Title: Play the Game
Notes: Really appreciate the reviews and thanks for the follows and favs.
Summary: Richard felt chilled by the warning, thinking that perhaps until he got to know this new Rizzoli, he should play along and be a good little captive.
Abigail Rizzoli was getting the mother of all bad feelings. How could they be sure this Richard could be trusted? They couldn't. Her arms were crossed, her lips locked in an injurious frown. She was playing the part of a petulant, stubborn child standing in her corner of the room quite well, but she remained silent. For some reason, Maura wasn't afraid of this man. In fact, she was sure Maura was likely devising a reason they should untie their hapless intruder, but despite her misgivings, she found that she trusted Maura's instincts. They would entertain this man, for now.
"Who is Mary Easton?"
Richard shifted in the chair some, rolled his head in an attempt to crack his neck. "Listen, I don't know a lot about how this works, but trust me. This Mary might be your ticket home."
"Mr. Brandt, I really shouldn't feel it prudent to warn you again, but it's probably best to just answer Abigail's questions directly," Maura said quietly.
Richard felt chilled by the warning, thinking that perhaps until he got to know this new Rizzoli, he should play along and be a good little captive. "Okay, but to answer that question simply would be impossible."
"I think the company you keep at the moment can deal with a little impossible," Abby replied, her tone involuntarily weary.
Richard nodded. "Mary Easton had her soul switched with her grandmother a long time ago. I mean, that's what she's always told me. Who was I to tell her different?"
Richard Brandt kicked the back door open, coughed as the dust hit him in the face. Naturally, the house key he had been given got jammed in the front door lock, so he had to find other means to get in. There was filth everywhere. It was disgusting, but this was his luck. Got some legal papers in the mail detailing that he actually had family in this big lonely world, only to discover they were dead relatives and that these dead relatives left him this old Bostonian house.
The house was just too dusty. He went back outside. He slowly explored the premises, looking at the stone benches and long dead bushes and dried up earth. The land extended for a few acres. He peered into the window of a small guest house. Inside, it was dark and murky. Not a soul had touched this place, it seemed, in a millennia. His own personal ghost town and he hated it.
He reached the back of the property and for a moment, felt a strange chill. He looked around, feeling silly and shaken all at the same time. Curiously, he tilted his head toward nonexistent voices, swearing he heard whispers but logic dictated that there were none.
"Old house," he muttered. That was all it was. It was just his imagination getting to him. He tensed up all the same, briefly wondering if there were some old ghosts haunting this place. Seriously. That was the kind of luck that he had. If there were such things as ghosts out there, they would find him.
There was a creak along the fence and this time, Richard knew that he heard it. He whirled around in a circle, searching for whoever the hell else thought it a good idea to visit this place. And then he spied her. A very old woman was leaning on the swinging fence door. She looked so ill.
"Miss?" he called out to her. She looked at him, but didn't speak. She just looked at him. He slowly made his way back to the house, toward her and muttered, "Old house. Old, crazy woman that probably came with the house."
He stopped several paces away from her. It was then she finally cracked a smile.
"I'm a bit too frail to be much of a threat, young man," she said, noticing the obvious shake in his hands. "What brings you here?"
"Well, this place is mine," Richard answered, mustering up the strongest voice that he could, because she was right, damn it. She was just a frail, old woman. He still didn't step any closer. "What are you doing in my house?"
"I stay here, sometimes," she answered. He frowned, but couldn't really decide if she was lying. She added with a sad drop of her eyes. "I don't have a home anymore."
"Well, there was no mention of a squatter," he told her. "And I did sign the papers that say I own this heap of junk. So, I guess it's time you went on your way."
She went to speak again, but coughed instead. He saw it, on her hands. It looked like blood. The old bat was sick. He took one step forward. Only one. He had seen enough episodes of CSI to know that blood transmitted all kinds of disease. He didn't want any of them. Shakily, he asked, "What's wrong with you? Have you coughed that mess all over the house?"
"Not sure," she managed to wheeze out. He wasn't really certain which of his questions she was answering, but it was probably both. She cleared her throat and finished, "Been having difficulty breathing lately. Probably has to do with the river."
"Shit," Richard muttered. She was sick. And perhaps a little loony. The only river he knew of was the Charles and while it wasn't the cleanest of water sources, he doubted it would transmit cardiovascular-like diseases. He kicked at some dirt with the toe of his shoe, before quickly coming to a decision he had already made several minutes before. "Get in the house, already. It's chilly and you obviously come down with something. Hopefully, I can get the power on tomorrow and we'll see about you staying warm."
The old woman smiled and he suddenly thought, she was beautiful. Wrinkled and haggard, but beautiful. He purposely strode past her, not quite willing to lay any hands on her just yet and he messed with the back door again and shoved it open. He bumped around the kitchen, opening every shade and curtain that he could to get some light in the place. When he was done with that, he found her sitting at the kitchen table like she had been sitting there all along.
"So, you live here?" he asked.
She shrugged. "Sometimes." She seemed so sad.
"I'm Richard. Richard Brandt. I'm a reporter. Sometimes."
"My name is Mary Easton."
Richard let another awkward moment pass before he asked. "No family, Mary?"
"A brother," she said. "But he's been dead a very long time."
"I thought the old woman was crazy, alright? But I took her in. The house was big enough. I thought she was homeless. For days I kept fighting with myself about taking her to a shelter, but she was yammering on about losing her brother and that people had mistaken her for someone else. She called herself Mary, but others kept telling her she was Sue. She claimed that the Charles River had switched her soul with her grandmothers'. I mean, it was crazy. I just knew if I turned her over to some halfway house, she would end up in an institution. After all the foster homes I went through, I just couldn't do that to her."
Abby was interested, but wasn't about to go soft just yet. "Get to the part that helps me."
"Look, over the next year I grew to like Mary. She grew a little less eccentric, happy to have a roof over her head. Happy to have someone at least willing to listen. I even published her story for The Global Update. She liked that a lot. So digging around in the attic, when I found that obituary on you, Abigail, then saw Detective Rizzoli on the news, I couldn't help but think that maybe this old woman had been right all along. What if there were dopplegangers out there, running around with confused identities? When I heard about the incident at the Charles River, I just knew it couldn't be coincidence."
"Does Mary still live with you?" Maura asked.
"She is still under my care, currently holed up in the hospital where you had your recent stay, Abigail. And I don't know why, but I believe that crazy old woman, alright? If she really is a young woman in this aging body, what do you think two leaps through time have done to her?" Richard questioned. "But she's determined to go back, even if that means piggybacking with you, Abigail."
"You want to bring her with us?" Abby asked, her tone incredulous.
Richard insisted. "She's been at that river twice now during the happening, whatever the hell it is that happens out there. She tried to go back once. She failed. She ended up in my arms. I've read into her history. I know that Mary Easton supposedly died, drowned in the river. She's the best hope you got."
Maura leaned over to Abby. "Maybe she's a catalyst of sorts. We still don't even know what triggers this change, this leap through time. I don't think we should ignore this."
"Richard, if you would excuse us for a minute," Abby said, pulling on Maura's arm. They stood several feet away before Abby hissed sharply, "Up until now, I took you to be a fairly logical and reasonable person, Doc."
"Up until yesterday, I had never seen someone begin to bleed out from a magical knife wound," Maura countered. "My perception has clearly been altered."
"We shouldn't go with them alone," Abby reasoned. "I don't know why, Maura, but I don't like him. I don't know if I trust his story about Mary either."
Maura crossed her arms in contemplation and a little frustration. "Who do you suggest we get to tag along? Remember, you are pretending to be Jane and anyone else we bring in on this will treat you as such."
"Okay, fine, but I want to confirm some details about this woman first," Abby argued. "You've shown me articles detailing my death. I want some articles detailing hers."
"To confirm what?" Maura said, almost with a laugh. "That he can read them too?"
The lock in the door turned just then. Before Abby and Maura could react, Tommy Rizzoli busted in. He looked frazzled and tired. Possibly drunk. He saw the two women and began talking immediately. "Hey, listen. I can't sleep alright. Not when I think this guy can help us. He says he can help you, Jane."
"Guy?" both women said.
"Yeah, this guy at the hospital gave me his card," Tommy said, before glancing over his shoulder and spotting the very subject he was discussing, handcuffed to a chair and for his part, looking rather helpless. Tommy nearly jumped out of his skin. "Oh, shit! What the hell is going on here? You tied him up?"
"I, actually, didn't want to do that," Maura chimed in, clearly not wanting to paint herself as the bad guy.
"I don't trust him," Abby said, crossing her arms again.
"But Janie, you're a cop!" Tommy argued. "Cops don't do that."
Maura agreed readily. "You're right, Tommy. Cops don't do that." She gently grasped the young man's arms, rubbed them in soothing manner. "Tommy, I need you to trust me. Okay?"
Tommy was reluctant, naturally, but he did trust Maura so he nodded. "You know I trust you, Maura. You're family."
His voice had gone small and it warmed Maura's heart, but she quickly regained the confidence she needed to continue.
"Jane didn't lose her memory," Maura said slowly. "Somehow, this woman took her place."
Maura was still holding onto him and for that he was grateful because it felt as if his world was spinning, that he might fall over any second. There were very few things in this world that had ever made Tommy question Maura Isles. She was innately good and caring. Ridiculously smart and ridiculously beautiful. The only thing he had ever found odd was how Maura could choose to be friends with someone as acerbic as Jane.
He laughed nervously. "Okay. Prank's on Tommy. You can untie him now. Okay, Jane? I'm laughing, sorta."
Abby sighed, uncrossed her arms to look less aggressive. "She's telling you the truth. I'm not your sister. And he's not to be trusted."
Richard groaned. "He can hear you! And he is very thirsty!"
"Shut up!" the three of them said simultaneously, before Tommy pushed Maura away.
"Maura, this isn't funny," Tommy pleaded. "Jane is mixed up. You said so yourself. That's what you told Ma and Frankie, right? That she got really involved with her work. She thinks she's this woman from the past."
"Tommy, you know I can't lie and at the time, I felt I was right about what happened to Jane, but things have changed," Maura said calmly. "Can we show you?"
Tommy hesitated again, but nodded. Maura glanced at Abby, who seemed to understand what she was to do. She lifted up her t-shirt, showed Tommy the bandages on her abdomen. He inhaled sharply, before Abby explained simply, "I was stabbed."
Tommy sputtered. "You were what?"
Abby rolled her eyes. "That came out wrong."
"You're sure as shit that came out wrong! Why are you not at the hospital!"
"Tommy, please, listen," Maura pleaded, grabbing his attention again. "Listen to her."
Tommy went still again, so Abby continued. "I was supposed to die in the river a very long time ago. For some reason, I didn't. I'm here. All of me is here."
Tommy was very quiet. He looked at Richard, as if that man would say something to refute what he was being told. Richard shrugged helplessly, giving him no more relief from this insane babble then the two women before him. Tommy turned back and said meekly, "You're not my sister?"
"No, I'm not," Abby answered, watching as Tommy grew paler. Raising an eyebrow she said worriedly, "Tommy? You okay?"
"I'm gonna be sick," Tommy said suddenly. And just as Maura instructed 'Bathroom!', Tommy skipped past Richard and into Jane's bedroom. They heard the door slam shut and the young man begin to wretch.
"Well, what's it gonna be?" Richard posed, shifting his gaze toward them. His patience had run out and he didn't want to keep Mary waiting any longer. "You wanted another companion, now you got one. And he's right, Abigail. You're a cop now. You can't keep me like this."
"Abby, he doesn't have cause to hurt us," Maura reasoned. "This is new for everyone. If he tries anything, I trust both you and Tommy can handle it. If he tries to run, Frost has a knack for tracking people down."
"Sister or not, I will kick your ass if you hurt either of them," Tommy announced loudly from the bedroom doorway, looking much better and less pale. He had a damp towel to his face, his short black hair matted down to his head. He stalked over to the chair that Richard was trapped in and somehow transformed that little boyish face into a rather menacing one. "If you can help Jane, I suggest you do. Otherwise, you'll answer to me."
Richard chuckled nervously. "So, it's settled then? Field trip?" Reluctantly, Abby walked over and undid his restraints. He rubbed his wrists and promised, "I'm doing this for Mary."
Abby's eyes grew icy, cold. Being next to the two Rizzolis was positively frightening, but Richard held his ground. He stood up slowly, hands in front of him and open palmed to show his willingness to cooperate. He asked meekly, "Now can I have my phone?"
"I've lost a great deal, Mr. Brandt," Abby reminded him, her voice cracking slightly.
"So has Mary," Richard agreed. "So have I. Spending the last year taking care of a crazy senior citizen hasn't exactly done wonders for my social life. I get it."
Abby finally handed over the phone, much to Maura's relief. Maybe this new alliance was getting underway.
Maura asked, "I take it Mary isn't well enough to travel?"
"Oh, she'll get out of bed for this, don't you worry," Richard assured. "I'll make arrangements to get her moved. In the meantime, I'm sure you all have more important things to do. I'll keep in touch."
He slowly pushed his way between Tommy and Abby, before rushing to the door, swinging it open and disappearing down the hall. Tommy shut the door completely after him, then leaned against it allowing a weary expression to fall over his face. He set his eyes on the woman he thought was his sister, but as he caught her eyes, he noticed something. Something in her gaze that just wasn't quite Jane. He then turned his eyes onto Maura and her apologetic expression.
"What's next?" he asked.
Abby sighed, sinking onto the couch and clutching her abdomen. In all the excitement, she had ignored her discomfort but it certainly hurt now. She said, "Sleep. We need to sleep and you need to sober up."
"Good idea," Tommy nodded, now looking bashful. "Sorry. I knew I shouldn't have, but . . ."
"It's okay," Maura stepped toward him, a soft smile on her lips. "Just, lay off the alcohol until we figure this out. We need you."
"What about Ma? Frankie?" Tommy said. "I don't want to lie to them."
"I'm hoping it won't come to that," Maura said honestly. "I have a feeling Richard won't take long arranging for Mary's release from the hospital. Maybe we can figure this all out before any of us have to decide to make that decision, okay?"
Tommy nodded again, then moved past Maura toward the couch. He knelt down in front of Abby and smiled at her. Hesitantly, she returned it and was once again amazed at the people that Jane had in her life.
Tommy grabbed hold of her hand and said with a nervy voice, "So, maybe I'm drunk enough to believe all this right now. Maybe you really are crazy, but whatever this is? I'm not going anywhere. Not this time." He leaned over and planted a soft kiss to Abby's forehead. The gesture brought stinging to the back of her eyes, because when Tommy was this close, he reminded her of Bobby and she missed her husband all over again. He squeezed her hand tight and promised, "We'll fix this."
Tommy let go and wandered into the kitchen, began to fiddle with the coffee pot. Maura lowered herself onto the couch next to Abby.
Abby found it hard to look at Maura, afraid to show any emotion over what just happened. Instead, she said, "Jane is very lucky to have so many people that love her."
Maura pressed her lips together in an effort to maintain her own composure. She rose from the couch again, this time offering her hand to Abby. "Let me redress the wound. Then we sleep. We only have a few hours until morning and I would like to try to make it to autopsy on time."