Bass Isles: Matchmaker
Bass Isles whipped his head to the right, which is to say that nearly two minutes passed between deciding to do so and achieving the end result of the action. He blinked slowly thereby giving the impression of not having done so at all and stared, something he had down to an art form, at his beloved human. She hadn't really said what he thought she had…had she?
"No, really, Bass, Jane is about to go crazy at her mother's, so if we can get Jane to come here to finish recuperating, it will be easy. Jane is oblivious to all my efforts, but I know we can get her to see what's right in front of her. If she had a boyfriend, she wouldn't take these ridiculous chances," Maura continued to explain her plans to her pet.
Said pet pulled his head back into his shell where her voice was sufficiently muffled and he could pretend not to hear her, though not sufficiently enough that he couldn't hear her at all. It really was a pity that African Spurred Tortoises didn't have sound proof shells. Hmmm. Maybe there was something he could do about it. Maura had a lovely purple quilted jacket that might do the trick. Now if he could just get her to leave it lying around somewhere convenient. Aware that the flow of words had diminished to an irritated-sounding repetition of his name, Bass peeked out to find his human with hands on hips, tapping a toe impatiently.
"Bass, you're not listening."
What was your first clue? Of course, he wasn't listening. He never listened when Maura was in mating mode. It never worked out well for anyone involved, least of all Bass. The last testosterone choked moron who had visited had actually tried to use him for a foot rest while watching a baseball game on Maura's TV. As if that wasn't bad enough, the muscle-bound ignoramus had turned off Animal Planet to do so. Bass had just about gotten to an ankle-chopping distance when Maura had shrieked and tossed Mr. Muscles out on his perfectly rounded butt. Bass was still nursing a grudge that she'd invited the jerk home at all. But that was Maura in mating mode. What made matters worse this time was that she'd decided ruining her own life, and by association his own, wasn't enough. No, now she was out to ruin Jane Rizzoli's life as well.
Bass adamantly refused to have any part in it. Jane was just fine as she was. After their first ignoble meeting, he had actually grown fond of the tall, thin woman. Jane made his Maura happy and did Bass repeated favors by participating in all Maura's various exercise endeavors thereby diverting Maura from her attempts to fit him with a harness and leash. A leash, no less! Bass had found himself chuckling along as Jane had rolled on the couch in uproarious laughter while Maura had tried to fit the leather straps around his shell. A couple of well placed snaps had put an end to the leash, the harness, and that bright idea rather quickly. Well, that and Jane's promise to run some marathon with Maura. He just hoped Jane had had an equal amount of luck talking Maura out of that ridiculous footwear she'd left home wearing on the morning of the marathon.
Yes, he liked Jane Rizzoli. She'd even protected him when Maura had dragged him to the morgue. The morgue! Like that was any place for a self-respecting, still-breathing tortoise to want to hang out. And why? Because he'd felt he needed to drop a pound or two. So he'd skipped a couple of meals, so what? If he'd been back in Africa no one would have put him on a feeding regimen. He would have eaten if and when he pleased, and that day he would have been pleased to have strawberries. Instead, he kept getting a wilted lettuce leaf waved in his face- hence the immediate plan to diet. The next thing he'd known, badly dressed muscle heads with guns had shot up the place. Just when he was sure it was tortoise soup for him, Jane had arrived and saved his shell. It saddened him to think she had been shot in the aftermath, but in typical Jane style, she'd sacrificed herself to save her brother Frankie. Jane Rizzoli was a hero and Bass' personal savior. He wouldn't soon forget that; so no, he wasn't going to help Maura trick Jane into falling in to some guy's lap. Nope, he was going to aim Jane right at Maura's lap where he could keep his hero close by at all times. He didn't know when he might need her protection again; tortoise shells weren't bullet proof after all. Or sound proof, he thought with a sigh as Maura launched into another version of her plan.
A few days later, Bass was parked in front of the large plasma TV watching a rather curvy Aldabra tortoise strut her stuff when the apartment door flung open and Maura, with a weekend bag slung over one shoulder, half carried a complaining Jane Rizzoli and into the living room, settling her on the couch behind him. Ponderously, Bass turned to appraise his savior. Pale, much too pale and irritated almost beyond tolerance. Yep, wounded and subjected to Maura's tender care.
"Maura, I'd be fine at my own apartment. I'd prefer it actually," Jane argued.
"No, it's easier to bring you here than to take Bass there," Maura deflected her.
"Take Bass… Why would you have to take Bass anywhere? He's fine here, and I'd be fine at home." Jane huffed and crossed her arms over her chest.
"Jane, I'd have to be constantly running back and forth. It's much easier to have you both in one place. Besides, Bass will feel safer with you here," Maura concluded.
Rolling her eyes, Jane looked down at the tortoise that stared back at her expressionlessly.
"How far do you usually get arguing with her?" Jane asked Bass in frustration.
About as far as you do. You should try pulling your head in. It helps.
"I'm going to put your things into the bedroom and then fix you both some lunch," Maura trilled and headed off to do just that. "You just make yourself comfortable."
"I guess we'll have to make the best of it," Jane groused to Bass, lifting one foot to rest on the coffee table.
"And keep your feet off my coffee table," floated down the hall. "And shoes off the couch."
"Get comfortable, she says," Jane mimicked. "But don't prop your feet up. How the hell am I supposed to get comfortable with my feet down?"
Turning, Bass slowly backed up in to the side of Jane's calf. Bass noticed her expression of amazement as he wedged himself under her legs until both were propped up on his shell.
"Well, thanks, Bass," she smiled still, surprise evident in her voice. "So what are we watching?" Grabbing the remote, Jane activated the guide. "Tortoises of the World? Good enough. That one's got a nice shell, sorta smooth and rounded."
Ooooo, baby, Bass agreed bobbing his head to show his approval as he checked out the pictured female with a remarkably colored carapace. When the show's host flipped her up to show her plastron, Bass ducked back into his shell.
"You're right. That is kind of intrusive," Jane commented. "I'd snap a few fingers if he tried that with me…or you," Jane added as an afterthought.
My hero. Bass thought.
A short time later, Maura came into the living room carrying a tray of soup and sandwiches which she almost dropped on seeing Jane talking to Bass. The tortoise craned his neck back as if intently listening, nodding sagely from time to time. What was more surprising was that Jane's feet were crossed at the ankles and propped comfortably on the shell of an uncomplaining Bass.
"Yeah," Jane was saying, "that leopard tortoise was a looker, but you've got much more attractive markings. So you think you might be related to this Timothy, which is a strange name for a girl, by the way. I can see you striding on the deck of a big ship."
Maura shook her head and stifled a laugh. They must have been watching Tortoises of the World. How else would Jane have known about the Royal Navy's mascot? That must be some pain medication Jane was taking. Maura made a mental note to verify the side effects.
"I see you two are making friends," she commented as she rounded the couch to set the tray on the low table. "I know I said no feet on the table. I didn't think I had to add no feet on the tortoise."
"Hey! It was his idea," Jane defended herself. "He backed himself under my feet and just stayed there."
"So you just decided to go with it and watch a tortoise documentary?" Maura chided.
Jane gave her a narrow-eyed look.
"Bass was already watching this show. It would have been rude to just change the channel," Jane looked at Maura askance.
Maura could have sworn Bass gave her the same look. Shaking off the idea, she handed Jane a mug of soup and a spoon before setting a small dish of greenery in front of Bass.
"Eat your lunch, you too. There're strawberries for dessert," she said as an incentive.
Detective and tortoise seemed to exchange a look before diving into their respective lunches. Maura had never seen Bass eat so fast and felt she needed to say something.
"Slow down. You'll upset your stomach," she cautioned Bass.
"Leave him alone, Maura. He's going to outlive us all."
"Bass has a very delicate constitution," Maura began.
"You're going to be one of those over protective mothers, aren't you?" Jane cut in. "I can see I'm going to have to be around to make sure your kid has at least a fighting chance at a normal childhood."
Maura opened her mouth, closed it, opened it again, and then blushed profusely. It was amazingly easy to imagine Jane with her child, with their child.
"You'd help me with that, wouldn't you, Bass buddy?" Jane went on, oblivious to Maura's reaction.
Help you with making sure the two of you have children together? Of course, Jane my hero. It's what I'm here for. Bass closed one eye lid in a slow wink.
"He winked at you!" Maura gasped.
"You been sneaking my pain meds, Maura?" Jane cackled and then winked back. "Ok, lunch is done. We want our dessert now. Bass, how do you feel about baseball? The game starts in ten minutes."
If we must.
Maura settled in a corner of the couch with a glass of wine and a book which she mostly ignored in favor of watching Jane and Bass as they viewed the game on TV. Jane explained the rules as they went, giving Bass her opinion on different players and their various records. Bass for his part nodded wisely while sharing his attention between the screen and Jane. Maura did not realize this day would act as a precedent. The Sox were just beginning a three-game series at home, so there were two more nights of baseball watching to come.
She'd return from work to find Jane stretched out on the couch or sitting with her feet propped on his shell while she and Bass watched Animal Planet. Sometimes Jane would be napping, and other times she was discussing the show with the large tortoise. They would eat their dinner and then switch over to the game.
On the third night, Maura joined them after cleaning up the kitchen, as was her habit, only to find Jane sporting a Red Sox ball cap while Bass had on a tiny red batting helmet with the Sox logo on the side.
"Jane!" Maura exclaimed, appalled Jane would put such a thing on Bass' head, though admittedly he didn't seem to be trying to get it off. "Where did you get that thing?'
"What? Korsak came by and brought it. Bass likes it," Jane defended.
It's very shell like, Bass added.
Maura reached to remove the offending hat and Bass moved his head out of reach. Evidently, he wanted to wear the hat.
"See? He likes it. Leave him alone. The game's starting."
Giving up, Maura got her book and her wine, once again too busy watching the unlikely pair to actually read. Every time Jane cheered, a small helmet clad head would bob up and down in shared joy, and when Jane booed a bad call, a small hiss would issue from under said helmet.
She's turned Bass into a jock, Maura thought at one point with a dreamy little smile. She'd be so good with children. Maura found herself picturing a small, dark-headed child, wearing a similar helmet, draped over Jane's lower legs and Bass' back.
The following night, since there was no game on, Maura insisted they watch something that Jane called a "chick flick." Her sarcastic tone left Bass a bit leery and he found himself often ducking into his shell when scantily clad humans would begin mating rituals, much as he did when such things appeared on Animal Planet. Really, some things should just be left private, though he did notice Maura seemed to move closer to Jane during those parts of the movie. Maybe they should watch more of these "chick flicks." If Maura got close enough maybe Jane would get the idea and they could get on with the falling in love part. They could even have a little one. Bass wondered if they made tortoise saddles so the little one wouldn't fall off when he gave her rides. He thought he'd make a good big brother.
That night as they prepared for bed both Jane and Maura were watching each other from the corners of their eyes more than usual. Since the guest room was technically Bass' room, Maura had convinced Jane to share her bed the first night. It wasn't like they hadn't shared a bed before at both their apartments, but this was the first time the two seemed uncomfortable with the idea. Once Jane was tucked into bed on the side nearest the en suite, Maura had gone into the bathroom to change. Bass saw his chance.
Positioning himself near the door, he waited. Jane watched his movements curiously. The lamp on the far side of the bed cast just enough shadow that he wasn't immediately visible. When Maura came out, he moved suddenly startling her. Trying to avoid stepping on him, she twisted, bumped the table on that side, and ended up sprawled across Jane. Smiling to himself, Bass began to make his way to his own room for the night.
"Damn, Maura, I didn't think you'd literally jump me," Jane gasped trying to regain the breath Maura had knocked out of her.
"Are you all right?" Maura asked in a concerned voice.
"No, I'm fine," Jane assured her. As Maura attempted to slide to the side and off of her, Jane trapped her in place with her arms. "Don't. You might hurt me," she said with a teasing smile.
"I might hurt you by getting off of you as opposed to lying on top of you?" Maura shook her head at the reasoning.
"There's all kinds of ways of getting hurt," Jane explained. "And of hurting. It feels good right where you're at."
"You took your pain meds again, didn't you?" Maura queried.
"Not yet. I've got something better than the meds right now." Jane tightened her grip. "Com'ere and give me my medicine," she teased with a sultry grin.
Bass watched as Maura lowered her head and captured Jane's smiling lips with her own. Their lips slid against each other's as small moans and whimpers pierced the air. Bass wished he could move faster out of the room. There were some things a tortoise didn't need to see. At last Maura drew back.
"You planned this," she accused, though she didn't look unhappy about the idea.
"Bass planned this," Jane corrected. "I saw him do it."
"Right," Maura scoffed with an eye roll for emphasis.
"I swear," Jane crossed her heart and held up two fingers. "That's a devious tortoise. You need to watch him. The round guy knows more than he lets on."
Shaking her head, Maura laughed. "If you say so, Jane. "
At the doorway, Bass huffed quietly. Oh, ye of little faith, he thought as he moved into the hall. Mission accomplished, he added. I really do need to think of a way to sound proof my shell, he mused as the moans grew louder following him into his room. She's never been this loud before.