It was not a dark and stormy night. It was not lightning or raining. There were no blaring weather sirens or blackened skies or the familiar crashing and booming of thunder. There was no threat of impending doom looming over the skies of Boston.
Rather, it was a perfectly mellow Tuesday afternoon, a peaceful tranquility settling in amongst the atmosphere of the Boston Police Station, rapidly intertwining with the stickiness of humidity and the distinct odor of coffee wafting in from the kitchen.
It was ordinary.
And homicide Detective Jane Rizzoli hated ordinary.
She sat, carefully perched on the edge of her swivel chair with her back resting against the cushioning of the leather lining, feet crossed lazily over one another on top of her desk, spinning slowly back and forth while chewing on the end of a ballpoint pen, thinking.
"No one has died," she mused aloud, staring blankly off into the distance for a moment before focusing back on the squad room, surveying the men surrounding her in the minute possibility of a reaction.
Korsak chuckled heartily to himself from his desk in the corner, thoroughly immersed in some youtube video featuring little fluffy animals on the wide screen of his laptop. Frost and Frankie were playing Texas Hold 'Em across a dilapidated card table in the back, which was barely holding itself together in an upright position. The stakes of their game were unclear to the disinterested Rizzoli across the room, but she was mere seconds away from caving in to the boredom and joining in on their game if a suitable distraction didn't present itself soon.
She uncrossed her legs and recrossed them the other way, trying to determine if there was a notable difference in comfort between the two positions. There did not appear to be any.
"Come on, somebody die already," she groaned, louder this time, but again, there was not even a hint of acknowledgement from her peers.
Running a frustrated fist through her thick black curls, she sighed, turning to her cell phone to text the medical examiner on the floor below.
Please say you've got something for me, she typed. So. Bored.
Within a few seconds, a response containing only a single word from Maura was waiting in her inbox: Possibly.
"Works for me," Jane announced, leaping up from her chair and abandoning her position at her desk. She glanced over her shoulder to see if anyone was paying attention to the fact that she was leaving, but no one so much as looked up. Scoffing inwardly, she stalked out of the squad room and slammed the door behind her, at last jerking her colleagues out of their various occupations long enough to jump at the noise.
As she stepped across the threshold, Jane took notice of the tall and muscular man that jumped through the sliding elevator entrance just as the doors were closing, landing next to her. He probably had a good four inches on her, which put him at around 6'2. His eyes were a darkened shade of gold, the same kind of chocolate-y brown that made one think of the inside of freshly baked cookies. Massive biceps nearly bursting out of the dark green polo he was wearing, he turned his strong, tan face towards her and grinned, exposing perfectly white teeth lined up neatly behind an impish smile. It was only after several seconds of staring that she spotted the bouquet of flowers he had tucked into his right fist.
Jane swallowed, hard, forcing herself to tear her gaze away from the god-like man next to her as she tried to remember how to arrange her expression into something other than blatant infatuation. She coughed awkwardly into the crook of her arm, attempting to ignore her reflection in the mirrored walls of the elevator, as she knew it paled in comparison with that of her company. Self-consciously, she thought of her wrinkled pants, rumpled blouse, blood-stained boots, lack of makeup, sleep-crusted eyes, and the vivacious curls erupting from her scalp, all-too aware of the fact that she hadn't put a whole lot of effort into her appearance this morning, or any other morning, really.
What's the point, she thought, pulling at a loose thread on her shirt. There's not a single guy in this department that I'd ever even consider dating.
She stole a conspiratorial glance over her shoulder at the man beside her.
I might make an exception for him, though.
The elevator screeched noisily to a halt, and Jane crossed over the threshold to the bottom floor. She began to head towards Maura's office, sensing the presence of the man lingering behind her, following her. She turned the corner and he did the same, the pattern of his footsteps falling into synchronization with hers. She stopped at the drinking fountain, bending over the nozzle to quench an imaginary thirst. As he stopped at the fountain next to her, she narrowed her eyes.
He seemed much less attractive now that he was stalking her.
Wordlessly, silently, involuntarily, her fingers began to move slowly towards the holster that rested on her left hip as he continued to follow her until they were in the hallway leading to the autopsy room. She reached for the door handle, about to slip inside when suddenly she turned, mouth open, confrontational words already forming within her lips.
"Listen, the only people that go in this room are medical staff, police officers, or corpses," she asserted forcefully, focusing her gaze on the flowers he was carrying rather than his face so as not to stumble over her words, "and you don't look like either one. So. Would you like to explain to me what you're doing down here?"
He stood still for a moment, brown eyes watching her solicitously before his firm jaw widened into a boyish smile. As he lowered the bouquet, the top half of his torso became visible, and Jane could now see the white square sticker that rested on the pocket of his polo, quite obviously reading: Visitor. He gestured to it with his free hand, still wearing the same grin.
"I'm here to see Dr. Isles," he said calmly, his voice smoothing over the situation like velvet. "Are you?"
Left without one of her typical witty comebacks, Jane simply stood defiantly, arms crossed over her chest, guarding the entrance to the door.
"Um," she said. "Well, I'll go get her for you."
And, before she could provide another opportunity to make a fool out of herself, she swiftly turned once more and burst into the autopsy room, leaving the mystery man behind her.
"Maura," she hissed, spotting her best friend bent over the body of a young girl in the back of the morgue. "Can you please tell me why Chris Hemsworth is standing outside those doors, waiting to see you?"
Dr. Isles stiffened, her back to Jane. "Chris Hemsworth is here?"
"Yeah, Maura. Along with Miley and Liam," Jane retorted, throwing up her hands in incredulity. Every time her sarcasm sailed right over Maura's head, Jane was astounded. She still questioned just how she and the chief medical examiner even became friends, let alone best friends. "NO, it's not the actual Chris Hemsworth. But there's some super buff guy out there who looks just like him, and he's here for you." She glanced at her watch. "You've got about ten seconds to give me the scoop before he -"
Maura carefully set down her surgical instruments, ripped off her gloves, threw them violently into the trashcan nearest them, and strode past the detective, ignoring her. She marched right to the doors of the autopsy room and flung them open, arranging a forced smile on her face as she did so.
"Jack. Hi," she greeted him, reaching out to accept the flowers graciously. "These are lovely. Thank you."
Jane ducked behind the nearest autopsy table, only daring to raise her head a few inches above the metal surface.
"Is this a bad time?" he asked, reaching out to touch Dr. Isles' shoulder. "I can come over tonight, if you want."
"Um, well, actually - " Maura casually turned a few degrees to the right, surreptitiously glancing behind her at Jane, whose legs could clearly be seen below the table she was hiding behind. "Let's talk out here," she finished, stepping outside the doors and closing them after her, leaving Jane alone with the corpses.
Rizzoli cursed, rocking backward on her heels from her crouching into a sitting position on the tile once the doors were shut. She strained to make out any pieces of their conversation, but was rewarded with only the low undertones of two people speaking in hushed voices.
After several moments of tortuous waiting, Maura briskly entered the autopsy room once more, bouquet in one hand.
"You can come out now," she said stiffly, striding past Jane without so much as a backward glance, tossing the flowers into the sink disinterestedly. "He's gone."
She reached into the dispenser above the table for another pair of purple latex gloves, which she snapped onto her wrists before resuming her work on the dead girl in the back.
Jane, irritated at her lack of information, unfolded her legs and hoisted herself into a standing position. "Well? Who is he?"
Maura bent over the body once more, facing away from Jane. "There are lacerations all around her wrists," she announced, completely disregarding the question. "This girl was bound with some sort of rope."
"Maura," Jane said in a low voice, approaching the table and quietly falling into place beside the medical examiner, "Seriously. Who was that dude?"
Dr. Isles carefully set the girl's arm back on the table and pushed her onto her side. "She's young," she mused aloud, tracing the outline of the girl's back with her forefinger. "No more than twelve years old. A real tragedy."
Beside her, Jane said nothing. She stood, tranquil. Motionless. Waiting. She had known Maura long enough to be confident in the fact that when her friend was ready to confide in her, she would.
"Multiple stab wounds, two of which sliced between her ribs." Maura's fingers traveled over the girl's back, extracting information as they moved. "Her lung was punctured, making it incredibly difficult to breathe. She probably struggled, but her chest cavity was filled with blood within just a few seconds. She suffocated." The muscles in the doctor's shoulders tensed as she set the girl back down and rested both palms on the table, leaning over the body. "Drowned in her own blood."
Maura bowed her head, closing her eyes, allowing herself exactly three seconds to grieve the loss of a girl that she never knew, a child that was never hers. She would never be able to talk to this person on the table in front of her, never would be able to tell her how sorry she was that such an awful thing had happened to her. This girl had nothing left. No one had come to claim her.
Dr. Isles hid her sniff behind a gloved hand as she straightened up again, rising from the table and dragging the head of an x-ray machine over the body. Silently, she moved the x-ray over the girl, eyes on the computer screen at the head of the exam table.
It was a routine procedure, something that she did to every corpse, every person who ever came through her doors. It was nothing new, nothing special, and yet she paused over the girl's hips, just as she had done on a hundred other people a hundred other times.
And again, as the x-ray head hovered over the abdomen of the body on the table, Maura hung her head once more, knowing what was coming. She had examined the girl countless times, gone over it and over it, and it still affected her every time she saw it.
"She was pregnant," Maura said, in such a low voice that Jane hardly heard her. "About 8-10 weeks." Her eyes rested on the computer screen for a moment as she stared at the x-ray of the girl's hips, but slowly flicked her gaze down to the table as she stared at the body. "The result of repeated sexual assault. The scar tissue indicates that she was brutally raped on multiple occasions over at least a year-long period. Perhaps longer. There's no real way to tell."
And with that, there was a pointed pause, a moment of stillness as the two friends stared down at the girl, the mystery of Jack temporarily forgotten as the detective and the medical examiner joined in mutual sorrow over the body of an innocent child.
Finally, Jane gathered her voice from somewhere within her tightened throat.
"Maura," she whispered, the hoarseness that often accompanied her words now amplified, "You've been over this so many times. This is an old case. Unsolved. She shouldn't still be here, on your table. You've examined her as much as you can -"
"And I'll keep examining her until I figure it out," Maura interrupted harshly.
Jane tentatively reached out to grasp her friend's shoulder. "Figure what out?"
Letting out a quiet sigh, Dr. Isles wrapped her fingers around the little girl's hand, taking it in hers. "How someone could ever do this to a person."
Once more, a chilling silence wrapped itself around the autopsy room, blanketing the two women in an uncomfortable stillness that, even while standing next to each other, left each of them alone with their thoughts and emotions. Side by side, they stood over the table, Jane's hand still on Maura's shoulder, until at last the doctor pulled away, shrugging out of the detective's grasp.
"Jack," she finally said, reaching up to move the x-ray machine back into place, "is... a mistake."
"A mistake," Jane echoed, one hand on her hip. "That's it? That's all I'm getting from you?"
Her friend shot her a cold look. "I met him on a case several years ago, before I was working here," Maura explained, silencing the hum of the x-ray machine with a swift strike of the power button. "His sister was murdered, and I did the autopsy. He came in to ID her, and somehow, during the whole thing, we... Well."
Jane simply stared at her friend. "You hooked up with a guy over the body of his dead sister."
Maura looked up from the machine, eyes narrowed. "I wouldn't expect you to understand."
"Whoa, okay, hold up," Rizzoli protested, holding up her hands. "What's wrong?"
Maura forcefully jerked the power cord out of the plug by the wall, gathering up the parts of the x-ray machine as she prepared to put it away. "Nothing's wrong," she responded icily. "It's just that nothing's right, either."
Jane studied Isles carefully, watching her every move. There was something off about her demeanor, and her obsession with this old case. Maura never got emotionally attached to cases, no matter who the victim was or how brutal the murder. She built up a wall, isolating herself from whoever was lying on her table. That was how you had to be to do her job.
Or at least, that was how you had to be to make it through.
"Maura," she said, desperation leaking into her tone, "Please. Talk to me."
Dr. Isles began wrapping her surgical instruments in a black cloth, which she placed in a plastic case. "There's nothing to talk about, Jane."
The detective opened her mouth to protest, all ready to tell Maura that she was onto her, that she knew her too well to be fooled by that, but her phone rang, interrupting her.
"Rizzoli," she grunted into her cell as she lifted it to her ear. She paused, listening to the person on the other line. "Korsak, what? Slow down. I can't understand you."
Maura, whose back was to Jane, stopped wrapping her scalpels, involuntarily intrigued.
"What? He's crazy. Tell me you're not seriously considering this."
More silence. The medical examiner could hear the muffled vibrations of a voice from her friend's cell phone but could not make out the words.
"Okay, okay, fine. I'm coming." Jane shook her head, clearly annoyed. "Yep. Yeah, I'll tell her. Relax. Okay."
She hung up the phone and slid it back into her pocket, fixing her gaze on Maura, who had turned around. Her head was cocked to one side, eyes narrowed as she waited expectantly for Jane to speak.
The detective used her phone to point dramatically at the medical examiner across from her. "Let me just preface this by saying that this whole "Jack" thing is not over." She made air quotes for emphasis, ignoring Maura's eyeroll. "But... We've got a murder."
"Yay," said Maura flatly. She turned to grab her medical examiner's bag, but stopped halfway. "Why do you still have that weird look on your face?"
Jane, phone still outstretched in a pointing position, sighed in retreat. "Because next to the guy is a message, in blood, that says, 'I know who killed Kennedy.'"