Title: Play the Game
Notes: I didn't know where to end this. It's a bit longer than other chapters. Thanks to all who reviewed, favorite-d, and followed. It's much appreciated.
Summary: Before her eyes, she watched an imaginary knife reopen a wound that had long since healed over and she watched the blood seep into that worn out, BOSTON t-shirt, changing the dull, gray fibers into a deep magenta.
Ultimately, Dr. Maura Isles did not take Abigail to the hospital. She did not call Frost or Korsak. She didn't even call Angela which took a lot of self-convincing and ridiculous reasoning to ease her conscious enough to forego that phone call. In the end the reasons she found herself on her hands and knees scrubbing at the blood drops in the carpet all amounted to this newfound truth: the woman in that bed was not Jane Rizzoli.
Had it been Jane, she wouldn't have hesitated to rush her to the hospital. She wouldn't have delayed a phone call to Angela or Frankie or Tommy. She might still be here cleaning up the blood, but that was neither here nor there. Just simply understanding that the impossible was possible had changed everything!
Well, perhaps not everything. She still believed that something tangible had caused this. A real thing in this universe whether it be some unknown property or mineral or some buried meteor from space, Maura believed without a doubt that something caused this. These things didn't just happen.
Not without help.
She also wasn't ruling out the brain trauma completely. The mind was a powerful vessel. But did she really think that Jane believed so strongly that she was Abby that her body was able to replicate the injury that resulted from a stabbing? Perhaps not.
Either way, she now knew that the only way to make any progress was to let Abby take the lead. What else could she possibly do? Before her eyes, she watched an imaginary knife reopen a wound that had long since healed over and she watched the blood seep into that worn out, BOSTON t-shirt, changing the dull, gray fibers into a deep magenta. How could she ignore that? Well, she couldn't.
She wasn't sure she had much choice in the matter. Following Abby seemed to be the only path that led her back to Jane. Figuring out how an old, lazy river in Boston had transformed the universe that they all occupied wasn't exactly the kind of scientific adventure Maura had been expecting, but that didn't make it any less intriguing.
"Your blouse was ruined. I don't need to be a detective to know you dropped some heavy sugar to buy it."
Maura glanced up from her spot on the floor. Abby had awakened, still flat on her back but with her head turned to watch Maura as she worked. Abby's pain was tangibly written on her face, but in true Rizzoli fashion, she was either ignoring it or willing the agony to go away. Had it not been for the fact Maura was trying to mop up the mess from their little surgery, she could very much confuse this personality for her Jane.
With a noncommittal shrug, Maura said, "Don't worry about it. A two hundred and eighty two dollar blouse is replaceable. Your life is not."
Abby's eyes grew large. "Two hundred and eighty two?"
Maura managed to laugh now. "Are you sure you're not Jane?"
Abby could sense the doctor was teasing. Her expression softened and she rolled her eyes. "There is nothing wrong with being frugal, Dr. Isles.""Without frugality none can be rich, and with it very few would be poor," Maura quoted, but before she could continue on about the originator of the quote and a brief history, she was surprised yet again.
"Samuel Johnson," Abby said. At Maura's look, she deduced, "I take it Jane doesn't delve much into literature or poetry."
Maura smiled easily, countless memories of her best friend flubbing history facts (then surprisingly quoting other facts) flooding her conscious. "I'm afraid not."
The task of cleaning up the blood in the carpet nearly forgotten (and for the most part a fruitless endeavor), Maura stood and made her way over to the bed to check on the mysterious wound. Before proceeding, she asked permission, not wanting to assume that Abby would just accept her fussing. Not to say that Jane was so inclined to allow Maura to poke and prod her when injured, but the realization that Maura truly didn't know this woman was making her more cautious.
Abby nodded, felt her body tense as Maura took care to peel away the gauze she had taped down to her abdomen. The fabric was a bloody mess and quickly, Maura rose from the bed and scampered into the bathroom. She returned quickly with a warm wash cloth and gently began to clean the wound. Despite her best efforts, Maura could tell the cleaning hurt, but it had to be done.
Abby watched each movement with bated breath, Maura Isles and Joanna Hastens starting to become a blurred image of care, comfort, solace. And how she missed Jo!
Abby loathed how much the absence hurt, seeing how when their relationship began, Abigail swore to herself that their association was purely business. It was about Jimmy and his death and what they would do together to rectify it. But how could Abigail kid herself? The moment Jo sat down and drank her whiskey without so much of an introduction, Abby had been smitten.
Maura was saying something about how the injury should heal nicely despite the butcher job she did of closing it up. Abby wasn't really hearing it. She could partially sense the tightening of fresh, clean bandages on her torso, but mostly all she could note was the fragrance Maura was wearing. It was strikingly similar to Jo.
Joanna. Jo was not here and yet Abby was completely distracted as if she were. Finally, focusing, she could see Maura now watching her, eyes full of question. Abby let her mouth fall open in embarrassment, then shut it again. She had no idea what was just asked.
Meekly, she said, "Um, did you say something?"
Maura smirked. She smirked as if she knew Abby was hiding some deep secret, but how could Maura know anything about her? Simply put, they didn't know one another, not in such a way that would render such unease inside of Abby. And yet Maura continued to grin and Abby had to conclude that yes, Maura reminded her of Joanna almost too much. A tell-tale mischievousness was obvious in both women.
But here she was comparing the two and did she not think Maura wouldn't compare her to Jane? That perhaps these similarities were giving Maura an intimate template on how Abigail Rizzoli functioned?
Maura's expression was alight with humor as she observed aloud. "Your pupils are dilated. You're worrying your bottom lip with your teeth."
Or body language was also a good indicator. Nuts.
"My what are what?" Abby mumbled, not exactly sure what spell had just come over her, but she knew without a doubt she had been caught. She had been caught confusing Maura for Joanna and despite knowing this truth, she couldn't really tear her gaze away from Maura's, not even now. She felt the blush rising up her cheeks and tipping at her ears.
Maura could sense the woman was uncomfortable, very similar to how a certain detective might be. Yet she couldn't stave off her curiosity, furrowing her brow in deep thought. She said, "It can't be me, because you say you don't remember me. Who is it? Who do I remind you of? What's her name?"
Abby shook her head, managed a squeak. "Her name?"
"I have very feminine qualities," Maura shrugged. "And even though that isn't always an indicator, I doubt you're confusing me for another man. And while I'm sure the subject for you is taboo, I have no problem discussing the fluidity of sexuality. So, who is she? Is it the woman you mentioned from before?"
"Listen, it's no one," Abby said huffily. How did pupil dilation lead to discussing sexuality? "Besides, I'm married to a good man, a good detective. Or at least, I was married to him so even if you did remind me of someone else, that someone else and I are very clear on the status of our relationship."
Maura frowned, her curious nature had steamrolled her into territory that Abby clearly didn't want to enter. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to ..."
"Don't worry about it, okay? Let's just move on. I want to figure out my next steps," Abby groused, forcing herself into a sitting position that nearly had her cry out in pain. To keep Maura from springing into mother hen mode, she stifled that cry by biting her tongue. "This whole knife thing is just an unexpected set-back."
"I'd call it more than a set-back."
"You're really in no condition to do anything tonight," Maura admonished lightly. Unconsciously, she tucked some unruly, black hair behind Abby's shoulder. "You should sleep tonight. We'll figure it out in the morning."
Before Abby could question again the ease in which Maura fussed with her hair, a shrill sound startled them both. Ah, yes. Modern technology. That portable telephone.
Maura politely excused herself, saw that it was Korsak and immediately answered it. "Vince?"
"Hey, Doc," he greeted her. "I did some digging on those two names you gave me earlier. Robert Rizzoli was in fact a detective with the Boston Police Department, the height of his career being the investigation of Jimmy Hastens death and his wife's subsequent murder during the 1930s."
"Murder?" Maura questioned, leaving Jane's room and pulling the door closed behind her. "It was ruled a drowning."
"The notes in these files suggest otherwise," Korsak said. "Lack of evidence (and the simple fact that it was his wife) forced the department to keep Rizzoli from pursuing."
"And what about the second name? Joanna?"
"You will have to thank Frost for that, but I will have to warn you Doc. It gets a little weird," Korsak said, his voice almost grave sounding.
Maura wondered just how much weirder it could get. "Go on, Detective."
"A witness statement for the Rizzoli drowning, or murder. Joanna Hastens discovered the body. And this is what Frost dug up on her. Her father was a well-known mobster, who –get this-has the last name of Doyle, and he was top dog while Dom Cirrillo was on trial." Maura grew silent. She heard Korsak laugh. "What did I tell ya? Weird, right?"
"Truly," Maura agreed, shutting her eyes as that news sunk in. "Korsak, thank you. This helps me. It will help Ab … Jane too."
"I hope so, Maura. Tell her we can't wait until she's back to her normal self," Korsak said, his love and concern felt so keenly, even as the cell's reception crackled during the exchange.
Maura ended the call on her phone.
Was it possible that Joanna Hastens was a distant relative of hers? Maybe Joanna was the woman that Abby clearly had begun to see in her? Maura reentered the bedroom to find a stubbornly impatient patient struggling to climb out of the bed. Immediately, Maura wrapped an arm around her shoulders, gripped Abby's arms tightly and helped her to stand.
Abby's ears turned a bit red. "Thank you. I just . . . I can't sit here and do nothing."
"Joanna Hastens," Maura said. She hadn't meant to blurt it out just now, but she couldn't help it. "My biological father's last name is Doyle and so is Joanna's. I don't think that's a coincidence."
"You just jump right in there," Abby said, chuckling uneasily. "Well, I guess I'm inclined to agree with you. Even without you confirming it, there's no mistaking that Doyle glint in your eyes."
Maura wasn't sure if that was a compliment or merely an observation, but it made her smile anyway. Just simply hearing Abby confirm a likeness to someone else, to family, was comforting. Even if this family was long since gone and was riddled with crime in its blood, she was finding out that her family was out there. That was more relief than most adopted children could hope for.
"So, your biological father," Abby mused aloud. "Not very close with him?"
"I didn't know him for most of my life," Maura said sadly. "It took the death of my brother to bring us together."
Maura led Abby back into the family room, eased Abby down onto the couch. Maura took note of the softness in Abby's eyes, the curious squint of her brow. While she went to clean up all the newspaper copies and prints concerning Abigail Rizzoli, her case and her death, Maura decided to elaborate.
"My brother ended up on my autopsy table," Maura said, organizing the research. "I didn't know him either. Let's just say, his death brought to light some family history I daren't dream up on my own."
"I guess learning about Joanna and her family is giving more fodder to that imagination," Abigail remarked, pleased her words brought about an amused smile from the ME.
"I think my imagination needs a break," Maura said with a laugh. "I have images of Tommy guns and sharply dressed men smoking cigars, talking about money and drinking in speakeasies. I understand that's more or less the Hollywood retelling of the mob, but it's an easier image for me to swallow, knowing crime as I know it now."
"Well, the glamour and the parties, it's all real," Abby confirmed. "Joanna thrives in those places, but she knows how that all came to be. She knows that people died along the way. Which is why I can't sit here."
"Oh no, not tonight," Maura said in a tone that brokered no argument. "We are off tonight. You need time to heal, relax."
"I don't relax," Abby said sternly. "My life has rarely allowed for that."
Maura lowered herself onto the couch next to Abby. She searched the face of the woman, still hoping to find Jane Rizzoli in there somewhere, but she still did not see her. With a sad smile, she answered, "Well, maybe your life didn't allow for relaxation, but this isn't your life anymore."
Abby went to reply, but then found she couldn't. Maura was right. She was, in effect, living someone else's life right now.
She was living Jane's life. She was wearing Jane's t-shirt. She was finding it hard not to love Jane's best friend, the ease in which Maura was accepting this crazy predicament and the faith she rested so much on Jane's shoulders. On her shoulders.
"Does Jane ever relax?" Abby asked curiously.
Maura smiled, using the same word Abby just used. "Rarely."
And Abby couldn't stop the smile crossing her face. She knew that her 'pupils were dilated' and that she couldn't break her gaze with the woman that looked so much like Joanna, but wasn't.
What would be the harm in just . . . no, she could not. The amount of harm that could do would be unreal, the emotional and mental repercussions would probably be unfathomable.
Don't confuse them, Abigail.
"So, uh, we were talking about Jane's case at the river," Abby said quickly. She needed to curtail her thoughts, to change the subject. To ease her heart. Just because she was living in this time, that didn't mean she had to give up on her own.
The question seemed to shake Maura out of this wicked charm as well. She blinked a few times as if waking from a fog. Abby didn't get where she was today without learning a few things herself. The tell-tale signs of attraction were written just as plainly on Maura as they probably were on her.
"Yes, Jane fell into the river," Maura began again. "In fact, I'm sure the autopsy of our suspect hasn't been scheduled yet. With all that happened afterward, the Jim Nolan case I'm sure will be wrapped up quickly."
"I didn't notice that until just now," Abby said, thinking aloud. "Jo's brother. His name is Jimmy."
Maura's curiosity was also peaked. "The same name of our murder victim."
"I would chalk that up to coincidence. . ." Abby began.
"But it probably is not," Maura agreed. "As interesting as this all sounds, we are still resting tonight. You can join me for the autopsy of the suspect tomorrow."
Abby's face fell. "You can't possibly expect me to sleep!"
"You better try," Maura said lightly. "I just don't have it in me to look into this tonight and I have barely slept since . . . since Jane fell into the river."
Abby seemed to relent, hearing the plea in that last statement. "First thing in the morning?"
Maura nodded. "Promise." She, against her better judgment, grabbed hold of Abby's hand. Gave it a gentle squeeze. The contact felt good, familiar. Abby tightened her hold and for a few moments, they just let silence settle over them.
Let's just enjoy this calm, just this once.
Maura couldn't keep her thoughts from straying, imagining a woman like Abigail Rizzoli being in love with a mobster's daughter. And she had little doubt in her mind that Abby loved Joanna. Abby's emotions weren't quite as guarded as Jane's. Talking about Joanna Hastens seemed to automatically soften her features, gave a light to her eyes that wasn't always present in them. Abby cared a great deal for Joanna, that much was certain.
"Does she know?" Maura asked, the register of her voice just a bit lower.
Abby answered that question with a question of her own, "Does Jane know?"
"I'd like to think she does."
Abigail Rizzoli had pictured a conversation like this. Well, probably not exactly like this, but these imagined conversations almost always ended in the way she was going to end this one. She never allowed herself the opportunity to indulge.
"She can never know," Abby replied somberly. "Our situation will never allow for it. She's the daughter of a mob boss. I'm married to a man who wants to arrest them both."
"So gender is not a concern?" Maura asked sincerely.
Abby had to chuckle. "When is gender not a concern?"
Abby found her eyes straying to Maura's mouth. It may not have been too much of a problem to love Joanna, but that would've been before she met Bobby. Abby didn't have any family before Bobby. She didn't have the scrutiny of family to plague her personal decisions. She wasn't even considering becoming an attorney until Bobby entered her life. His aspirations to help people, to speak for those who could not, well, that inspired her to do the same.
She loved her husband. She loved her job even more and both of those things happened before Joanna.
"Jo ruined everything," Abby laughed, squeezing Maura's hand even tighter. Joanna had set off a myriad of feelings that Abby didn't know she could still have. She had everything, didn't she? A good husband, a good job, everything.
And then Jimmy hatched his plan, got himself killed and left Joanna to pick up the pieces.
Jo. She had ruined her perfect life balance, but Abby could not be troubled. She loved Joanna too and nothing would ever change that. She repeated aloud, "Joanna changed everything."
Don't confuse them, Abigail.
It was too late for that.
Before either of them knew what was happening, they found themselves gravitated toward one another, faces mere inches apart. Abby shut her eyes, just for a moment, to seize whatever little bit of self-control she had left.
Maura, for her part, was also straining to keep the space between them. An unknown, magnetic force had them so close to blurring the lines of space and time, two different worlds colliding under the pretense of love and hope. It wasn't until Maura whispered softly, "You're not Jane," did the real possibility of what could be sunk in.
And then Maura wrenched herself away, a rush of cooling air left in the wake, shocking Abby back to reality. Abby breathed in deeply as Maura released her hand and put a considerable amount of space between them on the couch. What was that? By the look of sheer terror on Maura's face, she had no idea either.
"I'm sorry, Maura," Abby puffed out, feeling as if she was just punched in the gut. "You just . . . look like her. I miss her."
I will never see her again.
"We should go to bed," Maura said abruptly, not quite realizing how those words tumbled out until she caught the rise of Abby's eyebrow in surprise. Quickly, she added, "To sleep. We need to sleep. I'll help you back to the bedroom. I'll sleep out here."
"Maura," Abby said, but no other words followed. She had nothing to say.
Maura Isles shut the door to Jane's bedroom. Normally, she would have found herself curling up next to Jane, but that woman was not Jane.
"Stupid," Maura mumbled to herself, moving to the sink to clean whatever she could, anything to try and distract her heart. How could she be this way? For a few moments, she felt as if in a trance. The ache she heard in Abby's voice, proclaiming "I miss her" with such agony.
Abby missed Joanna.
As if Maura needed any more proof. Abigail missed Joanna, said so with such conviction. Was Jane even still out there? Had they simply switched places as Maura hoped, or was Abby her new Jane? Was Jane gone forever? Maybe it was this fear that had gripped Maura so, that had her nearly make a terrible mistake. Maybe it was fear that drove Abby ever closer to her heart. Fear was overtaking them both.
Maura almost laughed aloud. She couldn't love Abby. She hardly knew the woman.
One last time with some finality, she said, "Stupid."
"Hardly," Abigail said, startling the doctor standing by the sink. Shaken, yet still resolved, Maura did not turn around. Abigail inched her way toward the kitchen, but kept her distance. "I'm sorry. I can't sleep and well, I can't ignore whatever the hell this is. No matter how much you want to."
"There is nothing to discuss," Maura shrugged, unable to face the Jane look-a-like. "Transference. I replaced Jane with you. I projected my feelings for her on you. You are not Jane. What is there to discuss?"
"You miss her," Abigail suggested casually. "It's okay to talk about it."
"Why must I do the talking?"
"Okay. Tomorrow, I'll be following you into a police station that will look so far beyond anything I could have imagined, I will probably freeze in the doorway. And I will pretend to be Jane and you will pretend that I'm Jane and as much as I don't want it to happen, by the end of the day I could be Jane. I'll lose myself."
"You are a lot like her," Maura agreed. "Or rather, she is a lot like you, but I can tell the difference between you two. You won't lose yourself."
"You can do that?"
"Of course I can," Maura argued.
"Well, you must share your secret," Abigail said, managing a smile. "Transference, you called it?"
Maura finally turned to face Abigail. Thankfully, the woman was keeping her distance, but she might as well have been standing next to her. Abigail Rizzoli's presence seemed to be filling the room and it was suffocating. There was no ignoring her or the similarities between the two personalities.
Maura pushed a self-depreciating laugh through her lips. "I guess I can see your point. But nothing can happen. We have to ignore whatever this is because you're right. You look like Jane and I miss her, but you are not her."
Abigail shrugged. "We're not doing anything."
"Aren't we?" Maura sighed deeply. She crossed her arms across her chest. Curiously, she asked, "Do I really look like her?"
"It's not so much your appearance," Abigail replied, her gaze softening. "I think mostly, the two of you share similar mannerisms. Also, you both dress impeccably well."
Maura could feel herself blushing and hated herself for it.
"This is going to sound strange, but I feel a strong need to be near you, to protect you," Abigail said quietly. "It's gnawing at me, this feeling. If something happens to you, I would be devastated."
There was a small spark of hope in Maura just then. It made her feel as if Jane was alive. As if Jane was still trying to protect her, even if there was some 80 years separating them. Maura questioned aloud, "When did you start to feel this way?"
"From the moment I opened my eyes," Abigail said sadly, an omission that surprised even herself. Quickly, she said. "Maura, I'm afraid I wasn't supposed to survive this. Everything you have shown me, tells me I'm dead. Something at the river changed all of that. We have to go back."
"So, what are you suggesting? I take you back there to die?" Maura said, nearly choking on the emotion building in the back of her throat. She didn't want to lose Abigail any more than Abigail wanted to lose her. "I won't help you kill yourself."
I won't help you kill the last piece of Jane I have left.
"I don't know how this works or what is to happen next," Abigail whispered harshly. She cleared her throat and continued more strongly, "Everything you told me about my death? I was supposed to have died the day I went in search of that evidence. For some reason, I didn't."
"Wait. Evidence?" Maura wiped at her eyes, almost embarrassed by the brief emotional state she found herself in. She repeated, "What evidence? Why were you at the Charles?"
Abigail appeared to be about to answer, but she paused. After a long moment, she said quietly, "Wait."
"No, I won't wait . . .," Maura began to protest, but a hand clamped her mouth to silence her. Abby was now pressed in real close. Maura could swear she could hear both their heartbeats thundering in the sudden quiet.
"I guess I meant, shut up," Abigail whispered. "Listen."
Maura's eyes strayed to the front door, following the sound of the doorknob jiggling. Someone was trying to break in! Maura could almost hear Jane mutter 'Really?' in her head, a shared disbelief that anything else could possibly go wrong. Abigail reached behind Maura to grab a lone frying pan off the stove. She then backed away slowly and instructed with the utmost seriousness, "Stay here."
Maura just nodded, not one to really involve herself in any kind of fight. She was somewhat useless in that arena anyway, always eager to let Jane handle anything that dissolved into violence too quickly. Nevertheless, she reached into the sink to find a cutting knife and thought that maybe she should try to arm herself, just in case.
Abigail inched over to the front door, watching the handle finally give way. She got into position just in time, the door opened slowly and she used the door as her shield, lifting the frying pan up into a swinging position. As soon as she saw a mop of reddish brown hair peak around the door, she swung down with the frying pan right on top of the intruder's head. The man went down instantly, hitting the floor with a thud.
Abigail quickly knelt down to roll the man over, not recognizing him at all but judging by the gasp she heard from Maura, it was clear the doctor had met this man before.
"That's Mr. Brandt!" Maura exclaimed, discarding her knife on the counter and rushing over.
At the sound of his name, the man grunted but did not move.
"Well, let's get him inside before the neighbors see," Abigail said. Maura helped drag the poor man inside completely, then shut the door. "Who is Mr. Brandt?"
"He followed us to the hospital after the accident," Maura explained worriedly. "He said he could help me with your memory problem, but at the time, I dismissed him. He just sounded like another hungry reporter looking to make a story for himself."
"He was looking for a story?" Abigail said aloud, then glanced down at the man lying limp on the floor. "We'll give him a story, all right."