A/N: wow, remember that I was writing this thing? so sorry for the wait! I want to thank feltknickers for being a stellar beta for the flashback in this chapter (because writing in past tense is NOT a strength of mine.) Homage to Dexter here. Also, the * that you will see after some sentences is for dialogue from the actual Rizzoli & Isles books by Tess Gerritsen. (The Silent Girl and The Mephisto Club) I own nothing. I am paid nothing. This is all for fun. Those little excerpts just fit in perfectly. A little bit of reference to Hannibal (tv and movie) And of course, your thoughts and feedback are always appreciated. Thank you for reading!
Please note: Trigger warnings for violence and sexual assault.
I crane and crack my neck. I don't know when I stopped reading, only that I have been staring blankly at the case file pages. I lost track of time hours ago. My mind wanders .
I miss Jane's touch.
The doorbell ringing brings me out of my thoughts. Rising, I make my way to the door and my hand stills at the knob. A surge of adrenaline pumps through my body when I recognize the face greeting me at the window.
His eyes widen and looks at the door, "Are you going to leave me out in the cold?"
I blink sharply and open the door. A small smile graces his lips and he takes a step forward. He leans in closely and I press my hands to his chest, "Ian, no."
His smile quickly fades and he steps back, "Do you have someone here?"
I shake my head and I cross my arms, hugging myself tightly.
"What do you need?"
He shrugs and adjusts the bag on his shoulder, "I can't stop by and say hi to an old friend?"
"You never stop by anywhere, Ian. There is always a reason." I step aside from the doorway to allow him in, "And I was under the impression we stopped being friends ten years ago."
He steps inside and I close the door behind him. He glances around the living room, "Hm. I suppose that's true,"
"So why are you here?"
"I'd prefer that."
"I'm only in the states for a few days. I need supplies to take with me." He says, his hands disappearing into his pockets, "And I didn't have a place to stay."
"So you looked me up?"
"You were a last resort." He drops his bag to the ground and I narrow my eyes. He shrugs, "You wanted honesty."
I take in a deep breath, "So I did."
The silence between us in heavy.
"How long are you here for?" I finally ask.
"Where are you going after?"
The muscles in his jaw tense and his eyes become downcast, "I'm going back to Ethiopia."
"Oh." A wave crashes over me and leaves me numb.
"It will only be two days. I have a list of what I will need. Can you get it?"
I shake my head and watch him remove a crumbled piece of paper from his pocket, "Ian, I don't kno-"
"You owe me at least this, Maura." He says firmly. I look up from the paper he is holding out in front of me. His face has hardened. Years of a desolate life have carved itself into lines around his eyes and crease his brow.
I take the paper and give a curt nod, "The guest room is this way." I say leading him through the living room and down the hall.
I shake my head as I push the guest room door open, "Please, don't thank me."
Ian purses his lips and nods before walking in the room and closing the the door behind him.
I stand in the hallway for a moment and the ringing of my phone is distant and drawn out. It occurs to me that Ian's arrival turns up parts of my past that I had long thought to be buried.
I reach out and trail my fingers along the grain of the door as I walk away.
"You didn't have to tell me about Ian." Jane shrugs. "It's none of my business."
"I'm not not telling you about him. He just stopped by this morning." I say turning my attention back to dead man on my autopsy table.
"I heard he stopped by last night."
I nearly scoff.
"He.. he lives in Africa, or was living there. It's complicated."
Jane narrows her eyes, "Complicated how?"
My phone vibrates and it is a text from Ian.
'30 1oz vials of liquid iodine'
"Talk to me, please." Jane says making her way around the autopsy table. She takes the phone from my hand.
I sigh, "I haven't seen Ian in almost ten years. Not since we worked together in Africa."
Jane glances down at my phone.
"He is only in the country for a few days. He needed a place to stay."
"And iodine, apparently." Jane says curtly handing me back my phone.
"It's nothing. He is taking back some supplies with him."
Jane licks her lips and shifts her weight back and forth on her feet, "Was it ever... something?"
I tilt my head and smile, "You're jealous."
Jane opens her mouth to speak and then quickly closes it. She shakes her head, "I am not."
I take a step closer to her and run my hand down her bicep, squeezing gently, "Ian and I.. we have a past, but not how you think. It is.." I lick my lips and attempt to push away dark memories, ".. sorted. Complicated. Ethiopia was a lifetime ago. I was in a very different place in my life then."
I had been sorting through a box of medical supplies in my quarters when I heard crying from a nearby tent in the camp. They carried the howls of pain. They were distinct.
Different. I knew the sound. It was infliction. It was intentional pain.
The refugee camp was small and I moved between the tents trying to pinpoint the location. Pangs of both pain and hunger were not uncommon and often carried through the air. I became accustomed to differentiating the sounds, but this one in particular was desperate.
It was coming from the medical supply tent. The sounds became muffled as I came closer. I stilled at the tent's entrance and my hands twitched in anticipation at the heavy canvas flap. I pushed it forward slowly. The interior was lit by a small hand crank lantern. My eyes darted around the interior and began to adjust. I could see a figure between boxes. A dark head moved back and forth.
I stepped into the tent quietly and maintained a wide berth around the supplies as to stay to the back of whoever was inside. I edged into the darkness where the lantern's light did not reach as the figure came into full view. It was a soldier. His hand raised and the sharp sound of flesh being met with force filled the air. He writhed and cursed in Somali under his breath.
My body tensed. I became coiled. I could see a body beneath his. The legs were bent on either side of him. Feet dug into his bare calves trying desperately for traction, anything to escape.
A woman's cry filled the room.
I snarled. My teeth ground against each other. He was raping her.
I looked around the room frantically for something to defend her with. My eyes finally settle on a box behind the soldier; atop it were his gun and belt.
I moved quietly behind him and grabbed the leather belt. Looping it through the buckle I dropped it around his neck and pulled. The soldier floundered. The momentum sent him to his back and I stepped down on his chest. My hand wrapped around the belts strap once and I pulled it tightly. He struggled to get up and I shifted my weight. My foot pressed further into his sternum. His eyes were wide and in the dark I could see the whites of them. My hand twisted around the strap again and I adjusted, sending my knee hard into his chest. The buckle dug into his skin. I could hear the distinct pop of cartilage. He clawed at his throat.
"You." I snarled and spoke to him in Somali, "You're the one that has been raping the women in this camp. Four so far counting this girl."
I looked over my shoulder towards the woman behind me. She had her arms wrapped tightly around herself. Her shirt was torn and her right eye was swollen and partially closed. Her cheekbone appeared fractured. Blood trickled from her brow.
"Can you walk?"
She nodded. The fear in her eyes morphed into a silent gratitude.
"Go. Find the other doctor. He will help you." I said softly and craned my neck toward the front of the tent. She hurried to her feet and disappeared into the darkness.
He struggled and my attention refocused below me. I pushed my knee further into his chest and noticed a half-eaten loaf of bread beside him. I picked it up and tapped it against his forehead, "It must be easy for you, hm? Offering hungry women food."
I was choking him. His movements began to slow. He gasped and absently searched for oxygen. He would black out in seconds.
I smiled when his eyes rolled back in his head.
I removed the belt and dragged his body to a nearby support pole in the center of the tent. Propping him up against it I bound his arms behind him with his belt. I moved across the tent and picked up the lantern. His pants were bunched around his ankles. Light reflected back at me as I knelt beside him. I could see a silver clip peeking out from his pocket. I pulled and was rewarded.
Military grade. Cold steel. I pushed the blade open with my thumb and it clicked into place with a flick of my wrist.
Every amount of pain inflicted against another I intended to return.
Slow footsteps approached behind me and I heard a stifled gasp, "Maura."
I closed my eyes and a ghost of a breath escaped me, my grip tightening around the blades handle.
"Hold him, please." I motioned the blade to his ankles.
"What are you going to do?"
I settled back on my feet and opened my eyes, studying the soldier. Beads of sweat rolled down his brow. I pressed the blade's edge against his temple, trailing down to his cheek. His breathing was shallow. Labored. I was sure a section of his trachea was partially collapsed.
"I am going to castrate him."
"That isn't your decision to make."
Turning my head, I caught a glimpse of Ian. He was kneeling, his hands hovered over the unconscious man's legs.
"We can hand him over to the authoriti-"
"He is a Lieutenant." I cut into his words curtly and continued the blade's trail across his neck and chest and tapped it against the stars over his left breast pocket, "They will do nothing."
The soldiers eyes fluttered, opened and adjusted. They moved frantically around the tent. He opened his mouth to speak. I covered it before his lips parted.
"I can radio the police. Let me." Ian's words edged panic.
"Didn't a woman just die in our triage?" I looked over to Ian and back to the soldier. I could feel his teeth grind against my fingers, "She had a fever brought on by an infection. Another soldier found her near the edge of the camp. She had been raped and left for dead."
I looked back and Ian's hands wrapped tightly around the soldier's ankles. He let out a shaky breath and nodded. Beneath him, the soldier kicked and struggled. He gasped for air, broken and desperate against my hand. My fingers flexed around the blades handle. Being made an eunuch was too much of a consideration for this man.
I leaned forward and pressed the blade against his chest. I could feel his heart beat madly. My lips curled into a tight smile and I pushed my weight forward. His sternum cracked as the blade passed through. His scream caught in his throat. Froth of saliva and blood pushed against my hand. He strained and his eyes grew wide. I could feel his heart palpitations reverberate in the knife's handle and then still.
Ian's hands were at my shoulders, pulling me back. He struggled to his feet and brought me with him.
"You didn't say you were going to kill him!" His words were frantic. He spoke through his teeth.
I blinked. My eyes moved from the clenched fists by his side and to his face.
Stepping back and turning, I leaned over the dead soldier and pulled the knife from his chest. I wiped my hand and the blade clean on his shirt. Tucking the blade in its handle, I dropped it to the dry earth beside him.
"We'll bury him."
I don't know when Jane's fingers threaded between my own. She squeezes my hand reassuringly.
"Hey, you okay?"
I realize I have been staring at her lips.
They are the wrong shade of red.
Jane leans in and presses a sweet kiss to my cheek. Over my shoulder I can hear someone clear their throat.
"Not gonna ask." Korsak says.
Jane steps back and catches her bottom lip between her teeth, suppressing the smile of being caught, "I'll see you tonight. I want to meet this Ian."
She steps past me and the smiles are becoming more difficult to fake.
When I arrive home Ian is rummaging through boxes on the kitchen table. I set my purse and keys on the island. He has already opened a glass of wine. An untouched glass sits on the islands edge.
"Is everything there?" I ask, raising the glass and taking a sip.
Ian nods, "Seems to be."
"Good. So you'll be on your way tomorrow then?"
He joins me at the island. Taking a sip from his own glass, he studies me.
"So quick to see me leave?"
"You said you would only be here two days. Having you here is.. distracting."
I inhale sharply and push my building anger to the periphery. "I have someone coming over. She should be arriving soon."
Ian tilts his head and his eyebrows raise expectantly, "Who?"
"Jane Rizzoli. We work together."
I stay silent at the question and raise the glass to my lips and Ian straightens his back; a bolt of realization dawning upon him.
"More than a friend." He muses.
My phone vibrates and it is a text from Jane.
'Can't stay long, gotta head to the station. Be there in 5.'
"More than a friend." I echo and smile.
When Jane arrives her arm immediately circles my waist as we walk to the kitchen.
It is possessive.
"You must be Ian." She extends her hand, "I've heard so little about you."
A mirth of laughter escapes Ian as he shakes her hand.
"Probably better it stay that way." He motions to the table, "I'll be leaving tomorrow."
Jane's eyes widen for a moment and she nods, "With your own traveling pharmacy no less."
I tighten my hold around Jane's waist and she clears her throat.
"Maura has been kind enough to help with supplies that will do a great deal of good back in Africa."
Jane's phone buzzes and she pulls it from her clip on her belt.
"It's Frost. I gotta go."
"I'll walk you out." I offer. Jane smiles and gives me a quick kiss before turning her attention back to Ian.
"Nice meeting you."
"Likewise." Ian's voice remains monotone as Jane and I walk towards the front door. Opening the door, Jane stops short of walking through. She floats in the doorway, looking at me.
"I don't like him. Something feels off."
"Of course you don't." I pout and my fingers trail the collar of her shirt.
"I'm serious. It's not jealousy, Maur. It's... something else."
Tension builds inside of me. Dark eyes catch and hold my gaze.
"Who is this guy, Maura?" Her voice drops. "You've been acting weird since we talked in the morgue."
"Ian's arrival was unexpected. It hasn't brought back the most pleasant memories." I step out onto the landing, and close the door partially behind me. "Having a piece of you past show up in your living room isn't ideal."
Jane shakes her head, "Then tell him go!" Her words are harsh, but firm. Disbelief flashes across her face. "What happened over there?"
I draw in a deep breath. My distress builds and I can feel the walls I have surrounded myself with being to wane and crumble. I can't piece them back together quickly enough. Jane is sensing what I always feared she would.
Her phone vibrates and she lets out an exasperated huff of air.
"I have to go. I'll talk to you later." She presses a kiss to my lips and walks briskly to her car.
I give a curt wave as she drives and step back inside. Shutting the door my gaze lands on Ian.
"She is something." He comments over his wine glass, "How long has it been?"
"A few months." I say making my way back to the kitchen. Standing at the island, I let finger trail the lip of my glass.
"She is quite amazing actually. Pity you will never get to know her."
A light hum floats up from Ian as he takes another sip of wine.
"A lot changes in ten years. I'm not the person I was. Jane has had a huge part in that."
"In only a few months?" Ian's says flatly.
"You don't know what we've been through-"
"No, but I know what you've done. I think that is enough." Ian says flippantly.
Silence isn't golden. It hangs in the air between us. It shines like rust.
"What you saw-.."
"What I saw," Ian cuts me off. "No amount of years can change. His hands were bound, Maura. You knew what you were doing."
Anger coils inside of me like smoke. It fills every crack and crevice. Jane is right. Ian needs to leave.
Turning, I open my purse and remove a neatly folded piece of paper, one that I have kept hidden since my encounter with Doyle. I had poured over newspaper clippings, searching for my parents obituary. I had wanted to know where they were buried and had finally been able to find their death certificates after convincing Korsak to search through Doyle's case files with me. He promised he would not tell Jane until I was ready to do so myself.
They were buried in St. Joseph's cemetery in West Roxbury.
I unfold the paper and hand it to Ian.
"What is this?"
"The cemetery plots of my parents."
Ian's eyes cut to mine.
"Jane helped identify the man who killed them. I was able to locate my birth parents death certificates and where they were buried. Jane doesn't know that I have this. I haven't been able to bring myself to visit them yet."
Ian rubs the paper between his fingers.
"You don't know me, Ian. Please don't assume that you do. Perhaps this will better help you understand exactly who I am."
"And who is that?" He asks, handing me back the paper.
"Let me change, and I'll show you."
The sun has just begun to set as we pull into the cemetery. Beams of light peek and shine through bare tree branches. Winters grip has loosened its dying grip on the city. The air is crisp, but not cold. The ground is soft from the last traces of melting snow.
We walk in silence and pass newly broken ground. Hollowed earth. Ian has had one foot in a very shallow grave since he walked through my door.
We reach the plot and the headstones are simple and embedded in the ground. The lettering is tarnished.
Hope Martin and Sean Donegal.
There is a stillness that surrounds us and I feel empty.
"When I was two, my parents were murdered. I was adopted six months later. What you saw that night in the camp was an extension of this. You wouldn't understand. I wouldn't expect you to."
I feel Ian's hand on my shoulder. The touch is meant to be comforting, but it only gnaws at the tension coiling in my body.
"Without ties to our ancestors, we are lonely specks of dust, adrift and floating, attached to nothing and no one.* I was that way for a very long time. I didn't know who I was. Jane helped me find myself."
"What does Jane know?" He asks.
"All that she needs to." I say, turning. A familiar glint of silver at Ian's pocket catches my eye.
He had kept the dead soldiers knife.
I suppress my smile as I step towards Ian. I rest my hand on his bicep and trails my fingers down his arm. "Thank you for coming here with me." I say quietly. I raise and lean up, pressing a gentle kiss to his cheek.
It proves to be enough of a distraction as I pull the knife free and slip it into the pocket of my track jacket.
I settle back on my feet and walk past Ian as he clears his throat and follows.
I stop beside the grave we had passed earlier.
"Why did you leave?" I ask, turning towards Ian.
He hesitates and crosses his arms, biting at the inside of his cheek, "Because I was surrounded by death."
His eyes stay fixed with mine, "Why did you stay?"
It isn't a question I expect.
"I was saving lives-" I falter with my response
Ian scoffs and his hand clasps over his mouth in an attempt to shield his disbelief.
"Is that what you really believe? I left because I couldn't close my eyes and not see the fear in that soldiers face. You hardly blinked at it."
He takes a step towards me and his proximity is dangerous.
"The reason you work with the dead is because you are just like them. You are empty, Maura. Your eyes were-" He shakes his head, "They are hollow. Did you think if you stayed after I left- that if you bandaged and stitched enough people in that camp that you could save yourself? Did you think if you brought me out here and showed me a piece of your past that I would understand your complexities and you could justify what you did?"
"He was a rapist!" I barely coarseness that edges into my voice.
"And you're a murderer." Ian says leaning in. His voice drips with spite, "Maybe you can fool yourself into the idea of a happy ending, Maura. You sure as hell seemed to have fooled Jane. I bet she thinks she knows you, but she doesn't."
I slip the knife from my pocket and hold my hand flush against my thigh. My thumb glides along its handle to the blade. I push it open and my muscles twitch for release.
"People don't always tell you what they're thinking, Ian. They just see that you don't advance." I smile genuinely. "And since you were so kind to share you honesty, allow me to me to be perfectly frank with you. I have every intention of killing you."
Confusion flashes across his face and is replaced with shock. His eyes widen and I embed the blade in his groin quickly. Warmth coats my hand and I step back just as he stumbles forward, falling to his knees. His hands press quickly to the wound in valiant attempt to stop the bleeding. A thick surge of blood escapes from in between his fingers with each beat of his heart.
"Ever since I was a kid, I've loved watching funeral processions. They're so beautiful."* I step around him. His body slumps and his head falls forward. His breathing becomes labored and he will lose consciousness within minutes. "So dignified. It's the one thing people still do right. The one thing they haven't ruined."*
I kneel beside him and run my fingers through his hair, "I should have taken you to Bourne. Two men were buried there recently with honors; an Officer and a Sergeant. I put them there."
Ian lifts his head. Sweat that has gathered at his brow begins to roll down his face.
"At funerals, they still show respect for what's proper*, but you're a ghost, Ian." I whisper, "No one will even know you are gone."
I step back with my right foot and widen my stance. I press my hands to his shoulder and push. He leans hard to his left and is perched on the graves edge.
I can bury Ian with every lie I ever told myself.
I dig my feet into the soft ground and send my weight forward. A yelp of pain escapes me as Ian twists his hand into my hair at the base of my skull. He pulls me as he falls back and we are swallowed up.
Sharp, searing pain moves through my chest. I can feel my ribs shift and force the air from my lungs. I struggle to raise myself. I can smell iron and earth.
I can't breathe.
Ian shifts and his shoulder pushes further into my side and I cry out. Adrenaline courses through my body. I press my hand into the dirt and against Ian's chest. His breathing is erratic and I can feel his heart race. Each beat of the muscle pumps life from his severed femoral artery.
Blood seeps into the cloth of my pants. I roll over onto my side and prop myself up. I run my hands along my sides and feel for a break. There is none. It is likely dislocated.
Ian reaches weakly to his leg. I move my foot and kick his hand away. I look up. The sky is painted with wisps of purple and blue. Dirt falls into my hair and face and in the light of a dying evening Ian stills.
I clench my jaw and push myself up. White hot pain moves through my body. I brace myself against the graves wall. I notice the knife beside Ian and I step across his abdomen, straddling his body I hold my breath as I lean down to pick it up and resist the urge to cry out. I stick the knife into the graves right corner and begin to straighten out Ian's arms and legs. With less angles of his body, the easier it will be to bury him.
Once he is positioned, I step onto his chest to elevate myself. Pulling the knife free, I propel it into the wall above me and using the blade as an anchor, I step forward and press the tip of my sneaker as far as I can into the dirt in front of me. I hoist myself up. My left hand grips the edge of the grave and I can feel grass beneath my fingertips. Quickly I draw myself up and send the knife into the ground above me. The pain in my left side is nearly blinding as I pull myself free. I stifle a cry as I raise my knee and brace myself on the graves edge before rolling over to my back.
Dim stars begin to take their place in the sky and I exhume every misspent hope for a life that I can never fully give to another. I beget my own distress. I construct it.
This is my design.
Ian was right. I had fooled myself into believing that I deserve a life with Jane. I couldn't be faced the with the truth of it and it cost Ian his life.
I let out a shaky breath and hold my hand out over the grave. I drop the knife in and I roll over to my stomach, pushing myself up, I lean back slowly on my knees. Shrugging off my jacket, I stand and make my way to a small hill of dirt. My hands disappear into the soil. Stone and dirt push under my nails. I lay arm full after arm full of it into my jacket, and using the sleeves to lift, I dangle it over the open grave and begin the task of burying Ian.
A foot of soil is enough to conceal Ian's body. It will not interfere with the scheduled burial and the depth is not largely influenced. The grave has a false bottom that no one will know of.
I am thankfully the lights are off in the guest house when I arrive home. I slip into the side kitchen door and strip out of my dirtied clothes. I bag and dispose of them. I set my phone on the island. The screen is cracked and chipped. I had received a text from Jane while I was in the cemetery stating that she would be at the station late. It gives me enough time to shower, sweep the kitchen and quickly wipe down the interior of my car.
A settling of silt resides in the basin of my shower that I clean with a spraying of bleach and wash away. I trim and file my nails to rid them of underlying dirt. The pain in my side has become a persistent throbbing. I change carefully and standing in the bathrooms doorway, I reach above me, grasping the door frame and extend my body. The shift in my side is sharp and with a quick 'pop' my rib is back in place.
Downstairs I tape up and label the supply boxes left on the table. I will donate them anonymously to the camp Ian had planned to travel to. I put them in the hallway closet along with Ian's bag.
I open a new bottle of wine and Jane arrives shortly have midnight. A smile spreads across her lips and she attempts to hide her mirth when she realizes half of the bottle is gone.
She takes a glass from the cabinet and pours herself the remainder.
"Where's Ian?" Her tone remains even and she glances around the kitchen, as though she is expecting him to come around the corner.
I lick my lips, "He's gone."
Jane nods and raises the glass to her lips, taking a sip. I can't meet her eyes.
"I want to tell you about Ethiopia."
Setting down her glass, Jane presses her palms into the islands counter, "Okay."
"There was a triage that Ian and I were in charge of. We took in and cared for refugees the best that we could with what we had. I can't recall how many times we performed surgeries by flashlight."
Jane's hand moves to my lap and intertwines with mine. I exhale a shaky breath. I don't try to begin to understand where my confession has emerged from.
"July of that year there was a string of rapes. We treated all of the women, but lost one due to an infection. One night, I heard crying coming from the medical tent. I went to investigate and discovered one of the Ethiopian soldiers raping a woman."
I gather my strength and look up to Jane. I feel completely dismantled. Her eyes are wide and they beg the question.
I shake my head, "Rape me? No."
"Look, Maura, you don't have to explain anything to me. We all have a past." Jane raises her hands, presenting her scars. "You've seen the worst parts of humanity. So have I. We still do, but I feel better knowing that I have you beside me through all of it."
She cups my face, and her thumb trails across my cheek before she leans in and kisses me.
And I try to understand if this what people mean when they talk about the loves of their lives.
Something so grand that it eclipses the worst parts and allows a light to grace the parts made so dark.
That is Jane.
Tears sting my eyes and trail down my face.
"Hey, hey." Jane raises her other hand and her knuckles track in unison down each cheek. "I'm gonna stay, okay?"
No. Tell her to leave. Tell her to run.
I want to hand my heart to her. A broken thing of porcelain, chipped and worn.
I close my eyes and let my tears run.
Jane moves closer and gathers me into her arms. I gather the sides of her shirt loosely in my hands. A desperate attempt to devour her completely.
And I don't know how much time passes, only that I can taste salt as Jane hums reassurances of love in between each kiss against my temple and brow.