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 6.27.2011
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.
Note from her:
Title: "Fellagirly" is a term coined by comedienne Elvira Kurt, describing what happens when a tomboy grows past adolescence without losing her… sporty qualities.
"What, you think I don't do girly stuff?" demanded Detective Jane Rizzoli as her best friend and co-workers expressed varying levels of doubt.
Vince Korsak, her former partner and the most senior detective assigned to Boston's homicide investigation unit, chuckled at his desk, muttering, "Yeah, because monster truck rallies are seriously girly." Her current partner, Barry Frost, snickered behind his hand until the fit overtook him and made him laugh openly, head shaking.
Jane made a swatting motion with her left hand, as if backhanding all three of them at once. "Shut up, Korsak. If I needed to hear that crap from you, I'd have stayed partnered with you." It was a low blow, given how it had hurt Vince when Jane had requested a new partner, but at least he did know the real reason. He took her point: no more open season on Jane's femininity. "And you can shove it, too, Frost. What are you, that ridiculous little monkey-thing sitting on Jabba the Hutt's shoulder and cackling? I do plenty of girly stuff. Just because I don't do it at work… Look, around here I'm not a girl. I'm a detective. I don't need you two giving me crap about things that have jack to do with my job, got it?"
Only Maura Isles, chief medical examiner for the Boston Police Department, seemed to believe Jane's assertion. "Of course you do," she replied with a smile. "I've seen the way you look on dates. You do your hair beautifully when you try, which means you at least know how, and I heard you making an appointment for a pedicure last week. You also cook very well, despite the fact that being expected by others to do so annoys you. Not that those activities are exclusive to females, of course. My hairdressers have almost all been men, for instance, and a majority of chefs are men. But you do several things that are… not exclusively masculine."
"Not exclusively masculine? That's the best you can do?" Jane turned on her best friend, worked up almost to the point of saying something regrettable. "Wasn't it my idea to go watch that chick movie last month?"
Maura considered all the movies the two of them had attended, looking puzzled for a long moment. At last, a dim memory rose to the surface of her thoughts. "You mean the revival showing of Terminator II at the Bijou three weeks ago?" she asked, causing both of the guys to snigger.
"No, smartass. I'm talking about that special showing of Roman Holiday that was at that little theater." The detective gave a heavy sigh. "Maura, why are you even up here, anyway?
In answer, Maura held up a quartet of files. "I have the results for the Nordquist autopsies for all of you to look over." The results Crowe was awaiting, he would get later, through inter-office mail. Dr. Maura Isles, chief medical examiner of the Boston Police Department, was no one's lackey. She only brought up files when she wanted to be upstairs. "Also, it's a little chilly down there, and I thought, since I've finished my work, I'd come up and say hello."
She paused before returning to the conversation she had interrupted. "You know, Jane, every human being has a unique blend of traits determined by biological and psychological needs and influences. You do a lot of things that many people would perceive as being masculine, such as your love of sport, your job which is traditionally held mostly by men, your distaste for fashion, your lackadaisical approach to grooming…"
"Okay, enough of that," Jane growled as she turned back to her computer screen and away from the three of you. "If you just came up here to warm up and point out my faults, you can step over there next to the rest of the men in my life," Jane gave Maura a pointed look.
"They're not faults," Maura corrected her friend brightly. "They're just traits. There's nothing inherently wrong with any of them. What I was going to say was that although you do have many traits that are commonly considered masculine, you also have some that would be considered feminine.
"Likewise, Vince," she turned to the big, salt-and-pepper teddy bear, "has a few feminine traits here and there, such as his enjoyment of nurturing small creatures. Barry has an eye for fashion, or so I have surmised based on his use of the phrase do-me heels. And, and, and I also have some traits, as you know quite well, that might easily be considered masculine. You're just better than some others at being true to all facets of yourself. You're… um. What does one call a tomboy when she grows up? Tomboy makes it sound like it's just a temporary stage, a passing phase. There must be some word that applies to a grown woman, for whom it can no longer reasonably be called merely a stage."
"Don't even," Jane said quietly and with a murderous look to Korsak and Frost, each of whom looked like they were about to pop out some smartass comment.
Maura didn't seem to notice. Her brow furrowed lightly as she sought a word or phrase to describe the way she thought of Jane. It took her a while, but eventually she dismissed her entire, multilingual vocabulary as insufficient to the task. Very well, then, she would have to resort to coining her own word. Possibly a portmanteau, she mused, and then the ideal word sprang to mind. She blurted it out without stopping to think of how it could be perceived. "Fellagirly!" She had the nerve to look proud as she turned her full attention back to Jane.
"Fellagirly?" Jane repeated, irritated beyond precedent. "What the crap?" With a roll of her eyes, she dismissed the conversation in her usual way. "Yeah, fine, we're all one big happy family of gender confused cops and one gender confused medical examiner," Jane grumbled, not bothering to look back from her screen.
Maura's lips pursed, mostly in puzzlement rather than irritation. "That isn't at all what I said, or what I meant."
"Maura!" Dark eyes swung around to meet the gaze of her friend, "Seriously? I'm trying to work here. I get enough of this crap at home from Ma," she mimicked her mother. "Jane, you need to be girlier. How are you going to find someone if you look like you just stepped out of a Home Depot? Why don't you wear a dress? Heels would look better with that. Why can't you be more like Maura? She's so feminine. Don't slouch. Can't you find a way to entertain yourself that doesn't involve getting into fist fights?" She rolled her eyes, voice settling back into her normal dark and husky tones, "The last thing I want to hear from the peanut gallery," she pointed at the three of them, "Is how I'm more like Ken than Barbie, okay? So, can we just drop it? We've got a case to crack, which I would think is a hell of a lot more important than how often I wear a dress and a pair of Jimmy Choos."
Korsak cleared his throat and opened a file. Frost turned studiously back to his monitor and returned to his background checks. Both seemed chastised, and easily moved on. Not so easily, Maura's head bowed in contrition, a wordless apology for an offense she had not realized she was committing, and now had little idea how to undo the hurt she had caused. She knew, though, that it was a hurt, because Jane seldom got short with the social maladroit unless she had inadvertently stepped over a line that seemed visible to everyone but herself. "I don't… It's not…" she tried, hoping that if she started talking, the right words would come. They didn't. A sigh escaped her as she turned around and walked out of the bullpen, headed for the safety of her cold, quiet morgue.
The pathologist had finished four autopsies and their associated paperwork over the past two and a half days, Maura had little practical work she could do before the end of the day. Her new intern had already made the morgue sparkle in her absence, sanitizing equipment and removing scrub gowns, stacking up new ones for the next spate of work. I guess I could go over my testimony for the Pinksi murder/suicide, she contemplated, and sat down.
Even in her state of thin-skinned delicacy, the medical examiner's posture did not suffer, nor did her manners become lax even though she was alone: Maura still sat and crossed her ankles just as she had learned in charm school, still sipped the 'iced' tea that was now lukewarm and watery, bleeding its condensation over the coaster at the edge of her desk rather than gulping it down. She still muttered drat instead of shit as she opened her file drawer and pulled out the information on a case over three years old, which was finally going to court. She still moved with grace rather than slamming the drawer shut with a bang, as she desperately wanted to do, even as her mind threw up pages upon pages of studies she had read – not just read about, but actually delved all the way into – which indicated strongly that those who cursed or indulged in mini-tantrums were less likely to develop peptic ulcers than those who did not.
And she still bent her own mind to her will, studying the case notes on which she would soon be speaking in open court, rather than reviewing all the ways she could have, should have, spoken to her best friend, things Maura did not understand but very much wanted to.
"Do you ever just throw a fit? I mean, even just a little one?" Jane was leaning against the doorframe of the medical examiner's office. "You keep acting like this, and I really am going to think you're a cyborg."
"Tantrums are unproductive," Maura replied, and only then did her upset show. The honey-brunette's voice was thick, her throat constricted with tears, and she had to sniff once before getting the words out. She did not turn around, nor did she look up from her case notes.
"Hey," the detective was suddenly at the doctor's side, kneeling by Maura's chair, "why are you crying? Don't cry. Please don't cry. I hate it when I make you cry."
"You didn't make me cry. I did," replied Maura as she tried to duck the attention. The attempt was unsuccessful, however, so she set down the folder and let her hands fall into her lap, head bowing down. "I was trying to fix what I said, even though I'm not sure what was hurtful about it, but I just made it worse. I didn't mean to hurt you. I just meant that… Well, I guess it doesn't matter what I meant."
"You meant that no one is 100% feminine or 100% masculine, and that leaning one way or another, regardless of a person's chromosomes, doesn't matter. Yeah, I get what you meant." One scar marked hand settled atop Maura's where they rested in her lap. "You just have to understand that showing the other cops that I might actually be more feminine than I let out could hurt my career. If they think of me as a 'girl' as opposed to as a fellow cop, they'll start treating me differently, like I'm weak, and I can't afford that." She sighed. "I came down here to apologize for snapping at you. You didn't deserve that. Ma does." A ghost of a smile ran across her face.
"But that's not what you said," Maura pointed out as she belatedly reached for a tissue to dab her eyes. "Now you're saying you don't want them to think of you as a girl, but up there you were saying you are a girl, and do girly things. That's just the opposite of… Oh," she said as she caught up, as Jane was waiting for her to do. "Reverse psychology. Crude, but apparently effective."
Jane gave a noncommittal shrug. "Sometimes you have to work the system."
Maura peered at Jane through wet lashes stuck together. "But no one was listening except Barry and Vince," she pointed out softly. "They're your friends, Jane. They care about you deeply. They love you and respect you because of all that they know about you, not in spite of it. Why do you think being female, or feminine, is equivalent to being weak? I'm perceived as feminine. Do you see me that way? Do you think I'm weak?"
"No, but you're not a cop, and I don't think this is something I can explain to you because you're not a cop." Jane gave Maura's hands a little squeeze before standing to lean against the medical examiner's desk. "Maura, things work differently in my world, the one I work in. You know the history of how men tend to perceive women. You know the sayings – weaker sex, fairer sex, 'not in front of the women', 'delicate as a flower'." She rolled her eyes. "Women's lib may have come, but the work's not over yet, and, if the other cops start thinking of me like men have thought of women forever, then I won't be able to do my job anymore. That goes double for Frost and Korsak. They have to know without doubt that I can cover their six if I need to. They can't start wondering if I am the one that needs protection. I don't need anyone thinking I need a knight in shining armor. Make sense?"
"Yes," Maura replied after a moment, "and no." She stood up, freeing her desk chair and gesturing towards it to offer Jane a seat instead, as she hitched one thigh onto her desk in a posture she certainly had not learned in charm school, the other foot remaining on the floor. Never did she let Jane's hands go. Were her chair six inches shorter, a person sitting on it would have an amply pleasing view up her skirt. "If Frost and Korsak thought of you that way, your concern about this matter would be valid, and I would never say anything about your femininity at work."
She turned away to blow her nose delicately and discreetly dispose of the tissue in her waste basket. "But they don't. You're a badass, Jane. Everyone knows it. Even when you do need someone to protect you, that's nothing that the others don't need from time to time as well. You are all brothers in blue. You all protect one another and watch each other's…" She paused momentarily, testing out the expression she had heard, "…sixes. You let the others see you as invincible, but you shouldn't. Having to best them all, be the bravest and smartest and the best, never looking like you need them… All of that makes them complacent about you, as if they don't have to work as hard to look after you as you do to look after them."
"Twice as hard, twice as good, half the pay." Jane looked down at their hands. "You don't have to approve or even completely understand. I don't think you ever will, honestly. I'm just telling you why." She pulled away, standing. "You're about the only person in my life that gets to see that other side. Don't make me regret that, okay?" Though the words were harsh, the detective's voice was soft and pleading. "I have to go. If you're still up for a movie after work tonight, my door's open." With that, she turned to leave.
"Jane?" Maura beckoned, slipping back to the floor and catching her friend by the hand. "I'll be there. A-and I won't say anything else about your muliebrity." At the uncomprehending look, she offered the more well known synonym, ducking her head almost bashfully. "Your womanly qualities. Your femininity. Thank you for entrusting it to me."
"Yeah, sure," Jane cleared her throat, the air suddenly uncomfortable. "I'll…uh… I'll see you tonight."