Jane wins the Sophomore Award for exemplary composition. It comes with a 10,000 dollar cash award and an interview in the Arts & Theatre section of the New York Times. She mentions this accomplishment so casually over breakfast one morning that for a moment, the table is silent, trying to take in what she's just said.
But then Frost's eyes get big, and Susie starts to sputter and squeal. Maura feels like her chest is going to explode with pride.
"WHAT?" Susie finds her voice first, loud and excited. "WHEN DID YOU FIND OUT?"
"Jane! That's amazing!" Ian says sincerely, the news about Jane temporarily lifting his gloom over Xavier.
"Thanks," Jane says with a half grin. "But it's not a big deal."
Maura chokes on her juice. "It is a big deal, Jane," she says when she's stopped coughing. "It's a very, very big deal."
Jane shrugs, "It's some money and an interview."
"It's the right people knowing your name," Susie says.
"It's a lot of money, and an interview in the New York Times," Ian says. "I can't believe you're just telling us now!"
"I can't believe you didn't tell us you entered," Frost says, looking fake grumpy.
"If I didn't win, there would be nothing to tell," Jane says, looking exasperated. "You'd have asked me how this thing went, and I would have had to be like 'oh, I lost.' and then you all would have had to apologize," Jane makes a face. "It would have been a whole thing."
"Well you won," Frost says, "and it's a whole thing anyway. Congratulations Jane"
"Yes," Maura says, finally able to get a word in. "I'm so proud of you."
Jane turns to look at Maura, her expression apprehensive. "You're not mad? That I didn't tell you?" She glances at their friends, who all pretend to be engrossed in breakfast. "Losing would've felt like letting you down if I'd told you," she says quietly. "Can you forgive me? I'm gonna take you out for a fancy, fancy dinner...does that sweeten the deal?"
Maura has already forgiven, though she doesn't say this. She narrows her eyes, trying to look put out. "On two conditions," she says.
"Name them," Jane replies, looking relieved.
"You do not keep big things from me, Jane. No life changing events. Entering contests I can deal with. Nothing larger."
Jane grins. "Deal. Number two?"
Maura takes a bite of her rice cake. "Play me your song."
I lie below, you float above. In the pretty white ships that I've been dreaming of
And I'd like to swim beside you, getting dizzy in your wake
Getting close enough to touch you. Getting brave enough to take you into my arms
And bring you down to be with me
"I want to tell you something."
Maura looks up at the words, crystal goblet of sparkling water still in her hand. Jane had insisted that she use some of her award money to take Maura out to dinner. The go to the Blue Water Grill in Union Square, and Jane walks up to the hostess with more confidence than Maura has ever seen her possess.
"Rizzoli," she says with a cocky grin at Maura. "For two?"
But now, she leans across the table, looking adorably nervous and much more like the Jane that Maura has come to know.
"I want to tell you something," she says again. "And you've got to let me get it all out.
"Ok," Maura says, smiling.
"I'm going to love you forever," Jane says, and she goes a little pink, but she doesn't look away.
Maura feels her toes go numb. She smiles, she can't help it. "I'm going to love you forever too, Jane," she says, but the pianist shakes her head, looking serious.
"No. Listen." She leans forward a bit. "I know we're kids. I mean, sometimes I feel like an adult. Sometimes I feel 10,000 years old. But I know that we're young, and we've still got forever to live."
She takes a breath, and Maura bites her lip to keep from interrupting.
"But I'm gonna love you forever, Maur. If we break up, and then get back together. If we break up and never see each other again...If we stay together until we die. I'm going to love you forever."
She pauses, and Maura tries to formulate a sentence through the lingering thrill of panic she feels at the idea of being without Jane.
"What-" she starts, but Jane waves her off, still talking.
"You're wonderful, and pretty, and so smart...and I don't deserve you. But I'm so lucky to have you and I'm going to love you forever. I love you and I'll always be there for you, in any capacity you'll let me, no matter what. Okay?"
Before Maura can reply, Jane is leaning away from her, reaching under the table. She pulls out a little velvet box with a bow and hands it across the table, chuckling at the look on Maura's face.
"Breathe," she says quietly. "It's just a present."
Inside the box is a delicate gold necklace, set in the middle with a tiny diamond knot. Maura shuts her eyes fast against the onset of tears, but one still slips out, trickling down her cheek.
"Promise you'll wear it always," Jane whispers. "Even if we're not together."
"I love you, Jane," Maura says earnestly. "And we will always be together."
"Promise," Jane insists, and she reaches out and puts her hand over Maura's on the table. "Please?"
But I can't do that thing anymore. I can't be the thing I was before
Maybe I am better off alone, because I crush everything
And I crush everything
And I crush everything
"Jane Rizzoli is a tall, handsome college sophomore who attends Juilliard College of Music in New York City. She is this year's recipient of the Sophomore Award for Exemplary Composition, which was open to all college sophomores in the five boroughs."
"I'm not handsome," Jane interrupts, looking disgruntled. "I'm not a dude." Her head is in Maura's lap, and the dancer reaches down to smooth the hair out of her face.
It is Sunday, and Jane's interview is featured in the Sunday Arts & Style section. All of them: Jane, Maura, Ian, Susie and Frost are lying on the grass outside the campus center, and Frost is attempting to read them Jane's article.
"Handsome can apply to the feminine physique as well, Jane," she says, smiling. "I for one, think you are a very beautifully handsome woman."
"Hmph," Jane grumbles.
"No interruptions!" Frost cries, snapping the paper, making Susie laugh. "I spent $5.50 on this paper this morning, now pipe down."
"Yeah, Jane," Ian says from where he is sprawled out on a blanket nearby, "Let us bask in your spotlight for a second, can't you?"
Maura sees Jane try, and fail, to suppress her smile.
"Whatever," she grumbles, turning her face into Maura's stomach.
Frost clears his throat.
"Jane is quiet and when we meet, shaking my hand and answering my questions in a quiet, direct tone. I ask her a myriad of questions: How does it feel to win? What is she going to spend the money on? What are her plans for after college? 'It's surreal,' she says, with a brief little grin. 'I'm going to splurge on my girlfriend, and then I'm going to put the rest of it away, and don't ask me about after college. I have enough of a time figuring out next week.'
"She is funny, if a bit prickly, reserved, and tentative, like she does not fully believe that the two camera men and I are there exclusively for her. With her talent, I tell her, she had to expect something like this would happen. This pulls a laugh from Jane Rizzoli that is as close to real as I feel I'm going to get. 'There are hundreds of piano players in the city who are better than I am...I'm sure.'
I ask her to play her award winning song for me, a stroke of genius that I will congratulate myself on for days after I write this piece. She agrees, sits down at the baby grand piano in the recital room, and proceeds to play "I Crush Everything."
And man, does she crush everything I thought I knew about music."
My body's strong, my will is weak
I got pretty nice arms, but I hate my beak
And the dolphins are all phonies, they seem nice enough at first
But they pretend to be your friend until they see you at your worst and then they leave you
Without a word they swim away
So I can't do that thing anymore. I can't be the thing I was before
Maybe I am better off alone...Because I crush everything
And I crush everything
And I crush everything
And everything I want I take
And everything I love I break
Every night I lie awake
Did the stars come out? Did the world spin round?
Does it matter that much when you're ten miles down?
In the light that filters down into my giant yellow eye
I can see the sails unfolding stretching white against the sky...and I forgive them
I forgive and I let go
Frost pauses in his reading, and Maura looks around at him. He's reading ahead without reading aloud, Maura can tell by the way his light eyes skim the page. She know's the part he's reading. It's her favorite section of the interview, and she almost knows it by heart. She'd read it over and over to herself this morning, sitting up in bed next to a still sleeping Jane.
"Well?" Ian says, cracking an eye open. "Don't keep us waiting. What else?"
Frost looks up from the paper, at Jane, who is looking back at him now too. They share a look, and Jane nods, almost imperceptibly.
Frost clears his throat. "When Jane has finished playing, I have to take a moment to rethink everything I knew about interviewing artists, for there is simply no way to convey the way this girl plays into the written word. To say that Jane Rizzoli is a phenomenal piano player does a disservice to the word and the young woman alike. When she is playing, she is nothing less than the most brilliant, self assured, confident musician of her generation. All unlocked potential and subtle success.
'It's about a squid,' she tells me, filling the silence as I struggle to reorient myself. 'A squid that loves ships, and only wants to hold them and protect them. But ends up shattering them to pieces instead.' She considers her fingers. 'It's an accident,' she says 'He doesn't mean to.'
I compose myself enough to ask if this song is metaphorically autobiographical. Is she the squid? Someone she knows?
She half smiles at a spot just beyond the camera man, and he has the foresight to snap the picture that will go along with this interview.
'Yeah,' she says. 'I guess, when you write, you can't help but bring a little bit of yourself into it...it's cathartic in a way, to be able to say things to people you wouldn't normally be able to say. The squid doesn't mean to crush those boats. He doesn't mean to devastate. He wants to be capable of change.' she pauses here, looks for a moment like she thinks she has said too much. But then, 'don't we all want to know that we are capable of change?'
I tell her it is an unhappy ending in that case, that even though the squid understands that he's causing this harm, and stops, he cannot stop dreaming of the ships that he loves.
Jane smiles directly at me this time, and there is a flash of the confident, self assured woman who played the piano just minutes ago.
'He loves that ship so much,' she says, still smiling. 'that he can let her go. That's pretty fucking happy to me.'"
Frost stops reading again, and none of them speak.
"A little more," Jane prompts quietly.
Frost looks down again. "I ask her, finally, what her inspirations are. Who or what does she draw on, in order to find talent like that. She does not even hesitate.
'My dad, he taught me to love the music. My best friend Frost taught me to be myself and then Grace taught me to love myself…"
Frost pauses, and Maura shuts her eyes, knowing the last line before he says it.
"And Maura. She taught me to love life. That's all."
Maura opens her eyes to see Jane looking up at her, brown eyes full of love.
"That's all," she says.
Maura touches her hand to her necklace.
'Cause I can't do that thing anymore
I can't be the thing I was before
Maybe I am better off alone
Because I crush everything
And I crush everything
And I crush everything
I lie below, you float above
In the pretty white ships that I am dreaming of
"Yo, this is Frankie, who's this?"
"Um...this is Maura...Isles. I'm Jane's-"
"Girlfriend," Frankie's voice drops low, and right away she can tell he is concerned. "I know who you are, Maura," he says urgently, "why are you calling? Is Jane okay? Is she hurt?"
"No!" The dancer rushes to assure him. "No. It's nothing like that. Jane's fine."
Frankie breathes a sigh of relief. "Well Jesus, Maura. You can't just call a family out of the blue and expect them not to panic. What is it then."
Maura grips the phone tightly, trying to hold onto the logic that had spurred her into action in the first place.
"Jane won an award," she says quickly, before she can lose her nerve. "It's a really prestigious award, and the song she wrote that won is...well it's beautiful." She means to say meaningful, but that's not the word that comes out.
There is silence for a long time on the other end of the line.
"Frankie?" Maura asks tentatively. "Are you still there?"
"Yeah," Frankie says after a minute. "I'm still here…is that why you called then? To tell us that Jane won a prestigious award?"
When he says it that way, Maura feels stupid. But she doesn't give up. "She gave an interview to the New York Times," she says. "It was a wonderful interview, and...I think that your mom and dad should read it."
More silence. Just Frankie Jr. breathing slowly on the other end of the line.
"You can get it from the internet," Maura says, a little less surely. "Or, I could mail you all a cop-"
"We've got a copy," Frankie says shortly, and now he does sound angry. "Look, Maura. What are you trying to do here?"
"What?" Maura stares into space, surprised.
"What are you trying to fix? Did Jane say she wanted you to call? Why didn't she just pick the phone up herself?"
Maura swallows, trying not to panic. "No. She didn't ask me to call...she doesn't know that I'm doing it, yet...I just thought that-"
"That what? Four years of betrayal and pain could be fixed because Jane talked pretty for a newspaper article?"
Maura feels some anger coming to her rescue. "It wasn't just talk, Frankie. If you'd been there, and seen the way she was when she was talking to that reporter...you'd understand that it wasn't just-"
"But I wasn't, was I?" He cuts her off. "I wasn't at that interview, and neither was Pop, or Ma, or Tommy. And you know why? Because she didn't want us there. Because she doesn't want any of us anywhere near her."
He's hurt. The realization of that truth hits Maura hard in the chest. He's hurt that Jane didn't tell him about her award or her interview. He feels left behind.
"She does, Frankie. I swear to you she does."
"Then you need to tell her to pick up the damn phone and call us herself," Frankie says angrily. "If she really does miss me...us...then she should have the guts to tell us herself." He pauses, like he expects Maura to say something more, and when she doesn't, he sighs loudly.
"Good-Bye Maura," he says quietly. And then, like an afterthought, "Take care."
And with that, he disconnects, leaving Maura stunned and confused, clutching the phone in the campus center.
They show up at school.
The next weekend, after the fancy dinner and the necklace and the promise, she and Jane are sitting on the back steps of their building, watching the people come and go, eating lemon ice cups that Jane has procured them from the dining room.
Things are almost back to normal. The buzz from the article has died down, and they can go to the campus center and the mailboxes now without being approached by some musician looking for advice.
Jane is looking down at her lemon ice cup, her expression cloudy with what Maura has come to realize is her "composing face." Maura smiles, sighing contentedly and looking up across the inner campus.
And that's when she sees them.
Frank Sr. and his eldest son, striding towards their building, a large black case in Frank Sr.'s hand, and his eyes set purposefully on his daughter.
Maura tenses, and Jane's head pops up, her eyes going first to Maura's face, and then shifting out, looking for the cause.
"I didn't invite them," Maura says, before Jane's face even registers that she's seen her father. She'd told Jane about her call to her childhood home, and although she hadn't been entirely pleased, the pianist hadn't been as mad as Maura thought she'd be. She'd looked at Maura for a long time, and then said, "I thought you would understand that song."
And that had been that.
"I swear, Jane," Maura says now, feeling panic rise inside of her like mercury. "I didn't tell them to come here. I told Frankie about the article. That's all. I pro-"
But Jane stands up like she hasn't heard, and when Maura stands beside her, the pianist pushes her back a little, protective. The action makes Maura want to cry.
"What do you want?" She calls, raising her voice so that they can hear her before he gets any closer. Her tone has the desired effect. Both father and brother stop dead in their tracks. Frank looks at her like she's someone he should recognize but can't quite place. He doesn't answer.
The cup in Jane's hand is folding in on itself, and Maura realizes with a jerk that the pianist's hands are curling into fists.
"What do you want?" She calls again, a little louder this time. "Why did you come here?"
Frank hesitates for a moment more, and then holds out the case, long and wide and flat. Like the top of a table.
"Remember when we found that Gibson in the pawn shop off of MLK?" He asks. His voice is rough, deeper than his daughter's, but tinged with the same slight accent. "Remember when we flipped over the tag and nearly died because it said $300?"
Maura has no idea what he is talking about, but Jane's shoulders have relaxed a fraction of an inch, and so she resists the urge to tell them both to get lost. Frankie is looking at his sister like he doesn't recognize her at all.
"So?" Jane asks, though her tone is missing the bitter edge it carried just a moment ago.
Frank seems to notice it too. "You and me, we went in looking for...what was it? Something for your Mother."
"Tea set," Jane says, and Maura thinks she sees the brunette's mouth twitch. "She wanted to be like the British, serving tea at two, like we lived in London."
Father and daughter shake their heads in unison, each unaware of the other. Maura feels like she's looking at twins.
"But we found the Gibson instead," Frank continues. "Remember? Les Paul Standard. Perfect condition. Twelve hundred easy, and the dumbass at the counter wants three for it."
For a second it looks like Jane is going to smile. Really smile, and finish the story her father has started. But then something seems to occur to her, and her expression turns furious.
"Twelve?" she spits. "I think you got some schmuck on craigslist to pay your fourteen didn't you, Pop?" She looks away. Maura can tell she's angry at almost being caught. At the realization that her father almost had her. "Snuck it out from under my bed in the middle of the night, didn't you? Said it musta got stolen?"
Frank doesn't look chagrined. "Your family had to eat," he shoots back.
"That guitar meant a lot to me!" Jane shouts back, the color rising up her neck. " It meant a lot to me, and not just because I was good at playing it. And you didn't even ask me. You never asked me about anything. Don't you know I woulda given it to you, Pop? If you'd asked?"
Maura puts her hand on Jane's arm, and she feels the brunette take a deep breath, trying to calm down.
Frank does not have anyone to calm him. Frankie is still staring at his sister. "YOU were too FUCKING YOUNG!" he shouts, and a couple of guys playing frisbee nearby turn towards him, looking concerned.
Jane colors even more, but she doesn't move from the step.
Maura wonders how many times they have had this fight. How many different inanimate objects have ignited this old fight.
"You were too fucking young...and I was too fucking proud, okay?"
Jane stares at him, not saying anything, and the dancer can tell that this is a new development.
"Christ," Frank says, wiping his upper lip on the back of his hand. "There were a lot of things I was proud about, Janie. And one of 'em was always you."
Jane blinks, looking startled.
"You couldn't tell me shit about my daughter. She was the brightest. The most talented. The one who was going places. And I was going to be there to help and support her, every step of the way," he pauses, but Jane has nothing to add.
"Only," Frank says, running a hand through his hair. "I ended up crushing her." He looks up at where Jane is standing on the step, and then he looks at Maura.
She nods to him, curtly, and he nods back, but when he speaks again, he's still addressing Jane. "If you think I wouldn't take every goddamned thing I've done to you back...then you're outta your mind."
And with that, he puts the case down on the ground, turns and starts back the way he came.
Jane watches him go, staying on her feet until he's down the walk and around the corner, and then she sinks back onto the stoop, putting her head in both her hands and taking a deep breath.
Maura sits down next to her, pressing her palm to the back of Jane's neck. "Okay," she says softly. "Okay."
A movement makes Maura look up. Frankie has come forward. He picks up the case and brings it forward, setting it down at Jane's feet.
"Frankie," Jane says without looking up, and Maura can't tell if her tone is a warning or a greeting.
Frankie must hear the latter, however, because he doesn't move away, just bends and unsnaps the case.
"It's the same one," he says, pushing back the cover to reveal one of the most beautiful guitars that Maura has ever seen. "Like the exact same one, Jane. Dad traced the check the guy paid with. Tracked the thing down himself. Told me he was coming up here to bring it to you. After he read that interview."
Jane doesn't look up at her brother. "I can't play guitar anymore," she says through her hands.
"Yeah you could," Frankie says easily. "If you got some extra strength tylenol and some physical therapy. You totally could." He pauses, sucking in a breath like it will give him the courage for what he wants to say next.
"You look real good, Jane," he says quickly, before he can lose his nerve. "I mean better than when I saw you at Christmas, obviously...but better than...I think I've ever seen you. You look," he falters, and then seems unable to come up with the word he really wants. "Better," he finishes. "And that's good."
And now Jane does look up at him, understanding written all over her face. "Not because I was away from you, Frankie," she says softly. "So don't go getting that idea in your soft head. That's not why I look better."
It's exactly what he needed to hear, but he plays it off like she hasn't just made his day. "Yeah, I know," he says dismissively "It's because of this one," he points at Maura, who flushes. "Maura taught me to love life," he quotes in a sing song voice.
Jane rolls her eyes, and swings a lazy fist at him. "Shut it."
Frankie laughs, and stands up, brushing the knees of his jeans. "I better go find Pop," he says, looking over his shoulder in the direction Frank Sr. went. "He's probably already back in the truck, mumbling about gas prices.
Jane nods, looking away for a moment. "Yeah," she says. "Okay...But hey, Frankie?"
"We got like...an end of the year concert coming up...and...you know...If you wanted to, you guys could come down and check it out."
Frankie works very, very hard to keep his face neutral.
"You're gonna perform?"
Jane nods again. "Me and my friends," she says. "Yeah."
Frankie nods too, looking away and half concealing his smile. "Sure. I'll run it by Pop on the way home."
"Okay...see you around, brother."
Frankie gives a half wave, and heads off in the direction of his father, and Jane watches him go until he disappears, then drops her gaze back down to the guitar.
"It's beautiful," Maura says, watching as Jane's fingers come out to ghost over the frets. "It's lovely."
"It would sound better out of a guitar," Jane says lowly. "He's right. Pop knows music better than I do."
Maura puts her hand on the back of Jane's neck again. "Can you play it? Can you try?" she asks.
Jane looks up at her. "Will you be with me?"
"Yes. Always," Maura says, and Jane smiles, leaning in to pick the guitar up out of it's case.
"Then yes," Jane says. "Of course I can."