A French Connection
Rizzoli & Isles is owned by Tess Gerritsen, Janet Tamaro, TNT, and a lot of other fancy people.
Guest Star: Dianna Agron as Charlie
The noise of the bullpen was winding down this Friday afternoon, but a few hardy souls remained, talking about their planned trip to the Dirty Robber. "He wasn't even in the lieutenant's chair long enough for his coffee to get cold before he left." said Barry Frost, the most junior member of the homicide investigation squad. "What's he want?"
Korsak knew. As the senior member of the squad and its biggest gossip, he tended to know everything. "I know what he wants," he said, pointedly eying his former partner, Frost's current partner, Jane Rizzoli. Grant had made no secret of his attraction to Rizzoli. She had made no secret of her lack of attraction or affection for him.
Frost continued the joke, figuring he'd had a solid couple of years as Jane's partner, and that entitled him to help Korsak tease her. "Wrapped up in a big red bow under a whole Christmas tree made out of mistletoe."
Jane was not amused. "I didn't know you two were in the market for new tires, Korsak," she said without bothering to look up from the paperwork she was just finishing, "Must be a special occasion."
"Huh?" The teddy bear of a man looked suspicious.
"You keep talking about me being on Joe Grant's Christmas list, I'm going to have to slash the ones on both of your cars."
Message received. Korsak cleared his throat. "All right, don't get your shorts in a twist."
"Then you're not coming?" Frost asked as Officer Frankie Rizzoli sauntered into the bullpen to join them. Frankie wasn't in homicide, but had accompanied the detectives to enough crime scenes that, along with his sister being on the squad, the others felt he belonged.
Frankie spoke up, intuiting the subject of the discussion and the reason for the frown on his sister's face. "Aw, Janie, he's not that bad."
"Don't call me Janie," replied Rizzoli as she dropped her pen and closed the file she'd been working on. As she headed for the current lieutenant's office to drop it off as a closed case, she added, "Grant's still a catechism cheater and a knob polisher." She sat back down at her desk, slouching to prop elbows on widely spaced knees. "And he's a chickenshit who didn't bother telling me he was into me until he was leaving town. If he ever had a chance, he blew it with that bitch move. Screw him."
Frankie asked, unknowingly repeating Frost's question, "So you're not coming tonight?"
"Coming where?" came another voice, preceded by clicks from high-heeled designer shoes. It was, of course, Dr. Maura Isles, the one person at the precinct who could get away with wearing them. Her smile was friendly and open as she ducked around Frankie and made her way into the bullpen to set files on various desks, then sat on the edge of Jane's desk, legs crossing at the knee. Until she was seated, none of the men spoke. Maura had curves that deserved appreciation.
Korsak explained matters to the medical examiner. "Joe Grant's in town for a couple of days, so we're going down to the Dirty Robber to razz him over a few beers. You want to come?" Maura started to shake her head, but met with quick protests, which visibly pleased and surprised her.
"Come on, Doc. I thought you got along with Grant."
"Besides, it's the Robber."
"We're all going."
"That's not true," Maura said with a chuckle. "Jane has given no indication that she'll be attending."
Jane looked up from her scowl, which softened slightly as she zoomed in on her best friend. "Oh, I'm going," she said with a wink, "but not for Joey Grant. I'm just going to get a beer with the guys. You should come too."
Maura's head ducked a bit in apology. "Actually, I can't. I have an appointment that will take about an hour." Seeing mild disappointment in one or two faces, including Jane's, she added, "Maybe afterward I'll text and find out if you're still there, and join you for a little while."
Agreement ensued, followed by a general exodus. As the guys shuffled out, Jane took her time putting on her blazer and getting her stuff together for the night. "Hey, Maur," she called to the forensic pathologist. "What kind of appointment?"
Maura was almost to the elevator, but she turned around to wait for Jane to catch up. "It's an online meeting." Judging by Jane's impatient look, however, that wasn't going to be enough information. That's what she got for having a detective for a best friend. "If you must know—"
"I must," Jane acknowledged, arms crossing over her chest.
"—I've been mentoring a young girl at the school I attended in France. We Skype-chat weekly about her life at school and how she's adjusting to being away from home. It's working out better than I thought it would. I like her, and she doesn't seem to mind me too much. Charlie's very mature for sixteen."
Jane reacted with surprise. "Really? They're letting you mentor a kid? That's kinda cool." The idea of Maura helping some young person in that way pleased her somehow, increased her respect for the quirky (translation for almost the entire rest of the world: weird, creepy woman who cut up dead bodies) woman. "I bet you're good at it."
Though the compliment pleased her, Maura admitted with some embarrassment, "I try to be, but I don't know if I am. I suspect I was only accepted as a mentor because they didn't have a lot of volunteers for the mentoring program." She tried not to notice Jane looking uncomfortable about the probable truth of the statement. "Anyway, I'm just going to have a chat with Charlie, and then join you at the Dirty Robber."
"I could wait with you," Jane suggested. "We can just go over together. If I show up on time, Joey Grant's going to think I'm eager to see him, when I'm just eager to get my hands around a cold bottle."
After only a few seconds to consider the offer, Maura nodded. "Okay, but you'll have to sit where my video camera can't see you. Charlie will be put out if she thinks our conversation is not private. You know teenagers."
"Yeah," Jane cracked wise, "but I didn't think you did."
Maura smiled tolerantly. "I bet you think you're funny, don't you?"
"Bonjour, Charlotte, comment ça va?*" Maura began, then apologized when her young protégé made a face. "Apologies. I know you miss English." The chat took place on Maura's laptop, but she had gotten video to appear on her desktop computer as well, so Jane could see the girl without being seen by her. Charlie was an attractive blonde with green eyes, enchantingly pretty features, sweet smile, and as she soon proved, a soft, gentle voice. She looked like Jane imagined a princess in a fairy tale should look.
"Mercy buckets, Doc," replied the pretty blonde with a cheeky smile. Apparently she had explained the intentional mispronunciation of merci beaucoup* to Maura earlier, because the normally slang-free woman did not bat a lash.
The two made their way through initial greetings and small talk, easily, but gradually Charlie's saucy demeanor gave way to hesitancy. Maura took note of the changes in posture, facial expression, and vocal tone, and when they reached what she felt was a natural moment, she probed. "Charlie, is there something in particular that you wanted to address?"
Charlie pinched her lips together, but nodded
"Schoolwork? Teachers? Roommate?"
The girl nodded again. "Roommate. It's not that we're fighting. We're not." She took a breath. "Annette and I… we're close."
Jane arched an eyebrow in some surprise as she caught the implication. Maura showed none. "It's natural to develop a little tendresse* with another student now and then. It's up to you to decide whether it means something. It happens to everyone."
Charlie's pretty face flushed a deep red as her eyes shifted off to one side. She wants to lie, thought both women.
However, instead of lying, the girl just nodded. "We're close," she repeated, then clarified the issue unequivocally. "Annette est ma petite amie. Je l'aime.*" Maybe speaking in a language other than her own kept it in the realm of not-quite-reality. Maybe it she had simply gotten used to speaking French at school.
"Is it that you don't want to be getting this close to Annette?" Maura gently probed.
Again, Charlie blushed. "The opposite," she said softly, then dared to look up into the hazel eyes of her mentor. "I like being close with her. I want… I feel… I want more. And I can't ask my parents for help about this, or their pastor, or the priest here, or any of the teachers. Talk about awkward."
Maura nodded, with feeling. Jane stared at the desktop screen, slowly accepting that she was hearing what she thought she was hearing. Kids today started learning so young.
"I mean, I don't… I don't know if we should… You know," Charlie was saying, the adolescent whine masking the much more adult wail of the frustrated woman lurking within the child. "And anybody I ask is just going to tell me I shouldn't, just because I'm sixteen. They'll spout the religious party line, or the school's policy, or whatever."
Maura's hand snuck forward, fingers slipping off the very edge of the camera's view. Charlie did the same, and then they were 'touching' as well as possible under such circumstances. Jane felt moved, seeing the gesture. "You and Annette are the only ones who can know what's right for each of you. Consider your beliefs and whether you want your parents' approval, first. Consider the practical consequences. I can't do that for you, but I can ease your mind about something, anyway. School policies haven't changed since my days there. Policy forbids males and females to be secluded together anywhere on campus. What students do together… it's not spoken about, but it's not explicitly forbidden, either."
Charlie's surprise interrupted her distress. "Really?"
"Really," replied Maura.
The teenager looked relieved for an instant, then tensed again. "But what about being ready? How do I know? And once I do know, how do I…" She made a vague gesture. "How?"
"Give me a moment," Maura said after a long breath. "That's a hard question, and you deserve the best answer I can give you." Having come to appreciate the answers she got after such pauses, Charlie nodded and fell silent. So did Maura, staring down at the place where her hand would have lain atop Charlie's if they had been in the same room. It took nearly a full minute to order her thoughts and raise her gaze. Charlie sat up in anticipation.
Off to the side, so did Jane. What kind of advice would Maura give a teenaged girl? She was a person who carried a shaving kit and toothbrush in her purse, in case she got lucky. Would her advice be more suitable for a sixteen year old, or would Maura just tell her to shave and have fun? Don't screw this up, Maur.
"The most important things," Maura went on, "are trust, respect, and gentleness. Without those, you might as well be alone; it's just exercise. That's great too sometimes, but your first time should be more than just… partnered masturbation. All subsequent experiences will be colored by your first time, and you only get one. Your religion teaches that you shouldn't have sex outside of marriage. I believe that at its most basic level, that means that your body is precious and it deserves to be honored just as much as your heart and mind."
Wow. Jane was stunned by the strength of her own response to that advice. She almost wished that someone like Maura had told her the same thing when she was a teenager. How is this even the same person that I once called a cyborg?
Charlie nodded, expression receptive. Somehow she was able to see Maura, across an ocean and connected to her only by happenstance, as both an objective source and a friend, both of which she needed. "But how do I know if Annette and I are ready?"
Jane sat forward, searching her best friend's face. Keep swinging, Maura. Knock it out of the park. She did not even notice when her own hand crept forward to take Maura's, just out of sight of the camera. She was too busy rooting for her friend, smiling as she now anticipated the exact right thing being said to a young person who needed to hear it.
Maura noticed, however. Her fingers closed around Jane's, and though she did not look in Jane's direction, she lowered her eyes and smiled at their joined hands for a moment. "It's never one-sided, for starters. When one of you has news, the other will be the first to hear it. You can't imagine taking a big step without talking it over with her first. You'll find yourselves offering to do things for each other, things you'd never have done without each other's influence. Each of you is just what the other person needs. You can calm each other down, heal each other when you're hurting, strengthen when you feel weak, and excite just by being there. When it's really right, it's less about a physical experience, and more about how much of your hearts you can show to each other."
"That's the way it feels," Charlie murmured with quiet intensity.
Maura continued after another long pause. "You'll be open with each other. You'll have genuine affection. Humor. Honesty. There will be times when you can't stop smiling, because you're thinking about one another. And you won't need experience to know how to please each other. One touch, one look will wake up your body like it's never been awake before. When it's finally the right person and the right time, just holding their," she trailed off, suddenly looking down at the way her fingers were entwined with Jane's, the way their thumbs stroked one another's fingers, knuckles, palms. She had to take a deep breath and swallow before going on. "Just holding their hand will make you feel more excited, yet more serene, than anything else you've ever felt before."
Charlie sat silent and awed for a long while as she watched her mentor's face. Finally she asked, "Who is he?"
"Who is who?" Maura asked, her voice coming as from a great distance.
"The one who's making you feel that way right now," said the girl, one blonde brow arching as if daring Maura to deny it. "The one you didn't have a problem trusting my business with. You've been trying so hard not to look at him, but I know he's listening."
Maura glanced down at her hand in Jane's again, admiring the way they looked together. She did not want to hear Jane deny it. Let me feel this way for just a few more seconds before Jane gets mad at me loving her and not being honest with her. Maura's heart sank as Jane stood, letting her hand go. She can't even stand to be near me anymore. She knows, and now she's is going to drop me. The caramel brunette's countenance fell. She had always had such self-control over what people saw of her, but never Jane. She had no shields that Jane hadn't worked her way past and through.
Instead of leaving, however, Jane pushed her chair closer to Maura's, then sat back down so that she, too, was visible on camera. "Hey," she said with a smile as she quickly took Maura's hand back and slid her other arm protectively around her best friend's shoulders, much to the pleased surprise of both Maura and Charlie. "I'm Jane."
Charlie's jaw dropped. "Seriously?"
The two women smiled at each other, cheeks pinkening in tandem. "Seriously," Jane replied for them both.
They never did make it to the Dirty Robber that night.
Thanks for reading. :)
Bonjour, Charlotte, comment ça va? - Good day, Charlotte, how are you?
merci beaucoup - Thank you very much.
tendresse - tenderness, fondness, feeling
Annette est ma petite amie. Je l'aime. - Annette is my girlfriend. I love her.
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