Disclaimer: Rizzoli & Isles are the property of Tess Gerritsen and TNT. No profit made, no infringement intended.


{20 years earlier}

Maura sits with her feet curled under her, her cream silk skirt tucked under her knees. Balanced on her lap is a thick book, the rhythm of the pages turning punctuated by the sharp sound of cracking despite the care she takes. On either side are her parents, in the midst of a heated discussion on the possibility of her father applying for Department Chair.

Maura has been home two weeks already for summer break, but she feels as though she's in a different time space continuum from her parents. In retrospect, she should have pushed harder for the internship. She was only a year too young, a rule that seemed hardly important to enforce when you factored in her IQ and self-sufficiently.

Finally the debate seems to come to a draw, both parties withdrawing to form rebuttal arguments. Her father settles on the couch beside her, and she's sure that now he'll finally comment on her reading material. He fumbles with his papers for a moment, and she tries to make sure that it's not noticeable that she's holding her breath, the beginnings of a smile at the edge of her lips.

"Maura," he starts, his voice deep, like reverberations against oak.

She looks up at him expectantly, eyes sparkling.

"Maura, can you give me the room? I think I'll do my writing here today," he finishes, his eyes already back to the pile of papers.

"Of course," Maura replies obediently, keeping any traces of disappointment from her voice. She tucks the book under her arm, exiting quickly.

As soon as she's in her room, she flings the book to the ground, fighting her urge to check the binding for damage. The book slumped against the floor is a research source from her father's second book, the one he'd been so thrilled to find that he hadn't stopped taking about it for days. Now balanced in Maura's lap is the Medico Legal Investigation of Death: Guidelines for the Application of Pathology to Crime Investigation.

...

{The present day}

Just listening to Hoyt's voice makes Jane want to take a hot shower. The bastard makes her skin crawl and her trigger finger itch. The irritation that crept into her voice didn't have a thing to do with Maura, but there she was, snapping at her.

"I'm sorry, I'm being a jerk," she apologizes, her face similar to the one that Joe Friday sometimes gives her, bashful and contrite.

The video flips back on, with Hoyt's ever annoying voice filling the room once more.

"I'm not afraid of you."

"I know, because you're like me."

Jane's eye is drawn to Maura's head snapping up, her fingers quickly moving to pause the video. Maura looks back at Jane for a millisecond, before dipping her head to stare intently at the papers surrounding her. While Maura may be the expert on reading facial expressions, Jane can clearly see the intensive discomfort in Maura's jaw and eyes, the silent plea of "don't ask me what's wrong in front of him". Any fleeting grumpiness in Jane has disappeared, replaced completely by concern.

"Hey, um, can you go ask Frost and Korsak if they've got anything yet?" Jane asks Special Agent Dean softly, hoping he'll take the hint to give them some space. He leaves, and Jane turns to Maura, her senses in full-on cop mode.

"You ok?" she asks as sits down beside Maura. Maura looks up, takes a breath as if to speak, and then looks down quickly. Her behaviour is incredibly familiar to Jane, someone desperate to admit their secrets, yet locked into silence by their fear.

"Come on, Maura, talk to me," Jane encourages, but Maura stays silent.

"He's a freak, okay?" Jane says, leaving no room for uncertainty in her tone. "He gets to everybody."

"I did a-" Maura starts, her voice catching.

She takes another breath and starts again, her eyes meeting Jane's, "I did a lot of research into his background, his childhood."

She has to look away from Jane to say the next words.

"Maybe he's not wrong."

Once she gets the words out, she looks up at Jane, searching desperately for her reaction.

"What are you talking about?" Jane replies, her dark, narrowed eyes looking back at Maura in confusion.

"Maybe I am a little bit like him," Maura admits.

Jane's response is visceral and adamant. "You are nothing like him."

"I don't- I don't know Jane. I was a weird kid," Maura says softly, biting her lip.

"Were you killing small animals?" Jane jokes.

Maura can't help but laugh.

"No, but I dissected a lot of frogs."

"No, that's different," Jane replies with a soft smile.

Maura gets up, needing to put space between herself and Jane. She feels like she's contagious, a flawed psyche that could harm everyone around it.

"I just started to think about things I've never really thought about before," Maura says in a rush of words.

"Here it are bodies buried in your basement," Jane adds sarcastically.

"I spent a lot of time alone," she admits softly.

"You know, I was adopted. And My father was a professor, and my mother, she came from a wealthy family. I was an only child," Maura says as her mind races and she struggles to keep her sentences articulate.

"I just realized something when I was reading about Hoyt, that had just never accrued to me before."

She takes a breath, trying not to obsess about the words before she can say them.

"There was a lot of benign neglect," she asserts, the words still feeling like a case to be tried by a jury, supposition rather than fact, as guilt and doubt pit in her stomach.

"It's not that they didn't love me, it's just that I didn't ask for much. I don't think I really knew how. And the less that I would ask for, the less time that they had for me. They were just very, very involved in their own lives, and into each other," Maura finishes, her lips trembling, her eyes watering as she tries to remain in control.

"Maura-" Jane starts, her eyes sympathetic.

"I'm cold, Jane," Maura interrupts, her voice quivering. "I'm cold like him."

"You're not cold, Maura," Jane contradicts with a reassuring smile. "You're a good friend. You care about me, and you show it."

"Jane- I don't- I don't interact well with people. I have a job so I can spend more time with the dead than the living. I didn't bond with my parents in the way I should have. I might- I might not be capable of love- of loving someone. I live by my head, not my heart- It wouldn't- It wouldn't take much for me to completely disassociate from society, to reason away law and consequences-" Maura says frantically, moving quickly between each thought.

Jane grabs Maura's arm and turns Maura to face her, halting the spewing words.

"Would you hurt me Maura?" Jane asks, her voice harder, and rising in volume. "Would you do what Hoyt did? Could you drive a scalpel through my palms?" Jane asks thrusting her scarred hands into Maura's face.

Tears fall from Maura's eyes.

"No," she whispers, shaking her head adamantly. "I'd lock myself up before I even hurt you like that," she says so softly it's barely audible.

"Could you ever hurt anyone else like that either?" Jane asks more gently.

"No," Maura says softly, biting her lip.

"Good, because I know you couldn't either," Jane says, looking her straight in the eye.

"Come here," Jane says, her voice deepened by emotion. She pulls Maura into her arms, holding her tightly.

"You're not like that monster, Maura. You're just you. You said you didn't think my scars were ugly, well, I think that you're just fine, no matter what kind of neglect or anti-social behaviour. You spout off words like a textbook, you practically put on heels to go to bed, and you always put aside everything the minute I need you. I love that you, ok?" Jane whispers in Maura's hair.

Maura just nods.