone who's not seen the finale.
Word Count: This part about 3,800.
Notes:This fic sort of accidentally ran four parts longer than I'd ever intended. Many thanks to all those who have taken the time to leave feedback - both on lj and ff net. It's been lovely to read your comments and without your encouragement it would never have gone any further than that first part.
Massive thanks to Cat my long-suffering beta, who always, always makes things better. My lovely American beta (the one who takes out all my unwitting Britishisms!) isn't in this fandom, so feel free to shout out any glaring errors and I'll get them changed. Feedback always welcome.
Disclaimer: Not mine. Please don't sue.
. . . . .
Seven Minutes (5/5)
. . . . .
The three little balls bobbed pathetically in the clear plastic box and Jane snarled in frustration as she ran out of breath.
"Fuck." When she spat the tube from her mouth, the balls floated back to the bottom of their individual compartments where they sat in silent judgment waiting for her to try again. "Fuck." Designed to improve her lung function, the exercise was the latest torture device inflicted upon her by her physical therapist. In the last hour, Jane had decided that she hated it far more passionately than coughing, deep breathing, and sitting upright in a chair. She pulled in ragged breaths until the pain in her chest began to ease. When it settled to a tolerable level, she opted to look on the bright side; at least her battle with the damn thing was helping to pass the time. Sealing her lips around the tube once more, she began to exhale.
In preparation for a homicide case about to go to trial, Maura had gone to her office to finalize her case notes and ensure that her assistant was prepared for his testimony. Consequently, Jane had been alone for most of the day. Having been moved from the HDU into a regular room, she had insisted that Maura start going home more often, but Maura was still officially on vacation, and seemed perfectly content to spend most of her time and the occasional night in the hospital.
The first ball began to sink as Jane glanced furtively at the clock. With a huff she refloated it, but her chest was burning again and sweat was running down from her forehead to sting her eyes. After another couple of seconds she gave up, dropping the contraption onto the bed as she struggled to catch her breath. Light-headed and sickly, she curled her hands into fists, infuriated by her own weakness. She had been in the hospital for almost two weeks now, and she couldn't even get out of bed without two people standing by to help her.
Determined not to give in, her fingers were inching towards the tube again when she heard the knock at the door.
"Uh, come in?" Puzzled, Jane looked up. Maura rarely, if ever, knocked. A nurse had only just taken Jane's vitals and she wasn't expecting any visitors.
The door opened slowly and awkwardly as if something was in the way. There was a muffled yelp of pain and a short burst of apologetic laughter, and Jane felt her pulse quicken as she recognized both voices.
"Hey." Standing behind the wheelchair, Maura was beaming from ear to ear. "Look who I found."
"Hey." Jane's eyes filled with tears as she smiled at her brother. Frankie managed to stand up, taking the hand she held out and then hugging her tightly as she pulled him close. For a long moment neither of them moved, but then she pushed him upright a little, studying every part of his face and pressing her hands to his chest as if to reassure herself that he really was there and still in one piece.
"I think I got off lightly compared to you, sis."
He brushed her hair away from her face, trying to hide his reaction as he noticed how much weight she had lost. Bruises from IVs stood out starkly on her wrists and forearms, emphasizing not only how critically ill she had been but how pale she still was.
"I didn't know what else to do," she whispered. "I just…" Her voice broke and she shook her head. "It seemed like the only option at the time."
"Hell of a gamble," he said mildly.
"Yeah, it was."
"I really appreciate what you were trying to do, Janie, but promise me you won't ever do it again."
"I won't. I already promised Maura."
He tipped her chin with his hand. "Promise me."
Relief lightened his expression and he pressed a kiss to her forehead. "Love you."
"Love you too."
. . . . .
"Creamed potato." Jane screwed her eyes shut and stuck her tongue out like a kid taking her first taste of medicine. "Full of lumps and how the fuck do they get it that funny shade of gray?"
"I wouldn't like to guess." Frankie sounded as if he had already given the matter some serious deliberation. "But even that's not as bad as those nasty little pudding cups I get every night."
She laughed. "I kinda like those."
"Oh God, you can't! They're horrible."
Maura sheepishly raised her hand. "I kinda like those too, especially the chocolate one."
Frankie stared at them and then shook his head sadly. "You need help, both of you." He ducked away as Jane swatted his arm. "But, oh, hey, did I tell you I'm getting out of here tomorrow?"
"Yes you did, three times already." Jane's second swat was more forceful than her first.
"Ow! You always did have a jealous streak, Janie."
"Yeah, well, at least when I go home I'll be taking all of my vital organs with me."
Frankie looked suitably appalled as his sister smirked and raised an eyebrow in challenge at him, but the confidence slowly faded from her face as doubt crept in. She turned to consult Maura in a stage whisper. "I have still got all my organs, haven't I?"
"Yes, apparently the chunk you ripped out of your liver will grow back just fine." Maura's voice was dryer than the Sahara, but Jane merely gave her brother a triumphant thumbs-up.
There wasn't much Frankie could say in response, and he cheerfully conceded defeat with a kiss on her cheek. "You'll be out raising hell soon enough."
"Yeah, I hope so."
"In the meantime…" He gave her his best mournful look. "You wanna take Ma for a while?" Jane was already shaking her head vehemently. "C'mon Janie, she's driving me mad. She keeps trying to make me drink that potion she's been hawking."
"She keeps threatening to bring Father Crowley in to counsel me."
"Shit." Frankie winced. "Never did forgive you for dropping out of Catechism class, did she?"
"Guess I should be grateful the juice is all she's bringing me, huh?"
"I think so, yeah."
"Tastes like crap."
"Father Crowley is eighty-nine years old," Jane said pleasantly, "and stone-deaf."
Frankie was trying and failing not to laugh. "Okay, you win. I'm gonna stick with the juice."
. . . . .
Jane's knuckles were whiter than the porcelain sink she was clinging onto. An hour ago, she would've traded almost anything to finally have a proper shower but now, waiting for the nurse to finish toweling her dry, she was no longer sure it had been such a good idea.
"Fine." Her answer came automatically, but she squeezed her eyes closed and willed her legs to remain steady beneath her.
"Almost finished." Leaving a wide margin around the exit wound, the nurse tentatively patted the skin on Jane's back, but even that delicate touch was agonizing, and Jane felt her legs beginning to give way. Fortunately the nurse felt it too. "Okay, easy. Sit down on here." She guided Jane to sit on the closed toilet seat and wiped the cold sweat from her patient's face without comment. "I just need to collect a couple of dressing packs. You safe on there for a minute?"
"I'm good, thanks."
Leaving the washroom door ajar, the nurse hurried through Jane's room and out into the corridor. Naked beneath the towel, Jane shivered as a cool breeze drifted in. When she leaned forward to push the door closed, her towel slipped slightly and the clouded reflection in the mirror opposite caught her eye. Without a thought for modesty she cast the towel aside and struggled back to her feet. The glass of the mirror was half-concealed by steam which she used her hand and then the towel to clear.
"Jesus." The curse left her in a rush of breath.
Despite dozens of dressing changes, she had only ever been able to see the wound on her abdomen. The exit wound on her back had remained hidden from her, and she had never asked for details, had never wanted to know exactly how bad it was. Crystal clear thanks to her efforts with the towel, the mirror revealed the wound in graphic detail. The patch of discoloration on her abdomen tracked around to her upper back where it became more swollen and took on several deeper shades of purple. The wound itself was a mess of ripped flesh that had been tugged together by a haphazard collection of sutures. There was no order or pattern to them, and the havoc wrought by the bullet exploding away from her was plain to see. The doctors had told her that she had been fortunate to survive, but until now she had never truly appreciated just how close a call it had been.
"You're going to get cold, Jane."
The voice wasn't the one Jane had been expecting, and its gentle tone unintentionally destroyed the thread of composure she had barely been hanging onto. Maura didn't say another word, but just wrapped a dry robe around Jane's shoulders and then wrapped her arms around Jane as she wept. Jane never had been one for self-pity and it didn't take long for her sobs to taper off, but when they did they seemed to take with them what little energy she had had left. She allowed Maura to lead her back to her room and sit her on the edge of the bed. Two dressing packs had been left unobtrusively on the side table and Maura silently thanked the absent nurse for her tact.
"It's going to scar, isn't it?" Jane's voice was even more hoarse than usual, leaving her question barely audible as if she wasn't sure she wanted an answer.
Maura saw nothing to be gained by subterfuge. "Yes, it is."
"It'll fade, Jane, given enough time. No one will know it's there."
Maura cupped Jane's cheek with one hand and felt the faint pressure returned as Jane leaned into it. "Yes, but I won't tell anybody. Here…"
The Boston P.D. t-shirt was over-sized and shapeless but it smelled of home; Jane gave a murmur of gratitude as Maura helped her slip it over her head. It fell long and baggy, effectively covering everything that she didn't want to think about.
She waited patiently for Maura to thread her bare feet into her sweat pants and surprised herself by managing to stand unaided while they were pulled up. After a wary knock, the nurse entered the room, and although Jane held onto Maura's hand she lay without complaint as clean dressings were sealed into place.
Easing herself onto her back again, Jane nodded at the nurse.
"Good. You know where I am if you need anything."
A rustling noise at the bottom of the bed distracted Jane and she looked up to see Maura wrestling two tubs of ice cream from a paper bag.
"I think I love you." Jane took the tub of Ben & Jerry's Cookie Dough with the enthusiasm she traditionally reserved for kicking a perp's door in. "What'd you get?" she mumbled around a huge mouthful. "Oh, gross."
"I know you hate it," Maura said, smugly displaying her choice of Häagen-Dazs Strawberry Cheesecake, "which means you won't be tempted to try and steal it when you finish yours."
"Sneaky, very sneaky, Doctor Isles." Jane sounded genuinely impressed as she scraped the lid of her tub clean. "So, what we watchin'?"
In an effort to prevent Jane from succumbing to cabin fever, Maura had brought her own DVD player in from home and hooked it up to the hospital television.
"Now, that was a bit more difficult." Maura looked vaguely apologetic. "I took a wild guess and decided you wouldn't be interested in Italian Neorealism or Ingmar Bergman's oeuvre, which pretty much ruled out every movie I own. So I borrowed this from Jack, that nurse who's just started on the night shift. He said it's great." She held up the DVD case of 300 for Jane to see as she studied the blurb on the back. "Um, okay, despite sounding historically interesting, it seems to comprise a cast of three-hundred well-oiled, well-defined men running around in little to no clothing…"
Digging into her tub of ice cream, Jane wrestled with a chunk of cookie dough and managed to look singularly unenthused.
Continuing to read, Maura reached the cast list and cleared her throat. "Oh, Lena Headey's in it as well," she noted nonchalantly.
The spoon half-way to her mouth, Jane hesitated, considering this latest development with her head tilted. "Huh," she said in a pitch-perfect match of Maura's nonchalant tone, as she licked vanilla droplets from her fingers. "Well, if you're sure there isn't anything else on…"
. . . . .
The hiss of the pressure being released seemed terribly loud in the quiet of the hospital room.
"Crap. Think anyone heard that?" Korsak paused, his shoulders hunched protectively over his illicit stash as he listened and waited for the raid he was sure would follow.
"No one heard it." Jane gestured impatiently. "C'mon, hand it over."
For a few seconds she just held the bottle of beer, savoring its damp chill against her palm, the sound of the bubbles fizzing and popping, and the familiar bitter smell of hops. She grinned as Frost clinked his bottle against hers and Korsak followed suit, and then she took her first drink.
"Fuck, that tastes good." Relaxing against her pillows, she sighed contentedly.
Maura had been turning a blind eye to the proceedings, but something suddenly occurred to her and she fixed Jane with a look. "You know alcohol and pain meds don't mix, Jane." She arched an eyebrow. "So exactly how long have you been skipping your pain meds for?"
Jane heard Korsak and Frost both suck in a breath and she swore inaudibly beneath hers. "Uh. Hmm. Not long?" Maura's expression told her that wasn't a good enough answer and she decided just to come clean. "About three days." She swallowed more beer, wondering how quickly she could get drunk and realizing as the alcohol filtered noticeably into her system that the answer was probably: quite quickly.
"They make me so tired all the time," Jane protested, before adding quietly, "I'm sick of being sick, Maur."
"I know you are." Maura's voice no longer held an edge; she wasn't Jane's minder and had no intention of nagging her friend into submission. Paying heed to the maxim if you can't beat 'em, join 'em, she accepted a bottle from Korsak and tapped it against Jane's. "Cheers."
Jane nodded, grateful for the reprieve. "Cheers."
"So, they give you any idea when they're kicking you out of here?" Korsak asked as he efficiently distributed small packets of pretzels.
"Hopefully later this week." Without pausing for thought, Jane swapped her packet of regular for the sour cream and onion that Maura hated. "The Brass are making me see a shrink before they'll clear me for active duty." She popped a pretzel into her mouth. "Apparently shooting yourself to stop the bad guy isn't considered an acceptable method of apprehension."
Frost cocked his head on one side as if mentally working his way through an imaginary manual. "Y'know, come to think of it, I don't remember that being covered by basic training."
Jane threw a pretzel at his head and took a quick sip of her beer before her smile faded completely. The mandatory debrief and recommendation for psychological assessment hadn't come as a surprise, but psychiatrists and counseling inevitably raised the subject of Charles Hoyt, which was never something that she relished picking apart with a complete stranger.
"So," she forced brightness into her voice, refusing to allow that bastard to creep into her thoughts and sink her mood, "what have I been missing? Maura told me you caught a shout the other night."
Taking her cue, Korsak leaned forward in his chair. "Fuck, Rizzoli, this one was a mess," he said with relish and with one gleeful eye on Frost. "Drug dealer, been dead in his lock-up for about ten days. Body had bloated up like a whale, skin slipping and crawling with maggots." He wiggled his fingers as if the image needed further elucidation. "And the smell, you know that smell…"
Jane nodded as Frost set his bottle down and began to swallow convulsively.
"…Sweet and foul all at the same time," Korsak continued, pretending to be oblivious to Frost's discomfiture and fooling absolutely no one.
Scowling at Korsak, Maura passed Frost an emesis bowl. He took it and made a bolt for Jane's washroom, desperate to try to preserve what little remained of his dignity.
Jane waited until the door slammed shut. "God, I miss being at work," she said without a hint of irony, and reached for another beer.
. . . . .
The breeze carried with it the scent of rain and of fumes from the traffic snarled up on the parking lots. Car horns blared, voicing their owners' impatience as people rushed to escape the confines of the hospital's infrastructure now that their shifts had ended. Her hands tucked deeply into the pockets of a thick sweater, Jane ignored the chaos and filled her lungs with air that didn't stink of disinfectant and sickness as Maura wheeled her into the relative quiet of the hospital's small garden.
"I think I got it from here, Maur."
Jane licked her lips nervously. The bench was a good ten yards away. "Sort of."
Securing the brakes on the wheelchair, Maura moved round in front of it and handed Jane the stick her physical therapist had given her to mobilize with.
"I got it," Jane said again, in an undertone that was mainly aimed at convincing herself.
Her feet flat on the ground, she pushed up with her legs, using her arms as counter-balance and trying to keep the effort from tearing at her abdominal muscles. It hurt, it always hurt, but she ignored the sweat that was dampening the back of her t-shirt and focused instead on how good it felt to be vertical.
The late afternoon sun peeked out from behind a mass of bulging cloud as she took her first shaky steps towards the bench. Concentrating on its thin warmth against her face and on Maura's murmur of encouragement, she placed her stick carefully and began to find a slow but steady rhythm.
"Can't believe I ran a marathon a few months ago." Her legs felt like Bambi-legs, feeble and ready to fold at a moment's notice.
"It's going to take time, Jane."
Jane glanced sharply at her friend. "How much time?" She stabbed the stick down and bit back a moan as the impact reverberated in her chest. Panting and waiting for the pain die down a little, she nevertheless heard Maura's practical answer.
"Longer than three weeks."
"I know." Her shoulders sagged. There was no point in being angry and even less point in directing that anger towards Maura. "Sorry." She set off slowly again. "I don't mean to be a bitch."
"I think under the circumstances you're allowed to be a bitch occasionally."
Jane grinned. "Oh, thank fuck for that." Her relief was two-fold as the bench came within touching distance. She made a grab for its arm, lowering herself onto it with a muted "yay".
Sitting down beside Jane, Maura wrapped her arms across herself to ward off the increasing chill and rustled her feet in the leaf litter. Above them, bird song filtered in from the tree canopy, drowning out the bad-tempered rush hour and the wail of approaching sirens.
Jane began to shiver. She shuffled closer to Maura and leaned into her.
"We should be getting back." Tucking her arm around Jane, Maura showed no sign of doing anything of the sort.
"Okay." Maura drew her closer. "Five more minutes."
"Five more minutes," Jane agreed, and then shook her head as she started to laugh. "Y'never know, Maura, if I set off walking then, I might be back in my room by midnight."
. . . . .
The automatic doors swished time after time as people hurried in and out of the main entrance. The worry on those faces rushing to see loved ones was plain to see, as was the exhaustion on those at the beginning or end of another long shift. A couple passing by recognized Jane and wished her well. Jane nodded her thanks and tried not to show how nervous she was. She wanted to go home more than anything, but now that she was poised at the threshold of the hospital she appreciated exactly what a safe haven it had provided for the last three weeks.
For three weeks she had lived by the hospital's routine. She had eaten and been medicated and had therapy according to an established timetable. Help had been no more than the press of a button away, and the nurses had instinctively known which visitors got to break the rules and which were to be politely but firmly moved on after a couple of hours.
Jane was staring at her father's car maneuvering awkwardly into a parking bay, and startled slightly at Maura's question. After a moment of deliberation she looked up and nodded.
"Yeah, I'm ready."
She gripped the arms of the wheelchair and stood up. Immediately beyond the door three steps loomed ominously, and she hesitated, suddenly even more uncertain. Maura's arm slipped beneath hers and Jane felt Maura squeeze her hand.
"Just lean on me," Maura said softly.
Her nerves instantly banished, Jane smiled at her friend. "I always do," she whispered.
She curled her fingers around Maura's and they stepped outside.
. . . . .
. . . . .
And now for our regularly schedule pimpage for anyone who might be interested in reading some original f/f fiction by me… My first novel, Snowbound(written under the pen name Cari Hunter), is now available to buy at Bold Strokes Books (paperback and e-book) or over on amazon \o/ Perfect reading for these cold, dark winter nights!
There are links to my author's blog, and to a preview of the first chapter over on my ff profile page.