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 posted on 3/06/2011
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. A note from her:
Special thanks to Joss Whedon for a particular line in Chapter 10. He has no idea that he's one of my co-authors too, but let's not bother him about it. He's busy.
Special thanks to the GSA (disclaimer follows Chapter 11) for being the first to make me feel the sting of institutionalized discrimination. It opened my eyes to a lot of other forms of bigotry, too. It was a painful but valuable learning experience.
Maura Isles didn't often have to say no. She was luxury, she was wealth, and the vast majority of humanity could smell the privilege on her and interpreted it as superiority. The vast majority of humanity did not enjoy rejection, so they simply avoided asking her yes-or-no questions, because 'no' was at least fifty percent of the expected outcome, and those odds were not favorable.
These were no ordinary people. They stood in order of height, shoulder to shoulder, three in back and two in front. In fact, if Maura was any judge, and she was, they also stood in order of age, no more than one to two years between each one. Uniformed to represent separate branches of the same organization, they presented a united front, their service badges and medals a colorful fruit salad on the sashes across each chest. Each of these young females carried a bag in one hand. Behind them stood a much taller woman, waiting for them to complete the business at hand with all due expediency. They had already approached Detectives Vince Korsak and Barry Frost, as well as several others in the Boston Police Department homicide division, with success. Only two remained: one empty desk, and one woman whose attire marked her as different, not belonging. Before she had been introduced to her at all, they had already known that this woman did not belong to that desk, and they had saved her for last, perhaps hoping that they would not have to speak to her at all. But the desk's owner had not appeared, and so there they stood, making their extortionate demands, barely disguised as polite supplication.
There was a sameness about the five of them that went beyond their uniforms. They actually looked related, and moreover, related to the taller civilian who stood behind them, watching over them with a mixture of pride and sternness. Actually, considering all things, they probably were related. Each one had a sprinkling of freckles on their pale skin. Three of the five wore glasses, and one more squinted as if she wasn't far from that path. Their backs were ramrod straight, as if the same authority figure(s?) had insisted on it from the moment they could walk. Though their hair wasn't all the same color, it was within a fairly narrow range of medium to light brown, slightly thin, bone straight, and the uniformed females all wore theirs in the same style - not that that meant much, because it could have been just part of the uniform. They all had the same watery blue eyes, staring with serious determination, not taking Dr. Isles's polite, but cold, 'no' for a final answer.
And Dr. Isles, whom they persisted in calling Miss Isles, was not amused.
"No, I don't believe I'll have any." Maura's lips were tightened and thin as she looked down at the three Girl Scouts and two Brownie Scouts, brow furrowed forbiddingly at this, her third refusal. "If I require sweets, I prefer Scharffen Berger chocolates, or one of a dozen fine confectioners throughout New England. Additionally, I cannot support an organization that still allows its chapters to hold meetings in restricted clubs and to exclude members based on life choices. The organization itself may not support discrimination, but some of its chapters do, and the organization has not censured those chapters sufficiently to end such practices definitively." Notably, she was speaking to the children who had asked for her patronage, and not to their mother. "Therefore, as I said before, I am not interested in any cookies. Thank you. Good afternoon." Steadfastly she ignored the disapproving glances from the detectives and Cavanaugh, whose own desk was littered with four different colors of cookie boxes.
The five uniformed girls continued to stare at Maura. Maura continued to stare back. Strangely, she did not seem to be in any danger of succumbing to the pressure from below, nor from her coworkers, who sat staring in disbelief. /How could she refuse to support an American institution?/ their open mouths and blank eyes seemed to ask, their brains apparently refusing to engage and process beyond that. Before a single word could be said, Maura Isles had put down the files she had come upstairs to deliver, picked up a file that someone had left for her, and was out the door.
Jane strolled into the morgue a few hours later munching on a cookie. "Hey, Maura," she stopped at her friend's desk. "I brought you a cookie. I got them down at that bakery you like so much. You want it now, or you want me to put it in the dead people's fridge?" She smirked as she held a small box out to the honey-blonde woman standing at the autopsy table.
Maura went through some very tiny shifts in attitude, very rapidly. There was a smile as she heard Jane's approach and greeting, followed by the smile's collapse into disturbed frown upon mention of cookies, and finally a look of actual relief upon her realization that the cookie had come from her favorite bakery, and not from what she referred to in her mind, without affection, as the Hitler Youth. She turned around, gloves bloodied with her work. "On my desk?" she requested brightly, as if there had been no stiffening of her spine and shoulders, no expression of cold resentment in the middle of all that. "I'd like it to still be warm by the time I can get out of Ivana Noparstak," she gestured with her scalpel to her latest patient. "What kind did you get me?"
"Well, I had problems deciding," Jane replied sitting the box down on the desk and taking a seat in Maura's chair. "At first, I thought Thin Mints, but then I remembered you don't like mint and chocolate together. Then, I thought Lemon Chalet Crèmes, but I remembered how you're not a fan of 'faux citrus'. Then, I thought Trefoils, but then I remembered that you don't like Girl Scouts. So I hiked it down the street to the bakery. I got you a white chocolate chip macadamia nut cookie." The brunette raised an eyebrow, smirk still firmly in place. "You want to tell me what that's all about?"
The recitation of Girl Scout cookie flavors turned Maura away from Jane, hands delving back into her work within the excoriated woman's abdominal cavity. "Isn't it obvious? Faux citrus always smells like household cleaning solvents. The very idea of trying to chemically reproduce any flavor that can be found so easily in natural, healthy, delicious sources is repugnant to me. But," she added to cap off the deflection, "I do love white chocolate chips and macadamia nuts. The macadamia nut is the only plant food native to Australia that is produced and exported in any significant quantity. The only product that really comes close is the eucalyptus, but that's used medicinally rather than as a food item." She broke off to hit the recorder with her elbow, describe something she'd found in the dead woman's pancreas in excessively long words, then click it off again. Mentally, the medical examiner congratulated herself on a successful distraction. Good, no more questions, she thought.
Erroneously, as it turned out.