Summary: Two years ago Jane Rizzoli left Boston after he got under her skin. She walked away from everything and everyone but now her enemy is back, striking her deep into her heart and forcing her to come home. Can she face all that she has left behind? Not only the monster that overpowered her once before but also Maura Isles, the one person she ever allowed to see inside her soul? Is there such a thing as too much time gone by and is it really possible to undo the past? For the one thing that is certain about people is that they will always have secrets and with secrets come lies...
Pairing: Rizzles, of course.
Rating: T (for now anyway)
Disclaimer: I do not own Rizzoli & Isles. They belong to Tess Gerritsen and Janet Tamaro. Any characters you do not recognise are my own.
Author's note: Well, right before the start of season 4 and here I am; back with a new story. The plot was originally intended for a Criminal Minds story but somehow as I began to develop it, it seemed to suit Rizzoli & Isles far better. This will be a slow burner, as most of my stories tend to be, but there will be obvious Rizzles moments from the beginning.
...Lest we forget how fragile we are...
Jane Rizzoli sat at her desk in the slowly quieting down bull pen. The sound of buzzing computers, the occasional ringing phone and fingers rattling across keyboards only sporadically invaded her mind. Her dark eyes were fixed on one of the large windows. Darkness was falling over Washington and the city lights had come on fifteen minutes ago. The arms on the clock pointed at twenty past five. It was the middle of October. It would be dark before six and around her people were getting ready to call it a night. Men and women returned to their families, seeking the shelter and safety from the depravity they saw on a daily basis. They all sought a safe place to hide from the dark, she thought. The dark didn't scare Jane Rizzoli. What scared her was that she knew all too well what lurked behind the dark.
Jane watched as around her people began to disperse. They walked out together, side by side, laughing and perhaps asking whether they had plans for that evening. If somebody asked her that question the answer would almost always be the same. A date with her TV and her bed. Although most of her colleagues pretended to have something else to go home to, Jane knew most of them lied. Only a handful of the men and women she worked with were married. Most of them had been, once, but marriages weren't created to cope with what they saw on a daily basis. Partners didn't want to hear the stories about the sick human beings that shared their gyms and grocery stores. Stories of rapists and killers being caught weren't the type of fairy tales you told to a child before they went to bed.
Jane lived for her job. It was what she got out of bed for every single morning. When she strapped on her gun and her badge she felt whole and complete. She'd stare at herself in the mirror in her bathroom day after day, recognising every tiny birth mark and freckle and knowing the beginning lines around her eyes that time had started to leave behind. She wasn't getting any younger but she told herself she didn't care. Tall and slender with well-toned muscles, Jane wasn't an unattractive woman. She had no complaints when it came to attention.
Every morning she'd brush her unruly black curls before slipping into one of her neatly pressed black suits, reassured that she was doing the one thing she knew she was born to do. She never put on make-up. She didn't like it. She was terrified she'd look into the mirror and see someone she didn't know staring back at her.
"Yo, Rizzoli! Boss wants to see you!"
Jane looked up to see Special Agent Peter Harling walking over to her desk, his coat draped across his arm. He looked about ready to leave. At six foot one with jet black hair and green eyes, he was perhaps the most handsome man in the bullpen. He was only one of the few who had managed to save his marriage throughout his career. Broad shouldered like a line backer, he looked more like an oversized teddy bear than the skilled agent that he was.
Jane wearily looked past her colleague and friend to the office eon the other side of the bullpen. She then looked back at the clock, suddenly wishing she'd clocked out fifteen minutes earlier. "Did he say why?"
"Nope. Just for you to get your ass in there."
Jane got up out of her chair after folding her paper work into a neat pile. She crossed the bull pen to her supervisor's office. Director David Sorenson was a first call jackass in Jane's opinion. A jackass with a rotten attitude, three failed marriages behind his name and the ability to make every person who entered a room with him feel like shit. She'd learnt fast not to let him get to her and for some reason they had managed to find a balance. Perhaps it was because Jane had never been afraid of men in power or perhaps it was David Sorenson understood more than anyone why she had come to Washington. He knew but he never asked. She never told.
She knocked on his door and waited for him to call her in. She smoothed out her blazer, running her slender fingers down her neatly pressed slacks. The end of the day and for once she'd managed not to spill coffee down herself.
Jane opened the door and stepped inside.
"You wanted to see me, sir?" she asked.
"Close the door, Agent Rizzoli."
To hear him use her title and not just her last name set off alarm bells for Jane. She did what she was asked before taking a seat in one of the leather armchairs standing across her supervisor's desk. Jane's eyes drifted around the office. The blinds were open, providing a perfect view over the bullpen. Sorenson liked to watch them work, she thought. He always wanted to make sure they were doing everything they were supposed to. Numerous decorations from the FBI and Harvard hung on the plain coloured walls, in perfect sight to anyone who entered the office. David Sorenson didn't want anyone to miss just how qualified he was. It came with his ego. Jane had learnt that a long time ago. There were no family pictures in this office. Three marriages that all ended in divorce. No children. He wasn't the family type. He arrived before everyone else did and left long after the cleaners had gone home. Sometimes, Jane suspected, he slept on the leather sofa on the other side of the room.
"This was brought to my desk this morning," Sorenson said and slid a file across the polished wood. The FBI logo was printed across the cover. Bright red letters spelled out the word CONFIDENTIAL.
Jane opened the file and felt her heart freeze. The crime scene pictures were of a kind that would even make the most seasoned FBI agent sick. Blood stained floors and spatter on the walls. She could almost smell the iron. The bodies of the women were mangled, their eyes glazed over. Jane's eyes were drawn to the marks around their neck and she dropped the file into her lap. Brown eyes snapped up at her boss. He was staring back at her, waiting for her reaction. He got what he wanted.
"How did you know about this?"
"They called for our help."
It was as if all the air had been knocked out of her lungs. Jane felt the unease creep up on her. "But you knew..."
"That you worked this case? Yes, I knew. I also know what happened to the last victim. Erin Montgomery."
Janet's features hardened at the mention of the name. It wasn't something she talked about. Not to anyone. She didn't like to think about it. It was the past and everything had long since returned to some kind of normal. But she couldn't forget. It haunted her, indelibly splashed across her mind. The memories would sneak back up on her when she least expected it.
"She died because I screwed up."
"The Alphabet Killer."
The mention of his name was enough to bring a shudder down Jane's spine but Sorenson didn't notice and if he did then he didn't care. "He killed five women in less than five weeks in Boston, two years ago. Their first names followed the letters of the alphabets. Abby Fitzgerald was his first, Erin Montgomery his last. Boston PD caught him." His eyes found Jane's and she knew damn well why he had called her in to his office. "You caught him."
Jane clenched her fists into her lap. "And it was me who screwed up."
The Alphabet Killer was a time of her life Jane wished she could erase. For five weeks that monster had tormented the city, squeezing it by its throat as he enjoyed watching how it struggled to breathe. He broke into the victim's home after picking their name randomly from the phone book. He watched them, learnt their routine and then attacked them as they slept. He'd kidnap them, rape and strangle them with a piano wire, cutting into their flesh so deeply that by the time he was finished the women were almost decapitated. Then he cut their stomach. Jane had never been so haunted to see a number carved into flesh. He'd leave the mutilated bodies in the woodlands surrounding the outskirts of Boston. The Alphabet Killer was a monster. An animal.
Erin Montgomery had been his last victim and not long after he kidnapped her they finally found the scientific evidence that led them to his hiding place. A particular type of paint that had been discontinued in the seventies and had only been used by a couple of companies finally revealed where he took his victims. The path led them to an abandoned farm and barn just outside of Boston. It was the perfect hiding place. It didn't matter how loud a woman screamed. Nobody would ever hear her.
Jane swallowed hard and looked down at her hands. The scars were a reminder of how she had faced another monster long before the Alphabet Killer. She had been marked by Charles Hoyt physically but the Alphabet Killer had done something much worse; he had scarred her mentally. Slowly she let her gaze come back up. Her eyes had darkened with anger and her lips formed a thin line. "If you know what happened then why did you never tell me?"
Sorenson leant back in his chair and folded his hands behind his head. He inspected Jane with the same curiosity he had done when she first walked into his office two years ago carrying a single cardboard box with her belongings. "Did I want to talk about case where one of my agents watched how a woman died in her own arms?"
Jane gasped quietly. The memories came flooding back and she had no way of stopping them. Suddenly she was back at the abandoned barn. The sound of police sirens wailing was overwhelming. At least two dozen cops and a full SWAT team had descended upon the building and surrounded it. The killer hiding inside had no chance of escaping. He was trapped.
"He couldn't leave without finishing what he had started," Sorenson pointed out, reaching over his desk to take back the file he had shown Jane. He closed it, as if somehow that would end what was now happening inside her head. "You tried to talk him into releasing Erin."
Jane briskly shook her head. "If we'd gone in earlier then maybe... Maybe she would still be alive today."
"You don't know that, Jane." Sorenson said and he leant in. Suddenly he sounded calm and soft. "It wasn't your fault."
"Wasn't if?" Jane retorted bitterly. "It was my call to wait. I was the one who talked to him, who begged him to let her go." Her voice faltered. "I was the one who failed to see that he couldn't stop what he was doing. He was only going to surrender once he'd finished what he'd started. I should have seen him for the compulsive monster that he was." She swallowed the hard lump in the back of her throat away. "I should have seen it and I didn't."
"He strangled her with a piano wire. When we went in he handed himself over without a fight and I found Erin on the other side of the barn. She was naked, covered in blood and barely alive. She tried to talk but she couldn't. She died in my arms."
Jane fought against the unexpected tears that had welled up in her eyes. Erin's eyes had met Jane's in those final moments. It was something she knew she'd never forget. Erin had reached out her blood soaked hands in despair but was too weak to touch Jane. Her last breath had sounded ragged and Jane had never seen anyone so terrified in the last moments before their death.
It was at that moment the weight of what she'd done finally hit Jane. She'd failed.
That same night she handed in her gun and her badge, left Boston and never looked back. She packed whatever belongings she wanted to bring with her and boarded the first available flight to Washington. She didn't know why she picked that place but it was the first thing that came into her head. There was only one place where she wanted to be and that was at the centre of the agency that specialised in finding monsters like Charles Hoyt and the Alphabet Killer.
She booked into a hotel and then contacted the FBI Headquarters in Washington and within a week her transfer had been arranged. Now, two years later, she carried her FBI badge instead of her BPD shield. She was Special Agent Jane Rizzoli now. She hadn't thought about Detective Jane Rizzoli for some time. She had never gone back to Boston.
For the first six months her family didn't even know where she was. She didn't email them and ignored all their calls. Then, one night six months after she had left, there was a knock on her apartment door. When she answered she'd found her brother Frankie standing outside. She let him in and when she asked him how long he'd known where she was he answered he'd known after just one day. It was because of him that she finally called her mother. Within a week after that phone call Angela came to visit her daughter in Washington but it didn't matter how much she tried to persuade Jane to come back, she turned down all her mother's pleas. After a while Angela had stopped trying.
Leaving Boston had been one of the hardest but also best decisions she'd ever made. It was the city where she'd grown up but it was also the city where all her memories lay. Memories of Hoyt and the Alphabet Killer and every other sick bastard she'd chased down throughout her career at BPD. But Boston was also the home of her family and friends. And of Maura Isles. And Maura Isles was perhaps the one thing about Boston that, even now, Jane still missed most.
Sorenson called her by her first name and Jane was snapped out of her thoughts. "Sorry," she apologised. "Seems like that bastard still gets under my skin after all this time." Her eyes fixed on the file on the desk, a frown forming across her face. "Those crime scene photos…"
"Boston PD sent them to me an hour ago," Sorenson answered. "Latest victim was found two days ago."
"This can't be. We caught the guy!" Jane took a deep breath. "Kevin Louis Richardson, better known as the Alphabet Killer, died in prison six weeks after he was sentenced to five consecutive life sentences. Some punk was looking for an ego boost and knifed him to death in the shower."
She reached out and took the file from under Sorenson's arms. He let her. She opened it again and began spreading the pictures out over his desk. The usually neat and tidy desk now looked like a scene ripped from a horror movie. The faces of three women stared back at Jane. All were surrounded by leaves and grass and all were naked. Jane leant in. She had seen plenty of dead bodies in her time to no longer be intrigued by human anatomy and physiology. Once a person was dead, their bodies were just a shell. Jane had never seen them as anything other than that so now her eyes just lingered on the victim's bodies without seeing the person they had once been. The numbers six, seven and eight had been carved into the stomachs. Her eyes then trailed up to the injuries around their neck. In one of the pictures a piano wire had been photographed a couple of feet away from the body.
"Same M.O," Jane whispered and her eyes snapped up to Sorenson. She knew he was looking for her reaction. She wasn't going to let him see how she really felt underneath her mask. The anger she felt was something she would deal with on her own but she gave him just enough for Sorenson to know that he got her. She pushed one of the photos' towards him and pointed at the bloody number six.
"And the detail about the numbers cut into their bodies was never released to the press."
"Victim's names are Francis Juilliard, Gina McKenzie and Hannah Anderson."
"He picked up where Richardson left off," Jane whispered, averting her eyes from the crime scene photos. Suddenly she couldn't stomach the sight of them any longer. "He's following down the alphabet. F, G and H…" An unnerving feeling crept up on her. "There's a long way still to go till Z."
Sorenson sat up in his chair. "I'm sending you back to Boston."
"What?!" Jane's eyes widened and she almost jumped out of her seat. "Why?!"
"Because they've asked for the FBI's help. They're getting it."
"No buts, Agent." Sorenson sounded dismissive. "I'm sending you and Perera. Your flight leaves Dulles first thing tomorrow morning." He put the pictures back in the file before giving it to her. As she took it she noticed her hands were shaking. She knew that he had noticed it too.
"Congratulations, Rizzoli. You're going home."
Jane glanced out of the window. As the last ray of light left the sky, reality finally sunk in. She was going back to Boston. The one place she'd sworn she was never going to return to.