Title: Ask Me No Questions…
Category: Ooh, um…I think I'm going to have to file this under: R/I romance!
Notes: This is set just before the end of I Kissed a Girl and pretty much pretends that the last scene of that episode didn't happen. It'll work a hell of a lot better if you all do likewise *g* My thanks to feroxargentea for unsplitting my infinitives and demixing my metaphors and a huge thanks to laurel_hardy for casting out my unwitting Britishisms.
Feedback, as ever, is always welcome.
Disclaimer: Don't own a thing. Please don't sue me.
. . . . .
Ask Me No Questions…
. . . . .
The cotton swab was moved efficiently and routinely in the correct procedural manner over the right-hand side of Jane Rizzoli's throat. During her career, Maura Isles had taken thousands of swabs in an effort to preserve DNA, to categorize bodily fluids, or to identify victims whose bodies had decomposed far beyond the point where a loved one could be exposed to the sight of the remains. On this particular evidence-gathering occasion, focusing on the thought of decomposing corpses conveniently provided her with the distraction she so desperately needed. It was enough to allow her to ignore the fact that the usually staid Detective Rizzoli was laughing helplessly as the cotton tickled her. It was almost enough to stop Maura from responding to the warm skin beneath her fingers that was vibrating gently as Jane tried her hardest to cooperate and remain still. Almost, but not quite, and Maura felt herself flush slightly as she lifted the cotton away. She quickly turned her back to seal the swab in a plastic bag.
"Get everything you need?" Jane dropped her hair down and scratched her neck. "I'm okay to wash this now?"
"Yes." Maura croaked the word and then cleared her throat to try and make her answer more audible. "Yes. That should be fine. I'll get this straight off to the lab."
"Great. Call me as soon as the results come in." Jane's hand was already on the door, but she hesitated and studied her friend carefully. "Are you okay, Maura?"
"Fine. I'm fine," Maura said hurriedly and then forced herself to take a breath. "Do I not look okay?"
Unable to articulate exactly why she had even asked, Jane frowned and took a moment to consider her reasoning. "I don't…" There was something different, something she couldn't put her finger on, just out of reach but undoubtedly there. "…I guess, yeah, you look…" she shook her head and raised her hands in surrender, "terrific, as always." She shrugged and gave a quick grin. "I have to bring Frost up to speed. Call me."
The door swung shut behind her, and Maura reached back with both hands to grip the edge of the autopsy table.
"Dammit," she whispered, closing her eyes as the heat slowly dissipated from her cheeks. When she looked up again, her cell phone was the first thing she saw, sitting right there on the desk in front of her. She knew that it would be all too easy to send a message; something casual and light-hearted and concluded with a winkie or a smiley or whatever the kids called those constructions made entirely of improperly-used punctuation marks utilized to indicate that the recipient should not read too much into an innocent enquiry.
The cell phone felt strangely heavy when Maura picked it up. She sighed and then set it down again without even unlocking the screen.
"I don't want to know," she announced to the sheet-covered corpse on the table, who remained deceased and utterly indifferent to her plight. "I said I wouldn't ask, and I won't." Drawing reassurance from her own immutable sense of conviction, Maura set her tray of instruments down and folded the sheet away. She didn't have time for this. She had work to do.
. . . . .
"Autopsy of Caucasian male, as yet unidentified. Age…" Maura screwed her nose up as she studied the bloated corpse before her, "…indeterminate. Body is in an advanced stage of decomposition following submersion in fresh water for an unknown period of time, most likely in excess of two weeks." She noted the faint suggestion of a tattoo on her subject's left shoulder and a piercing through the center of his protruding tongue. Both of these distinguishing features would almost certainly prove invaluable for piecing together the identity of the John Doe; this was definitely not a body that a relative would be asked to view. A DNA profile would also be essential. Maura glanced at the clock on the wall, ostensibly to note the time for her records but unofficially to calculate exactly how long the labs had been working on the other and slightly less orthodox sample she had so recently procured.
"Commencing autopsy at 3.15 p.m. with the Y-incision. Oh, ow…" Her eyes wide with shock, she looked down as the scalpel landed on the floor with a musical clink. The blade had sliced neatly through her surgical glove and then her palm as it had dropped from her grasp. Peeling the damaged glove off, she pressed a wad of gauze against the incision before taping a fresh piece into place to stanch the blood. One new slightly larger glove and a clean scalpel later, she was once again poised at the clavicle of John Doe Number 28.
She pressed record on the Dictaphone, splatters of blood drying on the small machine from where she had stopped and rewound it. "Commencing autopsy at 3.27 p.m. with the Y-incision."
When her blade sliced into the sloughing flesh, the stench that rose up was enough to make her eyes tear. Floaters were high on her list of Least Favorite Autopsies and this was one of the worst examples she had ever been presented with. The smell of this body would cling to her for days. The cut on her palm stung fiercely as she put pressure on the scalpel, and her lower back ached from the various autopsies she had already performed that day. Forcing the blade deeper, Maura for once allowed herself the luxury of wallowing in her misery. As she peeled back layers of skin and muscle, she realized there was one bright side to her current preoccupation with self-pity: she hadn't thought about Jane or how an admissible piece of evidence had found its way onto Jane's neck for at least an hour.
. . . . .
"Hey, I got your message and… oh, holy shit!" Jane stopped dead in her tracks, her hand flying to her face to simultaneously pinch her nose shut and cover her mouth. "God, Maura, a little warning next time," she mumbled through her fingers.
"Sorry." Maura didn't sound half as remorseful as Jane would have liked, and there was an amused glint in her eyes as she peeled her gloves off and dropped them onto the table. "Nothing sinister about this one," she said, scribbling a quick final note onto the chart. "Blood alcohol was way up. No real surprise; his liver is heavily cirrhosed. All the injuries sustained appear consistent with the typical post-mortem pattern found in submerged victims. I'll give Crowe the good news later."
"He'll be thrilled." Jane lowered her hand gingerly and took an experimental breath.
"I'm sure he will be." With a gesture, Maura ushered Jane towards the computer on her desk. "Speaking of happy endings…"
A file appeared on the screen, two DNA profiles aligned side by side. Jane's eyes widened as she studied them, a smile curling the edges of her lips. "Well, would you look at that?"
"Perfect match," Maura confirmed. "So," she licked her lips, her mouth suddenly dry. "Who is she?"
"Oh, manager at Merch. I think she was having an affair with the vic's wife," Jane answered distractedly, her attention caught by something else entirely. "Hey, what happened here?" She felt the sudden tension in Maura's bandaged hand as she caught hold of it, and she immediately loosened her grip. "Sorry, I didn't mean to hurt you."
Maura shook her head. "No, no it's fine." The smile she gave was not at all convincing. "I, uh, wasn't concentrating and the scalpel just slipped. It's nothing." The wound was throbbing dully and she offered no complaint as Jane ushered her into her office and sat her down in a chair.
"How long you been slicing and dicing?" The rich scent of fresh coffee made Maura's mouth water as Jane poured two cups and added generous amounts of cream and sugar.
"I'm not sure." Maura squinted up at her friend. "What time is it now?"
"Just past seven."
"That would make it three and a half hours, then."
Jane took a sip of her coffee and raised a skeptical eyebrow. "Not forgetting the eight hours I'm guessing you'd already done."
"Yep." Setting her cup aside, Jane unfastened the office's small first aid kit and then carefully peeled the discolored dressing away from Maura's palm. "Ouch," she said with a sympathetic wince.
"It's superficial, Jane."
"Mmhm. This is gonna hurt, honey." The hydrogen peroxide cut through the aroma of the coffee, and Maura sucked in a sharp breath as Jane used a swab soaked in the antiseptic to clean the laceration. "Sorry, sorry, but think of all those bugs and nasties you've been sticking your hands in…"
"You know I'm a doctor, don't you?" Maura intended the rhetorical question to sound wry, but mainly it just came out sounding bone-weary.
"Yeah, you may've mentioned that once or twice." Jane held Maura's hand up to the light, attempting to appraise the wound's depth. "So, Doctor Isles, would this be better with butterfly sutures?"
Deciding to give in with good grace, Maura sighed. "Probably." She leaned back in her chair and closed her eyes as Jane upended the first aid kit all over the table and began to search for the right packet. "Will you be making the arrests tonight?"
"Yeah. Well, one of them. Figure if we offer a good enough deal she might give up the grieving widow. Crap, I'm not very good at this…" Jane's placement of the sutures was not exactly text-book but it was enough to seal the wound effectively. "I don't think I'll be going home for a while. Okay, all done." With gentle fingers she taped down the edges of a clean dressing. "I'm guessing you have another hot date tonight?"
"Wh..?" Maura had been pleasantly lulled by Jane's ministrations, but now she cracked one eye open. "Oh, Brock? No, not tonight. I'm not sure." She shrugged; she had barely thought of him all day. "I don't think we're all that compatible."
"No?" Tidying the spare dressings away, Jane laughed quietly, remembering an earlier conversation. "He's not your type, either?"
Maura experimentally opened and closed her palm. "No," she said with a soft smile, instantly placing the reference. "He's not my type, either."
. . . . .
With her feet curled beneath her and an empty wine-glass cradled loosely in her hands, Maura was drowsing on her sofa when her cell phone buzzed. She knew without looking whom the message would be from. It was just gone eleven; Jane must have wrapped things up earlier than she had expected. The message was typically succinct: Job done. Fancy a nightcap?
Less than ten minutes later, the doorbell rang.
. . . . .
"You were parked up around the corner, weren't you?" Maura cast an appreciative eye over the bottle of expensive wine Jane had just presented her with as she led the way into her kitchen.
"It's possible I was already in the neighborhood, yes," Jane conceded cheerfully. "I took a wild guess and figured you'd still be awake. Thank you very much." She slurped a noisy sip of wine and smacked her lips. "All tastes the same to me. Guy at the store said it was a very fine vintage."
Maura chuckled at Jane's appropriation of an upper-class Bostonian accent and then nodded sagely. "It is very pleasing."
"Then I am very pleased."
Ignoring Maura's feigned gasp of horror, Jane opened the large bag of chips she had also bought, gave Bass a wide berth, and headed into the living room.
"Everything went smoothly, then?" Maura propped her legs on the ottoman Jane had pulled over, crossing them at the ankles to mimic Jane's position, leaving their toes inches apart.
"Smooth as this very nice wine." The bottle clanked clumsily against the glass as Jane helped herself to a top-up. "Didn't take much encouragement to get her to cooperate. She's going to wear a wire for us tomorrow morning. Amazing what you can get with one little kiss…"
The crunching of a handful of chips smothered the small choked-off squeak that inadvertently escaped Maura.
"Woah, careful, you're gonna spill that." Jane's fingers closed over Maura's, correcting the angle of her teetering wine glass. "Maura?"
"You're white as a sheet."
"I'm fine. It's nothing," Maura whispered, before adding in an undertone, "I said I wouldn't ask."
"Wouldn't ask what?" Now genuinely concerned, Jane tipped Maura's chin gently until she reluctantly raised her head. "Wouldn't ask what?"
"But I don't need to ask now." With a shake of her head, Maura looked away, bewildered by how much she hurt despite the fact that all Jane had done was confirm Maura's own suspicions. She heard herself speak as if from a distance, the words coming out unbidden. "She kissed you."
A large glass of wine and a dinner comprising half a bag of chips wasn't exactly conducive to intricate hypothesizing, and for a second Jane stared in utter bemusement at her friend, attempting to figure out what the hell was going on. No longer pallid, Maura's cheeks were streaked pink with embarrassment, and the low light caught the tears glistening in her eyes. In the end, there was nothing sophisticated about Jane's conclusions; the answer was right there, trying to hide from her questioning gaze and looking thoroughly miserable.
"Oh, honey." All or nothing, Jane told herself. Ignoring the sudden flood of adrenaline that made her breathing uneven and her hand tremble, she managed to take hold of Maura's glass and set it down. "It wasn't a kiss."
"No?" Maura's tone implied a distinct lack of belief.
"No. It was more like this."
The pulse at Maura's throat was pounding when Jane lightly grazed her lips against it, and she felt it quicken as Maura fought unsuccessfully not to respond to her touch.
Tears leaked from Maura's eyes and she squeezed them shut. "That felt like a kiss," she murmured, her voice faint and wistful.
Hands damp with sweat and then with her own tears cupped her face and turned her head slightly. She could feel the flutter of Jane's breath and knew that if she opened her eyes, Jane would be unbearably close to her. She kept them shut.
"Please, don't." There was nothing but uncertainty underlying her words and she shook her head as if to emphasize her point.
"…This is a kiss," Jane said slowly, sounding out each word so as to leave no doubt of her intention.
Warm lips pressed tentatively against Maura's, and any thoughts of resolve or resistance she might have entertained crumbled in an instant. Her mouth opened slightly, drawing in the salt-sweet taste that lingered on Jane's lips. When she smiled their tongues touched fleetingly, the sensation at once raw and shy and lovely.
"Oh." Maura blinked, momentarily dizzy as they parted. Jane's smile was the first thing she saw when she relearned how to focus. "Oh. Now that was a kiss."
Tucking a strand of Maura's hair away from her face, Jane began to laugh helplessly. "I thought you couldn't tell a lie, Doctor Isles."
"I can't," Maura confirmed, nibbling nervously where her bottom lip still tingled. "I do feel a little faint, though."
"Yeah." Jane's hand closed around hers. "Probably because you told me I wasn't your type."
"Oh." A sob hiccupped from her and she raised a shaky hand to Jane's cheek. "I've told that lie for so long, Jane. I'd convinced myself it was the truth."
"So, no more lies."
"No more lies," Maura agreed breathlessly.
This time when Jane leaned in and kissed her again, she kept her eyes open.
. . . . .
. . . . .
Tiny bit of shameless pimping for anyone who might be interested in reading some original f/f fiction by yours truly… My first novel, Snowbound, is being published by Bold Strokes Books in December! *happy and still slightly stunned dance.* They already had a CJ so the book is being published under the name Cari Hunter. Links to a new author's blog and the BSB site are on my ff net profile page /And here endeth the pimpage/ ;-)/