Title: Play the Game
Notes: Apologies for the delay. School and work and RL. You know the drill. Thanks to those who followed, favorite-ed, reviewed. It's much appreciated.
Summary: Maybe this wasn't a dream. But it seemed that her world was falling back together in pieces. It felt inexplicably familiar and yet not at all.
Her body flopped up onto the bank. She was coughing and sputtering uncontrollably. Her lungs were on fire, her fingers and toes nearly frozen. For a moment, she thought she had gone blind too, but it soon dawned on her that it was dark not because her eyes were playing tricks. It was night time, the moon casting an eerie, strange glow all around her and that glow allowed her eyes to focus.
She could swear the sun was still up when she started chasing . . . what's his name.
What was his name? Why was it so dark? How long had she been fighting the bizarrely strong currents of the Charles River?
Scott. It was Scott.
She struggled to her hands and knees, forcing herself to look around and gather her wits. That son of a bitch could still be around and she wanted to move, but she was so damn tired. A near drowning could really put a damper on things, she determined. She let her head hang for a moment, long enough for her eyes to notice something very different about her hands.
"What the hell?" Jane muttered. Was that a wedding band? There was a tree nearby and she clawed at the trunk to help her stand upright. Once she was, she tried desperately to pull off the offending charm. It wasn't budging. It was like it was meant to stay. It was simple, no designs. It glistened in the moonlight.
Something about these woods looked familiar and she began to walk just to get as far away from that river as possible because somehow she knew the river was to blame for all of this.
God, she was tired, but she had to think! She and Scott tumbled into the Charles. They thrashed and kicked and went under many times. Scott held onto her, her very own set of cement shoes and she kept sinking. She grew lightheaded. She. . .she remembered it went real dark and then almost as quickly, bright white flooded her vision. Like a bolt of lightning.
She felt as if someone was guiding her back, lifting her up.
Yes! That's when she broke the surface, thinking she had found the sun and its warmth, but no. In reality, it was dark and cold. She had a ring on her finger that wasn't hers. She was alone.
"I'm in a coma," Jane reasoned aloud, feeling only slightly crazy. (Talking to herself was merely a small sign.) "I'm not awake. Something. . .is not right. This is a dream."
Then she felt it.
She grasped at herself, around her torso.
She mumbled, "What now . . .?" and found blood on her hands. She applied pressure again, a steady stream of hurt flowing over her fingers as she held onto herself tighter. How had she not noticed this before? Maybe the shock of the near drowning had blocked out the hurt, but her body was warming back up now and so was the pain.
This felt too real.
Maybe this wasn't a dream.
But it seemed that her world was falling back together in pieces. It felt inexplicably familiar and yet not at all.
With a strangled cry, she lowered herself back to the forest floor. Her vision, her feelings, these woods were now a full picture, but of what she wasn't quite sure.
"Here," Jane replied instinctively, optimistically. Her voice was too loud because a hand clamped over her mouth just then.
"Pipe down! You want them to try that again? Oh God, you're bleeding!"
That voice. Jane blinked her eyes as the person came into view. Vibrant strawberry blond hair poked out from under a fedora. She was wearing a vest and pants, what appeared to be men's shoes. A disguise? Her head becoming hazy, Jane whispered this time, "Maura? Is that you?"
"Oh, sweetheart. You are out of it," the woman said as she paused from her fiddling with Jane's wound. "C'mon, we have to go. Stand up, you're far too tall for me to carry."
"Are you wearing my clothes again, Maur?" Jane asked, noticing that her voice sounded far off and sleepy.
"Please, stand!" the woman insisted.
"But. . .something is wrong." Jane's head was swimming a lot.
"Yes, it might be the fact that you are bleeding! Now we gotta make tracks!" Maura (or Not Maura) insisted. Jane wasn't sure what was going on right now, but she always listened to her gut and her gut was telling her that she was not in danger with this woman.
"We have to move, okay? Please," Not Maura pleaded.
"Okay, alright," Jane finally said, feeling a sudden burst of energy. Maybe it was just the simple desire to live that was motivating her. With help from her benevolent Not Maura, Jane stood to her feet.
The two of them scampered off, to where hopefully, Jane would get some answers and a handful of aspirin.
They stumbled through the doorway on the second story of what had to be a halfway house. Not Maura, being as gentle as she could be, led her deeper inside. Jane whimpered again, though she was loathed to do so. She never liked showing she was weak or in pain. Never.
She was dropped in a nearby wooden chair. Her head lolled back as she heard rummaging around in drawers and cabinets.
She should've known that she wouldn't end up at her apartment or anywhere near a precinct or a hospital. That would be too easy, right? Nothing in her life was ever easy. Instead, an uncanny Maura Look-a-Like was tending to her in some run down motel room. It smelled heavily of nicotine and liquor.
"Okay, here, have some of this," Not Maura said. Jane sat her head upright again, the movement making her world swim briefly once more. The fedora was gone, no longer obscuring vibrant blue eyes or holding strawberry blond locks captive. But the eyes were the most striking, holding a mixture of concern and alarm. "Please, now, darling. Drink."
Jane felt the mouth of a flask touch her lips as Not Maura tried to help her drink. She barely got a taste before the smell assaulted her. Jane turned her head away and exclaimed with a hoarse voice, "What is that?"
"You never did like the strong stuff. Just a bit of hooch, alright? It will help, I promise."
"Forget the, uh, hooch," Jane replied, stumbling over the awkward word.
"I know it's strong, but not like you to turn down a drink," the woman teased. Jane wasn't quite sure how this woman could know anything about her, but she held her tongue for the moment. Not Maura pulled at the shirt, studied the injury. "The wound doesn't look too deep. You should be fine once I'm done."
Jane groaned. "Tell that to my stomach as it tries to hold in my insides."
The woman laughed softly, then revealed her medical tools.
Jane's eyes widened when she saw the ancient looking syringe that was now being held up in front of her. It was fairly clean looking, so at least she felt reasonably safe about not contracting some disease, but the shape and size of the thing had her terrified. Three large holes for the fingers. The liquid was swirling around inside a fat tube.
"Just. . .wait. Wait a minute," Jane insisted, before that thing got any closer to her. "What is that?"
"Abby, what's eating you?"
As if she already didn't feel crazy enough. Jane narrowed her eyes, repeated, "Abby?"
The woman laughed, almost in the way that Maura would, but with a bit more ease. "Yes, that's you. I'm Joanna. Now stop being a pill and let me help you."
"No, no, no," Jane mumbled, forcing herself to stand up, knocking over the wooden chair in the process. The pain was awful, but she didn't care. Something was definitely wrong!
"I'm not . . . I'm not! This is too real . . . this can't be real."
"Abby?" Joanna called to her questioningly.
"Stop! My name is not Abby!" Jane yelled now, frustration finally setting in. She grasped her side again, blaming the loss of blood for her confusion, but the blood only served to remind her that she was alive. This was happening.
"Abby, you're scaring me."
"And I'm not scared? Now you listen carefully. Abby is some distant relative of mine. I am Jane. My name is Jane."
"You're really off your nuts now, Abby," Joanna said, now getting a fearful look about her. "Just quit playing . . ."
"See! That! I can't even understand half the words coming out of your mouth!" Jane exclaimed. "'Off your nuts', what the hell does that even mean? I . . . I'm so confused right now. I just need . . ."
"You need a drink and this," Joanna finished for her, holding up the syringe. "I need to stitch you up so that Bobby doesn't lose it when he sees you. I need you to sit, please."
"Bobby?" Jane repeated meekly.
"Yes," Joanna said with a nod. "Please. Sit down. It will be okay."
Joanna slowly bent to right the chair again, then gently offered her hand to Jane. Jane barely hesitated reaching out to grasp the offered hand, which sent a wave of panic through her. She didn't even know this woman, but she couldn't help but trust her. Trust Joanna, who looked so much like Maura but wasn't.
Trust her because she didn't have any other choice.
Back in the chair Jane went, the bottle offered up from before she greedily sipped from and felt the burn all throughout her body. She coughed uncontrollably. Was this stuff made in a bathtub?
She probably didn't want an answer to that last question.
There was a heck of a pinch on her arm next and she tensed up as Joanna administered the medicine. Hell, she didn't even know what it was, but the results were almost instant and glorious. It was numbing the pain.
Jane was tired. Her eyes were heavy.
"Over here now," Joanna said, barely above a whisper.
Jane was rested down onto a cot. She felt gentle hands push back her blood soaked shirt and that's when the real pain began. The needle Joanna was using seemed awfully thick and pointy and Jane cried out before making it through the first stitch. Joanna paused her assault momentarily.
"Just keep going," Jane gritted out, now balling up some of the sheets, twisting them and then biting down hard on the cloth. The bleeding needed to stop. She was not going to bleed out before she got some answers.
The "surgery" continued until Jane just couldn't take it anymore and the world turned black.
Jane Rizzoli had been awake for some time, just staring at the ceiling of this dump that must've been passing for an apartment. Her wrists had been tied to the headboard with some thick rope. Her new friend (or captor) taking new precautions after seeing Jane freak out.
Jane just shook her head. She had nearly drowned. Someone had tried to cut her open in the process. Now she had been tied to a headboard…which in a totally different scenario would still be awful because then that would only prove her theory: men only dated her for the handcuffs.
Jane was hurting, though not quite as badly as before and she could probably try to escape this nightmare, but she knew nothing about this place. It was apparent now that she knew absolutely nothing about this place. Where would she go? She didn't even know if she was still in Boston. She didn't know what to think anymore.
"How do you feel?"
Joanna was resting in a doorway. Her face revealed nothing.
Jane sighed. "I'm not sure what to feel."
"I meant the, uh, injury you suffered. But emotions are good too. You're not too good with those either."
For the first time, Jane noticed the twinge of an Irish Boston accent, so she felt assured that at least she was in a city that she knew. Still, the fact that this woman was still speaking as if they knew each other caused Jane to frown.
"You have no idea what I'm good with. And you tied these a lil' tight, mind loosening them?"
"How stupid do you think I am?" Joanna replied smartly, advancing on the cot slowly. "Somehow you've managed to replace my friend, look just like her. Act like her. I don't know what kind of trick this is, but I'll have you know I'm not fooled."
Jane couldn't help the roll of her eyes. "Really? You're not fooled because I told you the truth! If I hadn't of said anything, I wouldn't be tied to this bed."
Joanna pulled the wooden chair with her, sat down next to the cot. She leaned forward, her face very close to the woman she knew to be Abby, but Abby wasn't acting like herself. She sounds like her, Joanna mused to herself. "Listen, here. I distrust you because you made a mistake. And even if you hadn't slipped up, there's no saying you still wouldn't be tied to that bed, dear."
Jane imagined her expression was quite comical in response to that. In fact, she seriously felt like gulping in abject fear because the implication of that statement was both lustfully charged and very near threatening. It was surprisingly thrilling, because Jane couldn't really help herself, could she? She loved a test of wills and if Joanna was going down this road, she was going to follow.
"Somehow I doubt Abby would enjoy . . . being tied up like this, whatever the circumstances may be. Dear."
Joanna was quiet for a moment. She leaned back in the chair, folded her arms almost defiantly. "If I untie you, then what? We both pretend that you're not certifiable? We just sit back, have a few drinks. Light up some cigars? Chase down a killer?"
Joanna's tone was mocking. It was incensing Jane.
"No, we talk," Jane said stiffly. "You're afraid. So am I, but we can't figure this out if I'm tied up like some criminal. I'm not one to beg, but I need help. I need your help to fix this."
"We both know something is very wrong here. Quit the skepticism act."
"Act?" Joanna repeated with bluster. "Trust me, babe, this is no act. Put yourself in my shoes. I go out to the woods to save my friend because I had sent her out there hours ago and heard nothing. I go out there and I come back . . . I come back with you, with a stranger!"
Jane sighed. She had a point there.
"I have no reason to lie about this," Jane said. "I don't like this anymore than you do. I don't even understand it. A part of me still feels like I'm going to wake up from this nightmare, but I haven't yet."
"Maybe this is my dream," Joanna laughed. "Maybe I'm imagining my best friend going completely screwy."
"Whatever you have to tell yourself," Jane shot back, almost angry. "I can only tell you what I know. My name is Jane."
A silence settled between them for a few moments.
"Nuts," Joanna muttered. She revealed a small pocket knife, one that Jane eyed fearfully. With a quick swipe, Joanna cut the first wrist free. Again she mumbled, "Just . . . nuts."
Another swipe and Jane was sitting up, rubbing her wrists and watching the apprehension play across Joanna's face. "Thank you."
"You're welcome. I guess."
For a brief moment, Jane could see Maura. If she didn't pay much attention to the attire, it was like seeing her friend and she was home. It felt nice to see Maura in any capacity (real or imagined) and for a few brief seconds, Jane could believe that this really was a dream. She was going to wake up at any moment . . .
"Who do you see, looking at me?"
Jane blinked. Maura was gone. She shook her head, "Doesn't matter."
"Listen, if I'm going to entertain this notion that you are this other woman and not my Abby, then you can entertain my questions. I'm playing, so you have to play too."
"Fine," Jane sighed. "You remind me of my friend. Okay? My turn. Why was I at the river?"
"You know this."
"I know my version. I want to hear yours."
Joanna rubbed her eyes before explaining, "Jimmy saw something out there, something big on Cirrillo. It was what he wanted to testify for, what got him killed and it was what you were going to find tonight before that goon went after you. My turn. Why do you think you were supposed to be at the river?"
"I was chasing a suspect in my murder case. He got the upper hand, we fell into the water and from there it gets a bit . . . strange."
Joanna frowned. "Stranger than this?"
"You have a sense of humor. I like it," Jane cracked with a roll of her eyes. "Anything else you want to ask me?"
Joanna paused, clearly thinking over the last exchange. Planning what her next inquiry should be. Quietly, curiously, she asked, "You were chasing a suspect?"
"Yes. That's what detectives have to do sometimes."
"Detective? You? A woman?"
Jane sighed. "Yes, me. A female detective. Jeez, you act like we live in the 50s or something."
Again, Joanna had to pause. This had to be the most surreal conversation she had ever had. Slowly, she asked, "What year do you think it is?"
"Joanna, I'm really done with the 20 questions. . ."
"No, answer it. You think you're not from here. Lord knows your accent is horribly non-Bostonian."
"You're either from outta town or the completely unrealistic . . . "
"It's the year 2012."
Joanna's jaw fell so far, Jane thought it would go through the floor. "Pardon me? Two thousand and twelve? You have lost it!"
Had she? Jane sighed helplessly, pinching the bridge of her nose.
These things didn't just happen. Alternate worlds, alternate timelines, alternate realities did not just happen. All of those things were the half-crazed musings of folks like Asimov or, um . . . damn, if Maura were here she could list 50 science fiction authors without breaking a sweat!
She needed Maura.
No. Jane was so beyond needy. She literally felt crushed under the weight of her predicament with no one to turn to. Her friendship with Maura had spoiled her. Knowing that she had at least one person she could always rely on had become routine, familiar.
Here . . . Jane was alone. It was like her childhood all over again. No friends, absentminded brothers, a whimsical mother and oblivious father.
The chair scraped the floor as Joanna stood abruptly, began to pace. Jane couldn't just sit there and she certainly didn't need this woman stomping around, mumbling and cursing because that just wouldn't do for her concentration!
"She's crazy," Joanna was mumbling. "Really, really crazy."
If Jane was going to fix this, she needed quiet, damn it! So naturally she went to stop Joanna, completely forgetting what had her down in the first place.
At the sound of Jane's cry of pain, Joanna immediately stopped her pacing and held Jane up. She quickly led Jane back to the cot, sat her down and cupped Jane's face tenderly. "Are you dumb now too? For Pete's sake, Abby! I. . ."
Joanna froze. That name had slipped out too easily and for some reason, it felt so wrong to say it. It felt so terribly wrong to say it.
Jane was admittedly frozen too. The touch was tender, sweet. She held the eyes of Joanna mostly out of intrigue and saw the depth of Joanna's affection for her….no, for someone else. Jane wasn't so naïve not to know what that look meant.
Slowly, Jane clasped the hands holding her face, lowered them. Quietly, she said, "I'm sorry. I don't like . . . being weak. "
Jane wanted to say more. Wanted to ask more! Now she felt like an invader, privy to a side of Abigail Rizzoli that none of the microfilm in all the world could have told her.
Joanna looked down for a moment, replied quietly, "Neither does she."
Relief flooded through Jane. "You believe me? You understand I'm not Abby?"
"I didn't say that! I think you hit your head or that the loss of blood has . . . has . . ."
"What? Made me think I'm some crazy woman from the future? Joanna. I. Am. Not. Abby."
Joanna huffed. "Well, right now, you are what I got! This is the worst possible time for you to be acting like some certifiable amnesiac!"
Before Jane could offer another retort to that, there was a heavy knock on the door. "Oh, you have to hide!" Before Jane could say anything or protest, she was hurried into the back room. Joanna hissed, "Stay quiet! Stay hidden!"
The door was shutting and Jane could hear Joanna cursing, "This is the last thing I need right now!"
The pounding on the door grew more insistent.
Joanna swung the door open to reveal a haggard young man in a long brown coat. Good ol' Bobby Rizzoli.
"Where is she?" he barked.
Joanna pursed her lips playfully. "Oh, so tough and mean now that your wife is missing."
"Missing?" Bobby repeated bleakly. "What have you done?"
Joanna frowned. "Why is it always my fault?"
For a moment, Joanna was just going to come clean and tell Bobby that something was seriously wrong with Abby. Something was really, really wrong. But only for a moment because here he was, this timid excuse of a man trying to act like he had some semblance of control when he knew he had none. No one could control Abby.
What in the world would Joanna gain by telling Bobby that his wife was now nuts and believed she was from the future?
With the way Bobby was eyeing her with utter contempt, she knew it would gain her nothing. He would call her crazy, which honestly, she was certainly feeling. He would insist on taking Abby home. Under normal circumstances, Abby would have an argument with Bobby, he would run off with his tail between his legs and then the two women would go back to their adventures, but with this New Abby?
No, she wasn't sure that would be likely to happen. Joanna hadn't exactly been approving of this new personality and instead of arguing with Bobby, Abby could just leave with him! Joanna couldn't have that.
No. Joanna had to lather up Bobby here real good, get in a nasty fight and remove him from this situation as soon as possible. She still needed Abby, whether or not her best friend was aware of who she was or what their plans had been.
The less he spoke to this "Jane", the better it would be for everyone.