A/N:Well, this is kind of sad, isn't it? I couldn't hardly stay away from this for two weeks! I must be crazy. I really, really must. But I couldn't help it. I was itching to write about these two again. I'm not sure if I'll be able to keep up the insane updating pace I did on the first one, but I will definitely be updating this as much as I can. Any and all continued support is so honestly appreciated. Also, a word about the title- I had wanted to go with "The Continuing Adventures of Calamity Jane and Dr. Isles," but it was literally too long to fit! So here's to second place. Dang, I just realized this weekend is Rizzlescon! Have fun to everyone who's going, and to those who aren't, well, I hope you enjoy this!
Oh, and if my sources are correct, the beautiful cover image was done by case-out!
Thanks for indulging me and coming along in this adventure! And oh...if you're a newcomer, I guess you don't really need to have read the first Calamity Jane, but... I dunno, you probably should.
Three wary pairs of eyes turned upwards when they heard the female deputy grunt with exertion one last time as she hoisted Big Dave Starr up by the collar of his shirt and threw him into the corner of the saloon with his buddies. They looked on in heightened terror as she threaded her fingers together, cracking her knuckles and walking towards them. Her footsteps were steady, sure and loud; the spurs on her black boots glinted in the sunlight that was filtered in through the slats in the saloon's windows, almost blinding them all as she stood in front of them, hands at her waist.
"These the fellas, Sheriff?" she asked in a deep voice.
An older, only slightly more distinguished looking man walked up behind her, shifting a series of papers in front of him. "'Big' Dave Starr, 'Rifleman' Kelly, Doc Jones, and … Leslie Smith?" He looked down at the heap of men in the corner. "Yes, deputy. That's them."
"Well then!" the woman laughed, pulling out a pistol and twirling it nonchalantly. "You boys oughtta be a mite more careful the next time you lay your hands on the ass of the law around these parts. We can hold you on that alone. But while we've gotcha, I think some finger paintin'—"
"Printing," the Sheriff coughed.
"—finger printing might be in order," she finished. "We have reason to believe one of you fellas is responsible for the killin' of Colonel Nathaniel Fuller. Up and killed him right in his own home—but you made a mighty big mistake in leavin' behind some bloody fingerprints." With a flourish, she pulled out and inspected a sheet of paper as two more deputies with handcuffs came in. They and the Sheriff began cuffing the men in the corner as the woman kept talking: "You know the funny thing about fingerprints? They're like a signature. Unless one of you boys fesses up now, we're gonna take 'em from all of ya so's we can get to the bottom of this here case."
"If this ain't the livin' end," grumbled Doc Jones. "Who done got this plum fool notion of fingerprints in your mind?"
"Who else?" grunted Big Dave. "A female deputy—must be the group from the Creek. And I'll bet they got this here finger printin' idea from that cracked female doctor they got—" The words had barely escaped his mouth when he found himself getting shoved and held against the wall by Deputy Calamity Jane, her arm braced against his collar. Trying to downplay his terror, Dave sneered, "You wanna roughhouse, deputy? I think I like you from this position."
Sticking her pistol in his gut, Jane snarled, "I don't care what all ya call me, or what obscene things ya insinuate about me." When Dave tried to move, Jane slammed him harder against the wall, her jocular attitude long gone. "But you keep your sorry mouth shut about Dr. Isles, you prairie-lovin' sonuvabitch, or I'll shut it for ya. We clear? You ain't fit to clean the dirt off her shoes, much less go around with her name on your filthy, disrespectful lips."
Giving him one more dark glare, Jane pushed away and let one of the local deputies step forward to take Dave's arm. She bumped Korsak's elbow as a way of indicating she wanted him to follow her, and once they were both outside, the Sheriff said, "Jane Rizzoli, I don't know how you do it."
"You just threw four of the fiercest criminals in these territories into the corner like it was nothin'."
Jane shrugged and grimaced. "It was nothin'. I faced more fearsome fellas than that, Korsak. And y'know somethin', I never woulda thought I'd have an edge just by bein' a woman. They thought I was easy pickin's, so their guards weren't up." With another shrug, Jane hooked her thumbs over her belt and smirked at Korsak. "That makes for real easy take-downs. You get the prints to their local authorities, here?"
"Yes, along with Dr. Isles' outline for the proper procedure to get prints of these boys," Korsak sighed as they walked towards his carriage. "I tell ya, Jane. All my years of being a Sheriff, I've never had a more efficient deputy."
With a laugh, Jane hoisted herself up in the carriage, picking up the reins before Korsak had a chance to. "That's 'cause you ain't ever had a deputy accustomed to ruling the west with as ruthless a hand as Jake Wyatt," she said with a wink. "Know what that means, old man? No fear. I been in situations worse than this, and if I had any back up at all, it'd just be Frost. Now I got the law on my side, and you backin' me up."
"Best decision I ever made," Korsak chuckled, clapping Jane on the back.
As the carriage rolled away, the local Sheriff stepped outside the saloon with two of the handcuffed criminals in tow. On the way to his office, he stopped to shake his head and whistle at Jane and Korsak's retreating vehicle. "Never seen a woman who was more of a man," he said to his two captives. "She thinks like one, acts like one, and sometimes makes me feel like I'm not!"
It had been just a month since Jane Rizzoli had officially been deputized, and this case had been the first to take her out of the county. Tiny as their town was, Hollow Creek had fast earned a reputation for being home to the most effective crime-fighting unit in Arizona. Korsak and Jane had made such a good team that other towns began asking for help more than usual, to the point that Korsak took on not one but two more deputies in the form of Frankie and Frost to help out. People were apt to raise their eyebrows at a man of Korsak's position hiring a woman and black man, but nobody saw how they could complain when those initially questionable deputies were responsible for getting some of the worst criminals off the streets.
After spending so much of her crime-fighting days undercover as a male outlaw, Jane was only just starting to appreciate all the prejudice Maura often faced as a woman in her field. That said, Maura had also started gaining a reputation for more than her medical abilities: ever since Jane had become a deputy, Maura had begun reading up on scientific journals which explored the burgeoning theories of how science could be used to solve cases. There were plenty of criminals still daring enough to spit in the face of the law and laugh, but there were even more men (and not a few women) whose bravado would fade when they realized they were no longer merely scapegoats: deputies and lawyers could now be backed not only by money or guns, but with pretty damning scientific evidence, also.
Maura Isles had been the first person in the territory to try fingerprinting, and what started as a small phenomenon in the Creek was quick to spread further. Although Maura continued to be snidely regarded by some, she was esteemed by many others, a fact that brought endless pride to her significant other. And Maura was equally proud of Jane: when a retired Colonel had been found killed in his home in Powell County, none of the local authorities had been brave enough to track down suspects themselves.
Everyone knew that when you were in trouble, Calamity Jane Rizzoli was your best bet to get you out of it.
It was a three day trip up to Powell one way, making the whole excursion the longest separation Jane and Maura had undergone since exchanging their vows. Korsak had recommended getting plenty of bed rest the night before they left, and Jane took him up on half of that idea: she spent plenty of time in bed with Maura, but not much of it resting.
Korsak was a little curious as to why exactly Jane was so keen on hurrying home now. They barely got a chance to sleep on the road—Jane drove them later than they probably should have gone, and insisted they got going in the morning much earlier than Korsak would have liked. He didn't feel much like complaining, though, when he'd wake up and see that Jane had already packed up camp so they could get going right away. Jane had been so efficient that she wound up knocking more than half a day off the route.
"What's that song you're humming?" Korsak asked on their third morning out.
"Hm? Oh." Jane hadn't even noticed she'd been humming as she leaned back in the carriage, letting Korsak take the reins for a while. "It's an ole Scottish song Maura's mother used to sing to her. Kinda gets stuck in my head now and then."
"Does the Doc sing?"
"She claims not to, but she's got a voice right like an angel," Jane said with a grin, putting her hands together behind her head and closing her eyes against the sun. "Don't go askin' me to sing it, neither."
"Wouldn't dream of it."
"'Cause I don't sing."
"Of course not. Can I ask you something else, then?"
Jane opened one eye and glared at Korsak suspiciously with it. "I suppose."
"What's got you itching to get back to the Creek so fast? I thought you'd appreciate taking a little trip out."
It was a simple question with an even simpler answer, but Jane took her time deciding how to respond. Korsak glanced over and saw that she was fidgeting. Jane Rizzoli never fidgeted. She could make her reply one word or a thousand or any number in between: it was a matter of deciding what to say in order to leave Korsak's curiosity quenched without divulging too much. It was, after all, a legitimate question.
"I like goin' on runs for ya, Korsak," she said thoughtfully. "Out to Green Forge or the Springs or anyplace else. You're right, it's nice gettin' a little break from the town. But the Creek's where I belong; it's where I've always belonged, whether I knew it or not. And besides, now I've got someone there who needs me." She self-consciously sat up a little straighter when Korsak glanced at her again. "Jo Friday."
Korsak laughed and relaxed a little. "Jo Friday, huh? Yeah, that pup's sure crazy about you. Can't figure quite why, but there ya have it. Y'know, there's something I've been meaning to tell ya since you started hanging around more often."
"What's that, Korsak?"
"I'm…well, I'm right proud of ya, Jane."
"What for, killin' Hoyt?"
"No, not that," Korsak said in a level voice. "Besides, that ain't what you did. You weren't killing him, you were protecting Dr. Isles. That's what I'd have expected you to do. But afterwards, once you got him, you decided to stay. You're still tough when it comes to crooks, but you've made a real effort to be more genteel towards the folks in town, a little less rough around the edges."
"You sayin' I was a holy terror before?" Jane asked, grinning to let him know she wasn't really offended. "Well… you know who's to thank for that, I guess."
Jane leaned back again, bringing her hat down over her eyes and folding her arms. "Jo Friday."
Although Maura had been keeping herself busy for the week Jane was gone, nearly every spare moment was spent thinking about her. After almost ten months of living together, they had gotten down their general routine: Maura would make house calls for patients and be on call for any emergencies, always making time to meet Jane for lunch at Angela's or in the alcove near Wohaw Springs if they wanted a little more privacy. At night, depending on the weather, they would eat in the yard or at their newly-acquired table. Maura was always in the middle of at least two books: one that she could burn the midnight oil reading herself, and another she would take in turns reading out loud with Jane as their literacy lessons continued.
Jane had only been truly wounded once on the job so far, when she and Frost interrupted a bank robbery and one of the jittery would-be criminals fired a shot that grazed her. This had happened in Green Forge, where despite Jane's insistence that she could wait to get back to Maura, Frost took her to see Dr. Callahan. It was nothing close to traumatic, and when Jane returned home that night, Maura was only grateful that she could comfort Jane so close after the fact.
Being separated from her like this was dreadful. There were the typical things that came with absence; the loneliness at night, making food only for one, simply missing that familiar swooping sensation in her stomach that she still got every time Jane just smiled at her. But when the person you hold most dear is also a reckless deputy, there is a concern that comes every time she leaves.
What Maura hated the most was having no idea when Jane would be coming back, and in what state she would be. Korsak had said with a carriage, it would be a three day journey to Powell—but what if a wheel broke? What if their horse was slow? What if they got held up on the way back? Typically Maura loathed hypothesizing about such things, but she couldn't help it now. And what if Jane got hurt? They were chasing a murderer, after all—she could get killed!
Oh God, what if she dies? Please, let her return safely. Please.
"Maura, dear, are you all right? You look agitated."
Maura was jarred out of her reverie only when Adelaide rubbed her shoulder. "Oh! What? Yes. What?"
"You've been staring off into space for the last minute or so. It's quite rude," Adelaide said matter-of-factly. "Why, you didn't even notice when I smacked your head with a ruler!"
"You what?" Maura asked in concern, reaching up to brush the top off her head as if expecting to feel a sizeable lump there.
With a pained smile, Adelaide brought Maura's hand back down. "It was a joke, dear," she said in a quiet voice. The two of them were in Adelaide's tiny house, situated a ways behind the tailor shop. Maura was making one of her weekly medicinal visits, and Adelaide couldn't help noticing the doctor looked more distracted than usual. "Forgive me, Maura, but I couldn't help noticing you look more distracted than usual."
"Do I?" Maura asked, all but wringing her hands.
Recognizing this as a sign that Maura was attempting to avoid what she imagined would lead to an awkward conversation, Adelaide said, "Yes. Yes, you do. What's distressing you?"
"It's Jane," Maura blurted out.
"Trouble in paradise?"
With a sigh, Adelaide stood up and shuffled over to her makeshift kitchen to pick up the kettle that was whistling. "It's like you said at your housewarming, Maura. You and Jane sharpen each other like iron, better than some married couples! Now I know there's no sense in comparing the two of you to a husband and wife," she said airily, pouring two cups. "But I just mean that you two seem to have grown very close."
"She's my dearest friend," Maura said in a thick voice.
"Yes dear, I know," Adelaide said, bringing over the tea and handing a cup to Maura. "And it's my understanding that Jane is on a rather dangerous mission right now. It's only natural that you would be anxious for her. You shouldn't be out working if you're already under so much stress."
Maura was gripping her cup tightly, never bringing it to her lips. "No, I have to work. If I don't have my mind on something else all the time, I worry. I don't—I mean, I'm afraid, Addie. And I just wish there was some way someone could get word to me at once if she was wounded, or if they wound up staying longer than they anticipated. Not knowing …it's just awful. So awful." With a nervous laugh, she said, "They could be home as early as tomorrow. Maybe even tonight, if I were to be unrealistically optimistic. I just…"
"Wish you could be sure," Adelaide said, and Maura nodded. "I understand, Maura. You poor thing, you must be quite worried! And here I've been rambling on about my back—you really need to tell me to shut up now and then."
That finally got a more honest laugh out of Maura, and she braved a sip of the scalding tea. "Not on your life, Adelaide."
"Incidentally, I thought you might be interested in knowing I got something for you today," Adelaide said.
"Really, what for?"
"No, no, I didn't get you something. I got something for you."
"I don't…I don't understand…"
Impatiently waving her hand, Adelaide said, "I mean something arrived for you from the post master. An order you placed with me. To France."
Maura raised her eyebrows and her cup rattled a bit when she placed it back down on its saucer. "Oh. Oh, that."
"Yes, that. We never fully came to a conclusion about whether you wanted me to cancel the order or not, so I never did. I know you intended to wear these… things …for Mr. Fairfield, but just because he's gone doesn't mean there won't ever be someone you'd like to wear them for." Adelaide was watching her carefully for a reaction, but Maura was staring off to the wall, gulping down her tea. "It would be a shame to send them all the way back to Paris if you think you might have need of them at a later date," Adelaide continued. "I really do hope you don't let the situation with Mr. Fairfield keep you from settling down someday. You possess so many wonderful qualities which I should think would be very desirable in a wife and mother. And… that's something you want to be, isn't it?"
"Yes," Maura breathed, still looking at the wall. Adelaide had asked nothing about a husband; she was still in the clear.
Adelaide sat back, as if this settled the matter. "Well then, you'll find it. You know, at first I was concerned by your age and how long you had waited to wed Mr. Fairfield, but it certainly seems as though that all happened for a reason, didn't it?"
"Yes, I suppose it did."
"You discovered some less than admirable of his, and hopefully that won't be an issue the next time. For now, I'm sure Jane appreciates having you around as a housewife," Adelaide chuckled, but her smile faltered a bit when Maura turned wide, worried eyes to look at her. "You bring much-needed decorum and domesticity to her life. That's what I meant, Maura."
With a curt nod, Maura sat a little straighter and said, "Of course. Adelaide, if you've the box from France at home, I'd be glad to take it off your hands."
Maura wasn't entirely sure what she'd been expecting, but the box was not sensational or scandalous in any way. In fact it was quite ordinary, belying the salacious garments that it contained. Even still, Maura walked a bit more briskly to her carriage than usual lest she be stopped by an innocent passersby and asked what she was carrying. When she made it home, she headed straight for the bedroom, where she unceremoniously dropped the box onto Jane's side of the bed. Her hands kept going for the lid then drawing back, afraid.
She was torn. She wanted to see exactly what the garments looked like, and maybe try them on. But part of her could not help thinking of the last time she had worn something indecent in front of Jane—what it had let to… that corset in Stanley's tavern, the night they caught Hoyt. At the time it had seemed like a victory, but ultimately wound up leading to the most terrifying hour of both their lives. Still… in a way, that was what had helped bring them even closer together. Maura knew she was probably over-analyzing, and it was giving her a headache.
So she left the box unattended on the bed, choosing to settle down on the sofa to read Jane Eyre for a couple of hours.
It wasn't until a little after nine o'clock that Maura heard a carriage outside. Usually this just signaled somebody driving past on their way to or from Green Forge, but then she heard it stop. Two voices were muffled by their distance, and if there had been any doubt as to who they belonged to, it was confirmed when Maura heard Jo Friday barking like a maniac outside. It was the bark she reserved for Jane. At this realization, Jane Eyre went flying out of Maura's hands (only just missing the fireplace) as the doctor's heart hammered in anticipation and she hurried for the door.
Maura opened it in time to see Jane jumping out of Korsak's carriage, and when her feet hit the ground, her eyes met Maura's. Her face split into a wide grin that Maura knew she was returning in full force. As much as Jane had been looking forward to this moment, she still felt unprepared for the burst of pure delight that exploded in her chest and shot out to every particle in her body at the sight of Maura waiting for her. Without so much as a backwards glance at Korsak, Jane ran for the house, throwing her hat further into the yard for Jo Friday to go chase.
Noticing that Jane hadn't even slowed down once she reached the porch, Maura laughed and took a precautionary step back inside. For her part, Jane was somewhat aware of the fact that Korsak had yet to fully turn his carriage around—so once Jane reached the threshold, she kicked the door shut behind her before picking Maura up into a bear hug. Maura laughed in surprised joy when her feet left the floor as Jane swung her around.
"Oh, if you ain't a sight for sore eyes!" Jane hollered, clenching Maura even tighter before finally setting her down. "And sore arms," she added, running her hands along said limbs as Maura's grip went to Jane's waist. With the hint of a cocky grin, Jane leaned down, whispering "and sore lips" before capturing Maura's in a kiss.
The sensation was better than either of them had remembered, and Maura whimpered into the kiss, bringing her arms up and around Jane's neck. Even still, she broke it off quickly, opting to focus all her energy on clutching Jane as close to her as possible. Even considering her tendency to get emotional about things, Maura was surprised to feel tears of relief leaking out of her eyes.
"Darling, I missed you so much," she sniffed, her breath catching when Jane kissed her cheek, then her neck.
"I feel like sayin' I missed ya ain't sayin' enough," Jane responded, feeling warmth spread throughout her insides at the sensation of holding Maura so close.
After a few moments, Maura pulled back just far enough to look Jane over. "You're not hurt?"
"Aw, what're you, kiddin' me?" Jane laughed. "Ain't even got a scratch!"
"Not in a single blessed place. I didn't do nothin' more than what I thought was required."
Maura brought Jane down for another kiss, whispering against her lips. "I couldn't help worrying about you, you know."
"I understand," Jane said reverently.
After so many years of traveling as Jake, Jane had hardened a bit and came to scoff when Angela or her brothers would express concern for her. She knew they all cared just as much about her safety as Maura did, but Maura was the one responsible for making Jane a little less reckless, wanting to spare other people emotional pain on account of her physical wounds. Jane was tied to her brothers by blood, and the connection with Angela was nearly the same, going almost as far back.
But Maura had fallen in love with her, had met her during one of the more turbulent times of Jane's life, and had determined to stay by her regardless of it all. It was an emotion Jane knew Maura had never felt for anyone else, just as she herself had never cared so singularly about anybody as much as she did Maura.
"So, how shall we celebrate your safe return?" Maura asked, still grinning from ear-to-ear. "Would you like to go out back and…" She brought both hands up to Jane's face, relishing in her realness and her safety, kissing her again. "Spark?"
"No," Jane answered, her voice a low rumble. She stooped to pick Maura up again, offering her a roguish smile which contrasted with the tenderness in her voice: "I want to make love to you in our bed, and just hold you all through the night."
It would be redundant for Maura to express how wonderful that idea sounded, so she let actions speak for her in place of words. Considering how short a distance it was from the door to the bedroom, it took them quite a while to get there. Jane was barely able to keep her hold on Maura as the doctor's hands seemed to be going everywhere, tugging vainly at Jane's vest before going to unbutton her shirt and then heading for her belt. Jane kept pausing, allowing herself to lean against the wall to give Maura the time to properly finish the attempts to disrobe her. What kept Jane patient was her ability to mostly maintain the kiss she had initiated at the door, before they reached their destination.
Jane lay Maura down on the bed, not noticing the thin box she knocked to the floor in the process. Removing each other's clothes often had a methodical feeling to it, with at least some acknowledgement of the time it seemed to take. Nothing they had done before matched the feverish pace at which they were now undressing each other, both of them starved for the intimacy they had grown so accustomed to and missed so sorely in the last week. There was a tacit understanding that passed between them: this was not about seeing the other's body; it was about feeling her. That predominantly was it, but it was also about basking in her scent, savoring her unique taste, hearing those beautiful sounds that were brought out only by each other.
An intensely gratified moan came out of Maura as she finally felt Jane's unclothed body settling on top of her own, and the sound was quickly stifled with a languid kiss. After the rushing, harried speed that had brought them here, it was a refreshing change of pace, and both women loved knowing that although they could rush if they wanted to, there was no need. They could take their time.
There was nothing at all comparable to the feeling Jane had whenever she was like this, whenever Maura was beneath her and grasping at her. It was a power that felt so much greater than the kind she used to feel posing as an outlaw, knowing she commanded respect no matter where she went. Maura's admiration hadn't come for free; Jane had had to fight for it, and she had lost it more than once. That's what made winning it back so amazing, and the power Jane felt was shared by them both.
A poorly timed "don't" spilled out of Maura's mouth just as Jane slipped a hand between them. Jane stilled her movements as Maura forced her own eyes open, tangling her hands in Jane's hair and panting, "Don't ever leave me for that long again." She gulped in a bit more air as Jane smiled ruefully at her, both of them knowing it was very plausible that Jane would have to take more trips like this one and possibly be gone longer. Maura pulled Jane down for an open kiss, her tongue brushing against Jane's as she arched into the woman's touch. "I'm just so glad you're back."
Jane dipped her head, kissing Maura's jaw and then her neck before coming back up to catch her gaze, stroking her cheek and smiling as Maura nuzzled her face into a calloused hand. "It's so great to be back."