Googlemouth has decided to completely retire. As such, she's taking down her FFN account soon, and she's
allowed me the chance to repost what we worked on together.
This was originally publish on 3/30/2011
Characters aren't ours. They belong to Tess Gerritsen, Janet Tamaro, Turner Broadcasting, Warner Brothers, and
other assorted important people. I gain nothing from writing these stories but the fun of doing it. Please
don't sue me.
This story was co-written with Googlemouth.
What did the BCU valedictorian, graduate of Harvard medical school, chief medical examiner of the Boston Police Department, do with her morning when there were no autopsies waiting and all the in-progress paperwork had been finished and filed by ten-thirty?
She created order out of chaos. It was her calling in life. Maura Isles stood at the snack table, organizing. She separated the plastic and wooden stirrers into their own cups, then segregated the sugar packets from the various artificial sweeteners, which she then divided by color – pink in back, then blue, then yellow in front, all with the labels front and the ingredients lists in back. Tea bags, individually wrapped and jumbled together, she filed into their separate slots within the tea box in alphabetical order by brand, then flavor. The growing mound of emptied packets she swept into the recycling bin below; used stirrers went into the trash. Salt, pepper, and cinnamon shakers, she nudged into a row, perfectly even with the box of non-dairy creamer cups, which she also stacked neatly instead of allowing them to remain just as they were dumped in.
And she wasn't even watching what she was doing.
Instead, Maura's eyes kept drifting over towards the homicide bullpen, where the only female homicide detective in the precinct sat doing paperwork. She chewed her pencil, brow creased in concentration, tongue tip protruding. Maura smiled to herself as she lowered her eyes again, but in a moment they were back, studying the jacket that Jane had hung carelessly over the back of her chair, the shirt sleeves she'd pushed up to her elbows. So messy, so casual. So cool. Maura had the urge to interrupt her and talk to her, but what would she say?
Wait, Maura did have something to say. A sincere compliment, she'd been taught, was never misplaced. Maura could mention that she appreciated the skillful way that Jane had assessed an initial crime scene, which had led her to asking questions that normally weren't answered by a standard autopsy, which had led to Maura's non-standard check for certain facts, which had led to the conviction of a murderer on what would otherwise have been ruled suicide. The medical examiner paused as she fixed a cup of coffee the way Jane normally took hers – Maura had memorized the coffee orders for everyone in homicide by now – and carried it over as she contemplated the perfect phrasing for the compliment. She often made conversational missteps, and Jane had the habit of not seeing a compliment for what it was, so Maura was particularly careful when speaking to her.
"Jane, I wanted to—" she began, but almost immediately, Jane's phone rang and buzzed on the table beside her.
"Hold a sec, Maura," Jane looked at the screen. "Pop?" She answered, her face full of concern. "Hey, Pop, what's up?" She unconsciously banged her pencil against her desk as she listened. "No, I'm not really interested in helping with that. Come on, you know how I feel about him, Pop." Her face grew colder. "No, I'm not helping him out of anything, and you and Ma better not ask Frankie, either. We're cops. That doesn't mean Tommy gets a free pass. It means he gets what he deserves." The pencil began striking the desk top harder. "Yeah, I know what Ma says, but, I'm sorry, Pop, Ma is wrong. I'm not going to help him with that. He got himself into that mess. He can pay the consequences. It's his own fault for screwing up again," the pencil broke. "Ah, damn it! What? No, my pencil broke. Look, I have to get back to work. I'll talk to you later, okay?" With that, Jane set her cell phone back on her desk.
"God, my parents can be so frustrating. If Tommy was dumb enough to break his probation, then he deserves what he gets." She glanced down at the now broken pencil on her desk. "And that was my favorite pencil. All the chew marks were exactly where I like them." With a heavy sigh, she turned back to her friend. "I'm sorry, Maura. Family drama early in the morning…. It's almost a double-fisted coffee kind of day." She looked down at the doctor's hands. "Oh, hey… one of those for me?" She smiled brightly at the medical examiner.
Maura set down one of the two coffee cups on Vince Korsak's desk, since she only drank the station house swill in dire circumstances, and handed the other to Jane as she smiled back. She couldn't help it. "Yes," she replied, and as almost always happened, just saying the word 'yes' to Jane conjured up a host of pleasurable images, other questions to which she could give the same answer. "Is Tommy all right?" she wondered, prolonging the conversation by what looked like a fairly easy means as she sat down on the corner of Detective Rizzoli's desk. Her skirt inched up a little. Oh, good, it works, she thought to herself, having bought the skirt two weeks ago in the hope that it would do just that. Nevertheless, her hand snuck to pull it back down halfway to where it had begun. She didn't want to be too overt. It was one thing to show, and another thing entirely to be perceived as doing it on purpose.
Jane's eyes quickly flickered to the doctor's exposed thigh before Maura's hand came into view to fix the skirt. "Who knows?" She took a sip of her coffee, making a face. "He's about as bad as this coffee." She set the coffee down. "God, how long has that been in the pot? Years?" Again, Jane's eyes flickered to the doctor's legs. "I can't touch that." She shook her head, her eyes growing wide. "Drink. I can't drink that," she quickly covered. "Want to go with me to go get something decent to drink?"
There it was again, the opportunity to say, "Yes," and Maura did so with her usual alacrity, though she did pause for an extra eyeblink or two to mentally enjoy Jane's Freudian slip. "Let me get my purse and I'll be right back up… unless you'd like to come with me?" Another very subtle phrasing. Maura prided herself on the use of language. Her research into colloquialisms lent her, not expertise, but at least a passing familiarity with certain statements which could be considered suggestive if she used her voice and manipulated her facial expression one way, but entirely above-board if she spoke the same words or phrases in another way. Almost always, she inflected towards innocence when using those phrases.
The only times when she 'made eyes' were when she was saying little or nothing that could conceivably be construed as suggestive. Maura knew she was mixing her signals, but it was important that she do so. If she was overt, Jane would spook, just like her high-strung pony had done when people approached with loud, brash, or forceful demeanor. Jane required, and deserved, subtlety and respect. Maura intended for every little advance to be Jane's doing, so that if it turned out that Jane just wasn't capable of responding to Maura in a romantic way, at least she'd never realize that Maura had been trying to make it happen. Too, Maura had been reared to be a lady, and a lady never actually said what was on her mind when it came to sex or romance. She let others say it for her.
Finally, Maura was honest enough with herself to know that she was just too afraid of looking foolish. There was nothing worse than rejection… except the fact that whoever had rejected her would know that there had been something there to reject in the first place. She really didn't want Jane to look at her as someone in the same category as Dean, Grant, or Jorge, a dodged bullet.
But she could say "come with me," sans inflection, a tiny phrase implanted in Jane's mind. Eventually, all those little phrases would add up, and Jane would find herself considering Maura. Or so Maura hoped.
Jane gave her a shrug. "Yeah," She smiled, almost to herself, as she stood to pull on her jacket. "You know I'll take any excuse to not do paperwork. Going down with you sounds like as good of one as any." She glanced over at Korsak, who was slightly red in the face. "You alright, Korsak?"
"Yeah, I'm great." He swallowed hard.
"Right," the dark-haired brunette gave him a questioning look. "If you say so. Anyway, Maura and I are going out for coffee. Be back in a little bit, so call me if something comes up, okay?"
"Yeah, sure, no problem. You two have fun." Korsak cleared his throat.
Barry Frost waited until the elevator doors had closed on the two women, both smiling with nearly identical smug smiles, before he allowed the bright white grin to split his handsome face. "Oh, man, it's getting' too easy," he told Korsak, who started chuckling. "They couldn't be any more entertaining if they were tryin'."
Maura leaned across Jane to press the button for the lowest floor in the building, mentally congratulating herself on the foresight she'd had when dressing. Most days, she tended to wear things that exposed her shoulders and a tiny bit of cleavage, but today she'd thought to wear a striped, elbow-length blouse buttoned all the way up and a clingy cashmere sweater over this, so that only her legs were on display. Jane had seen her chest; it was hard to miss, that night they'd gone undercover at the women's bar. Maura didn't want her getting bored with the same view over and over. Therefore, leaning over wasn't just presenting "tits on a tray," as she'd heard one of her sorority sisters call them several years ago. It was all about posture, spatial relationship, closeness. As good as Maura could be with words, she was far better without them, she knew. Her body didn't babble fascinating but irrelevant information; it said exactly what it needed to say, and no more. If she'd found it at all possible to just not speak in social situations, she reflected, she might have been one of the more popular girls in school.
"Hold the door open for me," she requested lightly as she trotted back into the morgue, snapped up her clutch purse, and trotted back. There'd been no need to hurry, but she kind of liked the way she looked when just a little bit breathless, and hoped the image would stay somewhere within Jane's mind.
Much good may it do, Maura added as they rode the elevator back up and headed out for the coffee shop she liked. It had taken months already, far longer to catch Jane's attention than it had ever taken with anyone else. Maura had been almost ready to give up entirely on the notion that it was even possible for Jane to be attracted to a woman at all, especially given how little interest she'd shown anyone in the lesbian bar while trying to catch a killer there. Disgust, she could have worked with. The majority of times, disgust just meant that the person was either religiously or socially indoctrinated and programmed to display negativity towards same-gender attractions.
But Jane hadn't been disgusted. There hadn't been any distaste at all, just boredom. Not one person in the entire bar had even been worth a raised eyebrow from Jane, not a second glance, not a cleared throat. Maura had felt like crying, but had done what Jane and her fellow detectives called "manning up," and continued her undercover assignment as a waitress, assuming she'd failed in her secondary, unstated objective.
Towards the end of the evening, she had been rewarded for her pains after all when she leaned in to take Jane's drink glass and that of her 'date'. The intention had been to distract the date from realizing that Maura was taking especial care with the date's glass, by inspiring jealousy. The payoff had been when Jane turned towards Maura and had spent an elongated moment with her attention firmly in place on Maura's breasts. Thank goodness for the pervert who designed that waitressing uniform, Maura had thought irreverently at the time. That black and white, polka-dotted corset had lifted, separated, and displayed her upper-body assets beautifully, and Jane had – for a good three or four seconds – been just as exposed. I've got you now, Maura had mentally crowed.
Since then, she'd been stepping up her game considerably. Such as that little trick with leaning over Jane, a physical reminder of that night, despite the fact that she was far more covered today than she'd been at that bar.
Jane glanced down, her eyes flickering over the doctor's form. "So, is that a new skirt?" Jane quickly looked back at the closed elevator doors. "It looks good on you, Maur." She subtly moved closer to the doctor despite the fact they were the only two people in the elevator.
For the third time in under ten minutes, Maura got to say, "Yes." It made her smile, almost as much as the compliment. "I bought it a couple of weeks ago, but it was a little too chilly to wear it until today. It's nice, isn't it? Charcoal grey merino wool and silk blend, and I love the little fan-pleating at the bottom. It's fun, isn't it?" She swirled her hips to make the three inches of fan pleating stand out. "Really soft, too. It feels like wearing a hug." Touch the fabric, Jane, her mind screamed beneath the smooth serenity of her facial expression. Touch it. Wool-silk blend. Touch it, please. Touch-a touch-a touch-a touch me, I wanna be… Where in the world did I hear that? Oh, right. Senior year of college. Boy, was that an odd night. I still have no idea what the costumes were all about.
"Really? Looks soft." Jane reached down to the hem of the skirt to run her right hand across the fabric. "You're right. That's nice. Not something I would wear, but nice." Her hand lingered, fingers lightly brushing the skin just beneath the skirt's hem. "You know, I've never understood why women wear short skirts and long sleeves. It seems kind of like… I don't know… You're giving mixed signals."
Maura's tendons tightened, muscles locked in place. She touched me. No other word-based thought occurred to her for two entire seconds at a stretch, which was a year's worth of normal-people thinking. Then the elevator dinged open on the ground floor, and her body remembered to react and brought the mind with it, stepping out towards the main exit. She led the way towards the street and turned left, towards the really good coffee shop that had her special blend. "I am! That's the point. Well, no. The point is that… Well, look. If I were to come in with a sleeveless, low-cut, high-hemmed, tightly fitting dress, what would people think?"
She paused to let that image sink in, this time intending not that Jane should be aroused, but that she should actually be a bit put off at the idea. "They'd think I was cheap. Easy. An outfit like that would say I'm available for the taking. If I covered up entirely, other than in winter, it would say I'm impossible so don't even try." She turned around in the doorway to the high-end coffee bar to gauge Jane's reaction, under the pretext of fishing in her purse while nudging the door open with her derriere.
"So, what do three-quarter sleeves, a sweater, and a short skirt say?" Jane was smirking, her eyes filled with mirth. "I can tell you now that the outfit you're wearing today screams 'look at my legs'." She intentionally glanced down at Maura's legs, making certain the doctor saw her do so. "I'm sure a lot of men in the department are very happy today." She reached over, helping to pushing the door open, her arm and body very close to the light haired brunette's. "So, which detective are you trying to catch?" Jane's eyes settled on Maura's, waiting for the doctor to step inside.
Maura stayed in the doorway a second too long, so that she wouldn't miss feeling Jane's warmth from an inch away, before stepping up to the barrista and ordering for them both. She needed the extra time to contemplate her answer. "One medium Turkish shot with extra sugar and a dash of cardamom, please. Also, one medium large pumpkin spice latte in a large cup – you'll need the extra room for all the whipped cream I want to see on top. Dash of nutmeg on the cream. Please."
The barrista, a beautiful dreadlocked man whose snappy attire no doubt pleased his boyfriend of the moment, winked and promised they'd be coming right up. Probably because, the moment he'd seen them coming in the door, he'd relayed their usual order to his fellow coffee guru.
The drinks appeared with magical speed, and Maura handed the larger, fluffier one to Jane. Before releasing the warm cup into the detective's hand, she murmured, "I hope this outfit says that I'm impossibly out of reach for most people... but for the right person, I could be attainable." She paused, lowering her voice to a near whisper to add, "Easily."
"Huh," Jane licked the whipped cream from the top of the cup. "That didn't really answer my question, though." She attempted to get a drink of the latte without getting the whipped cream on her nose, failing but not realizing it. "I love this stuff. Is it wrong that I like licking the whipped cream? Nah." She smirked, taking another swipe with her tongue.
"It didn't, did it?" Maura agreed as she set down her coffee on a table that was barely large enough to hold two people's cups and pastries, then gently removed Jane's cup from her hand as well, to set beside her own. Just as her coffee-warmed hand returned to Jane's in an attempt to coax the detective into a seat at the table, her purse started buzzing and blaring out a Salt 'n' Pepa song. "And where is… the bodyyyy? And where is… the bodyyyy?" Maura forced her mind to shift gears as she fished inside for her iPhone, which she answered with a terse, "Isles."
Jane smirked. She recognized the song from To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar. She and Maura had watched it a couple of weeks before when they'd had a night in instead of going to the Robber for drinks with the boys. The ringtone amused her more now that she'd seen the movie. She sat down, absentmindedly rubbing her nose. "Ah, damn it," she looked at the whipped cream on her fingers. "Maura," she hissed, showing her fingers and pointing to her nose with her clean ones, "Why didn't you tell me I had whipped cream on my face?" She made a face at the doctor as she wiped at her face.
"Thank you. I can be there within twenty minutes," Maura said into her phone, then hung up and looked at Jane. "I'm sorry," she said with genuine regret as well as an undercurrent of irritation, "but they've just found a body. I need to go." Just then, Jane's phone started buzzing as well. "Okay, we need to go. That'll be Cavanaugh. You'll be wanting your own car, I know, so I'll see you there." So much for the skirt, the coffee, and the courage Maura had almost gotten up.