A Reporter's Interest
A Rizzoli & Isles fic by Gigi
Chapter 2: Dark Memories
A/N: You are all beautiful, I hope you know. I'm so glad you liked the first chapter! I'm back at school, hence the sudden lapse in updates. I've got a couple days a week where I have breaks where I write, but I can't update nearly as quickly as I did for Newspaper Clippings. Anyway, I hope you'll stick with me through that. Enjoy this chapter!
Jane opened her eyes with a gasp, her arms instinctively tightening around Maura's waist and tugging her just a little closer. For the third night in a row, she listened for the slow, even sounds of her girlfriend's breathing, and she slipped her hand under the hem of the nightshirt to feel for the warmth of her skin. She stared into the loose blonde curls and tried to get her heart rate back down to normal. She tried with devastatingly little success to dispel the image of Maura's lifeless body on the ground, her blood congealed all over her body from where it spilled out of her neck. The image where Jane was too late.
No, she shook her head. She wasn't too late. Maura was right there in her arms, deep in slumber thanks to the sleeping pill she took before bed. Jane hadn't objected; she'd needed sleeping pills for a month after her first attack to ward off the nightmares.
She lay there in the darkness for a few minutes before it became apparent sleep was not returning anytime soon. With a small peck into Maura's hair, she slid herself out of the doctor's bed. Might as well go raid Maura's kitchen.
She padded her way softly down the stairs, one hand on the mahogany railing and the other tugging down the BPD t-shirt that had ridden up considerably during the few hours of sleep she'd gotten. She didn't bother turning on the hallway light, just the kitchen. Bass raised his head slightly and blinked slowly at her. Jane stared back, wondering what went through a tortoise's head. Apparently, the staring contest did little to interest him as he lowered his head and went back to his previous activity of…
Well, Jane didn't really know what he was doing when he was just laying on the floor. It was what he always did, and she couldn't ever tell when he was asleep.
"What do you do all day?" she voiced aloud, her head cocked to the side before she realized she was talking to an animal that was so unmoving he might as well be an inanimate object. "Never mind." She was still talking to him. She gave herself a shake and proceeded into the kitchen.
She was rummaging around in the fridge when the back door opened. "Jane?" The sound of her mother's voice made her freeze. Leaning backward so she could peer past the refrigerator door at her pajama-clad mother.
"Hey, Ma," she greeted, trying to sound as guiltless as possible. This was precisely the reason they spent the majority of their nights at her place.
"What are you doing here?"
Closing the fridge door with a carton of milk in hand, Jane shrugged. "Spent the night." It was true. She wasn't lying to her mother.
Angela thankfully accepted it at face value—there were benefits to secretly dating the woman everyone knew to be your best friend. "She probably can't handle being alone very well right now," she reasoned, walking into the kitchen area.
Jane nodded. That much was very true. "What are you doing up?"
"I haven't gotten a good night's sleep since the day you and Frankie joined the force," Angela declared. There was no indignation in her voice, just a simple statement of fact. "And with Dr. Isles and all she's going through right now, it doesn't bring up the best memories."
Rubbing her hands unconsciously, Jane turned to get two glasses from the cabinet. "Warm milk, Ma?" she offered.
"Thank you, Jane." Angela watched her prepare the milk, relief in her face at seeing her daughter safe and as strong as ever. Her eyes flitted down to the scars on Jane's hands. Every time she saw those, a part of her wanted to kill the bastard who hurt her baby, who'd torn her world apart. The fact that he was already dead—and by her daughter's hand no less—had no effect on how she felt whenever she saw Jane's hands. "I'm glad you're here for Maura."
Jane gave another shrug as she handed her mother the tall glass of warmed milk. "I know what she's going through," she said and took a sip from her own glass. She placed her palms flat on the island counter as she took a seat on one of the barstools next to her mother. Her hands ached.
Angela felt her throat tighten at the quiet that descended. She saw the darkness that fell over her daughter's face as she tried to rub the ever-present ache out of her palms. She saw the faraway look in Jane's liquid brown eyes, the trip down a dark road she was taking. The way she somehow wanted to protect Maura from having to take that same road to recovery. It was moments like this when Angela felt completely helpless. Oh, how she wished she could do something to take that look off her daughter's face.
But there was nothing she could say that would make any difference. So she just reached over and took one of Jane's hands into her own, rubbing her knuckle with the pad of her thumb, and they drank the rest of their warm milk in silence.
Maura wanted to kick someone with the very, very sharp heel of her stiletto.
How the hell was she supposed to get distance from what Pete Benson did to her if everybody was walking on eggshells around her and not wanting to frighten her? Every time one of her staff or the criminalists handed her a file in a soft-spoken voice with as little eye contact as possible, Maura wanted to scream just a little bit more.
A part of her now clearly understood why Jane had asked for a new partner after her ordeal with Hoyt. She was forever damaged in these people's eyes now, and no matter how well she managed to hide it or heal from it, there would always be that small thought in people's minds that possibly she shouldn't go alone places, or maybe she needed some help on her cases now.
It was infuriating, to say the least.
By lunch, she'd worked herself into a fine simmer, ready to boil over the next time someone talked to her like the victim she already knew she was. Jane popped her head into her office, two to-go boxes from the café in her hands. "Hungry?"
Maura waved her in and got out from behind her desk. "Thank you," she said as she closed the door and joined Jane on the couch.
Jane opened one of the containers and picked up a fork before glancing over at the blonde. "So I heard you snapped at Chang today?"
"She was being squirmy, and I just wanted her to stop it," Maura insisted, stabbing her salad with particular ferocity.
A dark eyebrow arched. "Squirmy?" Jane repeated. "You never say words like 'squirmy.'"
"I do if it is the perfect descriptor of someone's behavior, like a baby can be squirmy if you hold him or her in the wrong way," she answered without a thought.
"So you're saying Chang was acting like a baby who was being held the wrong way." Maura glanced at the woman beside her, the one who was trying so hard to hide the amused smile fighting to spread across her face. She flicked a leaf from her salad at her. Jane accepted it with a small laugh, plucking the green leaf from her slacks and placing it on the lid of her box. "But you don't snap at people, Maura," she insisted softly, her voice growing serious.
The medical examiner sighed, no longer mutilating her salad. "I just want people to treat me normally, the way they used to treat me before…him," she whispered.
A warm hand slid over hers, and Maura looked up to see those dark brown eyes filled to the brim with regret. Regret that she had to go through what Jane had gone through multiple times because Jane still believed if she'd just been a little smarter, a little quicker, she could have kept Maura from all of it. "They will, in time," she promised. "Trust me, I speak from experience."
Maura slowly turned the accent ring on her right hand, focusing on the smooth cut of the stone rather than on the bespectacled graying man sitting in the easy chair across from her. A pregnant silence filled the room to bursting, the man waiting for her to begin speaking and her unable to open up to a complete stranger.
When the minute hand of the wall clock signaled they'd wasted ten minutes of the allotted hour, he finally broke the silence. "I know this is difficult," he said, his voice soft and reassuring, "but I'll only be able to help you if you're willing to let me."
Maura sighed, feeling guilty. "I know, but I just have a very hard time feeling comfortable enough with someone to talk to them about such a personal matter," she explained. "I don't know you at all, and the fact that I know what I say here is confidential isn't enough to make me trust you."
Surprisingly, a warm smile came to Dr. Moore's face, transforming from wearied and plain to open and inviting. His smile took years, even decades off his face. Maura felt she was looking into the face of a little boy. It was nice to see that flash of innocence in her mandated post-traumatic therapy sessions. "At least you felt comfortable enough with me to tell me that so plainly. Already we're getting somewhere. Your recent experience would be enough for anyone to lose trust in others."
"Yes, that is part of it," Maura agreed, feeling a little more at east. "But I've always had some trouble letting people in."
"Well, is there anyone in your life that you can freely open yourself up to?"
Maura nodded. "Jane. She's my…best friend. I can tell her almost anything." She hoped he wouldn't notice the slight hesitation before "best friend." She had to remind herself that, confidential or not, details from the session would be going into a report.
"Jane, as in Detective Jane Rizzoli?" Surprise was evident on Moore's face as well as in his voice. Obviously the news overcame some degree of his professionalism. It puzzled the medical examiner for a few seconds before it all clicked into place.
"She had to come see you, too, didn't she?"
Moore nodded, although doctor-patient confidentiality prevented him from divulging any details. "I'm the psychiatrist BPD uses for any near-death or targeting situation in Homicide, Drug Control and Vice."
Maura made a mental note to ask Jane how she'd handled being forced to relive her darkest moments before getting clearance to be back on crime scenes. The stubborn streak in the detective to never show weakness had to have presented some roadblocks in therapy. But knowing this man had dealt with Jane a minimum of three times made him a little bit easier to talk to. "She's been a lot of help through all of this," she admitted. "Any time I start to blame myself, she's there to remind me that all the blame belonged with…with the reporter."
"She's right, you know," Moore agreed. He waited a beat before asking, "Do you know Mr. Benson's status?"
Shaking her head, she returned her gaze to her hands. "Just that he's still hospitalized. I don't want to know his condition."
"Because of what he did to you?"
"Because I don't want to know the extent of his injuries and end up feeling sorry for him," Maura almost hissed. "If I don't know the specifics, I can't estimate the pain he's in or the long-term effects. Then I can just go on seeing him as a monster and not as an actual human being."
Moore furrowed his eyebrows. "Couldn't you guess, say a ballpark, just from witnessing the fall?"
Maura looked straight into Moore's gray eyes. "I don't guess, Dr. Moore," she declared, eyes and voice stony. "You can never fully account for luck."
The café was busy at this time of day, which Maura appreciated at the moment, staring into her cup of coffee and waited for Jane to pay for her own and join her at their table by the window. The glass panes looked into the police department lobby, the statue she'd had delivered a few months ago standing proudly in the middle. The bustle around her parted momentarily, and Jane set her coffee on the table. "I swear, this place gets more crowded every day," she declared with a roll of her eyes. "How was therapy?"
Maura made a noncommittal sound. "Why did you never tell me you had to go to therapy?"
Jane instantly scanned the room for any listeners. The word "therapy" as it related to her place in the department screamed, "womanly weakness," a false association she wanted to avoid. "Because if guys like Crowe get reminded at all that I had to get therapy four times, they'd say that no male cop had had to go to Moore so many times, and they'd use it to pull the same crap they'd pulled on me when I first got my gold badge."
Maura's eyebrows disappeared into her hairline, in no small part because she had figured Jane's impressive performance in Homicide had silenced misogynists like Detective Crowe. "Four times?"
Holding up four fingers, Jane listed soberly, "Hoyt, shooting myself, Hoyt again, my kidnapping." Her eyes darkened with each finger she folded down. "I don't want to remind people because I don't want the other detectives to start saying I look for disasters to get myself into. I definitely know better than to seek out these psychos."
"Did you find him helpful?" Maura asked, partly to get that dark look off of Jane's face. She hated it when she flashed back momentarily to any of the large selection of terrible memories she had. It worked. Understanding flickered in the detective's expression. The only way the sometimes socially anxious Maura Isles would be able to open up to a virtual stranger would be if Jane vouched for him.
She nodded. "He's very good at what he does, and he knows when to push and when to back off. You need to try to let him in, because you need his clearance to actually be on-site at crime scenes. You don't want the first time you see a victim to be on the table." Uncertainty still swam in Maura's eyes, though. Jane tried a different approach. "Look, it's not going to be easy. He takes you through the event a few times, and it's far from pleasant. But he does it so that you're not immobilized by flashbacks on the job. It's an important process."
When Jane walked into the Homicide offices, the first thing she noticed was the screeching halt that came to every conversation the second her foot crossed the threshold. Frost and Korsak had almost identically grim expressions. "What's going on?"
"Dr. Pike is talking to Cavanaugh right now," Frost announced, his voice as serious as his face.
"Why?" A trickle of dread started pooling in her stomach.
Korsak took a small breath before saying as gently as he could, "He's petitioning to have Dr. Isles temporarily removed as Chief Medical Examiner due to her trauma, and that he would fill her place on an interim basis with a permanent reappointment pending."
All the blood drained out of her face, quickly going pale with anger. Pike was taking advantage of Maura's almost murder and was trying to permanently usurp her authority! She didn't remember striding across the office; she only saw Lt. Cavanaugh's placard as she rapped on his door. Barely even waiting for the "come in," she let herself in.
Jane knew she must have been a sight, with her wild raven curls outlined so perfectly by the bright fluorescent lights from behind and her dark brown eyes all but glittering with rage. The petty side of her smirked inwardly when Pike actually drew back a little. The weasel probably knew she was seconds from skinning him alive. "Lieutenant, I hope you've informed Dr. Pike that dismissing or demoting the Chief Medical Examiner due to almost being murdered would bury this department in bad press and legal fees, and the quality of autopsies would be mediocre at best." She spoke as calmly as she could manage, but nobody missed the steel in her words. Pike couldn't seem to decide whether to let his offense at the last statement or his fear of the angry and armed detective show more on his face. He did his best to push aside the latter, opening his mouth indignantly.
"Mediocre?" he scoffed. "Compared to Dr. Isles' unorganized and unnecessary procedures?"
Jane stepped forward and thrust a finger in the aged ME's face. "Dr. Isles' thoroughness has broken countless cases wide open that would have otherwise gone cold. She doesn't care if the COD is obvious; she'll check everything because she understands that the best way to catch a killer is know the victim inside and out. You mistake a .45-caliber for a .38, and you try to remove bullets with forceps, which damages the evidence." She would have continued with her tirade had Cavanaugh not finally intervened.
"Detective Rizzoli," he barked. "You've made your point. I was telling Dr. Pike before you came that I cannot accept his position to even temporarily replace Dr. Isles, but as Dr. Isles has yet to be cleared for crime scene analysis, Dr. Pike will be assisting until she is once again able to work on scene. He'll be accompanying you to crime scenes until Dr. Isles is cleared."
It was a fair decision, she had to admit. Forcing her anger down to a simmer, she thanked Cavanaugh for understanding and left. She waited by the door though. A few minutes later Pike also left Cavanaugh's office, and that's when she pounced.
"Pike," she called from behind him. He turned around, some of that fear still present on his face. Good. She walked until she was mere inches away from him, enjoying the small tremors running through him. "I don't have a choice about you working here for now, but if you pull any of your condescending bullshit on Dr. Isles, the second you use her trauma or anything else about her person to belittle her or her methods, you're going to regret the day you even thought about going to medical school."
Still fuming, she went to her desk and picked up her keys. She needed a good long run before she could talk calmly to anybody again.
A/N: Hopefully the length of the chapter makes up for the paucity of updating. If not, I'm really sorry! Like I said, I have a few days a week that I can sit down and write, but it's still slow going. I'll try to get the next one up faster, I promise. I really hope you enjoyed this, but I won't know until you REVIEW!