The More Things Change, Part 1 of 30
Spoilers: Through "When the Gun Goes Bang, Bang, Bang"
Warnings: None, really, that I can think of. I'm a bit squeamish myself, so beyond a little blood, that's about as graphic as the medical stuff gets.
Disclaimer: The only thing that's mine is the plot, such as it is.
Note: This is a long one. It's actually the longest thing I've ever written, which is why it took so long to finish up – I don't post WIPs. This opening scene, however, was complete pretty much in its final form here by fifteen minutes or so after the finale ended. I tried to capture here the eerie, super slow-mo feeling of those last few seconds of the episode itself.
It was surreal.
She knew, in a distant, far-off way, that she was running.
She could feel the crunch as her feet hit the shattered glass on the linoleum, the shock that went from her hands all the way down to her feet as she stiff-armed the door open, as she had a fleeting thought that one of her heels felt loose – but somehow, for a moment, everything seemed to freeze.
She heard her own voice call out.
And then she heard a muffled gunshot.
Briefly, she was puzzled. It just sounded…wrong, in a way even her analytical mind struggled to place. No one would bother with a silencer. It couldn't have been one of the cops, and Marino still –
Then, in a moment of sickening clarity, the evidence of her eyes and ears caught up with each other as she watched both Marino and Jane collapse.
The front of Jane's shirt was stained with blood.
The front of Jane's shirt, where the gun had –
"Jane!" she cried, reaching out from twenty feet away as if she could catch her as she fell; even as she did it, she knew it was ridiculous, but her rational mind had deserted her.
Jane would have been proud of her for that.
Their eyes locked for a moment and she thought she saw Jane's hands move towards her, just briefly, before her eyes closed and her body slumped, unconscious. "No, you…. Jane!"
The weight of a hand splayed across her back, to provide the largest shield possible.
She broke into a full-fledged sprint, high heels and all, until her shoe gave under her and she found herself on her hands and knees.
A hand on her arm, keeping her in the background, protecting her – taking the danger on herself.
"Oh God, Jane!"
Jane, making eye contact one last time as she was dragged away, insisting, "Okay…it's okay…."
She turned and saw officers speaking into their radios. "Get an ambulance!"
They paused and stared at her – at the infamously cool and collected Queen of the Dead, with her broken shoes and torn dress, on the edge of hysteria – and it was only after she added "Hurry!" that she realized they had probably been doing just that.
Korsak grunted as he landed hard on his knees beside her. "Aw, Jane," he muttered, trailing his fingers through her hair for a brief, vulnerable moment. "I'm sorry, kid. I shoulda taken the shot."
He shook his head even as he secured the weapons and pressed his fingers to Marino's neck.
The conclusion was…well, it was more an informed hypothesis than conclusion, of course, but Jane would have called it inescapable.
He had probably been hit right in the heart.
Maura pressed her fingers to her eyes so hard she saw stars, trying to block out the image of the path the bullet must have taken as it tore its way through Jane's body and into his.
Up through Jane's body. This was no simple through-and-through.
Over the years, she'd done post-mortem exams on one hundred twenty-six abdominal gunshot wounds, counting the ones she'd worked on in medical school, but to imagine that kind of damage wreaked on her own friend's body….
It was inconceivable.
She sucked in an uneven breath and wished, not for the first time, that she'd done more in her time with Medecins Sans Frontieres than autopsies.
She'd gone to Dakar fresh out of medical school, full of her parents' philanthropic ideals and stinging from Garrett's sudden move to Milan. When the doctors there had found out she was a pathologist, they had been delighted and set her to work right away.
At the time, she'd been pleased at the chance to hone her skills even further, and at the thought that she was contributing in a way that no one else could.
She'd spent two years in that autopsy room and when she'd left, she'd thought it had been the best additional training she could have hoped for.
Today she fervently wished they'd sent her out into the field, even for a few days. If she'd had to employ her admittedly basic knowledge of first aid under duress, perhaps it wouldn't have entirely vanished from her mind now.
"ABCs," she whispered, leaning close to Jane's mouth to listen. "ABCs…ABCs." For a moment, she wasn't sure why she couldn't hear anything, and then the commotion outside – cops yelling, people running, even the howl of sirens and squeal of tires as yet more squad cars approached the scene – finally registered.
She reached for the stethoscope she had been wearing.
It was gone.
"ABCs," she muttered again. "I-I can't hear." She looked at Korsak, kneeling next to Jane, a faraway look on his face, and then at Frost, standing near them and wavering on his feet.
"Korsak's callin' me BBK – Barf Bag Kid."
She caught Frost's eye. "I can't hear if…I have to check her lungs…her heart. I need a stethoscope." When he didn't move immediately, she barked, "Now!"
Jolted into action, he ran for the morgue.
She watched him go, wracking her brain for some long-forgotten bit of emergency medical procedure she might have overheard other students discussing.
She stared at Jane, mind reeling, hands shaking, and one inescapable fact imprinted itself on her brain.
She didn't know what to do.
Somehow, she'd managed to hold it together on the campus of BCU, though she'd later admitted to Jane that it had been terrifying to realize she held that girl's life in her hands.
Somehow, she'd been able to recall the procedures that could save Frankie – though, as she'd said to Jane, she'd never actually done any of them. Medicine was so much more than rote knowledge, and the fact that she hadn't killed Frankie outright was something of a minor miracle, as far as she was concerned.
And, of course, she'd had Jane's courage – and desperation – backing her up.
It was gone. All gone.
She could name easily fifteen ways that an injury like this could kill someone, but was hard-pressed to think of a single thing she could do to prevent any of them.
"Don't tell me you're finally letting emotion run that big brain."
The faint moan startled her. Her gaze jerked to Jane's eyes, which were glazed but definitely open. Slowly, they tracked to her face and their eyes locked.
"Mm…." Her eyes drifted closed again.
Somehow, some way, there was no doubt in her mind of what, exactly, Jane had been trying to say.
She's asking me for help.
That thought exploded through her brain, a peal of thunder that changed…everything.
She trusted me to save Frankie.
And, in a burst of absolute clarity, she somehow felt a rush of ice-cold fear and warm affection all at once.
She trusts me to save her.
With sudden, fierce determination, she pressed her fingers to Jane's carotid artery, finding a thready, irregular pulse. Her heart sank. "Oh, Jane," she said. "No, no, no. No."
Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Korsak reach out, but when she realized he was about to shove Marino out from under her, she yelped, "No!"
He froze and stared at her.
"Don't move her! You have to protect her spine. The – the bullet – " She looked at the exit wound near the center of Jane's back and found that she couldn't force her brain to calculate angles any more than she could have painted the Mona Lisa. "I don't know the trajectory – it might have chipped – you can't move her."
"Okay, Doc," he said, his voice at its most calming, most gentle. "What can I do?"
"I told him…he'd never trust me to have his back after he saw me like that."
Now she understood.
She knew why Jane had asked for a new partner. She understood why the memory of Korsak finding her, of comforting her, haunted her so.
Because, just as Jane had, she felt diminished in his eyes by her emotions and his calm facade.
Determined to pull herself together, she closed her eyes for a moment. "P-pressure. On the – on the wound."
"Doc," he said quietly.
She frowned. "What?"
He pointed with his chin. "I already am."
There it was again.
That soft, gentle voice. The voice that called every stray puppy from Boston to San Francisco to his side. Damn it.
Her mind spun for a moment.
"We trust you."
She desperately held on to her ragged composure, staring at Korsak's visible hand, which was covered in blood, and the one that disappeared under Jane's stomach to cover the entrance wound.
"Oh," was all she could say.
She had a moment, then, to think. To let it sink in. To look at the growing bloodstain on Jane's shirt. To notice that she was now kneeling in a spreading puddle of blood. To take in the growing pallor of her skin.
To remember what it had been like: all those years, event after society event – all the people, all the carefully choreographed, predictable, scripted interactions that, in the end, had meant so very little.
"Did you ever have a best friend?"
To remember the day – the moment – she realized that what she had thought a friend was was actually nothing of the sort.
To imagine life without –
The sound of Frost's steps as he came running up jolted her back to awareness. "Here," he gasped, pressing the stethoscope into her hands.
Her hands shook as she took it.
She looked down at them and realized they were covered in blood.
Korsak followed her gaze and saw the realization hit in her eyes. "Thanks for the help, Doc," he said, still in that awful, gentle tone, as he resumed his prior position.
She suddenly had a vague memory of pushing his hand to the side and covering the gushing exit wound herself.
She settled the earpieces, brushing her hair back without thinking. Then a bit of hair fell back into her eyes and she saw that it, too, was now covered in blood.
The iron tang of it almost undid her.
She forced herself to take the stethoscope, to settle it over Jane's heart, and had to press her lips together with fierce, desperate determination when the faint, irregular thump, thump, thump finally registered.
She shifted the stethoscope to Jane's lungs and had to close her eyes.
A guess, of course, which she hated, but there was definitely fluid of some kind in Jane's lung, and even she could be forgiven for assuming it was blood.
"How's Frankie?" she asked, staring as though transfixed, watching for the faint rise and fall of Jane's chest.
When it stilled for a moment, her own heart lurched as she prepared herself to perform CPR on her best friend. A moment later, she was granted a reprieve when Jane's chest jerked in a sudden gasp.
She could only pray that the ambulance would arrive before she had to perform battlefield surgery on her second Rizzoli of the day. "She did this because he said…because Frankie…if he dies…."
"Still alive. On the way to the hospital," Frost said.
"You hear that, Jane?" She crouched down next to her friend's ear. "Frankie's alive. He's going to the hospital. He's going to be okay. You both are."
"Doc, I don't think she can – "
She cut Korsak off with a fierce look. "She can hear me."
A trickle of blood seeped out of Jane's mouth, and that sight jolted her into action.
They were out of time.
She took a deep breath, then glanced at Korsak. "Get ready to move him."
"But you said she might – "
"Her lungs…the blood…I might have to drain…." She took a breath, gathered herself again. "I'll stabilize her spine as best I can. You move Marino. Frost, you'll have to put pressure on her wounds."
She looked up at Frost and saw that his jaws were locked resolutely together. "Get ready."
Korsak glanced up as Frost knelt directly in the puddle of blood and winced. "Don't puke."
His voice was thick, strained. "Not today." He looked at his partner and, for the first time, rested his hand briefly on her calf. "Swallow it if I have to."
Maura crawled around, crouching above both Jane and Marino. She settled her hands around her friend's neck; it was hardly a cervical collar, but it would have to do. "Your jacket," she said to Korsak.
She frowned at him. "The ground…it's hard."
He shook his head with a faint smile, but removed his jacket anyway.
Jane suddenly coughed, releasing a gush of blood from her mouth.
"What can you do – right now – that will help him?"
Just as she'd thought.
That was that.
"God damn it," Maura groaned, "not again." She forced herself not to think of the many – certainly hundreds, potentially thousands – of things that could go wrong. "Turn her on her side! Try to keep her head and neck in alignment!" She noticed the way Korsak was looking at her and frowned. "What?"
"Don't think I've ever heard you curse."
Her voice shook. "Someone get me a needle. A long needle. Scalpel. Tape. Al-alcohol. Plastic tubing." She looked at her hands; they were covered in blood from her wrists to the tips of her fingernails. "Gloves. Hurry!"
She knelt behind Jane, propping her body up as she continued to cough up blood. Though she covered the still-gushing exit wound, it was getting harder to stem the flow of blood, and Maura could feel it soaking through her dress and trickling down her knees.
As they waited, Maura gently rubbed Jane's back. "You'll be okay," she murmured.
It was irrational, of course – despite her assurances to Korsak, there was really very little chance that Jane could hear her. Certainly, at a conscious level, she couldn't – and though she'd read a number of case studies, she'd yet to be convinced that someone unconscious could register the presence of a –
Of a loved one?
"You have to hang on. Please, Jane. We…we have those Red Sox tickets, remember? We can't – we can't miss opening day."
"Where are your seats?" Frost asked, distracted.
"Third row, behind home plate. Birthday present."
"Wow." He whistled. "That's some present. What'd she give you for your birthday?"
She smiled fondly and squeezed her friend's shoulder. "A written promise to stop making me call reddish brown stains 'blood' for an entire year."
Jane had, logically enough, figured that material things wouldn't mean much to her, though she'd looked almost sheepish as Maura had unwrapped it.
"D'you like it?" she'd said, staring intently at the floor.
Maura had laughed in delight and had thrown her arms around her friend, who froze for a moment and then relaxed into a grin and returned the hug. "It's perfect," she'd said. "Thank you."
Though she could offer no real explanation as to why, it was one of her most treasured possessions, and it hung in its frame in all its notarized glory in her office.
They both jumped when Korsak heaved a sigh. "Why does it always gotta be Jane?"
Frost shook his head. "I don't know."
Maura briefly trailed her fingers through her hair, her eyes going to the scars on her hands. "She lets her heart run her brain." Jane often teased her about doing exactly the opposite.
"I don't – "
"She went into that basement because the only thing that mattered was saving that girl. She di-did this because all that mattered to her was making sure someone could get to Frankie."
Their heads snapped up in unison at the wail of an approaching siren. "Oh, thank God," Maura breathed. "It's gonna be okay, Jane. It's gonna be fine."
"That was fast," Korsak said, glancing at his watch. "Three minutes. Nice."
Maura could hardly make sense of the statement; it had felt like hours.
A SWAT officer ran up with her medical supplies just as the ambulance roared onto the street in front of them, disgorging a few EMTs and what looked like an actual ER doctor, along for the ride.
Bless the cop who'd thought to ask for that.
"Thank God," Maura said again as she relinquished her position behind her friend. "Abdominal gunshot wound. Point blank. Upward trajectory. Pulse is thready. Shock. She's been coughing up blood…I suspect hemothorax. I was about to – "
"You the one that took care of that other cop?" he asked, seeing the supplies she gestured towards. "The guy?"
"…results in death if not – if not treated immediately – wh – God!"
She slumped and looked down. "Yes. I-I'm a pathologist…I did the best I could, but…."
"You saved his life," the doctor said as his colleagues loaded Jane onto a backboard. "He's in surgery now. He's going to be fine, but he wouldn't have been if you hadn't relieved the pneumothorax."
Her knees unlocked and Maura would have collapsed if Korsak and Frost hadn't caught her.
She was surprised to find herself sobbing.
"It-it's okay, Doc," Korsak said gently. "You did good."
She could only shake her head.
How could she explain that it had really been Jane, pushing, coaxing, even begging, that had given her the courage to even try?
The doctor watched the three of them. "We've only got room in the ambulance for one of you."
Frost glanced at Korsak and got a knowing nod of approval. "You should go," he said to Maura.
She forced herself to gather her composure once more. "No, you're her part – you're both – you…."
"Doc," Korsak said gently, "she'll want you."
"But – "
"She won't want us to see her hurt. Been there, done that, remember? She hates that I saw her that way."
It was only the cold, utter logic of his line of thought that convinced her.
"I'll call her parents too," he said, then sighed. "Again."
An EMT approached them. "We need to go." The quiet urgency of his voice sucked the breath out of all of them. "Now."
Korsak reached out and took her hands. Frost hesitated for a moment and then reached out as well. She stared at their joined hands, all of them covered in blood.
Jane's blood, drawing them together into a small, dysfunctional family.
"Okay," Maura said quietly, following him to the ambulance.
"Hey, Doc!" Frost called. "Your shoes!"
She frowned. "My what?" She glanced down past her torn, bloodstained dress to notice – to remember – that her shoe had broken, something like ten years ago. "It doesn't matter."
Korsak and Frost stood together and watched the ambulance leave, any rancor between them forgotten. "Those shoes cost more than I make in a month," Frost said.
"Jane is one lucky lady."
"Tell me about it," Frost said, with a somewhat wistful sigh.