Chapter Nine - Happily Ever After
Later that same month...
While Jane wondered if a wedding to Maura would be like this, she was wise enough not to voice such an idea when Maura, Angela, and Constance all took over the planning for their 'simple housewarming party.' Jane had no idea what definition of 'simple' they were using, and took the ready excuse of follow-up from the Gerard case as a reason why she was too busy.
Actually, she did have a lot of work to do after the case was closed. First there was officially, publicly, reinstating Kate Talucci, and explaining to their cop-family what had been going on. Then there was an award ceremony for Kate, where Jane had to wear her dress uniform (Maura wore a slinky dress), where Kate was decorated for bravery, as well as some pretty kick-ass accomplishments. When Carla Talucci refused to come to the ceremony, Jane threatened Kate's brothers and cousins with parking tickets so at least Kate had some family there. Still, everyone knew Kate was upset that her own mother didn't come.
Since Jane remembered, clearly, what it was like when her own father ditched the family, she made an effort to try and get Carla to see the light. The amusing conclusion to that was when, after Jane told Carla that she was dating a woman, and Carla called Jane names, that Angela stepped in and screamed that no one, not even her best friend, was going to insult her baby girl. The shouting match was now a legend in Revere, and every single one of Jane's childhood friends knew she'd moved in to Maura's house.
Which was, sadly, part of why the party blew up out of proportion. Most of Jane's friends were supportive (Giovanni in particular), and wanted to come meet the woman who won Jane's heart. Even her ex-boyfriends seemed, at the very least, resigned to this new world order. Casey and Joe sent congratulatory cards. Dean did not attend, fortunately, but sent flowers to Maura, thanking her for saving his life; and a Babe Ruth autographed baseball, from his Red Sox days, to Jane. The baseball, Jane explained to Maura, was worth at least $6000 dollars. They agreed that was a fair apology for the trouble Dean caused.
Maura had not felt the need to inform any of her own exes of the happenings in her life. A murderer, she felt, did not deserve the honor of keeping up on her doings. Ian, now married and already a father twice over, was a stone best left unturned. If those two had not been informed, why notify anyone else? The rest, she decided, could learn about her life when and if they chose to contact her and ask what was new.
The closer they got to the housewarming party, the more Jane ran out of excuses to not help plan. That was when Maura's (adoptive) father showed up, and taught Jane how best to avoid the Isles women when they were in a planning mood. It involved long walks (for Joe), errands, and simply vanishing for hours. Fishing was mentioned, and promises made to do so (on his boat, perhaps, next summer, and had she ever thought of visiting Greece?). They were never once missed.
From Frank Rizzoli Sr, there was a card saying 'As long as you're happy, Janie.' Jane did not reply.
A package arrived a few days before the party, sans return address, but postmarked through Quantico. It contained nothing but a cellphone and a typewritten note which read, Whatever you both need, let me get it. There was no signature present, but then, none was needed.
After putting up with in-laws in their guest cottage for a week and a half, Jane was relieved the party was finally happening. The night before, Maura had a minor panic attack of the 'what if's, and after Jane calmed her down, she found herself receiving approving smiles from the Isleses. The morning of the party, Angela whirled in like a Tasmanian Devil, cleaning the kitchen and vacuuming, chasing Jane out from underfoot, and unintentionally but effectively terrorizing poor Joe and Bass.
"I love you, but you're making me a little bit crazy," Maura finally told Angela as she took away the scrubber so that the Rizzoli matriarch would stop cleaning the surfaces that Maura had already cleaned the night before. "It's been done already, and anyway, you are not a hired cleaner, nor an indentured servant. You're the woman who gave life to the woman I love. You're a tough and smart person with a big heart, pretty hair, decent penmanship, an eye for color and form, a working knowledge of Italian, a really nice boyfriend, a fierce affection for your children, and you're a savvy shopper. You're bright, charming, witty, caring, and interesting, so stop acting like cleaning and cooking is all people will ever appreciate about you."
She put the scrubber away with finality. "Now. The party isn't until tonight, and it's barely ten o'clock now. We have some time, and God only knows where Jane and my father have gone. Why don't you and I and Mother go get mani-pedis?"
"But-!" Angela looked like a child whose lolly had been taken right out of its mouth, for about three seconds. Then she paused. "Mani-pedis? In a real salon?"
Maura nodded. "Mine almost always has either mineral water or fresh ginger-ale from the microbrewery down the street."
Angela grabbed her purse.
"You are not wearing that," remarked three women at once. Angela, Constance, and Maura all looked at Jane with varying expressions of abject horror, though at least Maura simply looked doubtful.
"No, I'm not," Jane sighed, glancing at her sweatpants and ratty t-shirt. "I'm going for a run while you guys go worship at the Temple of Girliness. Then I'm going to shower, put on the clothes Maura picked out, pick up my brothers, and be here for when the caterers show up. God, you're all acting like I'm new at this."
As she exposited, Maura's father showed up, similarly attired, and received the same critique. "No, I'm not. I'm going running with Jane."
When the women left, Jane asked, "Are they always like that? I mean, I know my Ma is, but..."
"Just be thankful Maura took them out," came the world weary reply. "By the way, did Maura mention she and I used to run marathons together?"
By the time they got home, Jane was regretting the choice of runs. Who knew an old man could run that fast? Either he was faster than Maura, or she slowed down for Jane, and Jane was pretty sure it was the latter.
Drinks both alcoholic and soft were flowing. Hors d'oeuvres were being praised, a joint effort of Angela, Constance, and a discreet caterer. Neighbors to whom Maura had waved for three years were finally coming by to actually make her acquaintance, now that she'd proven she wasn't stand-offish by inviting them herself; Rizzoli cousins, aunts, and uncles mingled happily with Maura's parents and the few family friends who turned up their noses neither at her career nor at the idea of meeting Jane.
Father Brophy was the cherry on the sundae, wheeled up the front walk and inside by a nurse, hired to help him out for a while (Sister Polycarp, whose knee was bothering her, had declined the invitation, but sent Jane and Maura a bag of lemon drops via Brophy). Angela was particularly delighted by his presence. "Father! Did you come to bless the house?"
"I could," he replied gamely, "but I really just came for the beer your daughter promised me. Beer is always better with good friends, isn't it?" The priest rolled blithely past La Rizzoli, whose dropped jaw had never stopped being fun for him, from the moment she realized that her Maura-loving daughter was buddies with a man of the cloth.
"Uh... yeah," Angela replied to his retreating back and that of the sassy-looking young nurse as they began to mingle. Fortunately, few others were intimidated by their presence, other than Tommy; Angela mentally reasoned that he could use a little intimidation, given some of his past behavior at parties, so she let that one go.
"Kate," Maura beckoned to her, and also to Jane, who was showing off her very own office in the back of the house. "Jane, he's here. Didn't you want to introduce them?"
Jane brightened up immediately, setting down the Babe Ruth baseball. "Yeah! Come on, Kate. You have to meet this guy."
Kate looked suspicious. "I'm not dating guys anymore, I've told you."
"Relax, it's not that." Jane was immediately casual about it, though she sent Maura a wink to send her back in to flag down the man in question. "This guy is definitely not looking for a girlfriend. He's just a cool person, a friend of mine and Maura's. We think you'll hit it off, and besides, you're worth sixty points, and I owe him that much."
Vince showed up with two sets of flowers, one for Maura and the other for Angela, who blushed. Jane's brothers were bringing in more drinks, and missed the cheek kiss between the two, and Vince quickly went to get himself a drink.
"Are you going to tell them," asked Maura handing Angela a fresh drink. She indicated the boys with a subtle chin jerk.
"No, I don't think so," smiled Angela. "Janie and I think it'll be more fun to surprise them."
Maura didn't agree, based on what had happened with Frankie at their ill fated luncheon. He was still avoiding Maura just a bit. "If you think that's wise," sighed Maura.
The conversation went no further when Crowe came up to express his best wishes. "I lost the pool, but I can't say I'm mad about you. You and Rizzoli are a pretty good match." And he handed over a postcard.
Confused, Maura replied, "Thank you," while reading. Crowe had donated money in their name to the Right to Marry organization. A lot of money, at least for someone living on a cop's salary. "Oh, Darren," she said, pressing a hand to her heart. "That is so sweet of you. It's a lot, though. Are you sure?"
"I've got an older brother who's living in Kentucky," Crowe explained. "He can't marry his boyfriend, and they've been together for almost twenty years now. You two can marry here if you want, but it won't matter in most other states until some things change. So the donation's in your names, but it's for him just as much."
"I am touched," Maura said with all too visible sincerity. "Thank you, Darren."
"A pleasure to meet you, Miss Talucci," said Daniel Brophy as he offered a hearty handshake from his chair, letting Jane fade into the background.
Kate shook the hand, but clearly didn't understand why she was doing it. "Yeah, uh... Jane said I should meet you, but to be honest with you, Father I don't know why. I don't do religion anymore. Not to be a jerk about it, but the Church doesn't want me."
Brophy smiled. "Oh, but it does. Have you ever heard of Dignity Boston?"
"You mean the ghetto where the Church's black sheep get to hang out, safely away from everybody else?" Bitterness was undisguised in Kate's voice. "Yeah, I've heard of it."
"I work with Dignity," said Brophy, "but I'm also working within the mainstream Church to try and reshape Catholic awareness and understanding. There's no reason anyone should feel they can't be a part of the Church if they want to be."
Kate cleared her throat. This was a party for Jane and Maura, and she had no wish to cause a scene. She also didn't want to be silent about the subject that would probably never stop causing her pain, when it had been brought up by someone else. "Except the fact that the Church thinks I'm going to hell, for something I can't help and damned sure wouldn't have chosen if I had a choice at all. And forget it, I'm not going to live my life alone and celibate. Props to the folks who can, like you and your novice over there," she nodded to the woman winning at Go Fish, "but that's just not reasonable to ask of every person who doesn't fit the standard mold."
Brophy nodded. "No argument. But you'll have to remember, those laws were enacted within the Church at a time when little was truly known about the nature of sexuality. It was at the time considered to be something that a person did, and could therefore choose to redirect or misdirect at will. We know more now. We're aware that it's not what you do, but who you are. It's a lengthy process, but eventually Church law and doctrine will catch up with our growing understanding of human sexuality's many forms. Probably when we get a Pope who's not... Well." He broke off before committing a breach in priestly propriety, but the idea was out there even though the words had not been spoken - which, Kate quickly intuited, had been his he changed tactics. "Besides. A lesbian, a fornicator, and someone who's had to break minor civil laws within her undercover duties? That's thirty-five points, plus twenty, plus five more. I'd totally win at Sinner Bingo that week if you showed up at just one service. Come on."
He smiled again, letting his natural, winning charm shine through, as he delivered the coup de grâce that had brought many an estranged soul back for another look at Catholicism. "We've got coffee cake."
Making her escape from the heavy Catholic conversation taking place between Kate and Daniel, Jane arrived at Tommy's side as he popped open a can of soda. "Thanks for coming, Tommy."
"Hey, it's no problem, but I have to tell you. You're not my favorite sister anymore. She is." He pointed, with his can, towards Maura, who was hugging Darren Crowe, of all people.
Jane would have to ask what was up with that later. "I'd argue, but she'd be mine too." Clearing her throat, Jane added, "Maura told me about the restaurant. I'm... Thanks for being cool about it." Unlike their brother went unsaid.
Tommy blew it off. "Please, you being gay, or straight, or bi, or just with Maura doesn't matter. You're my sister. I love you. If you're happy, that's what matters, right?"
"When did you get smart?"
"Prison. Gives a man a lot of thinking time."
That was the first time Tommy had actually mentioned being in prison to Jane and she studied her little brother's face. "I wouldn't call you a man yet," she teased, and Tommy shoved her in the shoulder.
"Listen, can I be serious for a minute?" he asked, rolling the can between his hands.
"Sure, Tommy. You can tell me anything."
Tommy looked at the drink table, then over at their mother, and finally pulled a chain out from under his shirt. "Two years. No slips, no spills, no screw-ups." From the chain dangled a two-year sobriety chip from AA. "I gave Ma my one year chip."
There was only one right reply, and Jane gave her baby brother a hug. "I'm proud of you, Tom."
"What's with all the hugging?" complained Frankie, coming up on his siblings. "First Crowe and now you guys?"
"It's a happy day, jerk," Tommy replied, and slugged Frankie in the arm.
Jane and Frankie stared at each other for a moment. "Listen, Janie... I'm sorry for being a jerk."
She had already thought about how to handle her idiot brother when he finally came to his senses. That he'd come to the housewarming at all was a good sign. "Frankie, I'm used to you being as thick as a plank."
Frankie pushed his hand through the back of his hair. "Yeah, okay. I just wanted to tell you too, Janie-" Frankie stopped and his jaw went slack as his attention was arrested by something in the distance beyond Jane's shoulder. "Aw, Ma, no!"
Both Jane and Tommy spun around to look. "What? It's just Ma and Korsak," Tommy said, as if he already knew. Or perhaps nothing in this universe could surprise him anymore.
"They're kissing," objected Frankie, with about as much emotional maturity as a ten year old who still thought girls were icky.
"So?" Jane picked up a beer, her first of the party. "Vince promised to treat her good. Right. He said he'd treat Ma right."
"In public?" Now Frankie was whining. Loudly.
Angela, with well tuned maternal ears, looked over at her children. "If you don't like what you see, Francis Rizzoli, go read a book." The room, especially those who had known Frankie as a child, erupted in laughter.
"You didn't have to do this, Rizzoli," said Kate as she fetched two beers from the refrigerator. "Introduce me to Father Brophy, I mean. He's kind of cool, though."
Jane smiled. "Yes, I did. Welcome back to the land of the living, Kate. You get to act like the good citizen you always were, and that means not having to hide out from your actual life anymore. It's okay if you don't want to go to church. I don't really do it much, either. But you told me once you missed it, so now if you want it, there's a way."
Both of them swayed a little, not used to hugging, but not having any other way to express themselves. Finally Kate snorted, "Yeah, right," at the same time Jane was saying, "Gross, don't touch me," and they walked away, smiling and satisfied with the interaction.
As Kate went off to talk to Daniel again, Maura slipped up behind Jane and wrapped her arms around the taller woman's waist. "That was sweet of you."
"Yeah, well, Carla acted like we all thought Ma was going to act, when Kate came out. And Kate and I have been friends for ages, we just couldn't tell anyone. I'd be a shitty friend if I didn't help her now."
Maura rose to tiptoe and kissed the back of Jane's neck. "You're an excellent friend," she murmured, breath warm against the olive skin there. "Later remind me to show you how I feel about that." Jane shivered. "Right now, I'm going to go get my father to show Tommy the new chess set he bought us. Maybe they can play together."
"Better than him playing with you again," agreed Jane, confident of her brother's ability to at least hold his own against anyone from the Isles clan. Jane only enjoyed a moment of solitude (and watching Maura's retreating backside) before Frankie came up and sighed behind her. "Ma finished yelling at you, Francis?"
Frankie sighed again. "She's happy. So I have to shut up. I just don't know if I can live in a world where Ma and Korsak are dating, and you and Kate Talucci are buddies."
"Can you live with me living with Maura?"
Frankie looked around, as if looking anywhere but at Jane was easier right now. "Yes. I'm just pissed you didn't think you could tell me, Janie. But that's no excuse for what I did at that lunch. I'm sorry -"
"Hey, hey. You're my idiot brother, so I know to expect you to act like that once in a while. You need to apologize."
"Not to me. I know you're an idiot. Go tell Maura you're sorry, and make sure she knows you mean it, or so help me, you will be."
Frankie held his beer bottle and hors d'oeuvre plate in his hands as if they were a cap, head ducked in penitence. He'd watched her watching her father and Tommy, both admiring the chess set he had brought back from Namibia. She seemed pleased, he noted, watching her newly increased family getting along. From the little Frankie had been told, he thought it was a good thing that this was happening. Maybe the Isleses would get a chance to see what a warm, close, openly affectionate family was like, and learn to emulate them. Maybe the Rizzolis would benefit, too, somehow; he hoped it didn't result in his having to wear a suit on his days off like Professor Isles, there. "Hey, Maura," he said softly from the doorway, and was relieved to see an immediate smile, tense though it was, as she turned to see him there and approach.
With body language alone, so as not to disturb the chess enthusiasts, Maura ushered Frankie outside the office and into the hallway, clear of most of the party-goers. "Yes?"
One word, he thought. Not all that much to go on, but at least she didn't tell him to screw off somewhere else. Frankie kicked at the non-existent dirt for a moment. "I love my family, right?"
Maura lifted her eyebrows at Frankie and said, again, "Yes?"
She wasn't going to make this easy. "We're close, and me and Janie have always been real tight." This prompted a confused expression from Maura, "We're... we talk a lot. About personal stuff. Except we don't anymore. God, I'm making a mess of this."
The diminutive woman put a hand on his arm, "Frankie, you're doing fine."
He sighed. "After you came around, and you and Jane got to be friends, she stopped talking to me about stuff. You took over the whole confider job."
"I became her confidant. Go on, Frankie."
"Uh, right. So she tells you stuff. And it's like she doesn't think we can handle stuff anymore." Maura made a face when he said 'stuff,' so Frankie elaborated. "She doesn't trust us so much. Me and Tommy. Why else would she tell Ma about you two before me? Especially cause Ma'd flipped out about all the gay stuff before." In that moment, Frankie realized Jane had been dating Maura when their mother had said all that. "Why wouldn't she tell me about it then? We're family, you know?"
Maura pointed out gently, "Your mother is her family too, and she was... At the time, she was... ah... less than receptive to the idea of anyone being in same-sex relationships; and that was when she didn't even know about us yet. Jane didn't know if she could face the idea of you and Tommy rejecting her, too. She loves you so much."
Frankie had the grace to look abashed as he realized the strain that must have been on his big sister. "It... It hurt me that she was cutting me out, and I guess took it out on you, and I'm sorry."
Maura nodded. She was not someone who could just say it was all okay, that it was nothing, that it hadn't hurt both her and Jane. She could and did, however, say, "I forgive you, and I understand. It's in the past." Hesitating, then, she thought aloud, "This seems an appropriate time for some sort of... Oh, what is it?"
Maura's lips pursed as she considered all the options from all the cultures she had studied. Finally she brightened as the idea came to her, and held out her hand, which Frankie took; her grip was surprisingly solid. She jutted forward and pulled him closer at the same time, thudding their shoulders together. Finally, when they both let go their hands, she gave him a firm, but not painful, punch to the shoulder. Then she looked up at him hopefully.
Frankie understood immediately. "Yeah. Bros."
Maura smiled broadly. "Bros."
The party was winding down and no one had killed anyone else. Jane decided that was a win all around, and when the slightly tipsy dancing began (Barry really was pretty good), she came up behind Maura and wrapped her arms around her girlfriend's waist. "I saw you bro-hug my brother."
"It seemed appropriate."
Jane smiled, "He's not not okay, you know. He's just being an idiot. In a month, he'll start telling everyone that us getting together was his idea."
Maura looked over her shoulder, a tad puzzled. "But that's not true at all. Is it?"
"No, I think this was all us, babe."
The caramel brown head tipped to one side as Maura considered, eventually deciding, "Still, if he's claiming ownership or responsibility, it would mean he's proud of it, so I think we should just let him. I'm proud of them, too."
Maura gestured around towards the assembled parents, aunts and uncles, cousins and siblings, neighbors. Giovanni, who was currently winning the I knew they were dating first competition. "Our family."
And everyone lives happily ever after. Please feel free to review. Also, if anything seems unclear, you may have missed some installments of this series. Look on both of our profiles for them, because I've published the even-numbered ones and ChapstickLez has published the odd-numbered ones. They are:
'Shipping Up To Boston, Part 0: The Trevor Project
'Shipping Up To Boston, Part 1: It Gets Better
'Shipping Up To Boston, Part 2: Occupy Boston
'Shipping Up To Boston, Part 3: In Plain Sight
'Shipping Up To Boston, Part 4: Death at a Funeral (this one)
Thank you for sticking with us through this entire fic, and this entire series. ChapstickLez and I are now due for at least a week off before we try writing some more.