"You're really giving up your kidney." They're standing there, greasy and grimy and dirty as hell, covered in dust and debris and detritus of the day, dark and disgusting and donning the scars of the determined, the brave. It seems so off kilter, so out of place to stand in Maura's kitchen, surrounded by calm country blue and white walls, while they're both so dirty themselves.
"I am." She can't wrap her brain around the fact. She's always liked all of her organs, right where they were. Even her tonsils hadn't gone without a fight, even if they would have meant endless hellish winters of sore throats and strep throat.
"Because she needs it."
"Maura, this is a girl that told you that she doesn't want you in her life, who just happens to share some genes with you. This is a girl whose mother said that she wanted nothing to do with you until you became a sudden organ donor option. What happened to the Maura that told off Hope this morning?"
"That was – that was before."
"Today." She frowned, not liking the way Maura seemed to be shutting down in front of her, now that the adreline and stress had worn off, stripping them free of their titles of detective and doctor and leaving them just as Jane and Maura, tracking dust and plaster and grime through an immaculate kitchen.
"What? Just because she showed up to help, you suddenly think that Hope's a better person?"
"No. But I - I have to do this."
"It's your kidney. You don't have to do anything with it."
"And if I want to donate it to Kaylin, I can."
"If it was anyone else, that wasn't related to you, would you donate it?"
"Yes." The alacrity of the answer surprised her. The sudden, quick ease with which it is said, as though she was questioning the color of the sky.
She blinked as Maura slapped the wall, and the handprint she leaves stands out clearly, charcoal against white walls. She could see a tumult of emotions swirling across her friend's face, morphing into one another too quickly for her to try and discern the cause, trying to figure out what had cause Maura of all people to resort to a physical gesture of feeling too much to logically think out, needing some sort of physical release for it. "I have fifteen fresh dead bodies in my morgue. Fifteen people that did nothing but wake up and go to work and won't ever have the chance to complain about terrible office coffee ever again. They didn't do anything, there was no reason for it. If I can prevent one more death, I will."
A truck roared by outside, the same as it did this time every day. A glance at the clock confirmed exactly what she thought, marking off eight forty seven, just like it always was when the low rumble settled on them, and she was surprised to see hazel eyes glaze over for a moment at the sound and the slight tremor. They'd done good work today, as good of work as they could have done. They'd saved the lives of her partner, her brother, her nephew. Hell, Maura had been, from all accounts, fucking amazing, putting aside her dislike of living patients to triage, treat, and help the dozens that had been pulled from the rubble. "Hey. You ok?" She asked, voice quiet. She knew what that far away stare meant, had worn it enough on her own face.
"Well, whatever it is, it has you shaking like a leaf, so it can't be that silly." She watched Maura cross to the large, floor to ceiling window in the living room, seemingly not noticing the trail of black left in her wake, or perhaps, for once, not caring.
"I've never understood that phrase. Leaves hardly shake, even in-"
"I had just graduated from medical school. I took classes over the summer semesters so that I could be sure to graduate early, and finals that year had fallen the week of my twenty fifth birthday. I had a job offer, but it was not going to start until the new year, which left me with four months to fill." There was a long pause where she let Maura gather thoughts, coming up to stand beside her at the window, staring out at the early fall night, where it was just starting to cool to the point of requiring a sweatshirt after dark. "I thought I would treat myself. My parents – The Isles' – have a penthouse condo in New York. It has these gorgeous floor to ceiling windows, overlooking the city." She tried to figure out where Maura was going with this. She knew there was something there, some reason as to why Maura was suddenly so willing to part with body parts, and why a woman who was usually all nerves and anxiety while working on the living was so cool and collected, ordering the injured into the backs of police cruisers when amulances were not enough.
"I got there for labor day. It was wonderful. Broadway, Grenwich Village, even the subway was beautiful, in it's own way. It really is an amazing system. The largest in the world. A true feat of human engineering. While Boston's rapid transit system was the first in the country, the one in New York faced far more engineering difficulties to be built." She let Maura ramble on about the subway, the origins thereof, and the comparison between the T and the New York rail system and SEPTA and Chicago's L, and wondered where this was going as she tried to put the pieces together. She'd known Maura long enough to know when the woman was talking around a subject, not wanting to address it head on.
"So that explains your knowledge of tunnels, huh?" There's a smile flashed briefly, though she can tell it goes nowhere near Maura's eyes. Instead, it sort of lasts for a half second, reflected almost longer in the glass in front of them.
"It was a wonderful getaway for the first week. Central Park – it really is an amazing place to go for a run first thing in the morning. The Common is wonderful, but –"
"Not the same." She filled in. She'd only been to New York once in her life, and it had been on a school trip, and they'd spent more time being dragged on a ferry to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty than they had exploring any of the other landmarks.
"It was the only time I had a routine where I didn't have any obligations. No classes to study for, no cover letters to write, it was – freeing, in a way. After spending the first twenty five years of my life having to worry about preparing for my future, to have nothing to do, it was – well, it got annoying by the third day." It was her turn to smile. "But it was nice, nonetheless. To wake up to these wonderful views, in a condo not very unlike the one from – what was that movie that you made me watch?" She blanked, not knowing which one her friend was referring to. "The one that satirized the materialism and hedonism of the nineteen eighties? Where everyone was so interchangeable outside of their conspicuous consumerism." She blinked, and she could see the faintest hint of a smirk on Maura's lips. "The one that involved Christian Bale murdering someone with an axe." She couldn't help it, she laughed. She'd been set up for that one. Of course, Maura had latched on to the actual meaning of the movie, and had gone on for almost two hours after they watched it about how it really was a masterful work of showing the downsides to conspicuous consumerism.
"American Psycho? You had a condo like that? Wait, like Bateman's, or Paul Allen's?"
"Whichever one had that beautiful white sectional set with the-"
"Got it. You had a view to die for, right." She regrets her pun instantly as the smile that had been fighting to stay in place lost its battle.
"I was actually enjoying myself. It was surprisingly easy to interact with people, as I didn't have to do much of it. No one knew me, outside of the barista around the corner, and even then, she knew me more for my coffee order than myself. I'd fallen into an easy routine. Wake up, go for a run, have coffee and spend my afternoons – however I wanted them. It was great for the first week." Her mind was still in detective mode, trying to suss out the story there before Maura had to spell things out for her. She knew her friend, knew the way that Maura addressed simple problems head on, and the ones that were hedged around like this were big things. Things that she knew her friend found inherently painful. College, med school, freedom. What did any of those things have to do with a kidney? Maybe it was the running?
She watched as the reflection, tempered by the darkness outside, rubbed idly at the fine coating of dirt and grime that had settled in the V-neck of the scrubs. "And then – I woke up. Went for a run. Stood there, looking out over the city, feeling – well, I had everything I'd wanted. The Today show was playing in the background, and I'd stood there with a cup of coffee, looking downtown, considering what I wanted to do that day. The weather was supposed to be wonderful. Bright, sunny, in every way a perfect symbol of what the last full week of summer should be." She ran through the list of personal traumas she knew Maura had been through. The whole tangled, complex mess that was Maura's family, both biological and adopted. Being mercilessly mocked and teased through school. Her unfortunate proclivity for men that were later to be found to be killers. None of them seemed to have anything to do with twenty-five year old Maura, outside of Garret Fairfield, and she was pretty sure that chapter had already been closed, from the way Maura was talking of this trip.
Which left something that she hadn't been told about. But what was it that had Maura suddenly still and silent beside her. She could see that look, she'd worn it herself enough times. Lost in a memory that feels more like a damned movie playing over and over and over again. She rested her arm against a warm back, a soothing bit of physical comfort. "What happened?" She asked quietly, more of a murmur than a proper vocalization.
"I stood there." The sentence made no sense. "I stood there. And I watched. And – did nothing except turn the television off when the signal was lost." And then it clicks. This had nothing to do with the damn kidney, had nothing to do with Hope, had nothing to do with Maura's little identity crisis. Had everything to do with what they had gone through, the grease and the grime and the debris that they were covered in. "I stood there at the window, and I watched. I'd just spent the last three years of my life training on how to help people, how to save lives, and I stood there, and I watched. I – I knew that there were people there who needed medical attention, that I could help, and I – I couldn't. That less than a mile away, there were dozens, hundreds of people at least that needed help, and I couldn't do it. I stood there running through the likely injuries, how to treat them, stabilize them, and I kept thinking of how many ways I could make things worse."
"You just graduated. You were allowed to second guess yourself." There's that faint smile that goes nowhere near hazel eyes again.
"My mother called that afternoon. After confirming that the condo was still intact, she said-" There was a pause, and she pulls Maura closer a little, letting a blonde head rest on her shoulder. "She said that she was going to get off the phone quickly, that no doubt I was needed." There was a long, shuddering breath. "And I stood there. Five hours, I stood there, watching as so many others went sprinting in to help. And I – I knew they needed me. I knew that. But I just could not will my legs to work. Today, that – I could have saved just one life then, and I didn't, this is another life I can save, that is within my control to save, I'm not going to be too afraid to do so."
"Maura, you saved at least three lives that I know about for sure today. And Frankie how many years ago? And- Hindsight is always 20/20." They're placating words, and she knew it, but the silence threatened to stretch on forever if she didn't fill it. She had been amazed at how composed, collected Maura was at the scene that morning, and now she understood why. It was easy to put aside a fear when you have an even larger guilt hanging over your head. "Now I have to be extra careful. You've saved the other two Rizzoli siblings. They say these things come in threes, you know" It's a dark, black, bleak joke, and there's not even an attempt at a smile. She hadn't been expecting one.
"I declined the job offer I'd been given and signed up for Medcins Sans Frontiers the next day." The reasoning doesn't need to be said.
"You're an amazing person. I mean, I can't even say I'd go charging in there through that."
"You would." She holds back the fact that she had considered hopping in her car and driving six hours to see what could be done.
"You can't hang on to that forever."
"I don't. I didn't. But today –" She understood. She'd been there herself. It was easier and easier every day to forget about what happened in a cold dark basement too many years ago, but when something reminded her – really reminded her of it, she knew how hard it was to shake the feeling.
"It got to you. And damn, you did great today."
"So did you."
"We all did good work." They stood there for an interminable time, and she stared at their reflections in the window, the dirt the grime, the debris that still covered them. And she got it. It wasn't about kidneys, or family, or an identity crisis or any of that for Maura. It was all about putting herself, and any silly fears she had about anything, to put faults aside to do what all doctors swore an oath to do. Save lives. "So," She finally said, breaking the comforting silence that had fallen, "You showed me back surgery, got any props to show how they yank out kidneys?" And they stood there. And they laughed.
a/n – this really did just start with a comment I made on twitter last night about how the ep felt like JTam had always wanted to do a 9/11 thing, and ran out of time to be relevant. And about how utterly Boss Maura was at the scene, and how any signs of "I see live people, they're everywhere" Maura had vanished. And decided to give a reason why.