I'M SO SORRY! This took absolutely forever to finish. First, because my thesis is death. Second, because I wrote out an entirely different ending from this one and, busy with aforementioned thesis, was literally rewriting this chapter a couple sentences at a time. I promised a lot of you to get this out sooner (thanks, those of you who PMed me, for not beating me with a mace for not sticking with my misguided "oh just a little bit longer" time frame) and obviously, that didn't happen.
Anyway, it's late, and I tried to find typos, but there are almost definitely quite a few nestled in there, so I apologize! Hopefully it's readable, and hopefully, it matches up with all of your expectations (or, you know, exceeds them). I'll try to do a read-through for typos at a later date.
Thank you ALL so much for sticking with me! And new readers, I hope you've enjoyed.
Without further ado, the end(?)!
Chapter 9: Case Closed. Shut Up and Kiss Me
The picture Dr. Gupta painted for those crowded in Jane's hospital room was a horribly tragic one. A certified genius, Harrison Gatby was responsible for making government networks, and later BCU's network, among the most secure networks in the world. He was considered a cold, logical, and calculated man by his peers—that is, until he met Lorraine. She was an electrical engineer in charge of constructing and managing different government systems. They met by chance, but Harrison was a changed man for it. Together, they quit working for the government, moved to a home in the suburbs, and devoted their time to the university from which they both graduated. He was wholly focused on being a loving husband, and they were ready to start a family.
Even the car accident did not break Harrison. He was convinced that everything would be okay, if he could just be there for Lorraine. But he did not realize that Lorraine had been broken the night of that car accident. An autopsy conducted after Lorraine's suicide revealed an abnormality in her brain. It wasn't the loss of her feet that led to her death, but Harrison was not sane long enough to learn that.
Upon the death of his wife, Harrison was never the same. "He lost his muse," Dr. Gatby stated simply. He voluntarily checked into Boston Mental Health Institution, where he obsessed over his late wife's lack of mobility and began semantically connecting all of his issues to it. Fixing the lack of mobility would fix him, and then he could fix his wife. But he slowly degraded as the months progressed. He began to seek out anything or anyone that needed fixing. "At first," Dr. Gupta said, "this seemed like progress. He wanted to help with the other inpatients, whether that meant talking to them, or finding lost puzzle pieces, or fixing the uneven legs of a table. But no amount of helping brought him peace, and soon his methods of fixing became methods of harming."
Harrison never harmed another patient, but his words worried Dr. Gupta and the other psychiatrists in his ward. He spoke of removing obstacles to "clear the way" to finding solutions. "This was a verbal expression of the obstacles Mr. Gatby saw in himself, in his own mind, that were only clouding his judgment further. On some level, he knew this. In his moments of clarity, I was nearly convinced he was ready to leave BMHI. It was not so. He began to tear out his own hair, a coping mechanism, and he would collect it as if it held some kind of symbolic value. Shortly after that, he started having frequent schizophrenic episodes."
"This all makes sense," Maura muttered out loud, connecting Dr. Gupta's analysis to the own pieces of evidence she had collected from her experience with Harrison.
Jane glanced at her, then set her dark eyes back on the doctor. "That's great and all, but I still don't understand this. If you were so convinced Harrison wasn't ready to leave BMHI, why did you release him?"
"Good question," Korsak said gruffly.
"I did not," Dr. Gupta replied, arms crossed. "Harrison Gatby released himself." At the blank stares he was getting, he added, "Let me explain."
"That would be swell," Jane grumbled.
"Harrison, like most inpatients in my ward, was allotted an hour of internet usage every few days."
Frost nodded. "That's how he found Trisha. I found the messages they sent back and forth to each other on a forum."
"So Trisha reaches out to an online community for help, explaining her situation," Korsak said. "Most people on the site probably ignored her, because she was just experiencing the heartbreak and emotions lots of people feel after a break up."
"Right," Maura stepped forward, "but Harrison saw that as an opportunity to fix something."
"Yes," Dr. Gupta nodded, "that is exactly it. Harrison believed that by fixing that girl's situation, it would bring him closer to fixing his own."
Jane sighed impatiently. "That still doesn't explain how he released himself from BMHI."
"Once Mr. Gatby decided when, where, and how he was going to help the girl, he used his next hour of internet time to hack into our own system. He knew I would be on vacation—"
"You inform your patients when you'll be on vacation?" Frankie asked skeptically.
"It's recorded in the system. Everything is recorded in our system, employee hours, the rotation of doctors, who is supposed to be where and when. He had full access to all of it and introduced a release date for himself. He even went as far as scheduling a visiting doctor to be the one charged with releasing him. Essentially, no one knew he was gone until I returned."
"You didn't report him missing?" Jane asked.
"I did. But no court had mandated his presence in our ward. He interned himself voluntarily. He was never under arrest for anything, and his release papers were all in order. The officer I spoke with said I had no legal grounds with which to force him to return."
"Didn't you inform the officer that he was a danger to others?" Maura asked incredulously.
Dr. Gupta nodded fervently. "I did. The officer said he could search for Mr. Gatby if the release paper situation could be unmuddled." He huffed with frustration. "The forensic coder is still at BMHI, trying to figure out how Mr. Gatby hacked our system."
"But Gatby's a genius," Frankie said, shaking his head. "That forensic coder will probably never find a trace that Gatby was ever there."
"I was in the middle of getting a court order, using Mr. Gatby's patient file as evidence, to convince the police to look for him regardless of his release papers when all this happened," Dr. Gupta sighed. "I was doing everything in my power, short of driving the streets of Boston to look for him myself."
"This is awful," Angela spoke up, eyes downcast. "And that poor girl Trisha, poor Amy… why were they involved at all?"
Jane let her head fall back against her pillow, suddenly more exhausted than she had thought possible. "Bad luck, Ma. Just… really bad luck."
Angela slung the duffle bag full of dirty clothes over her shoulder. "You know, they have soccer moms, and they have dance moms… I think I've turned into a hospital mom." She threw her hands up with flourish, scowling at Korsak and Frost as she brushed past them into the hallway.
The two detectives glanced at each other, smirking, before returning their attention to Jane's struggle to get out of bed. "Need anything, Jane?" Frost asked.
Jane groaned as she finally slid into the wheelchair Maura was holding for her. "Nah, thanks." She smiled at them. "You guys did good work today. Saved our asses."
"You two saved each other," Korsak corrected quietly, a smile on his face.
Jane stiffened, feeling the heat of Maura at her back as the coroner began to wheel her out of the room. How much did she tell Korsak? His smile seemed innocent enough. She wanted to turn around and read Maura's face, but she couldn't even imagine what kind of pain twisting in the wheelchair would cause her already mangled body.
The four made their way slowly down the hall. Frankie had gone to get the car, Angela was waiting by the elevator, and everyone else 'in Dodge' had departed. No one said anything for a moment as the elevator doors slid open.
Eventually, Frost cleared his throat. "Rest up, you two." He waved as Maura backed Jane onto the elevator.
"Keep us posted on Amy," Jane said as the doors began to close. "And… Harrison," she added hesitantly.
"Will do, Rizzoli."
The doors shut, and the elevator departed for the ground floor. Korsak let out a long breath of air, finally able to accept that things might just be okay… Jane was okay, Dr. Isles was okay, everything would be okay.
"What a day," Frost muttered, shoving his hands into his pockets.
"Damn straight." Korsak scratched at the stubble on his cheek. "Hey, you notice that Rizzoli didn't even put up a fight when they brought the wheelchair in?"
Frost snorted. "They must've drugged her up." He shrugged. "Or she's really tired."
"Psh, that hasn't stopped her before!" Korsak shook his head, turning towards the wing where Amy was in surgery. "I don't think so. Something happened today, Frost."
"Well they did almost die."
"Nah." Korsak rolled a stiff shoulder. "They've have close calls before. This is different. Did you see Jane's face when I said that they saved each other?"
"Yeah. She looked distracted."
"I think she looked scared," Korsak muttered. "I think this one really hit home."
Barry glanced thoughtfully at Korsak. "Think it's got something to do with Dr. Isles?"
"Something happened today that freaked Janie out. My gut says she made some kind of decision, and now she's got to figure out what to do with it."
"So…" Frost pressed.
Korsak grinned. "I think it's got a hell of a lot to do with Dr. Isles."
They walked in silence for a moment before Frost said, "So about that bet we were going to make earlier…"
Wake up, Jane.
The hand on her shoulder sent the detective flying forward with a gasp, then a groan as the pain the movement caused caught up with her. "Sorry, honey, I didn't mean to frighten you," came Angela's voice beside her, apologetic.
Jane cracked open her eyes, trying to remember where she was. Still in the backseat of Frankie's car, parked in front of Maura's home, her mother's bottom hanging out into the street as she leaned into Jane's side of the car. Frankie stared back at her in the rearview mirror. "Have a nice nap, Janie?"
Jane ignored him, instead trying to straighten out sense of time. Was it evening? She glanced at the radio console. It was almost 11:00 PM. "Oh, we're already here?" she asked belatedly.
"Mhmm, Angela nodded beside her. "We just dropped Maura off… but we didn't know if you wanted to stay here tonight, or go home…?"
Jane sat up a little straighter, more alert as the question was posed. "Where's…" she began to ask, but she found her, somewhat hidden behind her mother's form where she stood in the front doorway, waiting. Jane couldn't get an accurate read on the doctor's face in the darkness and she swallowed, uncertain.
Angela glanced between the two girls, then threw a wary glance at Frankie before suggesting, "Why don't you stay here? You're not exactly in once piece, and if you're here I can keep an eye on both of you."
"Well…" Jane trailed off. She wanted to stay. She needed some time with Maura, to figure things out. But the prospect of doing that now made her nervous… or terrified, was more like it. "Is Maura okay with it?" she asked quietly, looking at her mother.
Angela glanced at Maura, who cocked her head curiously. "Is Jane asking whether it's okay to stay?" she called over. "It's okay. Please stay here tonight." The doctor turned and disappeared into the house.
"You heard the lady," Frankie said, throwing open his door and coming around to Jane's side of the car. "Need help getting inside?"
"No, thanks," Jane said, gritting her teeth and pulling herself into a standing position. She swayed on her feet and felt Frankie put a steadying hand on her shoulder. Eyes on the empty doorway, she walked stiffly up the front steps. The last time she had left this house, it was in the middle of the night, and it was with the knowledge that she would be leaving Maura behind, alone, and sad. She had been a coward, and a pathetic excuse of a friend. She stilled on the threshold, peering into a place that was as familiar to her as her own apartment.
"Go on, Janie," Angela whispered behind her. Slowly, as if testing if the ice was strong enough to hold her, Jane stepped into Maura's home. She could practically hear the ice cracking. She didn't deserve to be here.
Maura appeared from the hallway to the guestroom. "The bed is ready from when…" She trailed off with an apologetic smile. "Make yourself at home, Jane. I think I'm going to take a bath and turn in."
"Wait!" Angela brushed past Jane, "Don't you need anything? Are you hungry?" She followed Maura into the kitchen and Jane watched as her mother badgered the poor doctor with a cup of this, a bowl of that. Only half listening to her mother's banter, the brunette ventured further into the house, still wary of just how much she shouldn't be there.
Once glance at Maura told her she needed to interrupt the tenacious matriarch Rozzoli. "Ma," she barked with what little spunk she had left in her, "leave her alone, we both just need a good night's sleep."
Maura flashed Jane a tired, but appreciative smile as she laid out Bass's overdue dinner. Angela glanced between the two of them. "Fine, but I'm going to cook you both a massive breakfast tomorrow morning and you're going to eat every last bit, you hear me?"
"That's unnecessary, Angela, but I'm sure we'll appreciate it more in the morning," Maura said diplomatically. "If either of you need anything, please—"
"We'll get it ourselves, Maur, don't even worry," Jane said before she could stop herself. She couldn't help but smile at the fact that, even after a day like this one, Maura still had it in her to be a gracious host.
Maura's smile was tentative in return. "Okay." She filled a glass with water. "Goodnight, then," she said to both of them, disappearing towards her room.
Jane stared after her, listening to each step the doctor took, wincing even at the soft sound of Maura's door closing. She let out a shuddering sigh. Things felt so…. broken. This wasn't right, nothing about it felt like it had ended properly. They had solved the case, and there was no way the murderer would ever hurt anyone else, but this wasn't the victorious homecoming she was used to. She felt like a stranger in the house she spent half of every week in.
"Well don't just stand there," Angela huffed, jarring Jane out of her thoughts, "Let's get you to bed." The woman herded her daughter through Maura's house, straight to the guestroom. "Get changed, I'll go fetch you some water and your pain killers. Do you want to shower?"
Jane moaned at the idea of delaying Maura's heavenly guest bed for even another minute, but she was most definitely foul and could easily ruin Maura's sheets if she didn't at least remove a layer or two of grime. "I'll take a quick one, just a rinse."
"Alright, sweetie. Don't forget to keep your bandages dry." Angela disappeared down the hall as Jane stiffly trudged into the guest bathroom, shutting the door behind her. Stripping was a painful labor, as was shoving her unruly hair and the bulky bandage into a shower cap, but as soon as she stepped into the steamy water she knew it was worth it. Slowly but surely, the heat worked into her sore, stiff muscles and took away the worst of the aches.
In that moment, she allowed herself the mercy of thoughtlessness, and it was bliss. Just the water, just the relaxation, just the feeling of normalcy and habit. And then, thought smacked into her and she gasped, eyes snapping open within the stream of hot water.
Today, Jane, you almost died. No, you were dead. Your heart stopped. You were on your way out. The last words echoed in Hoyt's voice, and she shivered, suddenly cold even in the heat.
Maura. Maura had saved her. Maura had worked against all odds to bring her back. And even before that, Maura had the guts to be honest about their relationship, about her motives, about everything. She had put everything on the line. And I'm supposed to be the goddamned detective, with the badge and the gun, the fearless one.
Jane shut her eyes against the tears, reaching out and turning off the water.
Angela was waiting on her bed when Jane emerged from the bathroom. She smiled at her daughter, wordlessly standing and pulling aside the covers.
"Thanks, Ma," Jane said quietly, flashing her mother the most grateful smile she could muster. She accepted her mother's help sliding into the sheets, chuckling quietly. "It's been, you know, at least a few years since you've done this." She groaned in appreciation as she settled back into the stacked pillows.
Angela smiled. "I remember the days when you used to demand that I come tuck you in!" She gingerly sat on the edge of the bed, handing Jane a glass of water and her painkillers from the nightstand. "You always wanted the same kind of stories, with heroes and villains. I guess I should've figured you would end up in law enforcement."
Jane threw back the pills and drank a few gulps of water before responding. "Well if that didn't spell it out for you, I thought me n' Frankie's endless games of cops and robbers with the neighborhood boys might clue you in." She handed the water glass back to her mother. "I always hated being a robber," she said absently.
"Mhmm." Angela switched off the lamp beside the bed, the only light in the room emanating from the hallway. She shifted as if about to stand, but stared at her daughter for a long moment, eventually earning her daughter's attention.
"Isn't this the part where you kiss me goodnight, wish me sweet dreams, and let me get to sleep?" she asked with a touch of humor, even though tiredness dragged on her words.
"Well…" Angela trailed off, as if trying to find the courage to say something.
Jane stiffened. "No, Ma, whatever you're going to say, it can wait. I'm so… so tired." That was half true. But the other half of it was, she could tell she was about to hear something she didn't want to.
"No, Janie. No." Angela's hand snatched Jane's with restrained urgency, surprising her daughter to silence. Her older, worn fingers rubbed around Jane's scar as she searched the bedspread for words.
Jane waited, something in mother's voice telling her she should listen, even if part of her balked at the idea. Maybe she was too tired to put up a fight. Or maybe something about her mother's demeanor frightened her.
When Angela began, her soft words bore the weight of experience and admiration. "You've spent… so much of your life fighting. You had this goal… this goal to serve people, to help them and protect them, even if it meant putting yourself in danger, putting your life on the line. And baby, I am so proud of you, that you're a detective, that you're out there doing what you were born to do. Draw connections. Ask the right questions. Put away people who've done horrible things." Her eyes glistened with unshed tears. "And you're so good at it… you're so successful, one of the best. I'd like to think you are the best… at what you do."
Staring at her mother with mixed emotions, Jane couldn't bring herself to respond as Angela took a moment to think. Where was this coming from? Why today? Why now?
Angela spoke again, her voice even softer. "I know I don't admit this often enough, but, even when it makes me nervous and I worry about you every day, I love that you do that, that your job is your life. I love who you are. You're my only daughter and I wouldn't touch God's, or whoever's decision it was to make it that way."
Angela licked her lips, a movement Jane knew to be one of her mother's tells. Whatever she was about to say would be very difficult to get out. Jane tensed, expecting—expecting what, exactly? She really had no idea.
"Like I said," Angela continued, "you've spent your whole life fighting to get the things you wanted, things you deserved. Your badge, your independence, your place in the world. You've done so good for yourself. And I know I've harassed you here and there about the things I thought you should have that you don't, things I thought you should be that you aren't." She met Jane's eyes now, her own a challenge to read in the dim lighting. "I've never had to push you to follow your dreams… I've never, ever had to tell you to go out and get the things you really want, the things you know you want. You've always gotten to where you need to be on your own. But now, now I see my Jane right there, so close to where she needs to be right now, one step from reaching out and taking one more thing… one big thing that you deserve, that you've earned, that I think you'd really suffer without. No, no I know you would. You're close enough to touch it, and, yet, here you are, you're letting it go."
Jane furrowed her brows, simultaneously understanding and refusing to understand the point her mother was working hard to make. She tore her eyes away. "But… I'm not…"
She couldn't finish her thought, because, she was. She was letting it go. This… thing, with Maura. Whatever it was that had suddenly developed between them… no, that wasn't right. It wasn't 'sudden.' The realization was sudden, but Jane could trace back into her memory, for as long as she dared to remember, idiosyncrasies in her relationship with Maura that had never accompanied any prior relationships, simple friendships or otherwise.
There had always been that… sinking jealousy when Maura spent a lot of time with someone else. That had easily been passed off as jealousy that her only close female friend wasn't available for an evening at the bar. That was an acceptable jealousy.
Then there was nagging feeling of absence on nights when Jane spent too much of her day alone and unoccupied. Like something in the room was out of place, or a piece was missing. Sometimes it struck Jane harder, morphing into a feeling like loneliness, but this she attributed to sleepless nights, and an empty apartment devoid of another warm body, like Casey, or even Agent Dean for that short while. That kind of loneliness was perfectly understandable. …How easily the empty feeling had dissolved the countless times she snatched up her cell and dialed Maura's number.
The hardest feeling to rationalize was the confusing flutter. Sometimes it was in her chest. Sometimes it was in her stomach. Sometimes it was in whatever part of her body that happened to be touching Maura. More often than not, those odd feelings made her nervous and were written off as Jane's own discomfort with contact. Too many criminals and experiences had violated her personal space, had forced her to mistrust people who got too close. They had trampled over what little semblance of tolerance she'd had for human contact, once upon a time, before she clipped the shield to her belt. Anyone in Jane's position, anyone having been in her shoes, might feel the same way.
But then there were the increasing number of flutters that felt… undeniably good… in spite of the anxiety that accompanied them. She'd felt them with Dean… and a lot with Casey. Those flutters were okay, but… the best of those flutters were a Maura-only experience, as much as Jane had tried to pretend this wasn't true.
And then… the incomparable content Jane felt in Maura's presence. It had become harder and harder to ignore, but Maura was Jane's best friend. Jane should feel content to be with her and spend time with her. As much time as she wanted. Even if that time seemed to… extend indefinitely into the future.
It would be simple to write off the kiss in the trunk as… a moment of weakness, or empathy, or confusion. It hadn't begun as something physical. Jane felt silly recalling her feelings at the time, but she knew it wasn't about kissing Maura, per se, it was more about… feeling her. Seeing her. Knowing her more… better… or, something. It had been something in Maura's eyes, something Jane had seen there all along but never really let herself look for and acknowledge. Where do you draw the line between friend and best friend, between best friend and… what's the next step? 'More than friends?' Or 'lover' or 'partner' or 'girlfriend?' Did that kind of label matter? Why did it seem necessary for Jane's feelings to ascribe to a label like any one of those?
Her own answer was obvious. Because how the hell am I supposed to know what I'm feeling if I can't put it into one of those categories? What if I'm… in love with her? What if I'm not, what if this is just… Jane felt like walls were closing in around her. So much depended on this. So much depended on her knowing what the hell was going on in her head and it was just too difficult, too hard, too impossible to sort through the myriad of every sensation Maura inspired in her.
And fuck, did all this mean… Am I… gay? Bi? Lesbian? Shit.
Almost in a panic, Jane glanced around the room. It was her first instinct with issues of the heart. To avoid. To run. To get out and get far away.
But Angela's hand closed around Jane's wrist, the older woman waiting patiently for Jane's anxious eyes to finally meet hers. "Oh, sweetheart," she whispered when she saw the tears slipping down Jane's cheeks. "I know… I know it must all be confusing. I mean, maybe I don't know quite how confusing it is." She glanced away in thought for a moment before a timid smile lit her face, where Jane realized that signs of age were growing more distinct.
"You know, honey, I never thought… I mean, I always thought that… that you would marry Casey, I think. I thought he was so right for you. So willing to see through you and love the real Jane, love the Jane you rarely show to anyone, or sometimes the Jane that's rarely even there. The one who's happy and comfortable, and smiling and not worried about how she looks or what she says, because she knows she's with someone who will understand no matter what. I thought you and Casey had that." She sniffed. "That Dean? Never liked him. And Grant, well I thought he might have a chance. But you and Casey, you…" She rubbed Jane's wrist absently. "But then Frankie mentioned something. A couple weeks… no, maybe a little under a month ago."
She paused, and Jane felt compelled to ask, "What'd he say, Ma?" Her voice was hoarse and uncharacteristically weak, and Angela reached up to wipe away a few of Jane's tears.
"He was dropping me off from work, and we were talking about you, because you and Barry and Vince had just solved another case I think, and he said, 'You know, Jane seems really happy lately.' And I hadn't really thought about it much before he said anything, but that got me thinking… Thinking that over the past couple years, but really over the past few months, you've been… really, really happy. Sure, the cases can sometimes get you down… I know this one did. But you've been so quick to perk up, to focus on the bright side, even if you have to do it in that… abrasive, sarcastic way you do." This earned a small grin from Angela's tired, bewildered daughter, and Angela felt encouraged by it. "Well so anyway, Frankie and I are talking and he also mentions that you'd been spending a lot of time with Maura. I think he just said it like something he noted, you know, just something about you since you were the topic."
Jane sniffled, a corner of her mouth tugging upward. "Just how long do you two go on about me, huh?"
Angela ignored her. "But then for whatever reason, the part about you being happy and you spending more time with Dr. Isles stuck with me." She smiled. "Call it mother's intuition. So then I started paying more attention. At first… I hate to say it Janie, but at first I didn't really like what I saw. Not because I disapproved of… you or anything, just… the image I had in my head of your future was with someone like Casey, and children."
She felt Jane's body go rigid beneath the covers and she rushed to continue before Jane got the wrong idea. "But, but then, as I kept watching you, I realized that everything my little fantasy future for you had with Casey, you could have with Maura, or, or anyone, really. Because you two, Jane…"
Angela shook her head in wonder. "You two fit together like two pieces of a puzzle. I didn't want to see what I saw at first, but it was so… so beautiful, Janie, the way you two interact is like… You know each other's habits. You don't even ask who's going to shower first anymore. Maura turns the game on for you because she knows the schedule—she's memorized it. She knows if a game's going to be rained out now before you do. And it's not like she'd watch it if you weren't around."
Jane hadn't considered that. "Well… I'd noticed, but I thought she was just…"
Arching an eyebrow, Angela laughed out, "Just what? She wasn't memorizing any schedules on my account, if that's what you think! And honey, she knows you so well. She'll tell me the dinner she plans to make for you and I'll warn her that you hate that vegetable, or you can't stand that kind of sauce, and she'll just smile at me because she already knows and she's done something, changed the recipe, changed the ingredient, so that you will like it."
Jane let out a small laugh. "I don't know how she made okra taste good."
"See? And you made a face but your plate was all but licked clean at the end of that meal! Sometimes I think you two can read each other's minds. So many words go between you without either of you making a peep. And when I'm there, I'm usually out of the loop and have to ask you two what's going on. Like that time you up and went to a different restaurant because somehow, without asking, you could tell Maura was feeling queasy about seafood so we went Mexican instead. And I'm in the backseat wondering how and when that happened."
"I remember," Jane grinned, her voice soft at the memory. It had just been the look Maura was attempting to keep off her face while Angela had been in the back seat, going on and on about grilled shrimp and steamed clams and broiled scallops. Of course Maura could see how excited Angela was about going out to a seafood restaurant and didn't want to spoil her mother's night. Jane, on the other hand, had had no qualms with changing course, if it would save Maura from feeling ill.
Even in the near darkness, Jane could see that Angela's face was positively radiant with love. "It's not even just some moments, Janie. It's every day, all the time. When you're at work, in the car, on a case, drinking at the bar, I started seeing it everywhere. When you two are sitting there on the couch, watching the game or a movie, I just see you glowing, Janie. You're glowing."
Angela let her words sink into the silence. She never thought she'd be the one to push her Janie towards this… she never thought it would ever be something she could understand, something she could see fitting into her daughter's life. This conversation was one she had been toying with in her head for a couple weeks now, when she finally noticed how blind Jane was to the happiness so close at hand. Ever the helicopter mother, Angela Rizzoli was for the first time she could recall hesitant to force a conversation with her daughter. But today clinched it. Today Angela knew it was time. As soon as Maura had opened her eyes in the hospital room, so weak and pale, as soon as those words —How's Jane?—spoken with such quiet urgency, left Maura's mouth as though they had been hanging there for too long, kept from release for too long, Angela's mind was made up. Because then Angela knew that's where Maura was too.
A shuddering sigh escaped Jane, bringing Angela to cup her daughter's cheek lightly. "Talk to her, baby. As soon as you can manage, talk to her. You need her and she needs you and what does anything else matter?"
Jane shut her eyes at her mother's touch, the act forcing a few lingering tears through her lashes to glide down her face. "I'm… so tired." Of this. Of being awake. Of thinking, Of not knowing.
"Okay," Angela whispered, leaning forward and planting a kiss on Jane's forehead. "I've said my piece. I love you, Jane, no matter what. Remember that. Go to sleep. There's always tomorrow."
Angela tucked the covers more securely around the detective before quietly slipping out of the room to let her daughter restlessly search for sleep.
If she had been awake to witness it, Maura would have been surprised to watch herself fall to sleep. As tired as she had been, there were still far too many things running through her mind when she finally emerged from a long bath, placed fresh bandages on all of her cuts, and slumped onto her bed. The previous night felt like ages ago. When was the last time things had been normal? She could hardly remember. How quickly things changed.
But sleep had woven its way through her troubled thoughts and taken her into a blissful slumber far sooner than she had expected. Unfortunately, her sleep was interrupted too soon by a thump. It sounded so much like the thump of Jane's body as Harrison threw her into the trunk of his car, and Maura lurched upright in a cold sweat. Heart thrumming, she waited, listening…
Had she just dreamt it? She glanced blearily at her alarm clock, able to piece together that it was somewhere between 3:00 and 4:00 in the morning. Another minute of waiting, ears straining to hear any minute change in the quiet house, offered no new information. It was probably a bad dream, she told herself even as she threw aside her covers.
She pulled a robe over her nightgown before quietly cracking open her bedroom door. It was just before she exited the hallway into the kitchen when she heard a very distinct, very not dream-world thump.
She froze. Harrison. It was all she could think about. Why hadn't she made sure he was properly restrained before leaving the hospital? Of course he would escape if he lived. Of course he would come find them here, come to fix his own unhappiness. It would be a simple hacking job to find their addresses. No, Harrison probably already knew where they lived before coming to the morgue just the day before. What do I do? Maura swallowed back the panic. She could slip back to her room, call Detective Korsak or just dial 911—but what about Jane? Maura bit her lip. She'll be helpless, she won't be able to defend herself if he—
She heard another sound, much closer now, cutting off her thoughts and saw the glint of steel peek around the corner. Taking a silent breath, Maura pawed against the wall until she finally found the panel of light switches and snapped one on, and—"Jane?"
Jane froze, mouth dropping open. "Maur? Jesus, I thought you were…"
Jane trailed off, and Maura offered a squeaked, "…Harrison?"
The brunette nodded, sheepishly staring at the knife in her hand. "We must both me on edge…" She flashed a nervous smile. "Guess I won't be needing this, huh?"
Maura took in the familiar sight of one of her kitchen knives. "A paring knife, Jane? Really? You would have had much better luck fending off Harrison with my premier Wusthof boning knife, or the chef's knife. Both are much better suited for causing bodily harm."
"Duly noted," Jane mumbled, rolling her eyes as she retreated into the kitchen to return the knife to the knife block.
Maura followed her around the corner, watching the detective's stiff, pained movements with a deprecatory eye. "Why are you out of bed?" she asked tiredly. "You should have called me, I would have gotten you whatever you needed."
Jane turned around, fiddling with her hands. "I was having a little trouble sleeping."
"Yeah." Jane shrugged. "I just needed to walk them off."
Maura stepped closer, shaking her head. "Walk them off?" she repeated incredulously. "Jane, you're beaten and bruised all over, and you're obviously in pain. You know you could have called me if—"
"I needed anything, yeah, I know." Jane regarded the doctor silently for a moment, a remark about 'not being the one who got dangerously shot today' dying in her throat as a strange feeling forced its way through her other physical discomforts. This was an ache in her chest that condensed upon itself painfully the longer Jane stared at the disheveled doctor. She heard the doctor's next questions distractedly.
"How is your chest feeling? Are you having any trouble breathing?"
"Mm, no, the pain meds are doing okay," she lied. Maybe it was the shadow cast by the light Maura had turned on in the hallway, but the blonde looked too pale, and strained, and… beautiful. Jane drew in a small breath of surprise at that last thought. When would this ever feel natural, to see things this way?
Maura, normally confident and unconcerned with her appearance, fidgeted under Jane's scrutiny. The brunette suddenly had her poker face on, and Maura found herself unable to even guess at what she was thinking.
They stood like this for over a minute, the only sounds in the kitchen their shallow breaths.
Finally, Jane whispered, "I don't know how to do this."
Maura tensed. "Do… what?"
Jane pressed her lips together, holding back a jumbled tide of words. She was terrified of saying the wrong thing, not only for her own sake, but Maura's as well. She felt like a cornered animal, cornered by her own unavoidable thoughts that she wanted to clean and dress up presentably but they would inevitably tumble out and track mud everywhere.
Maura waited patiently, determined not to utter even one word that might make Jane more uncomfortable with whatever was going on inside her head. The seconds dragged out, the silence ringing in her ears.
But Jane just shook her head. She just couldn't do this. She stepped around Maura, walking stiffly back to the guestroom.
Bottom lip trembling, Maura stared at the place Jane had been standing, wondering what had just happened. Her shoulders slumped forward as the guestroom door shut. It was happening again. Just like before, even without saying anything this time, Maura had chased Jane away. She swung on her feet, suddenly remembering just how exhausted she really was, and found her way to the couch.
She couldn't keep doing this. She couldn't handle this back and forth. She needed an answer, a rejection, anything at all! She needed… she needed Jane. Letting her head fall back against the cushion, she willed herself not to cry, and miraculously, she did not. Perhaps she had exhausted her tear ducts in the last twenty-four hours.
She wasn't sure how much time had passed as she sat on the couch, but the sound of footsteps startled her, and when she opened her eyes again, Jane was standing before her, unruly curls sticking out of her head bandages in a way that would have been comical if Maura wasn't so surprised.
"Maur, I can't do this anymore. I don't know… what… or how, or anything. I just don't know a goddamn thing, except," she paused, rubbing relentlessly at her scar. Eventually, she carefully lowered herself onto the couch beside Maura, meeting the doctor's wide eyes with uncharacteristic vulnerability. "Except, I love and care about you, Maur. You know that, you've known that for a long time, but all of a sudden I can't define how, and in what way, and how much."
Maura opened her mouth to respond, but nothing came out.
Taking in a shuddering breath, Jane plowed on. "But I can tell you why, Maur. I can write a list of all the reasons, and I don't think I'd ever finish it." She swallowed thickly, tears welling. "And I can tell you that I'm terrified, I don't think I've ever been so terrified. Of this, of whatever it means, for me, for us, for our lives—" Her voice cracked on the last word and she cleared her throat. "But I can't get you out of my head, and I don't think I've been able to for years."
She smiled nervously at the unchanging surprise on Maura's face, reaching forward to take the doctor's bandaged hands into her own. "I'm asking you to forgive me, for causing you so much pain and confusion, for reacting to this as badly as anyone could, and for being a horrible, god-awful best friend. Because I am so, so sorry. I don't know if I can ever fix the hurt that I've caused you. Last night, today, in the car, I…"
She swallowed, her voice dropping with her confidence. "We've been in situations like that before… where I thought we might really die. In the woods, holding onto you with your bleeding leg, knowing I would die if I had to leave you behind and resigning myself to the fact that I would die with you because of that. But even then, I had a little hope. We were together, and together we've survived so many things. You came through for me, for us, reminding me that I could still use Morse code. You saved us both, despite the blood loss, despite the pain you were in, despite everything stacked up against us."
Jane paused, taking a deep, calming breath and biting back a wince as her ribs protested. "Today, though… I was sure of it. I was positive that, no matter what little plan we came up with, he was just going to throw open the trunk and fire one into you, and then me for good measure."
Maura shook her head in a daze. "No, Jane, I've seen it before… with Hoyt, when he… You somehow came up with the strength. You fought off Mason even though you were pinned down and saved me from Hoyt, you saved us both."
"That time, maybe. There was space to move, and distraction to take advantage of. But today, we were helpless… I was helpless." It came out with a hiss, as though the words were physically painful. "We were stuck in a trunk, nowhere to run, nothing to talk him out of it, no maneuverability, no weapons, no backup nearby… No, Maur, the only reason we survived today was because somewhere in Harrison's head, he didn't want to kill us. He wanted to be stopped."
"But…" Maura didn't know what to say. Jane was admitting to helplessness. Jane, always confident, always resolute in the face of danger, was openly admitting that sometimes, even when there was a will, there may not be a way. It was… heartbreaking, Maura realized. She wasn't even trying to cover this up with sarcasm, with a joke, nothing. "Why are you…?"
"Because, I owe this to you. I owe you the truth tonight. Because if I don't get this out now, after what we've been through, I may as well have died today. As helpless and hopeless as I felt in that car, nothing compared to… to when I figured out, laying there, that the only thing bothering me was how much I would regret not being able to spend more time with you." She laughed at herself, at the ridiculousness of it. "I wasn't sitting there, worrying about death and what it would be like, or if it would hurt. I wasn't thinking about all the places in the world I still wanted to visit, or my promise to Ma that I'd finally spend some time learning Rizzoli family recipes, or, or who would take care of Jo." Her voice broke as the tears started.
"No, I was thinking about you. How horrible I felt about not being able to protect you. How much I wished I could understand what I was feeling and why I was feeling it. How much I needed to find some way to make things right with you, me, us, if it was the last thing I did."
She took in a shuddering breath. She was crying, Maura was crying, but somehow her last words slipped out more easily than she could possibly have imagined. "I have no idea what it means, or how to handle it, but I think I… I love you, Maur. I love you, and as terrified as I am of it, I think it's one of the best feelings I've ever had."
And then the tumult of words stopped like floodwaters receding. The silence was thick. Maura's jaw quivered as she took in all of Jane's words and played them over and over again in her head. She loves me. She loves me. She loves me. Like a heartbeat, they came over and over and over again. She was swaying. Was it shock or exhaustion? Surely the latter. "I must be dreaming," she murmured to herself.
Jane smiled through her tears. "No, this is definitely not a dream."
Maura muttered on as though not hearing her. "Though if this is a dream, it is certainly more pleasant than the ones I've been having."
Jane frowned. "You've been having nightmares?"
Maura seemed to remember Jane was there. "This is a very realistic dream," she said to her. Reaching out slowly, she rested the palm of her hand against Jane's cheek. It was unbelievably soft.
Jane leaned into her hand, covering it with her own, and very softly repeated, "This is definitely not a dream, Maur."
The low timbre of Jane's voice made Maura blink. She stared at Jane for a long moment, tracing and retracing the curves of her face with her eyes. These curves she had memorized in nearly four years of friendship with this woman. This woman who had moments ago said… said… Maura's eyes widened. "Say it again," she whispered.
Jane knew exactly what she meant. Nuzzling the hand at her cheek, she said, "I love you." And again, "I love you." When did this get so easy? She murmured it over and over and over again.
And Maura fell forward, her face finding the crook of Jane's neck, Jane's arms wrapping around her. "I need you," she whispered into Jane's neck. "I've needed you all this time."
"Me too, Maura," Jane managed, eyes shut tightly as she relished the moment. "Me too. For so long, I've—" And then Maura's lips thudded against hers, and Jane forgot everything she was about to say. She held them together, on Maura's couch, on the same couch that they'd shared for nearly four years, though never like this. This was something far different from what she had experienced in the trunk of a madman's car earlier that day. This wasn't about desperation, about time running out. This wasn't about anything. It needed no context. It was just the two of them. For that moment, Jane may have been perfectly healthy, no fractured ribs, no bruises and scrapes. All she felt was Maura.
All she felt was whole.
Maura had a little more context. She knew that Jane's lips on hers, Jane's hand tangled in her hair, Jane's unique smell, Jane's closeness—these were all things she had been sorely missing in her life. They had no parallel, not point of reference, and they overwhelmed each and every one of the doctor's senses. For that moment, Maura forgot everything she'd ever learned about love and sex and life. All she felt was Jane.
And finally, she felt whole.
When they did pull apart, neither said a word, because Maura had asked, and Jane had answered, and at least for now, nothing else was needed. Fighting against complete exhaustion, Maura stood and pulled Jane up with her, silently leading the detective through the living area. Jane switched off the hallway light as they passed the panel of switches. Maura shut the door of her room behind them, and not a noise could be heard throughout the house for the rest of the night.
When Angela quietly opened the door to the master bedroom the next morning, she was unsurprised to see that the bed was being shared, and pleasantly surprised to see her doctor flush against her detective. As noiselessly as she could, she closed the door and tiptoed back to the kitchen. Finding a notepad in one of Maura's kitchen drawers, she scrawled, You kids call me when you wake up so I can make you breakfast, or I swear to god, you'll never hear the end of it. Then, thinking twice, she added, That last part is directed at YOU, Jane.
Then she taped it onto Maura's fancy coffee machine, stole the instant coffee packets from where she knew Jane hid them, and retreated to the guest house the happiest mother in Boston.