Don't own, don't profit.

Set to "Brimstone" by The Royalty.


On Day 13, she stays in bed—mostly asleep—until two in the afternoon. The last time she'd slept in like that was 2002 and was a direct result of viral meningitis.

Life without Jane feels like an infection. Feels like a plague.

The house is quiet and it unnerves her. Angela doesn't pop in spontaneously to cook or watch Dr. Oz or just chat. Frankie doesn't help bring in groceries or show up just as the Celtics game starts with a six pack of Sam just to piss Jane off. Tommy's come by, twice, but she's been setting the deadbolt and he's never had keys.

The house is quiet and it's unfair.

She's not insane—they are Jane's family and nothing changes that. But it isn't fair. She's here and she's hurting and Jane's left her and because Jane's gone, everyone else who makes things brighter is gone, too.

She needed Jane and Jane left her alone to fuck Dean.

She needed Jane and Jane put her in the middle of a gunfight.

She needed Jane and Jane shot her only chance at resolution.

She needed Jane and Jane's only concern was covering her own ass.

She needs Jane and Jane is gone.

Maura spends as much time as she can out of the house. It isn't hard. In the mornings, she sits with her mother in the hospital and reads the paper with her, talks art and philosophy and non-technical science, helps her prepare for her afternoon physical therapy.

She has lunch with Paddy Doyle, mostly in silence. He can't sit up yet, hasn't regained control of his left arm, but he's stubborn and pigheaded and determined to get nutrients from something other than an IV drip. The first week, she'd let the nurse's aide feed him. She does it, now. In silence.

In the afternoons, she goes to the Commons and watches pairs of people continue with their lives. At dusk, she drives past her own gravestone and always, always, doubles back. She stares at it until sunset.

Then she goes home and crawls into bed and pretends that silence is still her best friend.

Her father finally arrived from Tanzania last week, and yesterday he'd insisted that she take a day for herself. Thanked her for being such a dutiful daughter, for taking the time from her busy schedule to look after her mother.

In her mind, she heard everything Jane would say: it's called Love, you self-righteous cyborg. Try it sometime. Maura nodded and went home. Dutiful daughter always obeys the rules.

The only people who know just how small she gets around her father: her old therapist, and Jane.

She needs Jane. Nothing will change that. She is living on recycled air and frozen food and she needs Jane to mess things up, throw open all her windows, buy her street-cart hot dogs and tell her that everything will be okay. No one else will do that and Maura can't do it herself. No one else can look at Maura and see that she's trapped in a collapsing brick room in her mind. No one else can pull her out of the bricks with just a smile and a touch and a sarcastic quip.

No one else can, and no one else will, and there will never be anyone else. She has to get used to that.

She's used to being alone. She is. It's just like riding a bicycle.

She starts by getting rid of all the evidence that she was ever not alone. She empties and returns all the Tupperware in the fridge and freezer. She drains all the beer. She takes all the pictures off of the mantelpiece and her desk, puts them all in an office file box. The desk drawer full of holiday cards, random notes, loose pictures—she dumps it, upside down, into another file box. The few knick knacks and trinkets from peripheral Rizzolis—never Jane, because Jane knows she hates clutter and claims to not know the difference between decor and clutter—all go in the box.

She calls her decorator and talks about reupholstering, or maybe just gutting and redesigning entirely. She'll get concept sketches at the end of the week.

Upstairs is harder, brutal, and just opening her closet doors overwhelms her. She curls up in a ball against her bed frame and pretends she can't see any of it. It's just that wherever she looks in her bedroom, there's Jane. A spare bed for Jo Friday nestled between the floor mirror and the armoire. Shell-toe Adidas sneakers behind the bathroom door. Spare hair ties on the nightstand.

Jane has a week's worth of suits in the closet and a drawer stocked with day-of-the-week socks, a pile of white tanks, black boyshorts and multi-colored sports bras. Three dress shirts are on hangers, two are at the cleaner's and Maura has been sleeping in her pajamas because there isn't any other way to stop crying.

She gets a bigger box. The suits go in, the whole drawer, the dress shirts, the toothbrush and the hair ties and the sneakers and all of Jo's things—everything. (She keeps all of the pajamas. BPD Athletics, Homicide Softball, a faded black and purple rugby tee and three pairs of St. Dominic sweatpants. She folds them all and puts them in her own pajama drawer and she hates herself until she dry heaves.) There are four records and six CDs stacked on her dresser—Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, The Rolling Stones, Pearl Jam—and she's careful with those, keeps the records against the side of the box and moves clothes aside to set the CDs on the bottom.

Day 14 and no sleep tells her it's not enough. Maura goes back to her closet and starts pulling out her own clothes, the pieces so indelibly marked with Jane that she can't ever wear them again. She makes a pile for donations and one for trash. Softball speed suit goes to the trash. Black ankle booties go to donations; they'd each bought a pair. Blue dress, leopard print skirt, red dress, two leather jackets, three metallic blazers, a pair of slingbacks and her five pairs of Jimmy Choos all go to donations.

The red leather crop jacket she'd labelled as "work clothes"—the one she'd worn the first time they'd gone somewhere as friends, first time they'd gotten shitfaced drunk, first time Jane had come home with her and just followed her into her own bedroom like nothing mattered—has a burn on the right breast pocket. On the way out of the bar, she'd stumbled directly into the smoker's huddle and a just-flicked lighter. Jane had pulled her out of the huddle and spent five minutes trying to drunkenly confirm that Maura was not actually on fire.

Toss pile.

She keeps going through—the pink dress that still looks like it should go with boot socks, the teal dress she'd worn to Jane's reunion, and she's sad to see that one go—until she's at the very back of her closet and prying open a box before she's thought anything through. It takes her by surprise and it shouldn't. It sends her reeling and steals all her breath and it shouldn't because she should have thought.

She never thinks as much as she should when it comes to Jane.

The box has four large evidence bags, stacked one atop the other, each labelled with the date—9/13/10—and M. Isles. No one knows she has these; she doesn't know why she has these. That's a lie. She has them because her knees were skinned from kneeling on the sidewalk beside Jane's body—body, corpse-like, Jane had been dying on the ground in front of her—and her hands and arms were covered in blood from pressing down on the wound and her whole face was stained with tears and her voice was gone from screaming Stay fight don't you dare Jane don't go stay with me stay with me stay please please stay I can't stay fight don't you give up you never give up stay fight for me Jane sweetie baby please fight honey please stay.

She has them because she'd climbed into the ambulance barefoot and never stopped touching Jane. She has them because when they reached the hospital and they rushed Jane into the OR, a female uni and a nurse showed her into an exam room and bagged her dress, her bra, her panties, her jewelry. When she finally left the hospital—in MassGen scrubs and nurse's clogs—Frost told her that her shoes had been logged into evidence, and they were both broken, anyway.

She has the bags because what else was she supposed to do with them? What could she do with a dress covered in Jane's blood and broken Atwoods? How could she clean blood off of silver filigree? She put the bags in the box and the box in the back and now it's all here and Jane is not.

She can't breathe, she can't breathe, she can't even breathe without her.

In her bedroom, she trips on the donate pile and the only thing she sees is that damn burned red jacket and it's all she has. She clings to it, thinks maybe it still smells like hot leather and smoke and stale alcohol and she cries her fucking eyes out.

Because stupid, drunken Jane: Maura's alight. Maura's burning up. Maura's been on fire for three years now and never once thought about dousing the flames.

She drags all the clothes—jacket and evidence bags, too—out back, sets them in a narrow heap in the middle of the driveway and goes to find the grill matches when she realizes she has no gasoline. No type of accelerant at all, really.

She has nothing to make this go quickly—painlessly, irrevocably—and all of her neighbors, getting home at the 4:30 quitting time of the Beacon Hill set, are watching her openly.

She brings it all back inside, returns the evidence bags to the box, hangs up the jacket, puts the rest in bags for the cleaner's. She lights every candle she can find and when she lights one particular lavender pillar candle, she thinks maybe she should just set it all on fire. The whole goddamn house, everything in it. She's learned a lot about arson in the past few weeks. She could do it.

They were supposed to be forever. Life-long. Forever. Three years is not for-fucking-ever. She can't even sleep in her own bed because Jane has a side and it is empty and how can she fill that space, ever?

Maybe she should just take it as a draw. Three years is a long time. No one's ever loved her for three consecutive years. Maybe this is all she should have realistically hoped for, when she did that foolish thing of lying next to Jane at night and thinking of the future.

Maybe with some time—a year, maybe—of Detective Rizzoli and Doctor Isles and never letting a conversation go long enough for emotion to asphyxiate her, it will be okay. Yes. It will be okay. She will go to yoga, and she will train for the marathon, and she will cook again and listen to Saint-Saens and maybe she will paint again, this isn't the end, it's just a regrouping; she's never relied on anyone but herself, anyway.

But she can't balance without laughter anymore, and no one pushes her to train harder quite like Jane, and who cooks for just one, anyway?

On Day 15, she goes back to the hospital in the morning, and there is a jasmine plant in a basket next to her mother, fresh whole fruit, a bag of bagels from the deli down the block from Jane's apartment and a hesitant, guilty look on her mother's face. It is one of the very few times that she is grateful for her father's complete emotional obliviousness; he praises her colleague's consideration and generosity, and her striking facial features. He thinks her mother should sketch Jane. Maybe even sculpt her.

She spends the morning reading the paper to Paddy Doyle. His physician updates her just before lunch; he's stable enough to be moved to the hospital wing at Walpole. The transfer order has already been put in; he'll most likely be gone by Monday.

She's due to be officially reinstated on Monday. So is Jane.

On Day 18, she buys new locks. She actually manages to start the car before she turns it off again and goes back in to the store to return them.

She craves pizza from the brick oven place four blocks from the precinct, and just as she is walking up to the door, she sees curls in the wind and a particular swagger and she flees. Turns the other way, on a dime, and gets back in her car and goes home and tells herself she didn't want lunch anyway.

She checks the expiration date on her last-filled prescription of Ativan and flushes all six pills. All the junk food, finger food, vaguely snack-type food in the house gets hoarded on the coffee table. She nests in the only blanket that doesn't smell like Jane—because it was too scratchy, they never used it—and looks mournfully at Bass before eating her body weight in salt and watching a whole season of Misfits without processing a single thing about it.

She wakes up on day 19 at 3 in the afternoon, still on the couch. There are seven missed calls from the hospital, and for a moment she panics, because Mother. But even her father is not that cold; he would have called.

The message says Paddy is being transferred in the morning.

She showers slowly, because maybe if she's slow enough, she'll miss visiting hours. But she doesn't; she couldn't. She makes it in at 4:45 and she does, technically, have family privilege.

He's awake and morose—more so than usual. They both know he will die in Walpole; too many old foes have been there for years. He doesn't stand a chance.

He tells her about Colin. Tells her how her little brother—little brother, no, that's Frankie, that can never be Frankie again—entered the Revere Beach sand sculpting contest when he was eighteen. Took his little square of sand and carved out something that put Escher to shame. He didn't win—a reproduction of the Pieta took first—but just having people see what he could do was worth something, something he'd never had before.

Maura thinks of the two tessellations she had framed, one for her stairway and one for Jane's hallway. They are unsigned and she thinks maybe she should change that, at least on hers.

Paddy tells her about Hope. Classy, educated, humble Hope. His voice breaks when he talks about faking her death, about watching Hope shatter and having to walk away like he didn't care. His voice breaks and she thinks of how he'd come to say goodbye to his son. His voice breaks and she thinks of how he'd come to her with a bullet in his shoulder.

Colin is dead and Maura is alive and she doesn't forgive Paddy, but it doesn't matter because he doesn't forgive himself, either.

He asks her to fight, and she doesn't understand. He asks her to be safe, and she hates him. He tells her Tommy's an idiot, and she laughs until she cries and cries until he tries to sit up.

She doesn't come back in the morning. She doesn't get out of bed until the clock strikes noon and she is sure he's been wheeled into a transport. She cleans up the mess in the living room, moves the boxes of Jane's things next to the back door and goes back to bed.

Day 21 and she returns to her morgue, fixes her chair, restocks her fridge, locks herself in her office and buries herself in the paperwork. Susie brings her coffee every four hours and makes her break for lunch. No one else breaks the silence.

She can be quiet. She can be alone. It's just like riding a bicycle.