Title: Play the Game
Notes: Thanks to those who followed, favorite-ed, reviewed. It's much appreciated.
Summary: "You of all people should know that in this world, the men run it. Those same men are trying to make this city a cesspool for drugs and guns, they are praying on the people that live here."
Joanna Hastens had always been the type of gal to give as good as she got. It was the way life had always been, growing up in a mobster town and answering to a mobster family. She and Jimmy had decided a long time ago that while the life was lucrative, there were more important aspects worth cherishing. Family and love and choice. Jimmy died wanting all of those things.
He stole a cookie from her plate, grinning from ear to ear as he took a bite. It was one of his more annoying habits, his taking without asking. But what did she expect him to learn growing up in their household? She glared playfully at him, but knew she couldn't chastise his behavior. Jimmy was her brother and she loved him.
"Joanna, don't look so cross," he laughed.
Joanna really missed his laugh, the sound she remembered more magical than any songbird she had heard on her few trips to the countryside.
"Jo, I swear if you don't start talking," Bobby Rizzoli advised, bringing her out of her memories and back to her current reality. This was the most fearsome she had ever seen Bobby behave and that wasn't saying much. He was a bit soft for her tastes, but that was perhaps the part that appealed to Abigail. Bobby was ridiculously pliable.
"What do you want me to say?" Joanna needled him. "I went looking for her too."
And I brought back a stranger!
Bobby was angry, she could see that. She just didn't know how to tell him that his wife was completely screwy!
I can only tell you what I know. My name is Jane.
Joanna could hear her friend's voice in her head, could see her friend's lips move as they spoke but she just couldn't believe the words. Her name was Jane? It just wasn't comprehensible, this notion that Abby was not Abby. How could she not be Abby?
"Does the name 'Jane' mean anything to you?" Joanna asked, surprising herself, not anticipating she would voice her thoughts out loud. Bobby was equally confused by the question.
He shook his head, said, "Jane? Doesn't ring a bell. Does this person have a beef with Abby?"
"I sure hope not," Joanna mumbled, before suggesting. "Maybe you can do some digging?"
Bobby wasn't budging. "Stop acting like everything's Jake! I'm not leaving until you tell me just what the hell happened to Abby!"
"If I knew, don't you think I would tell you?" Joanna snarled back.
It was true, wasn't it? Joanna wasn't sure how to explain this! She didn't even believe it herself. So Bobby was right. She couldn't pretend that everything was fine when it most certainly was not. Abby was confused, she was acting strangely and it was going to screw with their hopes of bringing Jimmy's killer to justice.
Of course, Joanna couldn't deny that Abby's claims sounded very sincere. Abby was not a liar. She hated liars even more. Why would she start with these unusual behaviors now? Why now, when they were working to fix something that was so important to all of them?
"It's okay, Jane. You got this," Jane whispered to herself. She wasn't sure what new guest had shown up or why Joanna wanted her to hide, but Jane certainly didn't want to stick around to find out. She inched over to the window, peered out to the street below. Dawn was illuminating the streets below and it all looked so different. It was less cluttered.
That's why it didn't take long to spot the car or the goon sitting inside it. He spit tobacco out the window with blatant disregard to anyone who could be watching. The brim on his hat cast a shadow over his features making it hard to see his face, but who needed his face when all she had to do was scrape up a piece of that tobacco muck off the pavement and run for DNA?
She shook her head, "God, what a newbie. This must be the 30s."
Now listen to me!
So hopping out the window wasn't an option (and with her injury that would have been a task anyway). She inched her way back to the bedroom door and not because she was good at being stealthy. Her wound still ached and the less she moved, the less it hurt. She pressed her ear to the wall, attempted to listen to the voices just on the other side.
She could hear Joanna clearly. Her tone of voice was almost mocking. "What makes you think she is dead? Like she can't handle herself. . . "
"Don't play coy with me, babe. For some reason, Abby likes you despite your upbringing. If you know where she is, tell me. She's my wife!"
Wife? Jane glanced at her hand again. The ring. Bobby Rizzoli. Also, what was this about Joanna's upbringing? Jane had to roll her eyes. As if she needed to add any more questions to this predicament.
"It's a wonder she still even loves you," Joanna spit back. "What a husband!"
Jane frowned. This sounded like an adversary's quarrel and something that neither of them had time for. Leave it to a Rizzoli to keep an argument up with . . . with, um. Well, just who was Joanna anyway? It probably wasn't a coincidence she reminded Jane so much of Maura, another detail she would have to get cleared up at some point.
Unceremoniously, Jane threw open the door. "Okay, I'm going to assume that neither of you knows that Bobby was tailed here and that same goon is sitting on this apartment."
Both Joanna and Bobby had expressions of complete surprise on their features. Joanna's quickly morphed into contempt, probably wondering why the hell Jane had decided to reveal herself when she was so clearly directed to stay hidden in the bedroom.
"Abby!" the man exclaimed, rushing up to her and hugging the life out of her. "Thank God!"
"Whoa," Jane groaned, pushing him back immediately. She very nearly proclaimed that she was not a hugger, but then she saw his look of disappointment and hurt. She said meekly, "I was injured."
"Oh, Lord, I'm sorry, Abby," Bobby said quickly. "Let me look . . ."
"No!" came the simultaneous answer from both women. Okay. Jane knew why she didn't want Bobby touching her, but she wasn't quite sure why Joanna was just as vehement.
"I already looked," Joanna added, with less vigor. "She's fine. Nothing that will keep her down for long. Right, Abby?"
Joanna gave her a hard look, a look that said you better agree with me, damn it. Jane reaffirmed quickly, "She already looked."
The level of discomfort that Jane was feeling was palpable and not just because she had been suddenly dumped into a marriage that wasn't hers but because her 'husband', Bobby, looked a hellava lot like Tommy. And that was just creepy.
Bobby stepped back to look at Jane from head to toe. "Are you alright, Abby? Sweetheart? Talk to me."
"I'm fine," Jane mumbled. At his concerned look, she emphasized in a clearer, more confident voice. "Really, I am fine."
Bobby Rizzoli had a fresh face with hints of worry lines above the brow. So young, Jane mused to herself. He ran a hand through his short, brown hair. His nerves were tangible, his concern so overwhelming. For a moment, she began to wonder if she was the one who should be trying to comfort him.
Joanna cut in-between the two of them, literally and Jane was definitely relieved. "Did you not hear her, Bobby? She spotted a tail outside!" Then Joanna looked at Jane, "Thanks for spoiling my fun. I had him going for minute."
Bobby glared at Joanna as he said, "I knew you weren't dead, dear. This one has an affinity for playing games during moments of calamity!"
"Right. Well, um, dear," Jane said, clearing her throat as she said repeated the endearment awkwardly. "The tail? Outside?"
Bobby finally let that news sink in. "Well, no one followed me from the station. I swear it."
"They can't know I'm here. Or that Abby's here either."
"You think I don't know that? When I didn't hear from you, I went to the Charles. I found my fedora, the one Abby had been wearing before you two went gallivanting off. Of course I thought the worst and came looking."
Joanna sighed. "You should've kept your head. As you can see, we escaped (mostly) unscathed."
"Fine, you're right. But I want to know how someone knew to look for Abby by the river."
Jane didn't have to be a genius to suspect that Bobby was accusing Joanna of snitching.
Joanna shook her head. "I don't know that, okay? The important thing is that Abby will be fine, right? She's been through worse."
Bobby sighed. "I always knew you were trouble, Abigail."
Jane wasn't really sure how to respond or even if she should. She wasn't certain she could get used to this. She couldn't have everyone here believe that she was Abby! She glanced at Joanna for help, any kind of help! This needed to end soon. It was too exhausting, too unreal.
Joanna seemed to understand and walked up to Bobby. "We can get back out there, but first we need to plug a leak. Someone knew we were going out there or they followed us. The longer this goes on, the harder it will be to finally get this son of a bitch. You follow me?"
Bobby agreed. "I know, I know. Listen, I'll scram. Once that tail is gone I'll get in touch with the papers or the hospital or something. I'll have something wrote up. Then I want you gals to hide someplace new, you got me?"
"Yeah, yeah, now get out of here. I'll take care of her. I always do," Joanna promised. She rushed Bobby out, not giving him a chance to say goodbye to Jane. Again, Jane felt relief. She didn't want to be forced into any more intimate situations with the man.
When the door shut, Joanna whipped around with her hands on her hips, "What was that? Thought you didn't know who you were or what was going on?"
Jane shook her head. "I don't, but I'm not stupid and I know when someone is casing a place. Obviously, whatever is happening, I'm no longer on the right side of the law."
"That's because the law is crooked, Abby."
"Fine, Jane. The law got my brother killed. The law is going to allow Cirrillo to go free. The law tried to get you drowned in that river. The law is no longer an option."
"Doing the right thing is always an option," Jane countered.
Joanna sighed. "You of all people should know that in this world, the men run it. Those same men are trying to make this city a cesspool for drugs and guns, they are praying on the people that live here. Bobby is one of the last good ones, but his hands are tied now. It was you and I that decided to no longer stand for this injustice. Well, mostly me. I had to convince you."
Jane asked quietly, "Why is that?"
"You not remembering is getting really frustrating, sweetheart," Joanna complained, rubbing her eyes. "You weren't too happy with me when we first met, but I dunno, somehow we understood each other. We knew it was up to us, don't you see?
We're women. We walk with our arms linked to our husbands' or we prattle on about taking care of our families. They don't become lawyers or try to fight wrongs. Despite how much trouble we have caused, we are still considered weak and unsuspecting and therefore conquerable. But after what happened at the river, I'm beginning to think that we have struck a little fear into those boys."
"They tried to kill me because I dug too deep," Jane said, almost chastising herself for using the qualifier "I". She didn't do anything. Abby did.
"That's right. Now I'm going to suggest something and you're not going to like it. I mean, I guess Abby wouldn't have liked it. God, this is confusing!"
Jane rose an eyebrow. "Okay?"
"Bobby thought Abby was dead, at least until you spoiled it. I think she needs to stay that way and the way Bobby was talking, he thinks so too."
"You mean fake my death?"
"Yeah. I like it. Makes it easier for me to get around. No one will be looking for me."
Joanna had to chuckle. "The more you talk, the more I start to believe this screwy mess. Abby wouldn't have liked losing her lawyer status. She felt it was like some invincible shield. Gave her access to things that most women didn't have. Can't say that it hasn't helped, but she was naïve to think it would protect her forever."
"Yeah, but Abby didn't think like a detective," Jane replied with a smirk. "Being undercover provides a different kind of cloak. The work may take a little longer, but the reward usually makes up for it." With a grunt, Jane lowered herself back onto the cot she had occupied earlier. "Can I ask you something?"
Joanna shrugged. "If you must."
"How did you meet? I mean, you and Abby," Jane asked curiously. "You said you had to convince her to join you."
Joanna had to chuckle at first. "This is unbelievable." She shut her eyes for a moment, as if to collect herself and then answered, "We met at The Robber. I had a feeling she would show up there after Jimmy's death and I guess I was desperate and sad, waiting on her to waltz in. This was a little over a month ago when she strode in, all attitude and brooding. She was drinking a scotch, I think, and I invited myself to sit down with her. She wasn't happy to learn who I was, however."
"You've only known her a month?" Jane asked.
Joanna nodded, her expression taking on a more fond look. "Yes, but I think if you were to ask either of us, it felt as if we had been friends for years."
Joanna slowly, cautiously made her way over and sat down. Jane watched as the strawberry blond reached up and pushed an unruly curl of hair back into place. The care in the gesture did not go unnoticed by Jane, a low stir beginning to tremble in the pit of her stomach. Joanna sighed, "I wish you would remember this."
Let's just enjoy this calm, just this once
"I feel as if I know you," Jane confessed aloud. She hadn't really meant to voice that, but the words tumbled out anyway.
"You do know me, Abby," Joanna said quietly, cupping the other woman's face in her hand.
Jane shut her eyes, breathed in deeply. The woman was pretty, Jane could concede. Hair was tumbling down her shoulders with natural ease. The men's shirt did very little to hide her curves and while Jane fronted being a prude, she was not ashamed to admit that Joanna was very attractive. Her response to the touch, however, was unexpected.
Embarrassed and confused by it all, Jane backed away slightly. She prayed she wasn't blushing.
"I'm sorry," Joanna said quietly.
"Don't worry about it," Jane said quickly. "This is all weird. I get it."
"Abby didn't like it either," Joanna acknowledged. "Not very tactile. So fiercely independent."
Jane could see Joanna's eyes watering up, noticed that Joanna was referring to Abby as a separate entity.
It was happening; the realization that Abby Rizzoli was not here.
To understand this meant to acknowledge that Abby was gone. And if she came back, would Jane then disappear? Would she wake up and realize this was a dream? She suddenly had a whole host of questions, but only two stood out and needed to be voiced.
Jane took an unsteady breath before venturing ahead. "Did she. . .? Did you. . .?"
Jane couldn't even finish her thoughts, but the look of horror on Joanna's face was almost comical and indicated she knew exactly what was being asked.
"I never said anything! I couldn't. Abby was so traditional. So honor bound. I could never upset that for her. Her relationship with Bobby was the only thing left that wasn't tainted."
Jane frowned. "You say that in the past tense."
"Abby's job, her trust in the law, even her relationship with Bobby was beginning to fall apart. Don't be fooled by all that he just showed you. He loves Abby, don't get me wrong, but I don't know. They're drifting apart now. Ever since Jimmy was killed."
"But she had to know?" Jane pushed. She wasn't sure why she was pushing this at all. Maybe she just wanted to be certain she wouldn't be put into any weird situations with the woman. Or maybe anything more weird than what she was already experiencing.
Joanna sighed. "It's possible. She's my best friend, practically my third arm. We would kill for each other. Die for each other."
Such a strong bond formed in such a short amount of time. Jane knew a thing or two about the strength of such bonds, the love that could result from it. She smiled softly, "I kinda know what you mean."
Jane couldn't stop the flow of images if she tried. Hoyt. That madman glowering down at her with an insatiable hunger. Maura's whimper of fear that spurred Jane into action, that gave her the shot she needed to break free of her own demons and take down Hoyt once and for all.
"There you go again," Joanna whispered.
Jane focused her eyes, realized she had started to see Maura in Joanna again. Staring at her with such a desperate longing as if staring hard enough would make things right again. Now she was sure she was blushing, turning away and mumbling, "I'm sorry. It's just, you say I look like Abby. You sorta look like my friend."
"Friend?" Joanna chuckled. "Even I try to keep from looking at Abby the way you just looked at me."
Jane could feel the heat in her cheeks now. "Just forget it. We have to figure out who tried to kill me . . . kill Abby. Whatever! Can we just do that, please?"
Joanna nodded, though her expression showed she was reluctant to do so. "Bobby will find Oscar. He works at the paper."
"Oscar?" Jane repeated. She remembered that name, but at the moment couldn't remember from what.
"Yes, he'll write up a nice obituary for you," Joanna joked lightly. "Once the city of Boston learns of your drowning, we'll be able to move more freely. I'll be able to check on family affairs as well, see if I can figure out what Cirrillo's next move might be."
Joanna abruptly turned to head for the bedroom that Jane was hastily pushed into earlier. Jane was suddenly afraid of being left alone and asked, "What are you doing?"
"If I'm going to see my father, I certainly can't go dressed in these rags!" Joanna exclaimed, then bashfully set her eyes on what Jane was wearing which was practically the same thing: a slightly large man's shirt and baggy trousers. Apologetically, Joanna said, "No offense to you, of course, sweetheart."
Jane shrugged. "None taken?"
The bedroom door shut and Jane sighed deeply. So surreal.
She grabbed the pillow next to her, covered her face and fell back onto the cot. She let out a half-hearted scream, muffling the sound with the pillow, then threw that pillow across the room.
"Please, if this is a dream, let me wake up!" Jane wished aloud. Nothing happened. She didn't really expect anything to happen.
Please. Let me wake up.
Joanna leaned against the closed bedroom door.
"Please. Let me wake up," she whispered aloud to herself, before covering her mouth with her hand to suppress her sadness. Her feelings for Abby had never been more genuine than in those last few moments and to see those eyes study her as if she were someone new? It hurt more than she could bear.
With a shuddering breath, she quickly began to change. At this point, her feelings had to be checked. There were more important things happening in this city and her happiness was the least of its worries.
There was a mob boss just waiting for the prosecution to drop its case against him. Jimmy's killer was still out there, probably gloating over his victory. Whatever her brother had hidden out by the Charles River? It was probably still there and at the earliest, she needed to return to that very spot and search for it.
Jimmy died for Boston. Abigail had lost herself, her identity and nearly her life for this city.
If they could risk everything, Joanna Hastens knew that she could too. She had to.
She just prayed that a broken heart wouldn't cripple her before the task that lay before her could be completed.