Reciprocity, Part 2 of 2
Pairing: Well, none, really...but it's a pretty fuzzy line Jane and Maura have goin' on there
Spoilers: Maybe "When the Gun..." if you squint; general ones through at least the first 10 of season 2
Warnings: There is some discussion of a case the ladies were working, including some talk of child abuse. It's only a couple of paragraphs of the story, but it is there.
Disclaimer: The only thing that's mine is the plot, such as it is.
Note: For some reason, there seem to be lots of stories where Maura is taking care of Jane. I wanted to explore the opposite dynamic, particularly because Jane shows her softest side when comforting someone. This one takes place later in the show – definitely after the first season, and at least partway through the second. Most of the migraine stuff here is from direct personal experience (except that I've never had paresthesia – pins and needles – during one) but, of course, migraines are specific to the person who has them, and my experience won't be yours.
"Hey, Korsak, you seen Maura? I texted her about the Paris case, but I haven't heard back."
Korsak looked up from his desk, made quick eye contact with Frost, who shrugged, and just shook his head in the negative.
"I'm gonna – "
"Morgue," Korsak said, waving her off as he returned his attention to the surveillance video he was examining. "Got it."
The lab was empty, as was the autopsy room. Jane frowned. "Maura?"
She knew right away that something was very wrong. Maura's voice was hoarse and barely audible, and the one-word answer was extremely uncharacteristic. She hurried through the morgue to her friend's office, where she found the door opened just a crack and the lights off inside.
"Maura?" She eased inside, paused for her eyes to adjust, then crossed the room at a near run when she saw the way Maura – prim, proper Maura – was sprawled haphazardly in her pink visitor's chair, her face covered by her arm. "Maura?" She knelt next to her friend, gingerly patting her knee. "What's wrong?"
"Migraine," she whispered, her voice just slightly slurred, as though it took too much energy to form the words properly. "Photophobia. Phonophobia. Nausea. Vertigo. Right arm and hand paresthesia."
Although she had no idea what the first two things were – or the last one, for that matter – Jane winced, thinking of all the long, hot afternoons she'd spent sequestered with Frankie in his bedroom, blackout shades drawn, as he waited out the storm. She stroked Maura's hair back off her face and whispered, "I didn't know you got migraines?"
"Have medicine. Usually stops them. Didn't work. Too late."
The pain had to be horrible – she wasn't even speaking in complete sentences. She rubbed Maura's arm, leaning close to whisper, "I'm gonna take you home, okay? Just let me get my stuff and tell the guys."
"Don't have to."
Jane just snorted and headed back to the elevator. When she got back to the squad room, she gathered her things and said quickly, "Hey, Maura's sick. I'm gonna drive her home. Be back in a few."
Korsak glanced at her. "What's wrong?"
"Got a migraine." She frowned as she watched him pause the surveillance video and cross the room to stand at her side. "What?"
"You gotta stay with her. You aren't comin' back today."
Jane, confused, glanced at Frost for help, but he just shrugged, as in the dark as she was. "What? Why?"
"When you were still…gone…after Hoyt…a uni found the doc on the floor in a stall in the women's restroom one morning. She'd had a migraine and passed out throwing up."
Jane's heart twisted. "God. She works with cops. Why didn't someone drive her home?"
"She said she didn't think of asking."
Of course she hadn't.
She'd been taking care of herself since the goddamn age of ten.
"She was gone for days, Jane. And I don't think she should've been back when she came back. She gets 'em bad. At least stay with her tonight and make sure she doesn't pass out in the bathroom, okay? She deserves better than that."
"Yeah. Yeah, she does," Jane said absently. "Okay."
"Jane – "
"Frankie used to get 'em all the time as a kid, Korsak. I know what to do." She glanced at Frost, who had been listening silently. "Do me a favor; go get my car and drive it right up to the elevator in the parking building."
He nodded too, accepting the keys she pressed into his hand, his eyes full of concern that, under other circumstances, would have made Jane smile. Maura might have grown up lonely and isolated, but she had people now. People who had her back; people who, in fact, had taught her what that even meant. "Need anything else?"
Jane bit her lower lip. "Yeah; stop in the cafe and let my mom know so she doesn't go barging into Maura's house to alphabetize her DVDs or something."
Korsak chuckled. "They aren't already?"
Jane shook her head absently. "Nah. She rips 'em and streams 'em from her computer; keeps the originals in a box in her basement." She shook her head at the memory of the half-hour lecture Maura had given her snickering friend about fair use, time and place shifting, and the history of the VCR. She grabbed her phone, wallet, and service weapon. She stuffed all but the latter haphazardly into her pockets before carefully putting her gun in its holster. "Listen, I gotta go. Thanks, guys."
This time, Jane tapped lightly on the door and whispered, "Maura? You awake?"
Maura made a pained sound that was half squeak and half moan.
Jane knelt at her side. "We're all ready."
She turned her head to the side, carefully cracked one eye open, then winced and firmly closed it again.
"That bad, huh?" Jane murmured as she gathered Maura's purse and jacket. It was so dark in the office that she could barely see, but Maura had reacted as though she'd glanced right at the sun. "Where's your running shoes?"
She frowned, though her eyes remained closed. "What?"
"You said vertigo. There's no way you can walk in those things right now," Jane said quietly. "And they make noise."
Maura sighed. "Scrub cabinet."
Jane grabbed one of her three pairs of running shoes, suppressed the urge to ask if they coordinated with her running outfits, and sat cross-legged on the floor facing her. "Shoes," she reminded her quietly.
A few moments later, she came back from the scrub cabinet where she'd stashed the dress shoes, and rubbed her shoulder. "You ready?"
Maura shook her head.
"I know you don't wanna go outside, but I promise you you'll feel better if you go home." Maura shook her head again, and Jane exhaled slowly. "Maura, please. Just let me take you home, okay? You can sleep it off."
Maura opened her eyes just a crack, flinched, and pressed her arm over her eyes again. "Can't."
"Yes you can."
"Can't open my eyes. Too bright. Dizzy."
Jane sighed. "It'll be okay. I'll help you. Maura, you are not gonna pass out in some gross public restroom when you got me here ready to take you home, okay?" She put a hand under Maura's elbow and another around her back. "C'mon. Stand up."
"Jane…." With a sigh, Maura gathered herself and sat up, then finally allowed Jane to tug her to her feet. Jane kept an arm wrapped securely around her waist, Maura's handbag in her other hand, and led the way to the elevators. "Good at this," Maura whispered.
"Good at what?" Jane asked as she pushed the button on the elevator for the parking garage. She curled her arm more tightly around her trembling friend. "Frost is bringing my car right up to the elevator, okay? It'll just be a few steps."
Maura rested her head, her eyes still closed, against Jane's shoulder. "Taking care of people," she said. "Took such good care of Frankie when he was shot. Taking good care of me."
Maura flinched when the elevator dinged, and Jane led her slowly to the car, which Frost had left idling right by the curb. She opened the door and steadied Maura as she sat down, then reached across her to fasten her seatbelt before standing and glancing at Frost.
"Thanks," she said quietly.
He nodded. "No problem." Then he crouched next to the car and lightly touched Maura's arm. "Feel better," he said, very quietly.
Beyond words, Maura just nodded.
"Hey," Jane whispered, again smoothing Maura's hair away from her face. "We're here."
Maura shook her head.
"I'd leave you in here to sleep for a while if I could, really, but it's too hot. Get your next migraine in winter and you'll be fine."
She shook her head again, so Jane sighed as she got out of the car and gently shut the door behind herself. "Maura, come on."
Jane sighed. "You know I'll pick you up and carry you if I have to…but can you just try? My back's bugging me today."
Maura shook her head. "Can't move…I'll vomit."
Jane winced. "One thing at a time, okay?" She rested her hands on Maura's knees. "Can you turn and face me?"
The look of intense concentration on Maura's face as she contemplated that hardly filled Jane with confidence. Finally, she carefully turned and put her feet on the floor of the garage.
She gulped and went very pale and, for a moment, Jane was fairly certain she was about to be thrown up on. That had happened once, and only once, in her career, and she had no desire to repeat the experience.
Then Maura drew in a shuddering breath and released it.
Jane eyed her warily. "You okay?"
Jane sat cross-legged in front of her and rubbed mindless patterns against Maura's knees for a few long minutes. Finally, she said, "You ready to try standing up?"
Maura shook her head no, then pressed her hand to her mouth with a quiet moan.
"Two summers straight when we were kids, Frankie got migraines every other week, like clockwork. Tommy was still little – three maybe – so it was either watch Tommy and let Ma take care of Frankie, or the other way around. Tommy was a terror even then; I picked Frankie."
Maura made a quiet hum of acknowledgment.
"Turns out he's allergic to shrimp. We couldn't afford to run the air conditioner except at night, so we could all sleep, and Ma didn't wanna cook any more than she had to, so during the summers we'd eat all kinds of junk food. Frozen pizza. Hamburgers on the grill. And either fish sticks or frozen fried shrimp – whichever was on sale that week. The store alternated."
Jane watched with a faint smile as Maura's head slumped to the side; she'd told Frankie all kind of outrageous stories to distract him, and he'd never stayed awake through a single one.
"First time it happened, Ma thought Frankie was having a stroke. Took him to the emergency room and everything." Jane sighed. "Pop…you know he was self-employed…we didn't have insurance. My grandparents were already paying for us to go to private school…they couldn't help with the ER bill too. He worked seven days a week for a year to pay for that. Had to get Ma's car out of impound twice, too."
Jane continued to rub Maura's knees, even as she slipped deeper into sleep.
"I think yours are worse than his, but not by much. You'll have to compare notes sometime."
Maura released a long sigh and cuddled into the car seat. Jane shook her head and went to clear a path between the car and the couch, then crouched beside her and put one arm under her knees and one behind her back.
Just as she was about to lift, Maura stirred. "Jane? What're…?"
"Carrying you inside," Jane said, ignoring the flare of pain from her back as she stood – no way would she let Maura convince her that was psychosomatic.
"Jane," Maura protested half-heartedly, "put me down. You'll…hurt yourself."
"No shushing," Maura whispered weakly, though her head sank onto Jane's shoulder, and the tense muscles in her back relaxed as she stopped fighting it.
Jane had just laid her down on the couch and given her a pillow to cover her eyes with when she heard the door burst open and her mother's voice call out, "Jane? Maura?"
"Ma!" Jane whispered, alarmed, "Ma! Shh!"
"What? I – "
Jane turned the full force of her Detective Rizzoli glare onto her mother. "Ssssh!" she hissed. "You gotta be quiet."
"What? I got a call from Sergeant Korsak that you were bringing Maura home sick. I thought she might need – "
"Ma. Shut it!"
"But I – "
Jane glared at her mother as she pressed the palm of her hand against her lips. "I'm gonna move my hand," she whispered, "and you are going to whisper, or I am going to kick you out of the damn house. You got that?"
Angela nodded, eyes wide.
Jane slowly withdrew her hand. Angela glanced at Maura, whose pale face peeked out from under the pillow, which was held in place by a faintly shaking arm. "What's wrong with her?"
"Migraine. Bad as Frankie used to get. Might even be worse."
Angela frowned sympathetically. "Oh. Poor thing."
They watched together as Maura stirred, moaning quietly. Jane was already halfway back to the couch by the time Maura pushed the pillow off her face and weakly rubbed her eyes.
"Hi, sweetie," she said quietly.
Maura waved one hand in vague acknowledgment, but when she opened her mouth to try and say something, Jane knelt next to the couch and whispered, "Shh, shh, shh, it's okay."
"Said before…no shushing."
Jane smiled as she reassuringly stroked Maura's hair. "Not shushing. Soothing."
"Mph," Maura muttered. "'Kay. Go ahead."
Angela crossed the room to settle gingerly at the end of the couch, where she rested a hand on Maura's calf. "What can I do?"
"Please…go watch Jo? She makes too much noise." She stood and gestured Angela to follow her to the kitchen, where she said quietly, "Korsak said the last time she had a migraine like this, she passed out in the bathroom at the precinct. She can't be alone…and it might take a couple of days."
Angela nodded sympathetically. "Okay. But…call me if you need anything. I'll bring dinner back later."
"No food," Maura whispered from over on the couch.
Angela raised her voice just a tiny bit, to make it clear she was speaking to them both. "Chicken soup makes everything better."
"Ma – "
"It can't hurt to bring it, can it?"
"I – "
She was interrupted by Maura's sudden, urgent plea. "Jane! I – vomit – "
Jane had the presence of mind to grab a trashcan as she bolted out of the kitchen and back towards the couch, but glanced over her shoulder at her mother and mouthed "Vomit?" as she did so. "It's okay," she murmured. "I got a trashcan. It's okay."
She winced as Maura curled onto her side and threw up into the trashcan, pressing one hand to her head and moaning from the pain in between spasms.
"I know," Jane murmured, reassuringly rubbing her back as she'd done for Frankie more times than she could count; Maura began to cry as her body ran out of fuel and she began to dry heave. "I know, but, sweetie, you gotta try to relax. More you fight it, the worse it'll hurt."
Maura, caught in a swirl of misery, showed no signs of having heard her. Tears ran freely down her face as she weakly clutched the trashcan.
Jane continued to rub her back, forcibly shoving aside the image that had suddenly popped into her head of what Maura must have gone through the last time – alone, on the cold floor of the women's restroom, knowing no one would even miss her presence until at least the next morning. "Honey, honey, relax. Stop fighting it…you'll get stomach cramps on top of everything else."
She'd meant to be reassuring; she'd forgotten how powerful Maura's mind could be when it latched onto an idea. Instead of relaxing, her body just tensed further, anticipating even more pain.
Jane glanced at her mother, winced, then looked back at her suffering friend. "This used to work for Frankie," she said by way of explanation, "and I swear to God I'll arrest you if you breathe a word of this to anyone. Swear. To. God."
Angela, who had been gently kneading the muscles in Maura's calves, raised her hands in surrender. But then she watched, charmed, as Jane began to sing quietly: "Stay awake, don't rest your head…."
A few choruses later, Maura gingerly put the trashcan down, having subsided into gasps and sniffles. "Reverse psychology," she said.
"Yep," Jane said, accepting the two cool, damp washcloths her mother had brought from the bathroom with a smile of thanks. "Mary Poppins was a smart lady," she added as she gave one to Maura to wipe her face with and pressed the other to the back of her neck to cool her off.
Jane's mouth fell open in honest astonishment; she met her mother's eyes and found her staring in abject horror.
"I tried to like her mom," Angela growled softly, "but a kid who never saw Mary Poppins – "
"DVD!" Jane whispered urgently.
Angela nodded firmly. "Right, right. I think it's in a box in the bedroom. Be right back."
By around seven o'clock the next morning, Maura had managed to drop into a fitful sleep. Jane, eyeing the rising sun with a scowl, dragged herself upright from her corner of the couch and groggily dialed her cell phone.
"Jane," Korsak said. "How's Maura?"
Caught in the middle of a yawn, Jane mumbled, "Lousy."
"Only time she could stand opening her eyes was around three in the morning."
Korsak grunted. "You get any sleep?"
Jane snorted, hazily remembering the argument – which she'd lost – about at least moving into the guest bedroom.
It was kind of galling, really – she'd lost an argument with someone who was running on about a tenth of her normal brainpower.
"Yeah, all right," Korsak said after a moment, granting her the point.
"I think she's at least done throwing up." Jane paused, rolling her eyes. "Excuse me. Done 'vomiting.' So I can – "
"I'll talk to Cavanaugh and Personnel for you," he interrupted her. "Tell them you won't be back until at least day after tomorrow."
"Korsak – "
"But – "
"Look," Korsak said, then paused for a long moment.
"Look," he repeated. "I know you guys play it close to the vest, but I know she's got no one here. No family, no nothing. Except you. You guys make like it's not a big deal, but it is. She needs you to be there for her…so you be there for her."
It was tempting to protest, but the fact was that Korsak was absolutely right. And it didn't hurt that the thought of leaving Maura to suffer alone had been putting her stomach in knots for hours.
"Yes, Sergeant," she said with a smile she was sure he could hear.
"Enough of that." She could picture his dismissive wave. "Tell her to feel better, okay?"
She just…decided to accept it. "Okay, Korsak. Thanks."
She hung up the phone and leaned back against the side of the couch, eyeing her sleeping friend speculatively.
"C'mon, Maura," she'd said. "I know you don't wanna go up the stairs, but wouldn't a bed feel better?"
Maura had cautiously sat up, opening her eyes for just a brief moment. "Nuh uh…Jane, I'm too dizzy."
"I'll help you."
"I – " Maura had sniffled, pressing a shaking hand to her mouth to stifle a sob of sheer exhaustion. "I can't, Jane. Please don't make me."
It was the last thing Jane had expected to her, and it had disarmed her utterly. "Okay. Okay, I won't."
So they'd settled down for the night. Jane had ventured upstairs and brought down Maura's favorite floral comforter and a few pillows from her bed. She'd curled up in the corner of the couch and tried to get some sleep. Maura's body, though, had had other plans, waking them both up with bouts of dry heaving every half an hour or so. It had finally eased up just as the sun had started to come up.
She was just sinking back into a light doze when Maura's voice surprised her. "Y'can go to work," she muttered, then cleared her throat and added in a clearer voice, "It'll be okay."
"Nope," Jane said peacefully. "Korsak outranks me and he says to stay here with you."
Maura didn't seem to know what to say to that. She still had her arm curled over her eyes, but she was no longer trembling, and her voice was stronger than it had been.
Finally, Jane sighed and broke the silence. "Ma texted me. She left breakfast for us in her kitchen."
"No food. Not yet."
Jane eyed her friend worriedly. Though she certainly didn't want Maura to start throwing up again, she knew she was treading on dangerous ground. Finally, she shrugged. "Okay, but you gotta drink something. I left some Coke out on the counter to go flat for you."
Maura gingerly sat up, opening her eyes just a tiny crack. "…why?"
Jane frowned. "You…you're throwing up?"
"Yes, and if you'll look in my medicine cabinet, I have are several anti-nausea – "
It wasn't often that the differences in their upbringing surprised her any more, but Jane's brain stuttered in consternation for a few moments before she deliberately let it go.
She shrugged as she reluctantly stood up and headed for the kitchen. "Look, you grow up in a blue collar family without insurance, you can't afford fancy anti-nausea medicine. You drink flat Coke."
"Oh. Thanks," Maura said with a small smile.
"Yeah," Jane said. A beat. Then: "Hey, Maura?"
"How come you didn't take your medicine?" she asked as she poured some flat Coke into a glass. "If it's like Frankie's…you must carry it with you."
"I did…just not soon enough."
"Why?" she asked, pressing the glass into Maura's hand. "What stopped you?"
Maura took a careful sip of the soda, wincing a little at the taste, then sighed. "I was…just starting with Danny when it started. I get auras, you know."
Jane winced. The last thing she wanted to think about was Danny, left to die in squalor in the basement of his parents' vacation mansion on the Cape. Danny, with his big brown eyes, bones destroyed by malnutrition and crisscrossed with old breaks. The x-rays alone had turned her stomach. Danny, who was so obviously being abused that not only had his teachers filed increasingly desperate claims with CPS, but so had neighbors, two of his cousins, and even a grocery store cashier.
CPS would have a lot to answer for, that was for damn sure, and Jane intended to be right in the front leading the charge – not only for the Danny resting in the morgue, but for all the other Dannys too.
She forcibly put Danny out of her mind and focused on what Maura had said about auras. "Huh. Frankie never did. Hit him like a ton of bricks every time."
"They're rare, but I always have. My vision sparkles, and sometimes tunnels. But the photophobia is the most reliable sign."
"Yeah, you mentioned that before. And phone something, and para…something."
Maura took another sip of the soda, then carefully set the glass down on the coffee table. Jane raised an eyebrow, but didn't comment, at the fact that she hadn't bothered to reach for the coaster sitting only a few inches away. "Photophobia and phonophobia are extreme sensitivity to light and sound, respectively. Paresthesia is pins-and-needles."
Jane snuggled back into the little nest she'd made in the corner of the couch, yawning. "So why…?"
"Jane…that little boy never knew kindness – not once in his whole life. I couldn't prevent what happened to him; the only thing I could do was care for him as best I could. That meant doing the best autopsy I could, to prove his parents killed him so that they face justice."
It was so hard, to get the image of Danny's smiling face in his first grade class picture out of her head. "But you could have – "
"Danny's parents can afford a very good lawyer. If there were any gaps in the recording, or in the autopsy record, there could be allegations that I'd fabricated evidence."
Jane grunted. "You would never – "
"I know that. But I wanted to make sure there was absolutely no doubt as to who killed Danny. I wanted to be sure justice…that I gave the prosecutors the best possible evidence so that justice could be done. By the time I was finished…it was too late."
Jane yawned, burrowing deeper under the covers, but managed to murmur, "Aw, Maura…."
"I knew that would be the price, as soon as the symptoms started."
Jane sighed and pried her eyes open. Figured that Maura felt good enough to chat while she wanted nothing more than to sleep, if only for a few minutes. "Your meds…are they an injection? Frankie's were; he grew out of 'em in high school, but until then, he always had to carry some."
"Next time, have someone call…someone. Okay?" No answer. "I mean, I get why you did it, but you shouldn't have had to suffer…there's a whole building of cops who could at least follow instructions on how to inject you with that stuff."
Maura shifted uncomfortably. "I…." A sigh. "I'm frightened of needles. At least, when they're used on me. I…it takes a great deal of…willpower to…."
Resigned now, Jane pushed thoughts of sleep from her mind and sat back up on the couch; she reassuringly patted Maura's knee. "You've seen me freak out dozens of times." She paused, debating, then forged ahead: "You're the only one I feel comfortable with seeing me freak out. I can handle it if you're going to. Really."
At that, Maura opened her eyes, squinting, but clearly willing to ignore the pain for the moment as she stared at Jane in something halfway between confusion and wonder. "I never thought – "
"I know you didn't. I know you don't. But…can you try?"
Silence fell for a few moments before Jane ventured, "Maura?"
Jane shifted uncomfortably; carrying Maura inside had left her back aching like crazy around the exit wound from the shooting, which still troubled her on occasion. "Can we please at least go into the guest room? I'd really like to sleep in a bed."
"I don't think I – "
"Maura, at this point, I'll carry you there. Please?"
"All right. You don't have to do that. Just…don't let me fall."
Jane wrapped a solicitous arm around her friend who was, truthfully, very unsteady on her feet – no doubt at this point as much due to the lack of anything in her stomach as to the vertigo from her migraine. "Never."
The next morning, Maura sat on the couch in her living room and watched through slitted eyes as Jane cooked them both scrambled eggs. The lights were off and the shades were all drawn, but it was undeniable progress.
"I'll be all right if you need to go to work. I was planning on going back tomorrow anyway."
Jane scowled at her. "No, you're not."
"But – "
"Turn the light on," Jane said, waving a wooden spoon accusingly at her. She waited for the challenge to sink in, then sighed. "Take the time. No one's gonna say anything. "It's not like you ever miss work otherwise."
"But you – "
Jane shot her a withering look.
"I just – you've done so much, Jane. I don't want to…."
"I keep tellin' you – you're my best friend. Best friends do stuff for each other." She set two plates down on the coffee table and held up her hands briefly. "You do stuff for me all the time. Let me even the score."
"And I keep telling you – there's no score to even." A beat. "But I appreciate the thought." Another beat. "And the help." Maura sighed. "Jane?"
There was a long pause. "Thank you for not leaving me to suffer alone."
Jane scowled. "Never," she said.
Maura forced down a bite of eggs, then put her fork down. "I never – "
"I know. But you…you don't have to worry about that now, okay?"
"Okay." She took another bite, then pushed the plate away. "I still think you should go to work."
Jane eyed the mostly-full plate, then glanced at Maura. Her eyes twinkled playfully, but the concern she felt was evident in the no-nonsense set of her shoulders. "Only if I can leave Ma here to make sure you're okay."
Maura pondered that for a few moments, taking a slow sip of Gatorade. "Jane?"
"Um…stay here today? I think it would be okay if you turned the TV on, as long as you turn the brightness all the way down."
Jane grinned smugly. "Knew you'd see things my way."