There's a Third Time for Everything, Part 1 of 1
Pairing: Nothing overt, but if pushed, I'd say Jane/Maura, in the "we'll get there someday" sense; also, it's loosely a prequel to my story called "The More Things Change," in which they eventually cross their fuzzy line
Spoilers: Through 109, "The Beast in Me"
Warnings: None that I can think of
Disclaimer: The only thing that's mine is the plot, such as it is.
Note: I started writing this a long time ago, but work this past year was very, very stressful, and although writing sometimes serves as my escape, it didn't work out that way this year. Most of my stories, unless otherwise noted, fit roughly within the same universe-within-a-universe, and this one falls in between "You'll Be Here" and "The More Things Change." Hope you all enjoy.
When Jane came back from walking Jo and saw that she had eleven voicemail messages waiting for her, she didn't even bother to listen to them; rather, just she dialed her mother's number and preemptively held the phone away from her ear.
Sure enough, even from six inches away, she could clearly hear her mother's screeched "Jane Rizzoli!"
"I've been trying to call you all day! I was so worried about you!"
"I was at Maura's. You could've called my cell."
"I did," Angela growled. "It went right to voicemail."
Jane winced. Crap. "Damn it, mom, I'm sorry. Cavanaugh told us all to take the weekend off. This last case…." She trailed off, thinking again of the quietly melancholic look on Maura's face during that last hour in the morgue; they'd waited for the mortuary van to arrive as she'd scientifically catalogued every minute similarity between herself and her brother. "I actually turned my phone off for the first time in…God, I don't even know."
There was a long silence. "I called you last night too."
Jane squared her shoulders, though her mother couldn't see her, but then frowned. What was she getting defensive about, anyway? Friends stayed over with friends all the time, right?
"Movie night at Maura's."
"What do you mean, 'again'?"
"That's what you told me last week, and the Wednesday before when I called you. How many movies can one person – okay, two people – watch? And the Sunday before that, you were late to dinner because – "
Jane exhaled, rubbing her eyes with her free hand. "So what? You can't have it both ways, Ma. You can't gripe at me because I have no friends and then gripe at me 'cause I finally have one that I spend time with."
There was another long silence. "It's just – Jane, you spend a lot of time with her."
"Yeeeeah…she's my best friend, Ma."
"You can tell me, you know, if there's something you wanna tell me."
"There's nothing I wanna tell you."
"But – "
Jane drummed her fingers against her leg, weighing her options. She couldn't put her mother off forever, but…Maura and the mob? What a can of worms. She could easily imagine Angela's horror – her daughter was best friends with a mob enforcer's daughter. It was like something right out of The Sopranos.
But she had to tell her something.
So. Just enough of the truth to get by. "Actually…Ma, you mind if Maura tags along with me to Sunday dinner tomorrow? I can't tell you much, but this case – it was rough on her. I don't want – it's not good for her be alone right now."
A long pause; Jane could practically hear the gears whirring in her mother's brain. "Sure, honey. You know she's always welcome."
"Thanks, mom." She heard Angela take a breath to say more and said quickly, "See you tomorrow."
She hung up and went to the bedroom, where she upended the duffel bag she used when she planned to spend the night in Maura's guest room. She unpacked her clothes, put her toiletries in the bathroom, then stared at the empty bag, biting her lip before she picked up her phone again.
It went to voicemail, which made her frown. "Hey, Maura, it's me," she said, trying to remember if Maura too had turned off her phone.
No, she suddenly remembered; she hadn't – she had gotten a text message just before Jane had left that morning. "Just wondering if you want to hang out here for a while…I've gotta bake something to take to Sunday dinner tomorrow…you can be my taste-tester if you want."
She paused, then sat on the bed and softened her voice. "Bring your stuff; stay over if you wanna. You're invited to Sunday dinner, too." She paused again, feeling uneasy. "Call me back when you get this, okay?"
She set about gathering a load of laundry, staring balefully at her cell phone as it remained silent.
"You're being stupid, Jane," she muttered. "She's fine."
She dug through her loose change for quarters and glared again at her cell phone, as though she could force it to ring just by staring at it.
Would some other ME want to study Maura's temporal lobe? Her brain had to be at least as awesome as Colin's, right?
"Knock it off, Rizzoli. She's probably taking a nap."
Maura, she knew, hadn't slept well – if at all – the night before; she'd heard her friend up and about several times throughout the night.
By the time she'd taken the basket of clothes down to the laundry room and returned, there was a text message waiting for her that simply said "I'm on my way."
She exhaled in relief.
She was digging through her cupboards looking for flour – when had her mother rearranged them again, and what on Earth had possessed her to put her coffee in with her baking supplies? – when she heard the knock. "Damn it," she muttered, quickly shoving a bag of sugar back away from the edge of the shelf.
She was almost to the door when she heard a canine yelp and a sound somewhere between a plop and a hiss. She reached behind herself to open the door, staring Jo Friday – and her kitchen floor.
Both were covered in sugar.
"Hey," Jane muttered, "welcome to chaos."
"Hi," Maura said quietly, though her voice did spark with morbid amusement when she added, "Oh, my. Jo, what did you do?"
"Wanted to help cook, I guess," Jane said, taking Maura's overnight bag and tossing it onto her bed before coming back with a broom and dust pan. "But now I gotta go buy sugar before I make the cookies."
"I can go get that for you, if you'd like," Maura offered.
Jane smiled gently, putting a hand on Maura's shoulder. "S'okay," she said. "Let's go get some lunch and stop at the store on the way home, okay? I needed more cereal anyway."
Maura winced. "I'm sorry. You don't have to guard – "
"No. No, no, no. We talked about this last night. No more apologizing. I mean it, Maura. None of this is your fault. None of it. You hear me?"
"But – "
"Come on. You know I'd give you the clothes off my back if you needed them and I thought you'd wear them. A little Lucky Charms is nothing."
"Thank you. Though," she rallied, with a playfully raised eyebrow and a smile that didn't quite reach her eyes, "I'd have to be in very dire straits before I would borrow your clothes."
"Aren't raisins the traditional accompaniment to oatmeal cookies?"
Jane made a face. "I hate raisins. They're all wrinkly and they squeak when you chew them. Besides, chocolate makes everything better."
"But Jane…chocolate chip oatmeal cookies?"
She rolled her eyes, put a dollop of dough onto a spoon, and before either of them could think better of it, shoved the spoon into Maura's mouth.
Her eyes went wide. "Jane," she mumbled around the cookie dough, "there are raw eggs in here!"
From the sound of her voice, she might as well have said 'there are black widow spiders in here.' Jane didn't mean to, but the snicker erupted before she could even think about stopping it. "Just eat it."
Reluctantly – clearly, oh, so reluctantly – Maura managed to comply. Somewhere between the third and fourth movement of her jaw, though, the look of utter horror on her face morphed into something else entirely.
"That's – that's good!" she said, and despite her friend's sudden epiphany, Jane's heart sank. She'd never snuck a taste of her mother's cookie dough before it went into the oven. She'd never made a batch of cookies with a friend just to eat the dough before any of the cookies made it to the oven.
Jane didn't know whether to demand what the hell she'd been thinking all these years to have allowed such an iconic girl thing escape her or to cry at the sheer injustice of it all.
Maura Isles had never tasted cookie dough.
Slowly, Maura swallowed and glanced with poorly disguised longing at the raw cookies, all twelve of them, lined up neatly on the cookie sheet and waiting for their turn at the oven.
Jane didn't think twice, even though it meant she'd have to go back to the store yet again to get more rolled oats; they'd only baked cookie sheet's worth so far, and her family could go through that in less time than it took to say 'Rizzoli.'
She grabbed the tray, upended it over the bowl, and tugged Maura to the couch. "Wait here," she said, taking off for the bookshelf where she kept all the movies her mother kept buying for her and grabbing the first chick flick she laid her eyes on.
Ever After. Jane blew the dust off the case, glanced at it, saw something about Cinderella, and shrugged. She put the DVD into her player, switched inputs on her TV, and plopped down onto the couch next to Maura.
"Screw dinner," she said. "We're gonna have a legitimate, genuine slumber party moment and watch a chick flick while we eat a whole bowl full of raw cookie dough. I'll go back to the store later."
"But – "
"Jane, there are raw eggs in that."
"So you said."
"Raw eggs can carry salmonella, among other – "
Jane held up a hand for silence. "I've been eating cookie dough since I was a baby. I never got sick."
"That doesn't mean you won't."
"Okay, fine. If you get food poisoning, I'll take off and take care of you. Okay?"
"And if you get food poisoning?"
Jane chuckled. "You can go to work and gloat."
Maura smiled, though she spoke with faux seriousness as she offered to shake Jane's hand. "It's a deal."
"Danielle reminded me of you," Maura said as she helped wash the dishes. "Especially when she picked up Henry as part of her bargain."
Jane chuckled. "Yeah, all right, that's totally something I would have done. But I'd never moon over anyone like that."
"Not even Gabriel Dean?"
Jane snorted. "No."
"Are you crazy?"
"You are crazy."
"Eww, no, Maura; he's old enough to be my dad."
Maura grinned. "Many women like older men."
Jane froze in place, hot water running over an already-rinsed plate, and frowned. "Do…do you…like Korsak?"
"No. He's not my type."
"You know, you never told me…what is your type?"
Maura finished washing a mixing bowl, handed it to Jane to be rinsed, and turned to look thoughtfully at her friend. "I'm not sure I have a type," she said. "Though I tend to be attracted to people who are interesting in some way. Looks are…well, important, I suppose, but I prefer to be able to have a conversation with someone."
Jane grinned. "And they can't have anything you can diagnose them with, huh?"
"That does help."
"Maura, you've dumped a guy for having hangnails."
"I did not!" Maura paused. "He had ingrown fingernails."
Jane laughed. "Oh, the horror."
"You're prone to ingrown toenails."
Jane scowled. "So what?"
"Just making an observation."
"I retract my earlier objections," Maura said around a mouthful of cookie – baked and cooled, this time. "These are marvelous."
Maura mock frowned, then relented and chuckled. "Yes, you did."
It wasn't until the Double Jeopardy round had started that Jane realized something must be still wrong; Maura hadn't offered any answers – or even any snide commentary on the difficulty of the questions – throughout the entire first part of the program. She subtly shifted on the couch so she could see her friend better, then frowned.
Maura was twirling the stem of her wine glass absently in her fingers; her eyes were focused on the television, but her mind was clearly very far away.
Jane watched her for a few moments, trying to decide whether to butt into her thoughts or to leave her be.
Maura's long, drawn-out sigh made up her mind for her.
"What's up?" she asked quietly, setting her bottle of beer carefully on the coaster Maura had bought her a few weeks back.
"Do you think he watched Jeopardy!?"
"Maura, don't do this to yourself."
"I have – I had – a brother, Jane. And I never knew him. I never even knew he existed."
Jane scowled at the television in horrified surprise as Alex Trebek announced that the Final Jeopardy category was 'The Mob' and reached for her remote.
"Don't," Maura said, quietly but firmly.
"Maura – "
"Why?" she asked, genuinely confused but aching for her friend nonetheless. "Why do this to yourself?"
The clue – thank God – was about the Italian mafia rather than Boston's Irish mob, but as the screen faded to black, Maura leaned back into the couch, looking suddenly, completely exhausted. Jane muted the TV as Wheel of Fortune started; everyone always yelled on that show, and she found it beyond irritating.
Still, they both stared silently at the TV through several puzzles before: "I love my family," Jane finally said quietly. "Screwed up as they are, they're my family."
"But family's not blood, Maura. Family's about…who lo-cares about you. Who's…there for you. Who calls you at two in the goddamn morning to make sure you took your antibiotics."
"And it's a good thing I did…you hadn't taken them. If you hadn't finished the whole course of antibiotics, your bronchitis could have come back in an even more virulent form."
Jane rolled her eyes. "You know what I mean. Family's not – you can make your own family."
"I know all that. My parents never kept the fact that I was adopted from me."
"Yeah, but what I'm getting at is…if I found out tomorrow that I had a long-lost twin sister living in…I dunno…San Francisco…that wouldn't make her family. All the screwed up stuff my family does because they love each other? That's family."
"I just – "
Jane scooted closer. "You want a brother? You got Frankie. Maura, you're family, if you want us. Rizzolis are screwed up six ways to Sunday but we stick by people we care about. I'm so…sorry…about Colin, but he's just…could have beens."
Maura winced. "That's the problem, Jane. He's…."
"He's a great big what if. And you hate what ifs. But you can't let what ifs torture you. Focus on what you got. Okay?"
After a few long moments, Maura nodded slowly. "Okay." She slowly allowed her head to rest on Jane's shoulder. "Jane?"
"My family is…. Well, it's not much, but…you're family too."
Jane smiled. "I know. Just don't ever make me eat snails again."
"You liked them."
"Only until you told me what they were."
At that, Maura finally, quietly, chuckled.
"Is she all right?"
Jane froze in the act of peeling a carrot and stared at her mother. "Huh?"
"Maura. Is she all right?"
Jane glanced over to where Maura was sitting with her father and Frankie, watching a Patriots highlight reel on ESPN. From the snatches of conversation drifting over, Jane suspected that the entire exercise had turned into a physics lecture on Maura's part – with reactions ranging from feigned interest from her brother to out-and-out disbelief from father.
"Seems okay. Why?"
"Well, you're the one who said something was up," Angela said, a hint of accusation in her tone. "And the one who's spent every waking hour with her since who knows when."
"Oh, come on, Ma, give it a rest."
"Jane – "
Jane blew a breath out between her teeth. "I can't talk about it. Literally."
"But why, Jane?" Angela's voice dropped. "You know you can tell me anything, honey. No matter what."
Jane sighed and pinched the bridge of her nose. "It's not – it's 'cause of a case, Ma. She's – she could – it could be dangerous. I can't talk about it."
"Okay, so tell me something else, Janie."
"Don't call me 'Janie.'" Angela just stared at her, eyebrow raised, the picture of maternal stubbornness. "Fine. Ask. What?"
"You spend…." Angela trailed off and glanced down at the sink, where she'd continued absentmindedly peeling a potato. "Jane, how many times have you stayed over at…?"
"Okay. But there's a first time for everything, right? So when was the first time…?"
"Around the time you traded in the Buick. But the first two don't count. So that was kinda the third. And the first."
Jane squirmed. "What?"
"Okay, so there's a third time for everything. But why don't the first two count?"
"First time was when Hoyt was after me the second time. Hiding from a serial killer doesn't count."
"So that's where you went."
Jane shrugged. "Second was…well, Maura was drunk and a bad guy had just tried to kill her. Mortal danger makes it not count."
"Says me. I. Me. Whatever."
Maura's voice, inevitably: "'Says me,' Jane. Though that's – "
"Maura!" Jane growled, pro forma, though secretly she was grateful for the interruption – though, if pressed, she couldn't have said why.
Jane opened her mouth to say…well, she wasn't sure what she was about to say. But before she could say anything, the phone rang.
"Tommy! Honey, it's been so long since you called!"
Angela drifted away to talk to Tommy in the relative privacy of the service porch, so Jane joined the rest of her family in the living room.
"Are you all right?" Maura asked quietly.
She wasn't, really. She was irritated and uncomfortable and she couldn't really put a name to why – any more than she could put a name to why she felt she had to justify her private life to her mother or quibble over the semantics of sleepovers.
But for now, relieved to see the tension mostly gone from Maura's face, she shrugged and said, "Sure."