A Reporter's Interest
A Rizzoli & Isles fic by Gigi
Chapter 1: It's Terrifying to be a Target
A/N: THIS IS THE SEQUEL TO NEWSPAPER CLIPPINGS. HOW HAPPY IS THAT?
A/N 2: Well it doesn't start out all that happy. This isn't exactly the same scenario as what we just saw in the summer finale, but it's based off of it in a way that it goes with the setup slash ridiculously vague timeline from Newspaper Clippings. But no Dennis, because I fucking hate him, and that entire storyline was sloppy considering who the fuck else did they know who was a sculptor? It's not going to be the premise of the entire story, but definitely a significant jumping off point. I tend to stay away from writing actual case stuff, because I'm not good with that, so it's really just where I'm beginning this story and that's it. Expect some flashbacks and nightmares though. At least at the beginning, it's gonna be heavier than Newspaper Clippings because Maura's been through an entirely different kind of trauma than she's been through in the past, but soon they'll have to tackle the issue of coming out when they get a little sloppy with their hiding-and that's always fun. Anyways, enjoy!
The hand that offered the mug of hot chocolate to the glassy-eyed medical examiner shook nearly as hard as the woman who accepted it. Maura hadn't spoken in two hours, simply staring blankly at the black television screen. Jane bent over and kissed the top of her head, squeezing her own eyes shut in an effort to keep the hysterical tears that wanted desperately to cascade down her cheeks.
Behind those closed lids flashed a silver knife suddenly held up against the blonde's neck, the small trickle of crimson already making its way southward. Jane hurriedly opened her eyes again and sat next to Maura, hugging her as well as she could from the side. Resting her chin on the doctor's shoulder, she looked up at the expressionless face. "Maura?" she whispered. No response, although hazel eyes did flick in her direction. "Maura, you're safe now." Her voice cracked a little bit, her own distress creeping into her words. "Pete Benson is under 24-hour surveillance in the ICU with a broken back. With any luck, that son of a bitch is paralyzed."
The name made Maura's face tighten. She had to take a sip of her hot chocolate to wet her throat before she could speak. "I should have seen the signs," she declared shakily. "I let him inflate my ego so much that it almost got me killed."
She was blaming herself. A psychopathic, serial killing journalist targets and almost succeeds in killing her, and she was blaming herself. As much as Jane understood that desire—God knew how much she'd beaten herself up every time with Hoyt—it would have been infuriating to see in Maura if it hadn't completely broken her heart. "Maura, look at me," she demanded as she raised her chin and looked Maura in the eye. "None of this is your fault. These types of killers…they've become so good at mimicking human emotion and interaction that they seem more genuine than normal people at times. If anything, I'm the one who should have seen the signs sooner, before that monster had his knife at your throat."
Tears welled up as Maura's face crumpled, and she finally, finally let them start to fall. "This isn't the first time I've been targeted. Why am I not handling this any better?" A sob ripped out of her. "Why am I still terrified?"
Without another thought, Jane gathered her in her arms, rubbing her back as she rested her chin on top of her head. "Because," she said as steadily as she could, though she was struggling to keep her own emotions in check, "this wasn't like you being targeted because of a mob war." Maura's shoulders shook. "There's a…there's this one type of terror that only happens when the reason your life is at stake is because you piqued a serial killer's interest, when you know that you're his biggest challenge." Jane felt wetness on her cheeks. Remembering her past experiences on top of the constant flashes of Pete Benson's knife at Maura's throat was just too much to control. She squeezed Maura a little harder. "It's hard to feel safe after that, even when they're locked away, or paralyzed, or dead."
Maura's only answer was a despondent, incoherent wail into Jane's breast.
Jane got very little sleep that night. It felt like every half hour, she'd be jerked awake by the whimpers and twisting of the woman in her arms trapped in another nightmare. She felt no resentment at the loss of sleep; she remembered what it was like when the incident was still fresh. Instead, she gently shook Maura awake, making sure she opened her frightened eyes to see that she wasn't being restrained and about to be murdered, to realize the arms wrapped around her middle were Jane's and the eyes looking down at her were a warm dark brown and not an icy blue. It took Jane constantly reminding her that the danger was gone, that she'd be there to protect her no matter what, for Maura to settle down. Every time they resumed their sleeping positions, with Jane hugging her from behind, the detective would place a little kiss at the juncture of Maura's neck and shoulder. Just as a reminder that she wasn't going anywhere.
It was Jane's turn to stare blankly ahead of her the next morning at work. Korsak had approached her the second she sat at her desk and told her they needed her to make a formal statement of what happened with Dr. Isles the night before for the incident report they were filing. So now she sat in the conference room with a clerk, Cavanaugh and a voice recorder.
"Detective Jane Rizzoli, Boston Homicide, was first on the scene when Pete Benson was about to make Dr. Maura Isles his next victim," Cavanaugh explained to the clerk. He noticed the way Jane's jaw clenched at the statement and how her eyes hardened into an outright glare at the brick wall behind him. "Detective, could you please state the relevant case details and recount what happened around 8:30 p.m. last night?"
For a few seconds, Jane just kept staring at the wall. Cavanaugh was about to repeat himself when she finally dropped her gaze to the table and cleared her throat. When she spoke, her voice still sounded strained. "The case…we'd received four body drops in the last two weeks, all with a similar MO." God, did Korsak and Frost and Maura have to do this for every time she'd almost been killed? Probably, but it was horrible to have to relive it in relation to Maura. "They were all women in their mid-thirties, but there didn't seem to be much of a connection between their lives other than that. Each woman had tiny slices cut into her skin anywhere that had significant pain receptors. They…they looked like paper cuts. Dr. Isles said they'd been made before they'd been killed, and there had been evidence of sexual assault."
She was parched. She kept trying to work moisture in her mouth, but it wasn't working. Cavanaugh poured her a cup of water, which she drank greedily before continuing. "They died by strangulation after the torture and rape, but the killer was wearing gloves and a condom, so there were no prints. A few days into the case, after we got the second body, a crime reporter for the Herald by the name of Pete Benson approached Maura—Dr. Isles," she corrected herself. Appearing as best friends around the office was one thing, but in a formal statement, Jane had to keep a tight reign on herself to make sure her familiarity with the chief medical examiner wasn't looked into too thoroughly. "He said he wanted to do a feature story on a major crime from the viewpoint of the 'Queen of the Dead.' He wanted to cover the case we were working then, which was the potential serial killer.
"Dr. Isles agreed on the condition that he would not run the story as long as this was an ongoing investigation, and she started to sit for a series of interviews. Usually, they were just over coffee in the café downstairs, but Benson asked for a longer one last night. He promised to treat her to dinner, but he wanted to know how she acted when she wasn't surrounded by coworkers and cops. Dr. Isles trusts easily, and there was nothing at all in the investigation that suggested he was anywhere near being a suspect, so she went. About an hour before she left the office she told me that the lab had isolated traces of newsprint ink on the victims' fingers and backs, along with a brand name sedative in their systems.
"The lab was able to isolate the type of sedative, and since all the victims were long-time residents of Boston, we checked for pharmacies in the areas near their homes that had prescribed that drug in the last month. It's a narcotic, so it would be heavily controlled. Only two pharmacies had filled any prescriptions for it in the past month, and so we were able to get those records pretty quickly. A man named Benjamin Peters had had his prescription filled at both the pharmacies, so we ran his name, and when his license picture came up, it was Pete Benson's face."
Darkness descended over Jane's face. "The newsprint ink on the victims' fingers and back made sense then, if he'd used newspaper to cover the floor before torturing, raping and killing these women. And by that time, Dr. Isles had left for the interview about an hour beforehand. My partner, Detective Frost, and Sergeant Detective Korsak were right behind me when we got into the apartment. Benson had been about to take her into another room, and the floor was layered with newspapers. When he saw we'd caught up with him, he took out a knife and held it against Ma—Dr. Isles' neck. He led her out onto the balcony, and I think he was considering taking Dr. Isles with him. But he threw her at us and had jumped off the balcony before any of us had recovered."
"Was Dr. Isles harmed?" Cavanaugh asked delicately, absentmindedly scratching his neck.
"Aside from a small cut on her neck where the knife dug in, she was physically unharmed, and Pete Benson is currently in lockdown in the ICU in St. Vincent's," Jane declared by rote. It was taking all she had to keep her eyes from fogging up, and her hands were clenched in her lap from the effort it took not to tremble.
Cavanaugh glanced at the clerk for the approving nod before he thanked Jane for making the statement. He told her to take the day; she looked like she needed it.
Immediately after she left the conference room, Jane took the stairwell down to the basement. That statement had taken the better part of an hour, and it left her barely able to hold onto her composure. Having to remember and tell someone else just how close she'd come to being too late…she just needed to make sure Maura was okay.
The medical examiner was in her office, restricted to paperwork until the incident report had been filed. It was probably for the best, considering how she probably lacked the mental presence to perform any autopsies. The tightness in Jane's chest loosened a little at seeing her through the window. Walking in, she closed the door behind her to announce her presence. Maura looked up at the sound and sent her a tired, slight upward curve of her lips. "Hi, Jane," she greeted softly.
Jane walked further into the room. "Hey." Her eyes drank in every detail of the doctor's face. At a glance, she looked as if she normally did. But dark circles hung below her eyes, and her blonde hair had been tied up into a hasty ponytail. For the usually pristine Dr. Isles, Maura looked positively a mess.
But she was alive. Breathing. Beautiful.
"How are you doing?" she breathed when she realized she'd been silent for a few seconds.
Maura stood up from her desk and walked from behind it with a gesture toward the large pile of files next to her laptop. "Drowning in paperwork. Do you want to get some coffee?" she asked as she started making her way to the door. Jane caught her by the elbow and pulled her into a bone-crushing hug. She wanted to do so much more than hug Maura. She wanted to kiss her so badly she ached, just to remind herself that she hadn't been taken from her, but they were at work. So the detective hugged her for all she was worth. "Jane?"
"Just a second," she insisted into Maura's shoulder. "I'm so sorry I didn't figure it out sooner. You have no idea how much," she confessed quietly. She felt Maura tense up at the words before returning the embrace with just as much vigor.
"You figured it out in time to save my life, Jane," Maura whispered. A shudder ran through her body. "I'll—we'll both get through this somehow." She squeezed her eyes shut and leaned into the other woman.
With both pairs of eyes closed, neither of them noticed Frost step off the elevator. They just stayed where they were and held each other for as long as their arms could handle it. It would be a while before Frost could bring himself to knock on the door.
A/N: God, this was heavy. It was a lot of just context and setting up, but I hope it'll get progressively lighter from this point forward. I hope you still enjoyed it despite its heaviness. Please review!