Author's Notes: I'd thought it be cool to resurrect an old idea I had from another fandom. I think it works well here.
Summary: When Jane's mother suggested counseling, naturally, the detective laughed it off. That is, she did, until she found herself roped into another one of her mother's meddling schemes. An alternate solution to Jane and Maura's bickering from Season 3. With less car crashes and leg injuries and possibly a bit more fluff. Jane/Maura, of course.
Into The Dark
Detective Jane Rizzoli was having a bad day. Her coffee had spilled, soaking a new blouse she impulsively bought the day before. She rarely wore button downs. The hot water wasn't working in her apartment, again. Jo Friday had puked up something nasty the night before and she had stepped in it; in her bare feet. Her current case was at a standstill because their main suspect had lawyered up and despite how network television portrayed police work, nothing ever really happened so fast that a case could be solved in a day. The lawyer had yet to show his face.
Oh. And her best friend still wasn't talking to her.
"Rizzoli, thanks for waiting," Cavanaugh said, his expression one of apology. It was actually interesting that she could even discern any emotion on her boss's face, because frankly, she was convinced that he had fathered Kristen Stewart or at the very least was her acting coach. Cavanaugh pretty much had one face. And it usually wasn't a happy one.
"Sure, sir, what's this about?" Jane said uneasily. She didn't like being called into the office. Especially on slow crime days like today. She couldn't possibly think of what she had done in the last 24 hours to tick Cavanaugh off.
"Well, nothing too serious, I don't think," he said, sitting down in his chair. Jane breathed a sigh of relief. He was sitting. It was less aggressive. Maybe this wouldn't be so bad. He continued, "I was talking to your mother earlier. She's worried about you."
Correction. This was going to be very bad.
Jane joked effortlessly, "She's always worried about me. It's in her wiring."
Cavanaugh just nodded in response. He fiddled with a pen before asking, "How's Dr. Isles doing?"
I wouldn't know. That was going to be her first answer. She's full of deep seeded hatred over the shooting of her mob boss father because I shot him. That was going to be her second answer. The last time I spoke to her, I thought she was going to throw one of her scary Tiki masks at me in a fit of rage.
"She's fine," Jane answered smoothly.
"Yes," Jane nodded. "She's fine."
"How are you two getting along?"
"We've got an incredible close rate," Jane shrugged. "We get the job done."
"That's not what I meant," Cavanaugh managed to smile a little. He was really outdoing himself in the facial expressions department today. "I've never doubted your professionalism. I think you know what I'm asking."
Jane shrugged. "I'm sorry, but I don't know what you're asking."
There was a small knock on the door just then, before it swung open to reveal Maura. She began by saying, "You wanted to speak to me, Lt.?" The sight of Jane sitting there, mouth gaping open slightly, shorted her question and brought about that icy glare she had perfected in the last few weeks. Maura frowned. "Detective."
Jane felt her expression settle into irritation. "Doctor."
"Please, sit, Dr. Isles," Cavanaugh directed.
Reluctantly, Maura did sit in the chair next to Jane. Jane looked up at Cavanaugh and he shrugged as if to ask her, "So, really? She's fine?"
"What's going on, Lt.?" Maura asked bluntly. "I don't appreciate being blindsided."
"C'mon, Maura," Jane griped, rubbing her eyes tiredly. "Really?"
"Jane's mother suggested you two should see a counselor to sort out your problems," Cavanaugh replied simply.
"What?" "Excuse me?"
Their answers were of common disbelief and they both quickly objected.
"My mother doesn't know what she's talking about." "A counselor is out of the question. Our office is just too busy . . . I can't be pulled away from our work." "I can't believe you would even take a suggestion like that seriously . . ." " . . .Our relationship is strained, but manageable."
Jane rolled her eyes. "Strained, but manageable? You barely look at me when we're talking."
"I'm looking at you now."
"And that's if you constitute stilted, one word answers as talking," Jane went on, folding her arms across her chest now. She met Maura's eyes steadfastly. "You won't let me have my say, Maura."
"Your actions have said enough," Maura replied coldly. The tone was chilled, but Jane noticed her friend's eyes flicker just a bit. It was enough for Jane to know that the Maura she was hearing was not the Maura she knew. The one she knew was in there somewhere. That Maura was angry and hurt; she was using an icy demeanor to deflect.
They both hadn't noticed until just then, but they had risen from their seats. They were nearly toe-to-toe, facing one another and having a little staring contest to boot. Jane backed away first, bashful. Maura let her eyes stray off toward the door.
"Somehow you two have done your jobs without this getting in the way, but like it or not, it will eventually be more than a strain. If this keeps up, you'll be wishing for the days when your relationship was just manageable."
The waiting room was small. Jane was the only one there aside from the receptionist, but it was still unbearably claustrophobic. She glanced at her watch again. Maura was late. Well, Jane actually doubted that she was late. Maura was probably in the parking lot sitting in her car, still debating the merits of this ridiculous idea. Jane sighed and leaned back in her chair. Seriously, her mother was a piece of work, but she was good at what she did. Cornering Cavanaugh and manipulating him into going along with this couples counseling nonsense. Jane imagined that her mother sweetened the deal with a plate of her infamous lemon squares. It was hard to turn those down.
The door swung open and in walked Maura. She was dressed impeccably as always, but only Jane noticed the small details that indicated stress in the doctor. Occasionally her facial expressions would tick in such a way that Jane just knew something else was going on. It was no different here. Maura was just as nervous about this as Jane was, if the way she gripped her purse tightly was any indication.
Maura sat down in the chair next to hers. Maybe it was out of habit, but Jane was sure that Maura wouldn't sit near her at all. There were plenty of other empty chairs. After a few long seconds of silence, Jane asked, "How long did you sit in your car?"
"Fifteen minutes," Maura answered, picking at invisible lint on her blouse.
Jane smiled. She knew it. "For the record, I don't like this either, okay? My mother is just. . ."
"Worried," Maura finished for her, this time she actually looked at Jane. "Angela is just worried and I could never be angry at her for that. I have to admit being wrapped up in one of her schemes is unsettling, but I do have a new appreciation of what you deal with on a daily basis."
"She is constantly in my shit, isn't she?" Jane joked, quirking an eyebrow as she did so.
Maura almost smiled, but as soon as she realized it, she turned away from Jane. Jane looked away too. God forbid they actually talk like normal adults and it feel good to do so.
Another door opened and a short, round woman stepped into the hallway. A tanned complexion, hair pulled back severely, and a pair of wire glasses perched on her nose. The suit she wore was awfully plain, a dark maroon color. Jane audibly gulped because despite the therapist's short stature, she was definitely intimidating.
"Detective Rizzoli? Doctor Isles? My name is Helen Rappaport."
Her voice was soft and offset that clinical appearance, and for this Jane relaxed a little bit. The two women stood and nodded in response. Soon they were sitting in front of the desk, while Helen reviewed some paperwork. She was silent and the silence was excruciating. Jane just wanted to get this over with.
"I will admit that this is unusual," Helen began, pushing aside the paperwork finally and eyeing them both with kind eyes. "Not that I don't speak with other officers who have a close working relationship. A work partnership has many similar qualities to that of marriage, but I have to say that a homicide detective and the chief medical examiner is a first. Can I ask how your partnership came about?"
"To be frank, my Lieutenant at the time couldn't find any detectives who wanted to work with Dr. Isles. His man logic dictated that a woman detective and a woman medical examiner would work out swimmingly." Jane wasn't sure if her honesty would rub Maura the wrong way, but did it matter? Just about everything she said rubbed Maura the wrong way.
"I was going to say something similar, actually," Maura admitted. "My staff had made it clear to me that Detective Rizzoli was abrasive, demanding and to use their words: 'a total bitch to work with'. At that point, I was the only one left willing to attend a crime scene with her."
Jane couldn't help but glare at her friend. She didn't have to repeat her staff's words. "Dr. Isles had a reputation of being cold and clinical. The other detectives constantly complained that she was unwilling to give any insight into a case until a full autopsy was completed, which for any homicide can be detrimental to the small time window we usually have to catch a killer."
Jane rose an eyebrow in challenge. Maura returned it with an irritated twist of her mouth, before continuing, "While I understand the importance of timely results, rushing through an autopsy does neither party any good. If I miss something, a killer can go free. I'm very thorough. While it may have irritated the detective, she eventually came to understand how effective my work practices are."
Jane felt most of her fight deflate at that comment. It was true. They had always been a good team. She had to acknowledge that.
"Maura never gets flustered. She doesn't see my urgency as some character flaw. She understands how important it is for me to find justice. We disagree, but unlike with the other MEs, it's not a turf war. We both want to achieve the same goals."
Helen smiled at them. "It sounds like you two really respect one another." Jane and Maura looked at each other then, they shared a smile of their own. Jane resisted the urge to grab Maura's hand, to squeeze it tight and to hold on. This momentary truce wasn't going to last forever. She missed Maura badly and in this moment, she could see that Maura missed her too.
"Why are we here today?" Helen asked gently.
Maura was still looking at Jane as she answered, "Jane shot my father."
"He gave me no choice, Maura," Jane said back.
"There's always a choice."
"Not that time," Jane insisted. "Maura, he would've hurt someone. Killed one of us. I had to prevent that."
They both fell silent. Their gazes drifted apart.
"You don't know that," Maura eventually whispered.
"He told me he was going to," Jane replied just as quietly. "I did what I was trained to do."
"So your training dictated it was okay to shoot your best friend's father?" Maura asked, her eyes now back on Jane. "That makes it okay?"
Jane rolled her eyes. "I never said it was okay! Maura, how can you not see how torn up I am about this?"
"Why is it okay for you to see him as a bad man, but I can't see him as my father?" Maura countered.
Helen coughed quietly. For a moment, Jane forgot that she was even there. She leaned back in her chair, an attempt to put as much distance between her and Maura as possible. It seemed unlikely that any amount of therapy was going to help them move past this roadblock.
"You both seem to be expressing yourselves well," Helen said, a hint of a smirk on her lips. "You obviously don't need my help talking to one another, but I can't quite place what it is you're truly avoiding. What aren't you asking one another?"
The question was meant to be a teaser, because Helen didn't give them time to answer. She rose from her chair and kept talking, "I might have something here that can help. A way for couples to communicate more effectively during a low period."
"We're not a couple," Jane immediately interjected. She could swear Helen was still smirking.
Maura agreed. "That insinuation is getting tiresome. We're really close friends."
"I meant 'couple' in the loosest sense of the word," Helen corrected. She held up a book, then handed it to Jane. Jane read the title, More Stories We Tell. It was a collection of stories all of them, it appeared, to be written by women. Helen instructed, "If you could turn to the story called 'A Temporary Matter' by Jhumpa Lahiri. How about you both read that while I get some coffee. You want some?"
"No, no thanks," Jane answered her. Maura shook her head.
Jane opened the book and bitterly thought that Helen had them reading the book together purposely. It was hard enough to share a newspaper with another person, but a little paperback was a bit more challenging. She had to practically lean into Maura so that they could both read it together.
Soon the cramped position they were in became a moot point as they found themselves engrossed in the plot. The couple in the story had just recently been through a miscarriage. They were having trouble talking about it, so they invented a game. They would cut off the lights and talk in the dark. They would ask each other to tell a secret they had never said to anyone before. It was their way of communicating after the tragedy.
Helen was taking her good ol' time fetching the coffee, but Jane didn't mind. It gave her the opportunity to finish the story uninterrupted. Maura was even being patient when it appeared she was ready to turn the page, allowing Jane to catch up. Helen finally came back a few minutes after they had finished. She sat back down behind her desk and asked excitedly, "So, what did you think?"
"I liked it," Maura said with cheeriness to her voice that had been lacking in recent weeks. "The ending was very ambiguous though. You could interpret it in so many ways."
Jane said, "I agree."
Helen nodded. "Okay. How does that make you feel?"
Maura paused for just a second, then answered, "Confused. I'm not sure why I read it."
"I think you know why," Helen said.
Maura stared at the book, then at Helen. Jane's eyes squinted in confusion. Then it hit her.
"You want me to talk to Maura in the dark?" Jane asked, extremely befuddled.
"I know it sounds crazy, but yes," Helen grinned widely. The grin almost seemed mischievous. "You two have no problem pointing out what the other has done wrong, but are failing to see if anyone has done anything right. I know this won't be as simple as forgive and forget, but the darkness will give you a cloak. It will give you the opportunity to be honest about anything and everything. It's a game meant to keep the lines of communication open until you can figure a way around your current problem."
Jane shook her head. "It's a game of avoidance. I don't understand how that will help."
Maura breathed in deeply, and then shrugged. "I don't know. It might be fun, Jane."
Jane scoffed. "You're serious?" Jane could tell that Maura was definitely serious. It was the saddened look of disappointment that immediately had her change her tune. If Frankie were here, he might say that she was whipped. Which again imply that Maura was her girlfriend, but whatever. She couldn't say no even if she tried. Tiredly, Jane conceded, "Okay, okay. Fine. We'll play this game."
Maura's face softened in gratitude. Jane tried to shake off her unease.
"Okay, ladies. The rules are simple, but important," Helen stressed. "It has to be a secret you've never told anyone. You only tell one secret each time. The lights have to be off. Okay?"
They both nodded.
"How about I see you again in a week?"
Jane somehow kept from rolling her eyes.
The guest house had been the closest Jane had been to Maura's house in a few weeks. It wasn't as if Maura was going to ban her from the property altogether, but Jane had little reason to actually see Maura since the incident with Paddy Doyle. She fiddled with her cup of hot cocoa while her mother fluttered about the little kitchen in an attempt to keep busy. Eventually, Jane said, "Would you just ask me already? I know you want to."
"How did it go?" Angela burst out. She really had been trying to respect Jane's wishes to not ask about it, but clearly even her daughter could see how difficult it was not to ask.
"It went fine," Jane said simply. "And the next time you meddle in my life, leave Maura out of it."
"Well, usually it's only you acting like a bonehead, Janie," Angela said simply. She began to wipe down the counters as she spoke. "I can't help that Maura is being equally as stupid. You both need this."
Jane groaned into her cup. She was supposed to go over to Maura's in a few minutes to play this stupid game. It was bad enough she had spent most of the afternoon trying to come up with a good secret to share and was actually enjoying the thought of sharing it, but she still had no idea what she was going to say or how this was going to pan out. The nerves in her belly were akin to those she might have before a promising date. It was unsettling, but also kind of exciting.
"The therapist suggested this game," Jane finally said, watching her mother's face light up in anticipation. Briefly, Jane considered giving her a few more details, but decided against it. She waved it off as nothing and insisted, "It's probably not going to work, so if you hear shouting later, you'll know why. I better go."
"What kind of game is it?" Angela asked, walking Jane to the door.
"It doesn't matter, Ma. She will still hate me for what I did."
Angela rubbed Jane's shoulder in an attempt to comfort. "You were doing your job. She knows that. Give it time." Angela even added with a brief hug, "Some things are worth doing for the people we love."
Jane rolled her eyes, pulling away from her mother's embrace. "I don't love her, Ma." Jane paused, suddenly flustered. "I mean, I do love her. She . . .well, it's complicated?"
No, that wasn't what she wanted to say. Of course she loved Maura. She just . . . she loved Maura? Angela was grinning like an imp. She seriously looked about to burst with something equal to joy and then Jane groaned because she just knew what her mother was thinking. Jane all but growled, "Not a word out of you."
Angela promised, "Don't worry, honey. Your secret is safe with me."
Jane pouted, "I'm serious, Ma!"
"I know, I know! Now go. Don't keep her waiting."
Jane didn't really think to knock. It was habit, she supposed. In retrospect, she really wished that she had. She opened the front door and nearly slammed into her brother, Tommy, who was on his way out.
He seemed mildly upset. Maura was a few feet behind him and she too appeared to be flustered. Tommy's presence was downright irritating, though, so Jane ignored whatever emotions were played across both their faces and concluded that she had just interrupted something she had no desire to know about. Tommy could be such a creep sometimes!
She almost yelled, "What the hell, Tommy?" but managed to reduce her simmering to an eyebrow raise.
"I was just leaving, don't worry," Tommy said, his tone petulant.
"What did you do?" Jane asked knowingly. She and Maura may not be on the best of terms, but if her kid brother had just upset Maura, he was going to pay for it with a swift kick to the balls.
"He's leaving, Jane," Maura repeated sternly, any traces of distress were suddenly gone. Maura appeared to be fine.
Jane stepped out of the doorway and Tommy practically ran out the door. She turned back to Maura to ask what that was all about, but the doctor was already back in the kitchen kneeling to give her tortoise, Bass, some strawberries. Jane sighed. Whatever it was, it probably was best to leave it alone. She slowly made her way over to Maura, unsure what the next step would be. It was incredibly awkward for everything to be so . . . awkward between them.
"I was thinking the yoga room," Maura said, managing a soft smile. She avoided looking at Jane while she spoke. "It's the only room in the house that doesn't have windows and can be completely dark."
Jane almost gulped. "Okay, sure." As she followed her friend down the hall, she added almost incredulously, "Wait. You have a yoga room?"
They stepped into a room that Jane had previously known to be Maura's office away from the office. It had been transformed into a sanctuary. Soft lights, a hardwood floor littered with mats and a huge balancing ball in the corner. There was also the sound of trickling water. A quick sweep of the room revealed a small fountain against the opposite wall. A little piece of paradise.
Jane suddenly grew weary. Had their fighting really been so awful that Maura had to create a quiet space to escape to? Or was she being too selfish in her thinking? Maura had just met her biological mother in the last year. She had a half-sister too. Her mobster daddy was a killer with a heart and his trial was to happen soon. All of these things were just as likely to cause an extreme amount of stress for a woman who probably rarely dealt with such things until accepting her position with the Boston Medical Examiner's office.
"Nice," Jane managed to say. This earned her another small smile. Progress.
"I don't bring chairs in here, so I hope sitting on the floor is okay," Maura said, already setting herself down daintily on one of the mats.
Jane quickly plopped down in front of her and said, "No, of course not." Wouldn't want to actually be comfortable for this crazy game we're about to play. Jane kept that thought to herself.
Maura held up a little remote. Jane assumed it was to dim the lights. Her friend asked, "Ready?"
Jane chuckled. "Are you?"
Maura managed to look bashful. "Not really. I'm having trouble deciding what I should share."
"Happy to know I wasn't the only one," Jane agreed. "So, when the lights go down, who goes first?"
"I guess I will," Maura said with a shrug. She held up the remote again, only this time, the lights began to dim. And then suddenly it was completely dark.
Jane was entirely unsettled. Was she supposed to feel like this? She wanted to see Maura. She wondered if Maura wanted to see her. They were both quiet in the pitch dark, the sound of the fountain almost deafening now. And while Jane could make out Maura's form, she couldn't really see her face. Maybe that was supposed to be the point though, right?
"I appreciate order."
Jane nearly jumped out of her skin, not expecting Maura to speak since it had been quiet for so long. She responded with a joke. "I don't think that's a secret, Maur."
She heard her sigh. "I don't think you're supposed to interrupt me. Remember. Joking makes this take longer." It was a lecture reminiscent of their banter over dead bodies.
"Sorry. Go on."
Maura breathed in deep before continuing, "I appreciate order, I always have. As a child, it was hardly a chore for my parents to remind me to clean my room since I always did without question. As a teenager, though, I think I grew tired of their inattentiveness. Throughout the day, while they were off working, I would enter their study and purposely move items out of place. I would knock over the mug of pens on the desk. Reorder the encyclopedias so that they were in reverse alphabetical order. They were little changes that I knew would baffle them because they were just as OCD as I was. In a way, creating some chaos gave me a bit of a thrill as well. I never told them I had done these things and they never suspected either."
As Maura told her story, Jane's smile just kept growing. When she was finished, Jane continued to grin and when her silence held on for too long, she heard Maura laugh nervously and desperately ask her, "Well? Anything?"
"That was cute," Jane replied finally, punctuating each word for emphasis. "Adorable."
Maura laughed again, but with more ease. "I was hoping for a more intelligent answer than that."
"I'm sorry," Jane agreed. "I guess I mean, what you figure to be an act of rebellion is just so you, Maura. I . . . it's just unequivocally something a teenaged Maura Isles would do, that's all. And that's just adorable."
"So you have said," Maura replied in amusement. Quietly, she added, "Thank you."
"Or course, Maura," Jane said with the utmost sincerity. After hearing Maura's secret, Jane felt the weight of apprehension fall away and it pained her to admit this, but this was fun. She sat up straighter. "Okay, I guess it's my turn."
She hadn't really planned this, but childhood memories were the first place she sought when thinking of what to share. Clearly, Maura had the same thought in mind. Jane began, "It's actually really silly. I used to make up these secret missions as a kid. I don't know, like, sneak around the house and steal the cookies out of the jar before anyone saw me. I used to try and keep my eyes open for as long as possible at night, just to see how long I could before I fell asleep. Oh, and once, I pretended our dog, Gracie, was a prisoner tied up outside and it was only me who could save her. That didn't end too well. She ended up tracking mud all through the house."
Jane finished with a laugh, because she hadn't really thought about her 'secret missions' in a long time and she hadn't dared talk about them either, because, they were secret. At least to her. She felt a flush of embarrassment creep up as it hit her that she just shared all of that with Maura. She added sheepishly, "Stupid kid stuff."
"Now that was cute," Maura finally answered, unable to keep the laughter out of her voice.
"Yeah? Well, is that all you have to say then?" Jane asked nervously. She was happy that the dark could hide her reddening ears, but she wasn't happy that she couldn't see Maura's face, her expressions. This being in the dark thing was both a blessing and a curse.
"Even as a child, you were working on becoming the best detective that Boston has ever had," Maura said simply. "Cunning and brave. And smart." Before Jane could even think about replying to such a heartfelt omission, she heard Maura pick up the remote off the hard floor. She asked, "Lights?"
"Uh, yeah," Jane answered. And in the next instant, they were back. They were exposed again. All of the feelings that the dark had concealed seemed to sweep back in. Jane squinted for a moment, while her eyes readjusted, but she could see visibly Maura begin to stiffen back up. Her emotional defenses were in place, but at least her eyes were softer and less sad. Maybe this little game had helped ease some of her pain. Maybe it would help them to keep their friendship intact, even while they tried to sort out this mess over Paddy.
They both rose to their feet. Jane wanted to stay. She wanted to go back to how things were. She wanted to share a drink with her friend, curl up on the couch and watch some boring documentary that she had no interest in, but deep down she felt cowardly and unsure. Instead, she said, "I guess that wasn't so bad."
Maura agreed, "No, it wasn't." She ducked her head and asked shyly, "Can we try that again? Tomorrow?"
Jane felt her heart swell for no reason other than just pure happiness. She didn't care if Maura used this game as an excuse to speak with her. As long as they were talking, she was grateful. Jane nodded and replied, "Of course, Maura. I'll be back tomorrow."
The secrets game became a routine over the following days, weeks. They still saw Helen on a weekly basis, reported how their game was going, but avidly avoided discussing anything having to do with Paddy Doyle and his trial. Jane wasn't sure why, but Helen never pushed this matter. If they didn't want to talk about it, Helen just let them not talk about it. In some ways, Jane was relieved that Helen was letting them figure out the pace of their journey back to friendship.
The game was always in the yoga room and while neither of them would admit to it, the activity had become very addicting. Most times, the secrets were funny; playful and jokingly sinful. Other times, they found themselves revealing secrets that were very personal. Jane confessed that when she shot herself to save Frankie, that her last image had been of Maura running out of the precinct.
"I didn't think about how you would feel if I didn't make it," Jane said around the lump in her throat. "I'm sorry about that." Jane wasn't sure, but she thought Maura might have suppressed some crying during that session, but when the lights came back on, Maura appeared fine, with no signs of tears or distress. Jane knew better, though. She knew she had shaken something loose in Maura by saying that, but at that point, the game was over and to elaborate meant that they really had to talk. Despite the progress they were making, neither one of them wanted to have any in-depth discussions about anything. Turn off the lights, reveal their secret, turn the lights back on. Those were the rules.
The dark was a great mask. While the secrets were both intimate and comical, there were still some things they had yet to reveal. When the lights came back on, they were back to professional Jane and Maura.
At first, it was weird to just turn off the conversations literally like a light switch. After a few sessions, however, it became easy. The light was overwhelming. They could see each other. They were fearful of the physical reactions, so it was easy to change course after turning the lights back on.
Work was going better too. They would meet at the coffee station without scowling at one another. It was awkward, sure, but even that had a nice familiar comfort to it. Jane was willing to take anything at this point and as she entered Maura's office without so nary of a knock, she felt confident that they would be back to their normal selves in no time.
Maura glanced up from her computer and smiled in greeting, "Hey. What happened to Barry?"
Jane chuckled. "Well, he had to make a pit stop."
Maura answered knowingly, "The head?"
"Yes," Jane nodded. As they walked out into the autopsy room, Jane even added, "Nice use of military jargon, by the way. I'm impressed."
"I'm just trying to keep up with you and all that cop lingo, that's all," Maura insisted. They both stood over the body of their latest victim, but not even murder could keep their minds off their planned secret game session that would be happening later that night. Maura started, "Jane, I was wondering. . . "
"Wondering what?" Jane asked, her voice lowering of its own accord. She suddenly felt as if they were discussing top secret formulas for making atomic cupcakes.
Maura seemed to be at war with herself, but eventually she lost (or won) whatever battle she was having. She spoke quickly, but certainly, "I was thinking we should do it with the lights on this time."
Jane would've sputtered out a drink if she had one. Instead, she almost choked on her own saliva. "Um, you want to what? I mean, do you think we should?"
"We've been doing this for a month," Maura reasoned. To her it was simple. "You don't find it silly that we have to turn the lights off every time we're together?"
"I guess you have a point," Jane agreed, crossing her arms over her chest. She added with a wry grin, "I think I have good one for tonight too."
Maura returned her grin with a pleased smile. "I think I do too."
There was a loud crash of metal hitting tiled floors and the two women whirled around to spy Detective Frost fumbling with some empty collection bowls and other tools. He must have knocked them over as he walked in. Jane was amused to note that he was also blushing as he gathered up everything and tried to put things back as they were.
"Uh, sorry," he mumbled. "I'm really sorry, Maura. Um. I, uh, listen. You got this, right Jane? I'm not feeling so good."
Jane furrowed her brow now in confusion at his sudden need to escape, but replied, "Uh, yeah, Frost. I'll fill you in later."
"Feel better, Barry," Maura added as he literally sprinted back out the double doors. Jane turned back to Maura, who also sported a rather befuddled look. "I'm no detective, Jane, but did he seem a little off to you?"
"Yeah, but it's probably nothing. This body is pretty mangled," Jane shrugged, then motioned to the work ahead of them. "We better get to it."
"We should turn off the lights," Jane said, almost pleaded. They had been sitting in the middle of the yoga room for an excruciatingly long ten minutes, trying to figure out how to start. Trying to figure out how to look each other in the eyes. It wasn't working. Jane tried to tell her secret, but couldn't. Then Maura tried, but couldn't. They were at a standstill.
"No, if we're ever going to really make this work, we have to keep the lights on," Maura pushed. Of course, the 'this' was a perplexing statement describing a number of different things.
'This' was their friendship.
'This' was actually talking to one another without reminding themselves why they were angry to begin with.
'This' was going to change everything.
Seeing how they both knew that, it was making it so hard to begin. Maura must have seen the petrified look in Jane's eyes because she finally conceded. "We'll try next time."
"Okay," Jane agreed. "I promise. Next time."
Maura used the remote to cut off the lights, engulfing them in the darkness once more. Suddenly, the pressure was off. Jane felt liberated of the shackles that only her face could reveal. She sensed that Maura was also much more comfortable. She smiled, "That's better."
"I guess," Maura said reluctantly. Okay. Now Jane wasn't sure.
"Do you want the lights back on?" she asked.
"No, it's okay."
"Okay," Jane answered her, now unsure herself. All of sudden, the dark wasn't doing the job it was supposed to. The dread and the discernment was all there again. What was different this time? Her secret wasn't anymore bold then what she had previously confessed. She couldn't imagine Maura's was either. They had divulged all childhood memories. Uncloaked the mysteries behind how their minds worked. Expressed fear and love all at the same time.
"There's something I want to say, but I can't," Maura confessed. "I know that's lame, but that's my secret for tonight."
Jane looked up and blinked her eyes in shock. "Really? That was my secret too!"
"Really?" Maura asked, sounding just as confused as Jane. They both went silent. Well, that was certainly weird. Maura asked quietly, "Why can't you say what you want to say?"
"Well, the rule of the game is to confess a secret you've never told anyone," Jane replied. "This secret...this thing I want to say, I've told someone else. Well, I didn't really tell her. I guess I didn't have to. She figured it out for herself."
"Same here," Maura whispered. Jane could hear Maura move and then the lights were back on. She watched as Maura's hands came back down to rest in her lap. Jane could see how bewildered she was. How intrigued. How she suddenly looked . . . enlightened.
It was the secret they wanted to say, but had already told someone else. Maura spoke again, "I guess, I mean I confessed something too. I said it out of frustration, but realized later it was true. I didn't know what to do about it, so I just ignored it."
Jane laughed nervously. Was Maura saying what she thought she was saying?
Maura leaned forward some, as if now they were really sharing some wicked secrets and asked, "Who did you tell?"
Jane kept eye contact with her. She replied sheepishly, "My mother. Like I said, she more or less told me, but I didn't say she was wrong. What about you?"
Maura grinned now, then said, "It was your brother, Tommy."
Jane gasped, "My brother?"
"Well, he made another pass at me that night," Maura admitted. "The first night we played the game, Tommy insisted he could be the man I needed, but I told him he wasn't the Rizzoli that I wanted. That was why he was leaving so quickly, why he couldn't quite look you in the eye. Why I couldn't really look at you either."
The secrets game was over, Jane realized. How could they continue to play after this? She felt everything in full force: fear, shame, love, regret. She wondered if Maura could read all of that on her face. She wondered if it really was too late to turn the lights back out and forget that this ever happened. Did she really want that, though? Did she want to forget this? Did Maura?
"Maura," Jane said exasperated, leaning back on her palms. "What the hell do we do now?"
"I don't know," Maura replied honestly. She was just as scared as Jane. "Talk to Helen? She gave us this idea. She must have anticipated something like this happening, right?"
"I hardly think she anticipated this, Maura," Jane smiled, but admittedly was willing to blame Helen if Maura was. "We do have another session with her tomorrow. Let's see what insight she can give us then, okay?"
Jane chewed on the eraser end of her pencil, while leaning back in her chair. Frost was constantly looking at her from his desk. Smiling nervously, then looking away. When Jane would glance over to Korsak's desk, the old man would act in the same manner. They wouldn't hold her gaze.
Jumpy. Anxious. Jane narrowed her eyes suspiciously. Secretive. They were hiding something from her and she be damned if she'd let this go on any longer.
"Got something to say, Frost," Jane asked in a tone that showed she was in no mood for games.
"What? Huh? No, why would you ask me that?" Frost answered, his words firing out of his mouth rapidly. Definitely jumpy. Jane tilted her head to the side as if to say 'c'mon, really?', and this sobered up Frost a little bit. Finally, he said with a small grin, "I just noticed that you seem happier lately, that's all. I was thinking that maybe you and Maura were back to normal again. Or something."
Korsak snorted. "Yeah. Or something."
Jane frowned at both of them. "What the hell are you two going on about?" They both went silent. She rolled her eyes, "Okay, that's it. Conference in the breakroom. Now."
The three of them retreated to that small little room and Jane was grateful that it was empty. She wasn't sure what these two ninnies were up to, but she was certain she didn't want other prying ears listening in. She tapped her foot impatiently, folded her arms across her chest and waited. The two of them looked guilty or embarrassed, she wasn't sure which, but her patience was wearing thin. "Well? Out with it?"
"Are you seeing Maura?" Korsak blurted out.
"What?" Jane asked, her eyes widening. This wasn't really what she was expecting at all.
Korsak jabbed Frost in the arm and explained, "This guy heard you say some pretty interesting things, Jane. And I gotta admit, it sounds exactly the way it sounds, so are you seeing Maura? And if you are, I'm not judging! It's just, you never talk about these things and we care about you and if you're happy, then we're happy. Right, Frost?"
"Right, we're happy for you. Honestly," Frost added, a hopeful smile on his face. "Please don't kill me?"
Jane was still trying to process what Korsak was saying, let alone trying to imagine what it would be like to kill Frost in all manner of creative ways. So wait? Frost heard her say some interesting things? Like what?
And then it hit her. When Frost had entered the autopsy room the day before. Jane replayed the conversation she had with Maura and suddenly burst out laughing. To their credit, Korsak and Frost looked helplessly confused. Their expressions only made her laugh harder. She fell into a chair, an attempt to gather herself and shook her head in amusement.
"Jane, what's so funny?" Frost asked.
"The two of you, that's what," Jane said. "Okay. Tell me what you heard."
Frost glanced at Korsak for help, but the old man made a show of stepping a good two feet away from the younger detective and put his hands up in surrender. Frost rolled his eyes and bravely continued on, "I heard Maura suggest that you . . . do it with the lights on. And you know, after hearing something like that, I got curious, so I waited. Then you said that you wondered if you were ready for that and she insisted that yes, this had been going on for a month and it was silly that you turn the lights off every time you're together."
Jane couldn't stop grinning. "Okay. Is that all?"
Korsak answered this time. "Frost then tells me that you both confess to having 'a good one for tonight'. A good one? A good one what? I mean, c'mon, Jane! Do you even know where my mind went when he said that?"
Jane finally had to stop smiling. "God, Vince! No, I really don't know want to know where you're mind went! Keep that to yourself."
"Look, all I'm saying is, it definitely sounds like you and Maura are happier," Frost finished, standing taller. "I just wanted to say I'm happy for you."
Jane studied them both, as they appeared more sheepish by the second and then decided it was time to let them in on the secret, so to speak. She stood up out of her chair and explained, "What you heard was Maura and I discussing this game recommended to us by a therapist. We turn off the lights and tell each other a secret. That's all. It was a way for us to stay friends, even though we are still fighting. Okay?"
Frost listened carefully and she could see him replaying the words in his head. When put in that context, Frost could understand how innocent their conversation really was. He was blushing again. "God, Jane. I'm sorry. I guess part of me hoped it was true."
Jane gave him a curious look. "You hoped it was true? That Maura and I were a couple?"
"Well, yeah. You two are just. . ," Frost began. He shook his head. "Nevermind, Jane. I'm sorry I totally misunderstood and next time I'll ask before jumping to conclusions."
Jane chuckled again. "Okay, Frost. You're forgiven." As Jane left them in the breakroom, a part of her wished that Frost had finished what he was going to say.
Helen Rappaport could see a difference in Jane and Maura. Their first session had been bumpy, most certainly, but not without progress. They didn't want to be too close to one another. They were afraid that every word would lead to an argument. Each week, they seemed more at ease with each other and with talking to her, but still something was off. As the two women sat down for their current session, they each made a show of angling their bodies away from each other. They were uncomfortable, but for entirely different reasons now. Helen had seen this behavior in so many couples.
Helen had to smile. Yes. Something was definitely different.
"So you each confessed that you had a secret that you couldn't share because you had already told this secret to someone else?" Helen asked for clarification. Jane and Maura nodded. Helen seemed excited as she sat back and clasped her hands together in anticipation. "Okay, so what were the secrets?"
Jane let her mouth hang open for a moment. She glanced at Maura nervously, because it was only just now Jane realized that they had never actually said it out loud. They just knew. Maura was shaking her head slightly; her way of saying she didn't know how to respond to Helen's question either. Helen's laughing brought them back to the session at hand.
"Wait? You didn't say it, did you?" Helen deduced. "You never actually confessed the secret to one another?" After a beat, Helen folded her arms in defeat, "Well, I'm sorry, there's not much I can do here to help you."
"What?" Jane asked, a little surprised. "You can't help us? How can you not help us? You're supposed to be helping us!"
"I'm sorry, but the game was successful," Helen shrugged. "You both revealed a secret that has been plaguing you for a long time. I can't tell you what to do with it. Only you can decide that." The therapist stood up and grabbed her keys.
"Where are you going?" Jane demanded, suddenly looking very scared. She glanced at Maura again. Fear registered in her eyes as well.
"I thought if you two cloaked yourselves in darkness, you would finally understand the point," Helen explained as she was heading for the door. They rose to follow her, but she motioned for them to sit back down. The two women glanced at each other warily but did as they were told. They sat back down.
Helen jingled her keys and continued, "The point was for you to realize that you had been using the dark all along to avoid your problems. You, Jane. You've used your work to hide behind, you've used it as an excuse to explain away everything. Have you considered that you shot Paddy because of what you really feel for Maura?"
She paused and Jane felt her heart lurch up into her throat.
Helen directed her speech to Maura now. "You, Maura. You're afraid to feel anything but love for a man that might not deserve it and that worries you. You feel as if you have to choose between loving your father or loving your friend."
"This isn't the first time you two haven't seen eye to eye, but what about this time was different? Was it merely because a friend betrayed your family, Maura? Is it only because Maura is supposed to have your back, Jane? Because she has always felt like a part of your family your whole life? This is your cloak, ladies. Until you two can shed these defenses and state your intentions, this story, just like the one you read, will never have a satisfying ending."
Helen was going to shut the door. She was going to end the session and let them figure it out for themselves. But there was nothing to figure out and Jane didn't want another door to shut her out of the one thing she wanted most. She stood up and said desperately, "I love her. My mother made some crack about doing crazy things for the people we love and I didn't correct her. I mean, I tried to, but I realized she was right. I love Maura. A lot. I would do anything for her."
Jane could feel her eyes stinging. She blinked furiously, because she was not going to cry. Even if Maura didn't feel the same way, she was going to walk out of here with dignity because she had finally said what needed to be said. She loved Maura. Probably always had, just hadn't been aware enough to realize it.
Helen now looked at Maura. "Doctor Isles?"
Maura stood up now, faced Jane. "Her brother wanted us to go on a date, but I told him I couldn't. That I loved someone else. I told him that I loved Jane." Maura shakes her head, but out of bashfulness, not shame. "He was just pushing my buttons and I blurted it out without realizing it. And then it became clear that it was true. I love Jane."
"Now there is truly nothing left for me to do here," Helen winked and shut the door.
Jane felt Maura's hand slide into hers, their fingers interlocking without difficulty. It felt so right, so good to be able to actually hold her hand again. Jane turned to face Maura completely and laughed off the tears she could feel in her eyes. She confessed another secret she had been keeping from her best friend, "I missed you."
Maura's eyes were watering too as she said, "I missed you too." They embraced each other tightly and Jane felt all her burdens fall away. This is what she had wanted for weeks now. She had wanted Maura so badly that it hurt and now it was all real. They were back to normal again. Almost normal. Perhaps better than normal.
"I don't want to fight anymore," Maura said. "Not about Paddy or anything. Can we not fight?"
"I don't want to fight anymore either, Maura," Jane agreed. She reluctantly pulled out of the hug, but kept Maura close, afraid that maybe this was all a dream. That Maura would take back everything she just said. Jane pressed her lips together tightly, then asked, "You really love me?"
"If I didn't, do you think I would've put up with you for this long after shooting my father?" Maura countered, a playfulness in her voice that had been missing for weeks.
Jane tried to keep from laughing, covering her mouth and then wiping at her eyes carefully. "Was that a joke, Maura?"
"I suppose it was," Maura said, reaching up to press her palm against Jane's cheek. The pad of her thumb wiped at an errant tear escaping Jane's eye. She went to pull her hand away, but Jane immediately held her hand in place; a silent plea for Maura to never let go. To this, Maura asked cautiously, "Can I kiss you, Jane?"
Jane swallowed hard. Anything and everything she had ever been told as a child about 'kissing causing cooties' and 'girls shouldn't be kissing other girls just because' came to the forefront. All that talk about sins and wrongness and everything her family might think or say about this rushed her thoughts, but then she remembered Frost and his hopeful confession in the break room. His hope that their coupling was true.
She remembered her mother not giving it a second thought as it became clear that Jane thought of Maura as more than just her friend. And if kissing caused cooties, who the hell cared, right? Jane began to smile because she was sure her silence was unnerving Maura and just as her friend was beginning to pull her hand away again, Jane leaned in and kissed Maura quickly.
A soft press of her lips against another was all it was. She wasn't sure she could really handle much more than that at the moment, but her head was swimming nonetheless at the contact and she hoped beyond hope she would be able to that again and again. As Jane pulled back, she could hear Maura sigh happily.
"We should probably go," Jane said, her voice low yet wistful and yearning.
Maura nodded, asked with an impish smirk. "Are we still on for tonight?"
The game of secrets. The turning off the lights.
"Yeah, Maura. We're still on for tonight."
Maura smiled widely. "Good. You did promise that this time we would keep the lights on."
Jane smiled widely back. If there was one thing Jane Rizzoli didn't do, that was break promises. She sure as hell wasn't going to break this one.