"We should have planned it out better." Jane leans against the empty morgue table across from Maura and watches her prepare for the autopsy. She still looks angry. "It's about to get really dicey. We should have planned for this."
Maura chuckles, reaching for her goggles, "To be clear," she says, "You're speaking about our children all entering puberty at approximately the same time?" Jane nods and Maura looks back down at the body on her table. "We don't know it's about to get dicey, Jane, and honestly...we couldn't have planned for that. The girls are twins...how could we have separated their aging?"
Jane shrugs her shoulders, jumping to sit on the table. "You're the doctor," she grumbles. "You could have figured out how to have one of them…I don't know...cryogenically frozen."
She throws her hands up defensively as Maura looks up at her sharply. "Kidding," she says hastily. "I love our girls...all our children to death." She pauses, watching Maura bend back over her table of instruments. "And that's what I'm going to be soon if they don't all hurry up and turn twenty," she mutters, her voice still loud enough for Maura to hear, "dead as a doornail."
"Jane," she says distractedly. "Please don't joke about your demise," She holds up her hand without looking up, to forestall her wife's retort, "Annnd, the frontal lobe, which is the part of the brain that is mostly responsible for decision making and impulse control, does not fully finish developing until twenty six. Twenty nine in males. It's foolish to think that our children will become automatically mature upon their twentieth birthdays."
Jane stifles a moan. "Twenty nine?" She whines. "I'll be sixty."
"Sixty four," Maura says, and she looks up to see Jane contemplating this with gloomy resignation. She sighs, replacing her scalpel and stepping around the table. She comes up to Jane and takes the detective's hand in her own, bringing it to her lips. "What are we really talking about? Are you still upset, over what Levi said?" She asks quietly, and Jane huffs, but doesn't answer.
"Ah," Maura smiles fondly. "Shall I guess?"
The corner of Jane's mouth twitches but she stays silent.
"Okay, Detective," Maura says, smiling. "But only for you…and I'm going to call it," she pauses, watching Jane fight with herself, "theorizing," she finishes.
"It didn't hurt you Maura?" Jane bursts out. "You can look me in the eyes and say it honestly didn't hurt you to hear him say that?" Jane looks down at her hands, "What is going on with him?" She turns her dark eyes on her wife, looking for the answer in her face. "And don't say that he's just a teenager, Maur, it's something more than that. You don't just…say something like that. You just don't."
The doctor sighs. Jane and Levi have always been very close. Both women try to make a point to spend one on one time with each of their children, and Levi always seemed to look forward to his day with Jane the most. They'd go to baseball parks, movies, and once, they took a road trip to see a rodeo. It was all Levi had talked about for weeks. But lately, Levi has become withdrawn, and Maura cannot deny that their oldest child has been acting very unlike himself for the past two weeks.
But Jane is talking about what happened last night, and Maura sighs again, remembering.
She'd been home alone, getting dinner ready. The twins were in the living room doing homework, and Noah was in the kitchen, trying to con the doctor into helping him complete his math assignment.
Levi was in the basement with two of his friends from school. They'd opted out of dinner in favor of ordering a pizza, and when it arrives, Maura brought it down the stairs to the basement, handing it over with as much of as smile as she could muster. Maura and Jane had both noticed that Levi's friends had changed over the summer. They saw less and less of old friends, like Finn and Jeremy, and more of these new boys, taller, broader in the shoulders, with a lingering smell of marijuana and beer.
Neither the detective or the Doctor care much for these new boys, but they say nothing. Well, Maura says nothing, and she urges Jane to do the same. It's a phase. It will pass. Our son is a good boy, and he's going to be a good man.
"Here you go boys," She'd said cheerfully, ignoring the show on TV that featured women in bikinis jumping on a trampoline, "Enjoy."
"God damn, Lee, your mother is so, fucking hot." It wasn't meant for Maura to hear, but the boy had not judged the time it took her to get out of earshot correctly.
Maura had rolled her eyes, reminding herself that teenage boys did little else but think about female anatomy.
"Yeah, man," another one of his friends had said. "I would hit that so hard!"
"You better watch out though," the first one again, laughing now, "Lee's other mommy will beat yo ass, you touch that. For real."
Laughter then, and what kept Maura standing like a statue on the stairs, was that she could distinctly make out her son's laugh, ringing out among his friends.
"Yeah?" the second one of his friends, recovering enough to speak. "Yeah? The detective's hot, but she's kinda butch right, Lee?"
And Levi's voice, comfortable and at ease, "Yeah…the bull dyke-iest."
She hadn't wanted to tell Jane. God, she'd wanted to forget it, and never bring it up again, but Jane knows her better than she really knows herself, and keeping it from her wife had been futile.
Now Jane jumps down from the exam table with a sigh, and Maura catches her around the waist before she can get out of range.
"Yes, darling, of course it hurt me. Okay?" She pushes a little against Jane so that they are face to face. The brunette looks miserable. "Of course it hurt. But we have to talk to him, sweetheart. We can't just…" she spreads her hands out, and Jane fills in for her,
"Write him off as a homophobic little prick?"
She only looks a little bit apologetic. She also looks a lot hurt. Maura reaches out for her again, and it speaks volumes about her distress that Jane steps into her arms and lays her head down on the doctor's shoulder.
"I'm not a bull dyke."
Maura kisses Jane's forehead, "certainly you are not."
"He's our boy, Maura…he's ours," She says it so softly that Maura can almost hear the parts she doesn't say.
"It's a phase," she says quietly. "He's our son, and he's a good kid."
It is at that moment that Jane's phone buzzes. She pulls away from Maura to answer it, putting the phone against her ear with a gruff, "Detective Rizzoli."
Maura watches her face get darker and darker as she listens to the caller. "Thank you," she says brusquely, "no…we'll be sure to address it when we see him tonight. Thank you," She hangs up the phone, and for a moment, she just looks at it, almost like she is in a trance.
"Jane?" Maura prompts.
The detective sighs heavily. "That was the high school," she says, "Levi skipped last period P.E."
The confrontation does not begin well. Maura hadn't thought it would. Levi is immediately clandestine and snappish. He is also unremorseful.
"I had stuff I had to do," he says quietly, not meeting either of his mothers' eyes.
"Stuff like what?" Jane asks, looking a little taken aback.
Jane looks at Maura, eyebrows raised like, what the hell?
"Lee," Maura says gently, "you know that's not going to cut it with us. You skipped a class. You know that's a big deal."
"It's just fucking P.E.," is the retort, and it catches both women off guard.
Jane, unfortunately, is the first to recover. "Watch your mouth," she growls.
"Why?" Levi had shot back. "You don't."
"Levi," Maura cuts in, putting a restraining hand on her wife's wrist. "You are not permitted to skip classes. Not unless it's a family emergency or something really dire."
"How do you know this wasn't dire?"
"We don't know anything, sweetheart," Maura counters. "Which is why we," she squeezes Jane's hand in warning, "are asking you to tell us."
"How about a little trust," Levi responds bitterly. "Isn't that what you're both always saying is important?"
But that is enough for Jane. She'd tugs her hand out of Maura's to pull it through her tangled hair. "Jesus," she says. "I'm having Deja Vu! Why does every child in this family think they are entitled to some kind of blind faith from their parents?"
"Jane," Maura can see her wife and her son getting angrier and angrier, and yet can't seem to find the switch that will diffuse this fight before it gets out of hand.
"No," Jane says, "Lee, we told this to Sofia, and we're saying this to you...and we'll tell this to any of our children until we're blue in the face. You have to talk to us if you want us to understand. And even if you think your reason is valid, it's gonna have to be a pretty damn good one for you to skip a class."
Levi lowers his chin, unaware that this action is about to directly contradict his words. "I'm not Sofia. And I'm not you!"
Maura bites her lip. She can feel her control of the situation slipping. "You're our son," she begins, but Levi turns away from them, his hair falling through his face.
"NOT JUST!" he shouts, "AND SOMETIMES I WISH I WEREN'T!"
"YEAH GREAT," Jane yells back, her temper boiling over. "FINE. IF YOU WEREN'T I GUESS THAT'S ONE LESS PERSON YOU HAVE TO CALL A DYKE THEN, HUH."
Even if the other children have been banished to their room for this talk, Maura knows they've all at least heard this last exchange. She exhales deeply, putting her hands out.
"Okay…let's just try to calm-"
But Levi has turned around and is looking at both of them, and he seems angry rather than upset or apologetic.
Jane scoffs, but doesn't answer, so Maura answers for her. "I heard what you said to your friends last night Lee," she says quietly. "I heard what you called your mother."
Levi looks down at his feet, and his hair masks his eyes, so neither woman can see his face. "You weren't supposed to hear that," he says finally.
Jane guffaws again, and this time, finds her voice. "So…if you call us dykes and we don't hear it, it's perfectly okay?"
Levi doesn't answer, and Jane stares at him like she's never seen him before.
Maura moves towards him cautiously. "Levi," she says softly, "What is going on? You've stopped hanging out with people you've known…forever. These new boys have you saying…horrible things. They reek of pot…what is happening, sweetheart? You know you can tell us anything."
She reaches out for him, but he pulls away roughly. "Jeremy is gay!" he bursts out.
Jane blinks at him, confused. "Okay…" she begins, "and so you stopped hanging out with him because-"
"I'm tired of everyone in my life just…assuming that I'm the one they can come to with their problems. That I'm the guy that's going to understand, because I grew up with you two." He says it like it's a curse. There is no mistaking his tone.
Jane flinches almost imperceptibly.
Levi doesn't notice. "It's like, maybe I don't want to listen to my best friend come out. Maybe I don't want to have girls tell me I'm so sensitive because I really understand everyone's rights. Maybe I want to run with the guys who smoke pot after school. I'm not saying I do that stuff," he adds quickly, because Jane has opened her mouth to protest, "But maybe it's nice for a change to, just be normal."
It is a silence so complete, that Maura knows without looking that all three of her other children are holding themselves like statues on the stairs, listening to every word that is being said.
She sighs, reaching out to put her hand on Jane's arm. "Okay," she says quietly, but Jane speaks over her, her voice full of wounded sarcasm.
"Well, I'm sorry that this is the family you are stuck with, Levi. I'm sorry that we love you and want to take care of you and be there for you. I'm sorry that we can't be normal for you."
"Yeah!" Levi says, "I'm sorry too."
To anyone else, Jane would look speechless with rage. To Maura, she looks more frightened than she has in a long long time. To Maura, she looks like all of her nightmares are suddenly coming to fruition.
"You…chose…us," she says haltingly, opening herself up to her son like she's peeling back a shell. "You…chose to-"
"I WAS SEVEN," Levi screams. Jane goes pale. "I was seven and you saved me from a burning building like…like a superhero. I'm just supposed to turn that down? I'm just supposed to say no, I'd rather have a normal family, and not a…not my god damned savior? I'm supposed to hurt your feelings by saying no?"
Jane's chest is rising and falling rapidly now. Maura steps in front of her, facing Levi.
"That's enough," she says slowly. "Levi, that's enough."
"No!" He cries, still craning his neck to look over Maura at Jane. "No! Of course not. I say thank you for saving me and my brother. Of course we'll live with you. Go ahead, wipe out any sort of memory we have of our mother and father. We don't care. We don't care at all!"
"That is ENOUGH!" Maura roars, and Levi falls silent, looking pained, and in the split second before anyone can say anything else, a little, blonde haired blur comes hurtling around the corner and throws itself at Levi.
It takes Jane nearly a full minute to pry Noah off of his older brother. Even when she lifts him up, into the air, he's still screaming and swiping, his face read and tear stained.
"You shut up about Ma!" he's crying. "You shut up about anything else too. You just shut up. You're not my brother if you're going to talk about 'em like that. You…you're not my brother."
"Hey, hey, bud, stop. Stop it, now." As cold and furious as Jane sounded ten minutes ago, that's as gentle as she sounds now. Noah turns and buries his head in his mother's chest, still heaving with tears.
"I don't care about them. I don't! I don't Ma. Don't listen to Levi."
"Noah," Levi says, still rubbing his jaw where his younger brother has smacked him. "No, I didn't-"
But Maura cuts him off, pointing towards the garage door. "Get in the car," she says coldly, and there is a tone to her voice that makes Levi look around at her.
"Go to the garage and get in the SUV. I will join you in a moment," Maura says, and when it looks like her son might argue, "Levi Michael, you go out into the garage and you get into the car. I will be out in exactly four minutes and if I do not find you waiting patiently in the passenger seat then you can kiss every privilege you've ever known good-bye, GIRLS!"
There is a beat of silence and then, from the hall, Sofia's voice, timid, "Yes, Mommy?"
"Go upstairs and do your homework."
There is a scuffling on stairs, and Levi looks for a moment at Maura before turning and slouching out the door.
Maura looks at Jane, who is sitting with Noah on the couch, rubbing his back in slow easy circles. She moves over to kneel in front of her son.
"Noah, sweetheart, I am taking your brother to see a place that is very important to his history, and to yours. I think it's really important that he go with me tonight, and I'm inviting you too, if you want to come."
Noah hesitates, and Jane squeezes his shoulder gently. "Hey," she says softly, "Going with Mom tonight? Having questions about your other parents? None of that is a bad thing. It's all normal and natural and it doesn't mean we love you any less. Mommy's not mad at Levi for saying he misses your mother and father, and I'm not mad at him for that either."
This is one of the things that Maura loves about her wife, and about their relationship: The fact that they are able to come down on the same side, at the same place, without having to discuss it.
Noah looks up at Jane, and then back at Maura, wiping his eyes.
"Maybe some other time," he says quietly, leaning into Jane's side.
Maura nods, and stands up. "I won't be long," she says and Jane nods.
"I love you."
Maura smiles, a little sadly. "Double it."
The drive to the house is almost completely silent. Levi sits slumped in his seat, looking gloomily out the window, but when they turn down the familiar street and stop outside the house, he sits up and looks out the window for a long time, before turning to Maura.
"What are we doing here?"
Maura pauses for a moment, looking out at the house too. "I thought it would be good for you to see how the woman you just accused of wiping out your history, is actually preserving it."
She shuts off the engine and gets out of the car. Levi scrambles after her.
"Wait," he says, sounding nervous, "I don't want to, like, intrude on whoever lives there now."
Maura shakes her head, heading up the front walk. "No one lives here, Levi."
"There's lights on," he says, watching with wide eyes as she pulls a key ring from her purse.
"They're on timers," She says coolly. "No one has lived in this house since you and your family."
"How…" Levi seems lost for words, and he lingers on the bottom step while Maura unlocks the door. "How do you…"
She turns to look at him. "How do I know? I know because your mother owns this house, Lee. And she refuses to rent it out."
Everything is the same, from the family portrait hanging over the mantle to the beige sofa by the fireplace. Maura watches as her son enters his childhood bedroom, where the bunk beds are neatly made. The family that lives in this house could just be out at the movies, or down the street at a block party.
"It's not even dusty," Levi says, more to himself than to anyone.
Maura nods, looking around, "The maid comes once a week."
Levi turns to look at her. "You're kidding."
Maura raises an eyebrow. "I am not. I see nothing funny about a woman so terrified that her sons will needs answers that she can't give them, that she purchases a house and keeps it in museum ready condition, should they ever need to see it."
"I see nothing funny about a child so selfishly wrapped up in his own drama that he refuses the help of the one person in the world who would do anything for him."
But Maura shakes her head and steps forward, right up to her son. He is several inches taller than she is now, but he still cowers slightly under her glare.
"It may mean nothing to you, Levi, that she has done this, and since you were not aware of it, I am going to call it inadvertent, that you played upon her biggest fears tonight, but let me make sure you get one thing straight before you set foot back our doorway. You will not disrespect your mother so egregiously ever again. You will not assume you know one thing about her motives, and you will not undermine her love for you, for your brother or for your sisters, do you understand?"
Levi nods, "Yes Ma'am."
Maura steps back, looking around the house. "Good," she says, softer. "Now, I will be in the car. This is your home. It is where you spent the first seven years of your life, and since you seem to be so desperately looking for something…I will let you look for a while in here. You come out when you're ready." She heads towards the door, stopping to leave the key on the table in the front hall.
"Mom?" Levi comes into the hall after her, and Maura stops, but does not turn around. "I didn't know this was here. I didn't…I didn't know she'd done this."
Maura nods enough so that her son can see. "You never asked, Lee," she says quietly. "I'll be in the car."
They drive home almost an hour later, and although the ride is just as silent, Levi puts his hand on his mother's knee, the beginnings of an apology, and she puts her free hand on top of his, the beginnings of forgiveness.
They pull into the drive to see Jane coming down the stairs, her long trench coat billowing out behind her, revealing her kitbelt underneath.
Maura throws the car into park and jumps out, Levi behind her.
"My phone didn't buzz!" she calls, and Jane turns.
"No…Yeah…Frost called," she says glancing at Levi, who hangs back, unsure. "He says some kid just turned up at the station with my business card, refuses to talk to anyone else…" she glances at Levi again. "Go okay?"
Maura nods, and leans forward to kiss her wife. "You okay? You want me to come with you?"
Jane shakes her head, "Nah, I can't imagine I'll be long. Noah is sacked on the couch, Sofia is in the basement working on her project, and Isabelle is supposed to be at the kitchen table finishing her homework…though…you may want to take the cell phone. She's already had two warnings.
Maura nods, "Come back to me," she says, though the situation hardly calls for it. She says it more out of routine than anything else.
"Haven't you heard?" Jane says with a grin. "You're the hottest MILF on the block."
Maura laughs at Jane's wiggling eyebrows. "Oh, Jane…I don't know what that means."
"Google it, Googlemouth!" the detective calls, heading for her cruiser. "The kid filter will catch anything you don't want to see."
"Oh, Lord," Maura rolls her eyes. "Be safe, Jane."
And Jane blows her a kiss before jumping into her car and speeding off towards the precinct.