Maura lingers on the front porch of the Rizzoli house, Jane is leaning up against the doorframe watching her new friend try to think of a reason to stay a little longer.

"Thank you, Jane," Maura says, smiling nervously.

"You said that already," Jane smiles, "You don't have to go, you know."

"Oh, no, Jane, thank you, but my mother will be very unhappy if I am not back tonight." Maura cannot stop saying the girl's name. She tries to breathe slowly so that her heart rate will slow down, and she won't faint.

The brunette nods, and for the smallest space of a moment, Maura thinks she sees disappointment. But then Jane smiles again, shrugging.

"I can't wait to see Mr. Riley's face tomorrow when we nail the presentation," Jane says excitedly.

"Why would-" Maura begins, but Jane cuts her off,

"Let's just say, before you came along, I wasn't exactly a star pupil."

"Don't sell yourself short, Jane, you have a wonderful brain," Maura says, hoping that her new friend doesn't see the blush creeping up her collarbone.

"Jane! Shut the door, your father just turned the heat on," Jane's mother calls, and Jane rolls her eyes.

Maura steps down the front porch steps, "Good-bye Jane," Maura says, "I will see you on Monday."

"Bye Maura," Jane whispers it, but Maura still hears it. It makes her feel warm inside.

She heads down the street towards the T stop that will take her back to Beacon Hill. She pulls out her iphone to check on which train is coming first, and after scrolling for a moment, decides to take the orange line to downtown crossing, and then cut through the park. putting her phone back in her bag, Maura turns left at the corner and lets her mind wander back to the Rizzoli household, where there is always laughter and noise and hugs. Maura has only been in Boston for four months, and has only been hanging out with Jane Rizzoli for two, but already she feels lighter, happier than she ever did in Paris or Rome or Dubai.

She had been sure that when school started, the budding friendship she'd struck up with Jane would shrivel, but Jane had merely gaped at the black town car that had dropped her off, and then fallen into step beside Maura, explaining the way the school day worked, and pointing out nuns to avoid.

A buzzing from her purse pulls Maura out of her musings and she rummages around in her shoulder bag trying to find her phone. She is so engrossed in this task that she doesn't see the older boy come out of nowhere, step right up to her and grab her from behind by the hair.

"Maura, open your eyes."

Maura shuts them tighter. this must be a dream. she is dreaming. Someone touches her shoulder and she flinches.

"Maura!" Jane's voice is insistent, "Open your eyes!"

Jane! It's Jane's voice! Maura's eyes snap open and there she is, brown hair swept across her forehead, dark eyes inches from her own, full of concern and...pain?

"Jane," Maura manages to choke out, before her throat seems to close up.

"What did he do to you?" The concern is back, Maura can hear it in her voice. "I came around the corner and he had his hands around your neck, and your dress is all..." Jane trails off as a tear slips down Maura's cheek.

"m-my neck," Maura says quietly, but it's hard to concentrate. The buildings seem to be falling down on her, and when she tries to move, the ground seems to shift in the opposite direction, threatening to throw her to the ground. She tries to focus one Jane's face, which has flooded with anger, as she examines Maura's neck.

"It's already starting to bruise," she says, and her voice drops an octave in her anger.

Maura closes her eyes, trying to stop the scenery in front of her from spinning so violently, but jerks them open again when she feels her feet leave the ground. With a faint grunt, Jane picks Maura up like a baby and Maura instinctively wraps her arms around the other girl's neck. Although Jane is almost a full head taller, she is very skinny, and Maura wonders vaguely what Jane's muscle to fat ratio must be in order for her to lift Maura this way.

"Jane," she says, feeling the girl's jaw clench against her forehead.

"Shh," Jane says shortly, "stop squirming. I've got you."

Tightening of the jawline is often used as a defense mechanism, most commonly displayed when one is hiding anger, sadness, or discomfort Maura recites to herself. She wants to open her mouth and ask Jane if she is in a lot of pain, or what she is defending against, or who she is angry at, but now that she no longer has to focus on staying upright, exhaustion is dragging her down, down, down.

She whimpers a little, as Jane shifts her, and she feels the brunette's mouth against her temple, "Almost, Maura. Almost, ok?"

Maura goes to nod, but does not know if she succeeds.

Jane, for her part, feels the girl in her arms go slack, and adrenaline and panic push her the last three blocks back to her house. "Ma! Call 911," she calls before she even turns down the drive to the house. "Pop! Ma!" The porch light flicks on, and her mother appears in the door.

"Jane, stop yelling what are you-" but seeing the unconscious figure in Jane's arms, Angela stops short, turning to yell for her husband.

"We made it," Jane says into Maura's temple. "Pop is gonna help us, and you're going to be fine. You'll be fine."

"You'll be fine, Maura, and anyway, it's just for the year, maybe not even that. You're always telling me and your father how you want to go to a normal school with normal children. Well, while I'm here in Boston, you can attend Saint Catherine's. The school has several AP's that will be sufficient to fulfill your high school requirements, and you'll get to associate with the "normal" children you so desperately want to meet:"

Maura had not argued with her mother, and the next day she had left her new apartment on Beacon Hill and wondered down to the park where some kids were playing stick ball. She had sat and watched them for about an hour, before a dark haired girl had broken from the group and walked up to her.

"Why are you staring at me?" she'd said her eyes narrowed with suspicion

"I was not staring at you. I was merely watching your game," Maura had replied, taken aback.

"No, you weren't," the girl had said, "You were watching me. Why?"

Maura gaped up at her, "I-I're very good at that game."

And Jane had smiled.

And Maura had melted.

The girl had leaned in closer, and Maura thought she smelled like grass stains, "I am Jane Rizzoli," she had said, her voice full of cockiness. "I am good at everything." and she had held out her hand.

"M-maura. Isles. Maura Isles," she had stammered in return.

"Jane! you're up!" a little boy had called to her.

"Okay," Jane had yelled back, already turning away, "see you tomorrow, I hope, Maura Isles, Maura Isles," Jane had called.

And Maura had not understood the joke until she was back home in her room, trying to concentrate on reading.

"Maura? Can you hear me?" It is not Jane's voice, but a new one that pulls Maura out of her slumber. She opens her eyes and then shuts them quickly against the bright white of the hospital room.

"Well, hello, Miss Isles. How are you feeling?"

Maura tries opening her eyes again, and this time is more successful. Sitting by her bed is a woman dressed a lab coat and a bright patterned dress, She glances down at the chart in her hands before removing her glasses and smiling at Maura.

"Jane." Maura says, although she does not mean to say it.

"Yes, she's right outside. She'll be very happy to know you're awake. She would barely let us stitch her up, wanted to sit by your bed all night."

Maura's heart skips a beat, "Stitch? she's injured?"

The doctor pauses, "Not severely," she says carefully. "She caught the wrong end of a knife fending off your attacker. Just a couple stitches to her rib cage."

"Fighting off my..." Maura stops talking as it all comes back to her. The boy had grabbed her from behind. had slammed her head against the brick of a building, had pulled up her skirt and sneered at her, getting ready. And then...

"Jane got there in time," Maura says, her voice shaky with emotion, and the doctor raises her eyebrows.

"Yes, it would seem that she did," The doctor says after a moment. "Lucky you forgot your textbook at her house."

Maura pushes back the covers on her bed and swings her feet onto the floor. "I have to see her."

"Maura, you shouldn't get out of bed, you have a-"

"Concussion," Maura finishes, "A mild one, by the feel of it. And some external bruising around the trachea. But I'm fine. I suffered no blood loss, and nothing is spinning. The lights are not bright enough to tell me that my pupils are dilated..." She pushes up onto her feet, testing herself. "I'm sure I'll be discharged today," she says blandly, looking curiously at the doctor who is shaking her head and smiling.

"Yes, you probably will."

Maura pushes the door to her room open and steps out into the hallway. Across the hall, in another room, she sees a pair of shoes that can only belong to Jane sticking out under a dividing curtain. Maura smiles at the old blue converse high tops, the laces tied in knot after knot to save Jane from having to tie them. She has never been so happy to see such awful shoes in her life. She rushes towards the door, but before she can pull back the curtain and throw her arms around her savior, she hears a voice that stops her dead.

"Running around your neighborhood after dusk, it is no wonder my daughter winds up beaten and unconscious in a hospital bed," Constance Isles' voice cuts sharply through the air like a knife. Maura closes her eyes.

"Yes, ma'am," comes Jane's voice, and she sounds small and defeated.

"You will stay away from my daughter, do you understand? You've already caused enough trouble."

There is a silence, in which Jane taps her converse on the ground in a jerky motion, as though she is working through her anger.

"Maura is my friend," Jane says, so softly that Maura has to lean in a little closer. "I never meant for-"

"Well it did, Jane," says Constance, her voice dripping with fake sympathy. "It did happen. You nearly got your friend raped and murdered. If she really is your friend, then I know I can trust you to do the right thing," she spaces these last words out slowly, as if talking to someone mentally challenged or hard of hearing.

There is a longer silence now, and then Jane's voice, so close to tears that Maura sucks in a deep breath.

"Yes ma'am"

Constance Isles whips back the curtain and strides out into the hallway, "Maura! Darling, you're awake! But I'm almost certain you should not be out of bed yet. Come on, let's get you back, and see what the doctor says about getting you home."

With her mother's grip on her upper arm so tight it feels like she might break skin, Maura turns back to her room.

But not before she has seen Jane, standing alone by the medical bed, hands balled into fists, tears sliding silently down her cheeks.