If someone had told Maura Isles the teenager, or even Maura Isles the young adult, that someday her Sundays would be filled with noise and food and children that belonged to her, she would have told that someone they were crazy. She would have explained the differences between dreams and reality, and the likelihood of making a logically impossible dream become a reality does not make any kind of rational sense.
But now, she hands thirteen placemats to her eldest son, and an entire bucket of flatware to her eldest daughter, as it is their turn to set the table. And she smiles as she turns back to stove, shooing her wife out of the way so she can check on the pasta.
Angela and Jane are bickering, as usual, and Maura throws a rueful look at her own mother, who is seated at the breakfast bar, before wading into the conversation.
"I think it's sweet," she says holding up a piece of linguini for her wife to taste. "And Isabelle seems to really care about her."
Jane holds up three fingers to signal that it needs a little more time.
"I don't know," Constance says quietly, from her spot. "They are awfully young, aren't they?"
Angela nods vigorously in agreement, "And what do we know about her?" Angela says, turning from the sink with wet hands and reaching for the dish towel slung over Jane's shoulder.
"Well," Maura says, grinning at Jane's exasperated face, "we know her name is Mackenzie Brown. She's in Isabelle and Sofia's grade at school, and is in most of the advanced classes that they take."
"Most of?" Angela cuts the doctor off, flipping the towel back over her daughter's shoulders. "Not all of them?"
Jane rolls her eyes, "Ma," she says reasonably, "Even Sofia didn't get into the advanced science class. They're just freshmen."
"I see," Angela says, narrowing her eyes. "And so, 'most' is good enough for your daughter is it?"
Jane snorts. "Ma," she says irritably, "this is exactly why you don't get to meet the girl. This is exactly why Isabelle didn't want to invite her to Sunday dinner."
"I'm the reason?" Angela squawks. "I just think you and your wife should get to know anyone who decides they want to be close to my grandbabies. I mean…what do we really know about her. Have you met her parents?"
Constance nods seriously, and Maura loves that she is entering into the conversation. "Yes," she says, "Yes, you should meet the parents before you condone their relationship."
Maura cannot help but laugh at the look on Jane's face. "We're taking it one step at a time, mother, Angela," she says, because Jane seems unable to form a sentence through her indignation. "We've only known about this girl for two weeks or so, and with Isabelle being so hesitant to tell us-"
"That's just another thing that doesn't make sense," Angela says grumpily. "I mean…I understand her reluctance to share the intimate details of her life with her parents – you were always so closed off, Janie – but what negative reaction could have come from her confession of her life choice."
Jane's eyes flash a little, but she manages to keep her temper in check. "First of all," She says leaning to kiss Maura's cheek as she heads towards the living room, "it is not a life choice, Ma. It's a genetic trait. Secondly, do not use the word intimate when talking about your grandchildren's relationships, homosexual or otherwise."
Angela huffs, following after her into the living room where Frankie is sitting on the couch with his girlfriend Megan, "okay, okay, my apologies," she says sitting down across from her son. "So," she says sweetly, "Megan…what's new in the exciting world of reporting?"
"Maa," Frankie says warningly, but he doesn't get a chance to continue, because at that moment, Yelling can be heard coming from outside the house.
"Who CARES how you turn the wheel Lydia, the car is OFF! Nothing's going to happen to it when the car is off!"
The yelling can be heard from the front hall, and almost everyone who is in the living room turns to look at the door way. Maura comes to the doorway that connects the living room and kitchen looking worried.
"Uh oh," Frankie breathes. He looks at Jane and quickly swigs the last of the beer in his hand, tugging the bottle out of his girlfriend's hand too. "Sounds like a no alcohol kind of night kind of evening," he stands, and Jane stands with him, handing him her half empty bottle as well.
"I heard it on the news, Tommy, Jesus," Comes another raised angry voice. "Dontcha think they might know…oh….I dunnah, A LITTLE MORE THAN YOU?"
Jane looks at Maura with wide eyes, and then back at Frankie. "I thought you said it'd gotten better," she whispers. Behind him, Sofia and Levi appear in the doorway from the dining room, place settings still in their hands. Both look mildly worried, but not shocked.
"It had," Frankie said. "When I took Teej out for burgers Tuesday, he said it was loads better."
"You are one of the most ridiculous, stupid, asinine humans I have ever met," Tommy is yelling now, and Maura turns away from the door toward the kitchen, wincing.
"It's pronounced ass-a-Ninny, Thomas…"
Jane and Frankie exchange a look that could almost border laughter. It would be funny….it would be funny if…
"Jane," Maura squeezes Jane's arm as she goes by. "T.J. did not ride home with Noah," She fixes Jane with a meaningful look, only turning away when she sees realization dawn on the brunette.
"Sofia," she says as she passes, "Go get your sister and brother from upstairs. Tell Noah if he's not done with his homework, that he can bring it down and Nona will help him, and serve him right for waiting until the last moment."
Sofia grins at the prospect of telling her brother off. "And tell your sister to stop making kissy faces and get off the phone and come down…for goodness sake she will see Mackenzie in less than 18 hours, and she will be spending dinner with the girl tomorrow night."
Jane strides out into the front hall and pulls the front door of the house open on the cold October air. Lydia and Tommy are standing, nose to nose, on her doorstep, and Tommy's face is an ugly, blotchy red color that she remembers seeing on him as a baby, when he would throw a tantrum.
Between them, and a little behind, is Thomas Jr., his scruffy blond head bent low over his iPhone.
"Hello, little brother," Jane says, "thank you for alerting the entire neighborhood that you are here."
Tommy looks at her, managing to muster a little bit of a shame face.
"Hey, Janie," he mutters.
"Hi, Jane," Lydia says, and unlike her husband, she doesn't seem willing to let go of their argument. "Will you please tell your brother that it totally matters whether or not you straighten out the wheel when you park the car? Will you tell him that unless he wants to-"
"Heey, T.J." Jane cuts her off, reaching through the adults to pull the little boy into the house. He glances up at her and gives her a wan little smile.
"Hey, Aunt Jane," he says, and she wants to pull him into her arms.
"I think Noah is waiting for you in the living room, bud," Jane says, smiling when T.J.'s eyes light up a little bit. Tommy Jr. looks up to his older cousin immensely.
"Cool," he says, shoving his phone into his back pocket and heading down the hall. Jane watches him go, and then turns on her brother and his wife, pressing her finger to Tommy's chest hard.
"What the hell are you doing?" She asks ferociously.
Tommy looks flabbergasted. "Hey, Ow," he knocks her hand away and rubs at his chest. "What is that for? What are you talking about?"
"You two!" she hisses, putting out a hand to stop Lydia from sidling by her. "You two have got to stop fighting in front of your son."
"Our…" Lydia begins, like she maybe forgot she had a son in the first place.
Jane barely manages to keep from slapping her across the face. "Yes, your son?" She says, still trying to keep her voice low. She glares at her youngest brother. "Your namesake? You remember him, don't you? Little, blank faced boy I just shoved down the hall?"
"Aw, Jane," Tommy rubs the back of his neck. "He's alright. He knows I don't mean anything by it."
Jane's eye brows shoot up high enough that they look like they might disappear into her hair line. "Oh yeah? You knew Pop never meant anything by it?"
Tommy's face goes dark, "I would never put a hand on my family."
Lydia colors immediately. "We won't be your family much longer if you keep speaking to me like I'm some kind of animal" Lydia says, firing up immediately.
"You didn't seem to mind it at all last night!" Tommy shoots back.
"Oh, my God, gross. That is enough! That is enough," Jane says, and her voice is furious enough to make both of them fall silent and look at her. "If you two cannot be civil, then you're not welcome at Sunday dinner. Jesus! Can't you two pull yourselves together for three hours?"
Lydia's bright blue eyes fill up with tears. "I knew you'd take your brother's side!" She cries, and with that she turns and runs back down the stairs.
"Lydia!" Tommy calls after her. "Lydia, come on. Don't be a drama queen."
Jane rolls her eyes. "Oh yeah," she says. "That will bring her back."
Tommy turns back to her, looking confused and upset. Jane sighs. "Get in here you dipshit. You can tell me all about it after dinner."
She puts her hand on his shoulder and guides him in. "You alright?" What she really is asking is if he's had a drink.
He nods. "Yeah," he says, and his mouth twitches in an attempt at a smile.
"What's for dinner?"
"Maura and Ma made Linguini and Vodka sauce. Constance brought a pineapple upside down cake," she pauses, taking a breath. "T, you know that T.J. is welcome here any time, right? If you and Lydia need to take some time and work things out…he's like a son to us, okay? Just…anytime, okay?"
As if she's heard her name, Maura appears at the end of the hallway, pasta spoon in her hand. "Dinner, darling," she calls quietly. "Hello, Tommy."
Tommy musters a little more of a smile for the doctor. "Hey, Maur." He makes to follow after Jane towards the dining room, where the big family is starting to convene around the table.
"Thank Jane," he says quietly. "For…everything."
She looks over her shoulder at him, and for a moment her face is soft and understanding, saying 'you're welcome," but then she rolls her eyes, and huffs.
"Yeah, yeah, come on. Ma will have someone else to pick at, anyway."
Tommy chuckles, and follows his sister down the hallway.
They get in bed quickly, as though if they don't hurry, a case will come up or a child will need them. Angela will insist that everyone have one more cup of coffee, or Noah and T.J. will insist they need to watch one more episode of Dragon Ball Z.
"I love our family," Jane says, slipping between the sheets with a sigh, "But that is the least restful start to a week that anyone could ever conceive of.
Maura chuckles, sliding down next to her wife in bed. She wraps an arm around the detective's waist, tucking herself into her side. "It is a little draining isn't it?" she asks, her eyes already starting to drop shut. "Maybe we should think about moving it."
Jane chuckles, and the vibration makes Maura sigh and snuggle closer. "We already force the kids in by three on Thursday. I don't think we could convince them to trade for Friday or Saturday. Not now that they are all," Jane pulls a face, "in love."
Maura smiles. "Did you see how Levi was so fidgety at dinner? Do you think that's a girl?"
Jane's hand comes up to thread through Maura's hair. "Yeah. The way he was attached to his phone the rest of the evening?" She sighs, and then laughs again. "At least your mother straightened him out."
Maura grins, remembering the way Constance had laid into her grandson about etiquette, her voice shot through with a cutting sense of disappointment that only seemed to get sharper with age.
The smile slips off Maura's face a little. "How did she look to you? My mother?"
Jane blinks at the ceiling. "She looked okay," she says after a moment. "Tan. Where'd she come from? Somwhere in Central America, right?"
Maura sighs. "She looked old to me," she says quietly, and she feels Jane hesitate.
"Well," she begins, and Maura sits up on her elbow to shoot a look at the detective.
"Don't you dare."
"They both are, Maur," Jane says defensive. "They are both getting older."
Maura flops back down beside her wife. "My mother has a good ten years on your mother, what is she? Sixty eight?"
"Sixty Six," Jane murmers, "and she has seven years on her, Maura. That's not so old."
"It's old to be traveling as much as she does, and alone like that."
"She travels much less than she used to since she moved here. She has yet to miss one of her grandson's musicals. Something I often wish I could do."
Maura smiles, despite herself, circling back around to the conversation they'd been having before her tangent. "Thank God he hasn't discovered girls yet," She says, "Noah I mean," she continues when Jane looks a little confused.
"Well, I'm not sure girls are going to be his cup of tea," Jane says, grinning.
"Oh, Jane," Maura says, "Don't pigeonhole the boy just because he's in the drama club."
Jane sucks her teeth. "He's not just in the drama club, Maura. He is the junior president of the drama club. I preformed "You Can't get A Man With a Gun" for the Spring talent Show."
"It was cute! He had a gun!"
"He roped a cardboard cutout of that New Direction boy with the spikey hair."
"He got a standing ovation."
"Yes," Jane says "Our children are lucky enough to go to a hippy school where everyone is accepted for who they are."
Maura sighs, tipping her head to kiss Jane's chin. "Well, boys or girls. I don't think that I could handle one more hormone driven child under our roof."
Jane is silent for a moment, thinking. "Hey," she says, "have we heard from Lukas recently?"
The question catches Maura off guard, not because it is out of the blue, but because she realizes that the answer is no.
The little boy that she and Jane rescued in a mall almost fifteen years ago, is now a handsome young man, a freshman in college, and a dedicated correspondent of the detective's.
"No," she says slowly. "When was the last letter you got? They come to the precinct usually, don't they?"
Jane nods, "Yeah, but the Christmas card from the Brody's comes to the house…I don't know." She stills, trying to remember. "I guess it was about a month ago. Not so out of character now," she grins, "Now that he's a college man."
Maura sighs, "can you believe that Levi will be there in just two more years?"
Jane seems to consider for a moment, but when their eyes meet, she growls, rolling so that she is facing the doctor. "What about a hormone driven wife, Maura?" She says, her voice deep and rough. "Can you handle that?"
Maura flushes as Jane bites at her neck, starting to laugh as long fingers start to tease her ribcage. Sunday nights, after the dishes are done, and the kids are in bed, usually finds the brunette slipping her wife out of her pajamas
"I never could handle you, detective," she giggles, as Jane sucks her earlobe into her mouth.
"Damn straight," Jane growls, "Get the light."
Mackenzie Brown is shorter than Isabelle, with long brown hair and bright green eyes. She stops to shake Jane's hand as the detective counts the number of children coming in the front door.
"Thank you for having me for dinner, Detective Rizzoli," she says quietly, and Jane thinks she must be an only child, or else she would not survive with such a soft voice.
"Uh…Jane," she says, surprised at the handshake, and distracted by her count. "Just call me Jane. Okay, we're one up like we're supposed to be, but this is the wrong combination of children…T.J., does your mother know you are here?"
"I texted her from the bus," T.J.'s backback seems to be answering her as the boys run up the stairs to Noah's room.
"You texted her from the bus," Jane mutters, "great…Where is Levi?"
Sofia, heading up the stairs as well, half turns to her. "He said he was staying late for a project," she says with half a grin, "I am under no circumstances to tell you that he got detention for cutting gym."
Jane points at her daughter as she turns away.
"Tattletale!" she cries. "Telling on your sneaky older brother like that! I am going to tell him it was you who ratted him out, missy."
Sofia shrugs. "You're a detective, mama," she responds sweetly. "You would have figured it out."
Maura comes out of her study at that moment, pulling her hair up into a messy bun. "I was worried that our house had been uprooted and replaced in the middle of a stampeding herd of elephants," she says exasperated.
Jane grins. "No, darling, just our children," she raises her voice. "Children! Say hello to Mommy."
The call of "hi mom!," "Hi Mommy!" "Hi Auntie Maura," can be heard from the upstairs of the house.
Jane sees Mackenzie swallow hard before stepping up to the doctor.
"Hello, Dr. Isles," she says quietly, "Thank you very much for having me over to dinner."
Maura looks just as surprised as Jane must have, and she flashes her wife a questioning look before taking the girl's hand. "It's nice to meet you too, sweetheart. You're very welcome here, of course."
"Yeah, if you keep your tongue out of my daughter's mouth," Jane says, laughing as Isabelle and Maura both turn twin looks of horror on her.
"mom!" Isabelle's face is also bright red. "C'mon! Gross."
But Mackenzie laughs, a small sort of jingling sound that makes Jane raise her eyebrows. "Yes, ma'am." She says to Jane. "But may I hold her hand? She has the most wonderful hands."
There is something innocent and earnest about this little girl. Jane grins at her. "Sure you can," she says.
Isabelle looks torn between death by embarrassment and death by delight.
"Are you girls going to do your homework down here, or upstairs?" Maura asks, shooting Jane a look. "I don't know if Isabelle told you but it's-"
"Homework before dinner," Mackenzie says it softly enough that she doesn't sound like she's interrupting. "Let's do it down here, Belle."
Maura comes to stand next to Jane, watching while the two girls set up in the living room.
"They're cute together," Maura says quietly.
"She's a little odd, isn't she?" Jane whispers back.
Maura shrugs, "I was a little weird. You still fell for me."
Jane nods, looking thoughtful, "well, I like them over here, anyway. Too many sibling cockblocks for anything to hot and heavy to go down."
Maura frowns, looking puzzled.
"It means-" Jane begins, but Maura waves her away.
"I know what it means, Jane," she says grumpily, "that bit of crude slang I am familiar with. I just don't see how it applies to our daughter and her female love interest as they don't have any-"
"Female love interest? Really Maura?" The buzzing of Jane's phone starts to sound from the brunette's pocket and she pulls it out. "What are they, apes?"
Maura doesn't have a chance to respond, because her phone is buzzing too.
"God," Jane says, putting the phone to her ear, "Does anyone ever call us but dead people? Rizzoli."
"Yes, Maura says, We'll be there in twenty minutes."
"Thirty," Jane says into her phone. "It's rush hour."
They close their phones and Jane steps to the bottom of the stairs, calling up. "Babies! Your mothers are going!" She pulls forty dollars out of her pocket, "The first person to take this money from me, gets to decide what you order!"
There is the thundering of feet in the upstairs hallway, but Isabelle has come from the living room and snatched the money before Noah even makes it to the first landing.
"No…fair…" he puffs. "Bella was here already."
"What do you want, Kenz?" Isabelle asks. Maura notices that when she's speaking to Mackenzie, her voice goes soft and quiet, just like hers.
"Burgers," Mackenzie says at once.
From the closet where she's unlocking her gun, Jane laughs. "Like's your hands, enjoys a good burger" she appears around the corner with her belt on and Mackenzie's eyes go wide at the gun affixed to her side. Jane doesn't notice, she's already gesturing to Maura.
"I'd hang onto this one, Kenz," she says.
Maura turns to their children. "Lock the door behind us," she says, and because Jane won't, "Girls, look after your brother. Homework needs to be done when we return,"
"And you never know when that might be," Jane cuts in. "So I suggest you do it before the TV comes on."
"Tell your brother he can expect to speak to us when we get home." Maura says.
The children look back at their parents, all nods.
"We love you, babies."
"Aye, Mamas!" Noah says, already turning back upstairs.
"Adios madres," Sofia calls from the landing.
Isabelle blows a kiss.
"Be good!" Jane adds, and she ushers Maura out the door, into the evening light, and the hard October wind.
Remember this story? Remember these people? lol. Hope it meets the expectations. you all have to PROMISE to let me know if we get too Seventh Heaven up in here. I love family drama as much as the next person, but this is Jane and Maura we're talking about, and I don't want to forget about their jobs while I juggle their homelives.
3 to all of you who requested this story. here and on tumblr. It means more to me than you know, and I will try not to disappoint.