A/N: Okay, so I'm a tad obsessed with Christmas. And I'm more than a tad obsessed with Rizzles. Hence, this.
Also, I couldn't help myself and stuck a couple of Gilmore Girls references in there :)
When Jane Rizzoli came swaggering through the doors of the Dirty Robber one early December day, Frost, Frankie, and Korsak began a round of applause. It was soon picked up by many other patrons of the bar, and Jane waved awkwardly. Glancing up at the TV behind the bar, she was jarred to see footage of herself walking casually out of a courthouse.
"Hey, Murray, c'mon," she said, sitting at the stool next to Frost. "Switch to somethin' else, please?"
"Anything for Boson's finest," Murray acquiesced, changing the channel to ESPN.
"That was a helluva case," Korsak said, slapping Jane on the back. "You did good today, Jane."
"Yeah," she sighed absent-mindedly. It was just good to have the grueling case over with. "I just hope we managed to help spare the city from having to read about someone the press were ready to call 'The Christmas Killer.'"
"Geez, were they really considering that?" Frost snorted.
Jane shrugged, taking a gulp of the beer Murray had just passed her way. "I heard that reporter chick—who was it, Kitty Collins?—talking about it if this guy kept going. Man, that woman's a real piece of work. Y'know, she's the one who thought it'd be so cute to quote Crowe on calling Dr. Isles 'the Queen of the Dead.'"
The men grunted their sympathies, and after a thoughtful silence, Frost said, "I wonder if the doc has any plans for the holidays. She got any family around here?"
"I don't think so," Jane said. "She said something about being adopted, and her parents are always traveling, or something."
"Hope she's got someplace to go," Korsak said. He glanced downwards at the end of the bar, where sat an older gentleman who always came in alone, eyes glued constantly to the television. "Don't matter if you celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah or not—holidays are still a sad time to be alone."
Jane shrugged again, and Frankie laughed as he tapped the neck of his empty bottle. "I don't know about that, Korsak. Ever get Dr. Isles going on about logic and all that crap? She'd probably say it doesn't technically make any sense for a lonely person to be sadder around Christmas than during the rest of the year, because—I dunno, it's all put on you by third parties, so it isn't real. Or something."
But lonely people are still lonely, Jane thought to herself.
She thought of the cheerful little weirdo she had first met a couple months ago, who had tried buying Jane some lunch when she was still under the impression that Jane was a hooker. There was an example of someone embodying the true charitable Christmas spirit, and someone like that certainly didn't deserve to be alone for the holidays.
"We should've asked her to come out tonight," Jane realized, speaking her thoughts out loud. "She helped us make the case, really."
"Why didn't you invite her?" Frost asked. "You're friends, right?"
"What, you think just 'cause we're the two women on the team, we'd automatically be best buds?"
"I didn't say 'best buds,'" Frost said patiently. "I just meant friends, like friendly. She seems nice. Maybe she needs somebody to make a first move."
"A first move? Frost, this is about asking someone to hang out. Not come on a date."
Frost just shrugged and downed some more beer, then glanced at Korsak. "Frankie's got a theory."
"Oh c'mon, man!" Frankie groaned, giving Frost's stool a kick.
"He thinks the doc has a crush on you."
"Really, Frankie? Come on!" Jane sighed, giving Frankie's stool a kick herself. "Maura's nice, and she's just …she's just a little awkward, okay? Whatever you're reading into her, you're misreading it. Maura's not the type of woman who'd—I mean, just forget it. It's not cute, it's not a joke. She doesn't have a crush on me. Cut it out."
Frankie raised an eyebrow at Frost, both of them thinking Jane had overreacted a little. "Consider it cut," Frankie said.
But the next day, Jane couldn't get the idea out of her head. In all honesty, she had been thinking of asking Maura what her holiday plans were before Frost had let slip about Frankie's "theory," and now she was sort of afraid to say anything. It had just been a harmless remark, and Frankie had probably only meant it as a private joke, but it would not leave Jane's head. How much did Frankie know, any way? He barely saw any of her interactions with Maura. Hell, she'd hardly had any to speak of at this point—she'd been so wrapped up in the case that there hadn't really been time for pleasantries.
And she did feel genuinely bad about that. Maura had never mentioned a boyfriend (or girlfriend), nearby family, or friends. It dawned on Jane that she really knew very little about the glamorous doctor except that she worked hard, dressed impeccably, and had a penchant for listening to classical music or operas while she did autopsies. Asking her about her holiday plans would be the polite, co-worker thing to do. It would be a sign of friendly good will, which Jane figured was never unwanted, so off she went to the morgue.
Yesterday she could have breezed in there no problem, but now she found herself holding back a little. Was this going to be awkward? Probably. Suck it up, Rizzoli!
She cleared her throat and knocked on the door to Maura's private office.
Once Jane had opened the door, she stuck both hands quickly in her pockets. Maura noticed the move, having long ago filed it away as one of Jane's nervous habits. The smile on her face was genuine as she stood up politely. "Good morning, detective!"
"Uh, hey, Maura," Jane got out, trying to remind her that there was no need to be formal.
Maura's grin seemed to widen at the reinstatement of casual greetings. "Jane. I never got the chance to congratulate you on your performance on the witness stand yesterday."
"You were there for that?" Jane asked. Maura had given her own testimony two days before, and Jane couldn't remember seeing her in the courtroom yesterday.
"Well, I couldn't make it to the actual trial, unfortunately," Maura explained. "There was a pressing case for me to address here—a suicide." Jane bit back the question of whether or not it was true that the number of suicides went up every year around Christmas. She was sure Maura would be able to tell her the answer, but it wasn't a particularly cheerful way to segue into a discussion of holiday plans. Maura continued, "Anyway, I still wanted to hear you formally articulate your testimony, so I watched the film of the procedure."
"Pretty exciting cinema, huh?"
"I found it quite thrilling, yes," Maura stated seriously.
Jane couldn't help smiling—it seemed Maura still had trouble detecting sarcasm, a trait Jane used to make fun of, but which was oddly endearing when it came to Dr. Isles. "Okay, but for real, though. What kinds of movies do you like, Maura?"
Maura frowned thoughtfully, wondering why that was a relevant question, and watching as Jane transferred her hands to her back pockets and took a small step forward. She's trying to be casual. She's asked a question unrelated to the case or anyone else in BPD. "I'm fond of Italian neorealism," she said hopefully.
"Neo…you lost me after 'Italian.'"
"Oh Jane, you really should familiarize yourself a bit more with the genre," Maura chided her lately. "Not only because of your heritage, but because the films themselves are so gorgeously done."
"Er…I've seen Life is Beautiful," Jane offered with a weak smile, naming the only Italian movie she could think of. "Does that count?"
It was evident by Maura's expression that it did not count, but the doctor was trying to think of a nice way to say so. "Not quite. While neorealism is a style that can still be emulated today, it is generally considered to be time-specific to the postwar period. Not dissimilar to American film noir, in that way!" Surely Jane had to be familiar with film noir, one of the most prevalent detective genres. But there was no glimmer of recognition in her face, and Maura felt herself starting to blush as she often did when she worried she was about to ramble about something nobody cared about. "I could recommend some titles, if you like—perhaps some directors…?"
"Sure," Jane said. "Yeah, that'd be cool, Maura."
"Yeah! I just thought you were all, y'know, science."
"Au contraire! I've been taught to venerate the arts as well, mostly by my mother. She's an artist."
"Really? I didn't know that! That's cool. What kind of art does she do?"
"It's…" Maura stopped herself, worrying that if she got into the complexities of the art world and its many sub-sects and which areas her mother's work fell into, she might never shut up. She sensed Jane got impatient enough when she went off on tangents while filling Jane in on the case, even if they were still somewhat related to the topic on hand. Shorter was probably better where Jane was concerned, especially off the job. "She tends to lean towards sculpture," Maura finally said.
"Sculpture! Cool," Jane said, wishing she could come up with something a little more intelligent. "I never really got much of an arts education, but I've seen stuff and museums, y'know. My family's more into sports, I guess. You like sports?"
NO. No. Just… goodness, no. But in an attempt to sound less like a snobby cyborg, Maura said, "I enjoy various aspects of certain sporting endeavors, yes." Oh, goodness, why did I say that? She's smiling. Why is she smiling? Do I sound moronic? Or did I make it out to sound as though I'm more knowledgeable about sports than I really am, and she thinks she's found a kindred spirit? "But… not the type you could ask any follow-up questions on."
"Noted," Jane chuckled. So Maura was a little weird, but it was in a cute way. "I know sports probably seem like a waste of time—"
"Oh no, they're quite—"
"—but it's how I waste my time, so…" Jane shrugged. "What're your plans for the holidays?"
Maura frowned again. It had probably been unrealistic to hope nobody at work would throw this question her way; it was conversation that was bound to come up along coworkers whether you were friends or not. It was just the polite thing to do, just like the polite response would be to quickly lie and say, "Oh, I'm spending it with family," or "my boyfriend and I are…" But Ian had been gone for so long, with no word about any intention to come back. And her parents were abroad and, with no interest in celebrating Christmas themselves, had not initiated any invitation for Maura to join them in December. How pathetic would Jane find the honest reply?
Ultimately Maura had no choice, as the silence was getting to be too long: "I haven't …quite… finalized any plans yet." There! That's good. Just don't ask me any—
"Too many parties to choose from, huh?" Jane laughed good-naturedly. Should've figured a classy woman like that would have a lot of high-society functions to go to at this time of year.
"A bit of the opposite, actually," Maura said after gritting her teeth. She squared her shoulders, trying to imitate one of Jane's more confident stances. Perhaps if she tried hard enough, she could sell the notion that she wasn't sad about this. Maybe Jane would believe she didn't care if she acted like she didn't care. Ignoring the look of surprise on Jane's face, Maura said, "I didn't have a religious upbringing, so my parents never saw the merit in turning mid-to-late-December into a large affair."
"Yeah, but…lots of people still celebrate, even as a secular holiday."
"The Isles don't."
"Oh," Jane said softly, understanding now. "None of the Isles?"
"I mean, your parents didn't make a big deal out of it, but would you want to? I'm not saying you'd have to go to midnight mass or anything, but we always have a really nice Christmas dinner at my parents' house. They've got a tree, and we make wassail, and there's always a ton of food. Like, you wouldn't be putting us out or anything," she hastened to add, sensing that Maura was the type of person who might try squirming out of an invitation with such an excuse. Suddenly it was important to Jane not only that Maura have people to be with at this time at year, but that she, Jane, was one of those people.
Maura was clearly trying to repress a wide grin. "Are you…"
"Sure? Yeah! Definitely. And it's not like it's a strictly Rizzoli affair, either—a couple of neighbors always end up coming, but Korsak'll be there, too, 'cause he doesn't have any family around aside from all his ex-wives."
"I don't know," Maura said a little breathlessly. "I'm not …you know, it's a strange phenomenon," she nearly chuckled. "I am perfectly at ease speaking in front of a crowd, giving a lecture. But when it comes to smaller groups, particularly those where I'm a stranger—"
"Heck, you're not a stranger! You know me!" Jane said. "And you know Frankie, and Korsak, and trust me—anyone who talks to my mother for more than thirty seconds won't feel like a stranger for long. C'mon, Maura, it'll be fun. And if you don't have fun, you can always try some of my dad's 'special' eggnog, and get too drunk to realize you're bored."
Maura finally laughed at that, and the sound got Jane to smile. "Jane, I… if you really think your family wouldn't mind—"
"Are you kidding? It's Christmas!" Jane said loudly, slapping Maura on the back. "The more the merrier! I'm pretty sure Jesus actually says that at some point in the story."
"Isn't Jesus an infant in the Christmas story?"
"Right, yeah. Okay, so God said it then. Anyway, please don't worry about it, Maura. I'd really love it if you came."
"Then I'd love to come," Maura said, and she was so sincere that Jane could swear she felt her cynical detective's heart grow three times in size. "This is good! I've always thought it would behoove us, as co-workers, to spend more time together outside of work. It might help create a more seamless working environment."
"Well, Christmas is still a couple of weeks away," Jane said. "We could … do something before then, if you have time after work."
Jane was a little surprised at how swiftly Maura took the notion. In fact, she seemed downright excited. "Yes! Are you free on Sunday? You could help me pick out a host gift for your parents!"
"A what? Maura, don't be silly, you don't have to do that."
"Of course I do," Maura said, looking scandalized at the notion of doing anything else. "And if you came with me, you could help me choose a gift they would like. Please, Jane. It would make me feel even better about this if you'd let me."
Jane sighed affectionately. "Well then, far be it from me to be a Scrooge!"
"Excellent literary reference!" Maura gasped.
Deciding not to mention that she was familiar with the character not from Dickens' original novel but from his appearance in a Muppet movie, Jane nodded and said, "What's your address? I'll come by on Sunday to pick you up, and we can go…" She grinned and waved her hands in exaggerated excitement. "Christmas shopping!"
When Jane pulled up to Maura's house that weekend, she couldn't help whistling with awe. It was a gorgeous property, made all the lovelier by the white holiday lights Maura had strung along her windows. She noticed Maura's car was parked on the street, probably because her driveway had yet to be snow-blown or shoveled, and Jane nearly slipped on some ice near the porch. She rang the bell, and to her surprise, Maura answered the door almost immediately.
Maura always looked lovely on the job, even in scrubs, but there was something about her today which struck Jane as uniquely gorgeous. She had on a white turtleneck sweater and a crimson-colored skirt, both of which flattered her figure significantly better than scrubs. The gold color of her hair seemed to stand out more than usual, but Jane couldn't place why.
"Hello!" Maura said brightly. "Oh, dear—I'm embarrassed you have to see my driveway in such a state. The snow just looked so beautiful in its untouched form, I was wary of touching it! Also, I haven't quite had the time to see to it myself yet. I was thinking of asking a boy who lives down the street if I could pay him to shovel it for me sometime."
"Pay a kid? Don't be silly," Jane said. "I'll do it for you."
"What? Don't you be silly," Maura laughed. "Come in for a second; I just need to grab my coat and my purse." Once Jane had stepped inside, Maura shut the door against the cold. "I'm perfectly capable of shoveling the snow myself," she said, walking back to grab her coat. "It's just a matter of not finding the time, because of work. When I'm working, generally you're working, so asking you to shovel would be simply lazy of me."
"Nothin' wrong with taking someone up on a favor," Jane said with a shrug, looking around the house as Maura threw her coat on. "You have a really beautiful house, Maura. My apartment's basically decorated with pennants for schools I never went to… 'cause I like their sports teams, y'know. Cool sculpture," she said, nodding at a small piece of art on a nearby table.
"You like it?"
"Yeah! Did your mother do it?"
"Oh no, that's a Zoltan Kemeny. Very provocative, don't you think? I love its audacity."
"Yes, it's very…audacious," Jane said, trying and failing to see the sculpture as anything but a little hunk of metal.
Misinterpreting Jane's sarcasm as genuine interest, Maura asked brightly, "So you like modern art, then? I love it! I have a Hockney and a Kline—but not a Diebenkorn," she added mournfully, grabbing her purse. "So please don't ask me, 'where's the Diebenkorn?'"
"You stopped me just in time!" Jane chuckled. "So I guess all I'll ask is, where's the fire?"
"Nothin', you just moved fast. Let's go!"