A Light in the Dark, Part 1 of 1
Pairing: Nothing overt, but if pushed, I'd say Jane/Maura, in the "we'll get there someday" sense
Spoilers: Through "I'm Your Boogie Man"
Warnings: You know, it's Hoyt. He's a scary guy, and he does lousy stuff to people. Jane's suffering from that, and this story explores that directly.
Disclaimer: The only thing that's mine is the plot, such as it is.
Stylistic Note: I almost never write in present tense, but it's a deliberate choice here. I really wanted there to be a sense of immediacy and connectedness, so it came down to present tense or first person, and since I needed Maura's point of view too – well, present tense, it is.
Continuity Note: I already wrote a post-ep for "I'm Your Boogie Man," and this one is entirely different. In this one, I'm mostly exploring Jane's conversation with Korsak – because it continues to bug me in that it subtly (or not-so-subtly, really) places blame on the victim (Jane, in this case) for allowing Hoyt to get into her head like he did. Unlike my other stories, which are all roughly in the same universe within Rizzoli and Isles, this one is completely separate.
His words weigh on her, follow her, haunt her, ring in her ears at just about every moment.
They keep her awake at night; they're the first thing she hears in her head when she wakes up holding back screams from yet another nightmare.
They're even louder when she wakes up actually screaming.
She knows it's messed up; she knows she's messed up.
She hasn't felt right since she realized the bastard had trained an apprentice; now that she knows he has more than one, she's seeing ghosts in every corner.
It pisses her off, feeling like this – adding these damn thoughts of Korsak's….
She doesn't blame him – he meant well, and, in the moment, the words had been comforting. It was only after Hoyt had been taken back to prison and the paralyzing fear still lingered that their damning meaning had begun to echo endlessly in her brain.
"No one can break Jane Rizzoli unless you let 'em."
She can't eat. Can't sleep.
"Unless you let 'em."
Can't leave her apartment without her gun in its holster at her side.
"Unless you let 'em."
By the second week, she's called her building's manager to ask about installing an alarm system. She's bought a case of Jolt and is adding 5 Hour Energy to her coffee. Her hands shake and she feels brittle, jittery.
"You let 'em."
By the third, caffeine has stopped working and she trudges through the day in a mechanical stupor. She can't afford the alarm, so she's bought two extra deadbolts but has yet to summon the energy to install the damn things.
"You let 'em."
Frost spends the first week pretending nothing is wrong, except that at every spare moment, he stares at her, troubled. By the second week, Maura is clearly beside herself with worry. Her mother's bullied Frankie into checking on her at all hours of the workday.
Korsak, bewildered and hurt, spends all day in the coffee shop.
Even Jo Friday has taken to sitting on the other side of the couch, having been dumped on the floor one too many times when her master jerked awake from another dream.
She's lost two pillows and a blanket to the nightmares.
Her clothes have begun to hang on her.
She can't talk to any of them. Not even Maura, because lately, whenever she looks at her, she hears Hoyt's threat, and the last thing she wants is for Maura to be a victim too.
Her life is crumbling around her.
And it's all her fault.
All her fault.
"No one can break Jane Rizzoli unless you let 'em."
They closed a tough case in the afternoon, and they're officially not on call for the weekend – orders from on high. The others expect her to meet them at the Dirty Robber but she just…can't.
She's lying on the couch, staring some cop show rerun that stars someone who looks eerily like Maura, when she hears the knock on the door.
She ignores it.
She ignores it.
Her phone vibrates at her hip.
She closes her eyes, but finds her hand in her pants pocket anyway.
Jane, it's me. Please let me in.
She gulps and clenches her hand around the phone. She closes her eyes until it vibrates again.
She stares at that "please" until her eyes begin to water, then finally heaves herself to her feet and pulls the door open. She is thinking just clearly enough to see the overnight bag on Maura's shoulder and heads to her bedroom without a word.
She lays down, curling around a pillow, back to Maura, who quietly stows her clothes in the closet.
It's Jo who breaks the silence, hopping up onto the bed and whining as she shoves her muzzle into Maura's stomach, begging for the attention she hasn't gotten from her master.
"Hi, sweetie," Maura says quietly, rubbing Jo's stomach. "I've missed you too." She settles on a corner of the bed and immediately has a lapful of excited dog. "I've been worried about you."
Jo whines and scurries across the bed to Jane's side, looking back mournfully at Maura. "It's okay, Jo," she says. "It'll be okay."
Tears prick at the back of Jane's eyes; she bites her thumb to stop them.
The bed shifts as Maura stands again. "Let's go for a walk," she calls to Jo, who yelps in excitement, and they're gone.
When they come back, she hears Maura bustling around in the bathroom for a while before she comes back and flicks the light off. Then she slips back into the bedroom and under the covers, still silently.
Jane stares up at the ceiling in the darkness, teeth clenched, hands balled into tight fists at her side.
She wants to cry.
She's afraid that if she does either, she'll never stop.
And what's worse – Maura's right there next to her, offering her a lifeline she desperately wants to take, except that all it can do is drown both of them.
She forces herself to stay awake, replaying Sox games in her head. If she sleeps, she'll dream, and the jig'll be up. She'll wake up hollering and –
She's pretty sure Maura is asleep next to her – her breathing is slow and even, and she hasn't moved in at least an hour.
But then – her body seizes in a completely confusing mess of alarm and gratitude – Maura's hand closes gently around her upper arm.
No words – no demands for explanations or vulnerability – but for the first time in weeks, she thinks she might just survive this.
Maura's fairly certain that neither of them have slept at all. Jane is still breathing in tight, shallow almost-gasps and the muscles in her arm might as well be steel.
She's determined not to push; it would only make Jane shut down. But, oh, is it hard. It has been since Tuesday, when she finally learned what was going on.
"Hey, Doc?" Korsak called as he came into the autopsy room. "You got a minute?"
She'd been just about to make the Y-incision on an autopsy, in fact, but the detectives at the scene had found a suicide note, an empty bottles of sleeping pills, and several types of antidepressants along with the knife with which he had slit his wrists, so she supposed a delay of a few minutes would be all right.
"What can I do for you?"
"You know what's bugging Jane?"
Maura had sighed; that was a sore subject for her, because she'd never quite experienced the awkward silences that now characterized her conversations with her friend.
She'd catch Jane looking at her sometimes, with such pain in her eyes, but she was either unable or unwilling to make the first move.
All of that ran through her head, but all that she said to Korsak was, "No."
"She can't even talk to me," Korsak had said. "I dunno what I did. Did I piss her off?"
"I don't think so. She's – " Maura cut herself off before she could overstep her bounds.
"She's not talkin' to you either?" Korsak had demanded, stunned. "What the hell?"
"Not really," Maura admitted.
"I can't figure out what changed," Korsak said. "We had a good talk – you know, when Hoyt… – then all of a sudden she can't even look at me."
Maura whirled and looked at him. "What did you talk about?"
"Hoyt. She saw photos…from the first time. Said she was broken. I told her she wouldn't ever be broken – that no one could break her unless she let them."
Maura's heart had dropped. She was certain that if she took an x-ray of herself at this very moment, she'd find her heart squished between her shins and ankle joint.
"You didn't," she whispered. "Oh, Vince."
As the sun comes up, she begins to soothingly stroke Jane's upper arm.
Finally, hoarsely, she says, "I can't do this, Maura."
"All right. You don't have to."
Jane's eyes – bloodshot, bleary, exhausted, haunted, and a thousand other things – flick to the side, then back up at the ceiling. "I can't."
Maura says nothing, but keeps up her gentle massage. Slowly she works down Jane's forearm to her wrist.
"Maura, please," she whispers.
Maura freezes immediately. "Is that 'please stop?' Because I will. Or is that – "
"Please help me," Jane says, almost in a groan. Suddenly she's on her side, her hands clenched around Maura's. Then, in a whisper: "Please help me."
Maura breathes a sigh of relief. She pulls one hand free and uses it to push Jane's hair away from her face. "It's not your fault," she says, palm pressed against Jane's cheek. "Jane, it's not your fault. None of this. What happened. How you feel. None of it."
With those words, something in Jane breaks. Her body sags, her eyes close, and big, silent tears soak the pillow beneath her.
Maura resumes her massage, working her way down Jane's forearm to her wrist, her palm, her fingers. She's acutely aware that no one – no one – else has this privilege and she's determined to honor that. Jo hops up onto the bed and whines, leaning against Jane's stomach.
"It's not your fault," she chants quietly. "It's not your fault."
Jane shudders and rolls over, facing the wall.
Maura begins rubbing her back; her every instinct is to fill the silence with…anything. Facts. Figures. All the research she's done on emotional trauma and PTSD.
Instead, she holds her tongue and simply maintains contact.
She's no good at this.
Superficial or scripted things? Sure. Some of her earliest memories are of afternoons spent with her grandmother as she taught Maura to navigate the often-dicey waters of high society.
Flirting, yes – because it's a natural growth of that charm and poise that was instilled in her from her earliest childhood.
But connecting with someone on an emotional level?
That she is generally very bad at – Jane is really her one success story there. At one point, she might have said Garrett, but she's come to realize she never really knew him at all.
When Jane relaxes a bit, she scoots a bit closer – close enough now for her to feel Jane's body heat, and for Jane to feel hers. She gently lays her right arm across Jane's abdomen – not precisely hugging, but close enough that if Jane wants it to be a hug, it can be.
"Maura – "
"Shhh," she soothes. "Sleep."
Her head shakes violently. "No."
"You'll be all right. I'll be here. I've got your back, Jane – I'm at your back. You'll be okay."
Jane begins to tremble. Her head shakes again. "I – dream – I'll kick you. Hit you. Jo won't come anywhere near me anymore. I'll – "
"I'll be okay. You won't hurt me."
"I hurt everybody."
She strokes Jane's hair with her free hand, though it's awkward. "No."
"No, Jane. No." She risks tightening her hold slightly; Jane's body shifts, just a little, tacit permission. "It was never you."
It takes at least an hour before the tension begins to fade and she senses that Jane may have dozed off to sleep.
Jane is flailing; sheets, pillows, and blankets alike are strewn across the floor, and her voice, though she is muttering nonsense, is filled with panic.
Maura dodges Jane's flailing arm a moment too late. The back of Jane's hand collides with her cheek in a dull thud.
Maura winces but shakes it off, trying to ignore the tears that have sprung to her eyes, ducking under Jane's arm to whisper in her ear, "Jane, you're safe. Wake up."
Jane rolls away from her and lurches to her feet, backing away from the bed. Only when she backs into the wall with a thud does sense return to her eyes.
Her knees buckle and she sinks to the floor.
Maura scrambles across the bed to kneel at Jane's side, but Jane shies from her touch, so she simply sits there, hands outstretched in her lap, offering without insisting.
For a long time, neither of them moves. If Maura weren't such a patient person, she thinks, she'd have given up long ago.
But her patience is rewarded as, still silently, Jane's hand slowly moves into her grasp.
"It's not your fault."
She can feel Jane's pulse hammering and her hands are shaking.
She resumes her massage, this time starting at the fingertips and working up. When she touches the area around the scar tissue on her palm, she hears Jane swallow a sob.
"It's not your fault."
Jane gulps. "You keep saying that." She tries to pull her hands back, but Maura tightens her hold – not enough to really trap her, but enough to make her point. After a moment, Jane relaxes and leaves her hands where they are.
"I'll say it as much as you need to hear it. It's not your fault. It's Hoyt's fault. All of it. All of it, Jane. None of it is you."
"Korsak – "
"Korsak got a piece of my mind on Tuesday. And yesterday and the day before."
It's enough to make Jane smile, just a little.
Jane turns her hand over, allowing Maura to continue her massage. "This'll never be over, will it? They can kill him, and I'll still – he's like the goddamn boogey man."
Maura sighs. "I once told Frost that I used to be frightened of people. I still am. Most people."
"You might have noticed that my social skills are – well, let's just say that aside from Garrett, I don't go on many second dates. Sometimes I don't finish first dates."
"Yeah, you know, I don't get that. You knew exactly what to say with the Fairfields."
"There wasn't a person there who hadn't been taught from birth exactly what to say, how to say it, and to whom to say it."
"But us normal people…?"
Maura shakes her head in protest and reaches for Jane's other hand, beginning again with her fingertips. "It's not that. It's – when I have to make conversation, fend for myself. I get anxious because I don't know what to say, and when I get anxious – "
"You talk Google."
"Most people find that off-putting, which hampers my relationships with them. Which simply makes me more anxious."
"So you're saying fears don't go away. Swell."
Maura gasps. "No, that's – Jane, what I'm saying is that I found you. Someone I'm safe with. Someone who…doesn't abandon me even though I might be frustrating sometimes. Can I – will you let me be that for you? Can I – can I be your safe place?"
"I – "
"You let me protect you before."
Jane's whole body sags before she reluctantly nods. She allows Maura to tug her to her feet. "You got a bruise on your face."
For the first time in her life, Maura finds that she's able to lie; she will not – will not – add to Jane's torment. "I was distracted. Hit your medicine cabinet."
Jane's either too tired or too scared of the alternative; either way, she accepts the lie, and allows Maura to tuck her into bed.
"It's not my fault?"
"It's not your fault, Jane. No one chooses to be broken. No one chooses it. If Hoyt broke you – and I'm not sure he did – it's because he is, like most sociopaths, a talented manipulator."
The last tension seeps out of Jane's body as she nods. "Thanks, Maura."
When she wakes up an hour later from another nightmare, something has changed. It's still scary as hell, and she knows she'll be sleeping in fits and starts for a long time – but that heavy, oppressive, all-consuming horror is gone.
By the afternoon, she's managed a couple of consecutive hours of sleep – and she's coherent enough to wonder just what the hell she's going to do when Maura leaves.
Despite that, she's not entirely surprised to find out later that Maura has a week's worth of clothes in her car.