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The Detective's Wife

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October 2010

Autumn in Boston was a dizzying back and forth of temperature changes, high seventies one day and low forties the next, the trees frozen in time, still-green leaves half infected with crimson and gold. On that day, when the past invaded the Isles-Rizzoli family, it was comfortably warm, with a chilly breeze that cut through the beaming rays of sunlight shooting across clear skies. The repeated staccato of a basketball smacking the pavement wafted along the calm wind, which blew through the open window in the living room of Frank and Angela Rizzoli’s home. The sounds of two of Angela’s children accompanied it, Frankie and Jane taunting one another, voices too distant to be understood, but close enough to be heard.

Close enough that, when there was a sharp sound of surprise, followed by silence in the front driveway, Angela noticed, and let out an irritated huff, already rising to her feet. “I swear, if those two have been rough housing again..." She trailed off into irate, unintelligible mutters as she strode from the room, in the direction of the kitchen.

A moment later, there was a commotion in the entryway, Jane and Frankie noisily reentering the house, Jane shushing her brother, hissing at him to be quiet as they darted past the living room, but their loud whispers carried.

Still seated on the couch and entirely unsurprised, Maura Isles-Rizzoli shook her head in bemusement, sharing an exasperated look with the three-year-old at her feet.

James Angelo Isles-Rizzoli, or Jamie, as he was more affectionately called by his family, was seated on a pillow with his back to his mother’s legs, his own little legs stretched out underneath his grandmother’s coffee table, a spread of crayons and coloring books spread out in front of him. He made sure to finish coloring one of Spiderman’s arms bright purple, before he tilted his head up to look more intently at his mother and inquire, “Mommy, is Mama bein' bad again?”

Maura smiled fondly, stroking the unruly black hair atop her son’s head, his curls falling back into place the moment her hand released them. Brown eyes gazed up at her intently in anticipation of her response, Jane’s eyes, his other mother's eyes, always curious, mischievous, Rizzoli intensity coursing through his veins. But he so far lacked a predilection for sports, preferred to sit and color over chasing a ball around the pavement, and for that Maura was ever grateful. Her wife might not have been very careful but at least her son was.

"Your Mama is always being bad, Jamie," Maura answered him at last, tapping his nose gently and causing him to squirm. "Why don't we go see what trouble she's gotten into this time?"

"Okay," Jamie said enthusiastically, hopping to his feet and stretching his little arms into the air. Maura rose up, lifting the toddler into her arms in the same smooth motion, settling him onto her hip. He was warm against her, his cheek soft as he pressed it to hers, arms wrapped tight around her neck.

Maura went with Jamie down the hall and into the kitchen, following the sounds of the Rizzoli family.

In the kitchen, Angela was bustling around in a huff, smarting off at Jane, whose head was tilted back just slightly to curb the flow of blood coming from her nose, hardly paying attention to a word that came out of her mother's mouth, but lighting up the instant she saw her wife and baby boy enter the room. Frankie was skirting around the edges of the kitchen, avoiding his mother’s eye line and shooting his sister-in-law an apologetic look.

"Mama, you is hurt!" Jamie cried in dismay, shimmying in Maura's arms until she let him down onto his feet so that he could toddle over to Jane.

Jane swept him up into her arms and pressed her cheek to his, careful of her wounded nose, settling a wary gaze on Maura as she reassured their son, "I'm all right, baby, don't worry. Mommy'll fix me right up."

Jamie gave his Mama a stern look, which was frighteningly reminiscent of the one Angela kept shooting her way. He shook his head at her as if disappointed and admonished, “You was being very bad,” but then agreed, "Mommy is good at boo-boos."

"The best," said Jane, smiling as Maura drew closer to her, the doctor's eyes already analyzing all the abnormalities on Jane's face and coming to a quick conclusion.

"Hairline fracture of the nasal bone, above the lateral nasal cartilage. It's not disfiguring."

Jamie scrunched his nose up in confusion and Angela went quiet for a moment.

Jane was unfazed. "Can you pop it out for me?”

"Can't you do something safe?" Maura sighed.  "Like yoga?"

Angela snorted and returned her attention to the dishes while continuing to rant, "I tell her all the time not to rough house with him!”

"Hey! I do yoga with you all the time," Jane argued with Maura, ignoring her mother once again.

Maura raised her eyebrows in disbelief, trying to recall the last time she’d dragged her wife into yoga, but didn’t press, stepping fully into Jane's space. "Might hurt a little."

"Okay," Jane breathed, tensing up minimally, rolling her shoulders. She held her free hand out to the boy on her hip. "Can you hold Mama's hand, Jamie?"

Jamie nodded vigorously, latching onto his mother's hand with determination in his gaze.

Maura reached up with determination of her own, one hand gently grasping hold of Jane's chin and turning her head from side to side to understand all angles of the situation. She reassessed the injury up close, mapped out the proper way to rectify it in her mind, and then, without further warning, popped Jane's nose back into it's proper place.

"OW!" Jane shouted, flinching away but still holding on tight to Jamie. "A little?" she mocked, without any real anger, releasing Jamie’s hand to press her own momentarily against her nose, then shaking her hand as if she was trying to shake out the pain in her face, brown eyes watering.

"Better put some ice on it for the next twenty-four hours," Maura said breezily, "so I'm not married to a Mike Tyson look alike."

"You mean Mike Tyson isn't your thing?" Jane joked, blinking away the moisture in her eyes.

Maura's face was taken over by a deep look of contemplation, as if she was seriously considering it, but then she shook her head with a slightly befuddled expression. "You know, I don't think that he is."

"Oh really?" Jane asked, voice dripping with sarcasm. "What was your first clue? The woman you're married to, maybe, or was it your disapproval of Tyson Chicken Wings?"

Maura gave Jane her I'm not amused look, even though truthfully she was kind of amused – Jane had that annoying affect on her – and Jane smiled widely back at her, only to frown a moment later when she heard her cellphone going off. She turned her head back and forth, looking around the kitchen in search of it, and soon Maura was doing the same when she heard her own phone ringing.

"Oh!" Angela exclaimed, whirling around to face Jane, only just remembering something important she'd meant to tell her. "Someone – uh – um – bird! Bird keeps calling you."

"Detective Crowe?" Jane guessed, turning to look at her mother in disbelief.

Angela nodded and made a sound of affirmation while munching on a carrot stick.

"You answered my phone? Ma! Why didn't you just tell me?" Jane admonished, passing Jamie over to Angela and then stepping into the adjoining dining room where her phone sat atop the table beside Maura's.

"Because," Angela began to reply, shifting Jamie further up on her hip, "you were having so much fun having your -"

Jane snatched up her cellphone and pressed it to her ear, stretching her other arm out behind her to hand Maura's phone to her, talking over her mother as she answered, "Rizzoli."

"Isles," Maura mimicked, listening as she was given the location of the murder victim that was about to pull her and her wife away from Sunday dinner.

"I'll be right there," Jane said before hanging up, gathering up her gun and shield and clipping them to her belt.

"Okay," said Maura, silencing her own phone and turning an apologetic half-smile onto her young son. "Jamie, sweetie, Mama and I have to go to work for a little while. Will you be okay with Nonna and Uncle Frankie tonight?"

Jamie shrugged his shoulders, lip curling into a pout and eyes shining with a disappointment that never got any easier, that made Maura's heart ache every time she had to leave him, made her want to forget all about Boston's most recent homicide and stay right where she was. The Rizzoli home was warm and full of laughter, the exact opposite of the morgue that Maura would likely spend the rest of her evening in. But someone’s life had been taken, their time of warmth and cheer snatched away, and Maura’s duty was to speak for them.

Angela must have noticed her daughter-in-law's conflict, and despite her own desire to have her daughters stay for dinner, she bounced Jamie on her hip and told him, "You'll be just fine with Nonna, won't you sweetheart?" She leaned in to whisper against his ear, loud enough for the others to hear but quiet enough that Jamie might believe only he would know the secret. "And when your mommies are gone, you can have some fudge clusters... before dinner."

And just like that, Jamie's whole face lit up, and Maura fought the desire to argue about sugar and bedtime as he looked at his grandmother in wide-eyed disbelief. "Before?" he gasped, clapping a hand over his mouth a second later, afraid that his mothers would know what he was talking about.

Frankie looked just as surprised and rather annoyed. "Hey, what gives?" he said to his mother. "You never let us have chocolate before din - OOF!"

Jane effectively silenced her brother by giving him a well-placed elbow to the gut. Then she turned her attention onto her oblivious son. "C'mere, kid," she said with a sweet smile, taking Jamie back from her own mother and placing a big, sloppy, wet kiss on his forehead, laughing as he squealed and squirmed away, tickling his sides and peppering his face with more kisses.

Maura watched them with a smile, and then closed the distance between them to give Jamie a kiss and a tight squeeze of her own, before he wriggled out of his mothers' embraces, distracted by his Uncle Frankie's offer to show him a new game he had. Angela shouted after them not to be too long because dinner was almost ready, and Jane and Maura used the opportunity to sneak outside and head off to the crime scene.

If Maura had known where she was headed, what the night would bring, she might have turned back before she ever reached the driveway, might have hidden herself away in Jane’s childhood bedroom, somewhere safe, with brighter memories, somewhere filled with love despite any of its other flaws.

But seeing into the future was not a scientific possibility, and so she walked into the crime scene without preparation, without awareness of what was to come, past Detective Crowe arguing with Jane on the way in, past Frost puking in the bushes, past the uniformed officer checking badges by the front door. Nothing about the house or her first look at the crime were clues either, a seemingly wealthy man bound and gagged, with a deep gash across his throat.

The only indicator of something amiss was finding Korsak just inside the victim’s home. He had been on vacation, had come back early for this particular case, and it might have been more worrying if Maura had not known how dedicated Korsak was to his work, that he had little family to speak of since his last divorce.

But something was wrong.

Jane picked it out in the first few minutes of observing the body. Everything began with the usual talk, and Maura was in the zone, examining the open wound in the man’s throat, but then Jane began naming the evidence – signs of forced entry, well-to-do couple, man bound and posed, woman missing… and a teacup, lying underneath the coffee table from where it had very likely fallen from the man’s lap.

Maura straightened up at once, dropped abruptly into the past, into a nightmare, the room blurring around her, ears ringing, and she staggered back, blinking, not breathing. Her stomach lurched, Hoyt’s voice in her ear, head throbbing, concrete digging into her knees, duct tape cutting off her voice and her breath as she screamed herself hoarse, Jane’s palms pooling with blood, a gunshot deafening her in the small space.

Out, out, she had to get out

Jane’s voice – Maura.

But all Maura could hear was Hoyt, was Jane screaming, the gunshot.


Everything was blood and fear and she had to get out and –


Seven years earlier…

“Come on, Stanley. You know I’m good for it.”

“I don’t know anything about you. Tiffany.”

Jane huffed in frustration, stomach cramping with hunger, head throbbing, and Stanley’s piss poor attitude like a knife jabbing through the back of her right eye. “Really? Two dollars for a day-old donut and bad coffee? Please,” she begged, half pouting, switching tactics halfway through – he’d never respond to insults. “Come on, I’ll get you after my shift.”

He scoffed. “You think you’ll make that much?”

The rage came rushing back. “You know what? I hope Big Mo tows your Chevy, I hope your crap coffee gives you an ulcer, and you die of psoriasis.” A hand waving in her periphery like a god damn gnat caught her eye and Jane whirled on the impatient woman, dressed to the nines in some tight little dress that Jane probably couldn’t afford to buy in one lifetime, perfect hair that didn’t even frizz in the damp October air, perfect make-up on a perfectly smooth face, and perfect manicured fingers clutching a wad of imperfect cash. Jane didn’t observe much more than that, except for the thought that the woman probably never had to wait for anything in her life. “Do you mind? You can get your non-fat latte in a minute, a’right?”

“No, it's for you,” the woman said, all chipper and oblivious. “And given the vitamin D deficiency – likely from your, uh... from your night work – you're better off with some plain yogurt and some leafy greens.”

Had Jane been in a better mood she might have laughed. Instead, she felt that sharp pang in the back of her eye and her stomach growling along with her as she snapped back, “I have my lice under control, thank you. But Stanley here has psoriasis.”

“Psoriasis is not contagious,” the irksome woman said matter-of-factly. “It's a genetic disease.”

“What about rudeness?” Jane countered, eyes widening in astonishment that the woman was still talking to her. “Is that genetic, too?”

Finally seeming to catch on, the well-polished stranger retracted her hand and pulled her head back in offended retreat. “I was simply trying to be nice.”

“Well, not every hooker has a heart of gold. All right, sister?”

“Apparently not, sister,” was the unexpected comeback, along with a quick up and down of thin brows, and a scrutinizing gaze dragging the whole length of Jane’s absurdly dressed form.

It just figured, that on top of all her misfortunes that morning, while dressed like a two-bit hooker and her hair and make up a disgraceful mess, Jane would run into the literal definition of perfection, to make Jane look and feel even more ridiculous, and god damn it she just wanted some food – and coffee.

Jane couldn’t help the surprise that bloomed on her face at the woman’s saucy comment, nor could she bite off a quick enough response when, apparently fed up but not giving in, the stranger laid the cash down on the counter and told Stanley, “Please, allow me to pay for whatever she wants.”

“Look, lady,” Jane bristled, “I don’t need your –”

But she was already retreating, returning to her place in line, disregarding what Jane was saying, a tune jingling out of the purse in the crook of her arm, and she fished out her cellphone with ease, answering with a prim, “Dr. Isles.”

Isles – Isles – doctor – shit. Jane knew that name. The new Chief Medical Examiner of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, some super smart BCU graduate with a ridiculous number of accolades, who had just started at Boston PD a few weeks earlier, someone with whom Jane would likely have to work with someday, especially when she finally worked her way up to homicide. Shit.

Suppressing the urge to flail in frustration, Jane muttered to Stanley, “Just give me the donut, will ya?”

Stanley pursed his lips and made a face like a snarl, reluctantly snatching a donut out of its case, tossing it in a bag and thrusting it across the counter at her, sliding a cup for coffee right after as he collected the doctor's cash from the counter.

Thanks,” Jane sarcastically said in farewell, and then made a hasty retreat before she could further put her foot in her mouth.

She didn’t see the Medical Examiner again for about a week and a half. The next time they ran into each other, Jane was at least dressed in her business work clothes – a blazer and slacks and a button-up shirt –, sans the crazy makeup, and her hair down and curled but as tamed as it could be. She was back in the Division One Café for lunch, seated this time, at a table by herself, munching on fries and reading through a recent set of case files she’d been pouring over all morning.

Dr. Isles appeared across the table from her, still done up like something out of a fashion magazine as she said to Jane without greeting, “You’re a detective.”

“Uh...” Jane swallowed hastily, choking slightly, fist coming up over her mouth as she coughed once and her eyes watered. “Yeah,” she said, when she’d recovered. “Yeah, I am, and you’re the medical examiner.”

The ME beamed and thrust out her hand. “Dr. Maura Isles.”

Jane wiped her hand on her pants to try and rid it of the grease from her fries, and then shook the hand Dr. Isles had offered her. “Jane Rizzoli. Listen, uh, I’m sorry about the other day. I was starving and I'd been up all night… I didn’t mean to take it out on you.”

“And my apologies for assuming that you were a hooker,” Dr. Isles said in turn. “I’m actually quite ashamed. I do hate to make any conclusion without properly analyzing the facts firsts.”

Jane couldn’t help a tiny snort – the doctor did look quite displeased with herself. “That’s all right, it’s – it’s my cover. I’m in the drug unit.”

“Oh, that sounds fascinating.”

“It’s, uh, something like that – oh, I’ve got your money –” Jane rummaged in her pocket for the few dollar bills she had left.

But before she could find them, Maura was shaking her head and insisting, “Don’t worry about it.”

“No, no, let me pay you back,” Jane insisted.

“How about coffee, instead?” Maura suggested.

Jane stilled, brow furrowing. “Right now?”

“No, I’m sure you’re busy, and I’ve got two bodies waiting for me in the morgue, but perhaps one day this week? If you’re free?”

“Oh,” Jane realized. “You want to get coffee together?”

“Preferably somewhere other than here.” Dr. Isles looked around quickly to check that no one was listening in, and then bent forward to lean in and whisper conspiratorially, “Don’t tell Stanley I said this, but the coffee here is dreadful.”

Jane chuckled, the scent of Maura’s vanilla perfume wafting over her as the doctor stood up straight once more. “Don’t worry, your secret’s safe with me.”

Maura seemed pleased, lips curling up in a tiny smile. “I know of a perfect little café.”

“Okay, yeah,” Jane agreed. She didn’t have many friends, and she hadn’t had one that was female since high school. Maybe getting to know the medical examiner wouldn’t be so bad. “How about Wednesday? I’ve got the day off.”

“Wednesday works for me,” Maura agreed. “I can take a long lunch. Here –” she held her cell phone out to Jane “– add your number and I’ll call you with the details.”

Jane added her number and passed the phone back, noticing the time as she did so. “Oh, shoot, I gotta head back.” She rose up quickly and began gathering up her things. “I’ll talk to you later then?”

“Yes, of course. I look forward to it, Detective.”

“Yeah, me too,” Jane said absently, balancing her files and her drink and her trash in her arms, waving three of her fingers in farewell. “See ya, Doc.”

Two days later, Jane was weaving her way through a sea of foot traffic in downtown Boston, eyes darting around behind black sunglasses, searching for Dr. Isles’s honey colored hair in the crowd as she approached the fancy café with a French name Jane wasn’t even going to try to pronounce. She’d thought Maura was having a seizure when she said it over the phone at first, and then was simply stunned when the amused doctor spoke fluent French for at least two more sentences. The place was small and easy to miss, and Jane cringed thinking about trying to find seating in there, hoping the place wasn’t as packed as the rest of the sidewalk was.

“Jane!” a familiar feminine voice called, and Jane swiveled. She lifted her glasses when she spotted Maura waving, sliding them back into her hair and returning the wave and the smile all at once. She and Maura moved to one another and met in the middle, and Maura gave Jane an appraising look. “You clean up nicely, Detective.”

Jane made a noise in the back of her throat somewhere between a scoff and a laugh, and looked down at her dark jeans and plain white, button up dress shirt, and then at Maura’s navy-blue skirt and colorful, flowy blouse. “Thanks, uh, you look clean and nice like every other time I’ve seen you. Seriously, do you moonlight as a fashion designer or something?”

Maura seemed perplexed. “No, I don’t. What made you think that?”

Jane shook her head. “Oh, no, I was being sarcastic. I just meant – since you’re always dressed so… never mind. You think this place has any tables open?”

“Oh, that is highly improbable,” Maura said. “I was thinking we could get our orders and find a bench in the park, if you’re okay with that?”

“Yeah, ‘course, sounds good. It’s a perfect day.”

“Only a ten percent chance of rain this afternoon, high of seventy-three,” Maura informed as they walked side by side towards the café.

“Did you research the weather this morning?” Jane joked.

“Yes, I did,” Maura answered brightly, and Jane had a feeling that it wasn’t sarcasm.

“Am I gonna be able to pronounce anything on this menu?” Jane asked instead.

“Oh, yes,” Maura assured. “They have plenty of variety. I’m certain you’ll be able to find something to your liking. And I’d be happy to make a recommendation.”

“Are you gonna recommend leafy greens again?” Jane snorted.

Maura blushed, eyes downcast for a moment in embarrassment. “My apologies. I’m afraid I tend to give unsolicited medical advice. Many suitors have expressed their displeasure in the past.”

“I can imagine that’s a little off-putting for first date material, might want to start holding off till at least the third or fourth.”

“I’ll keep that in mind,” Maura said good-naturedly.

The pair of them squeezed their way into the tiny café, standing in line for a few minutes, Maura going on and on about all the different options, giving Jane way more information than she actually needed about scones, but she was also fairly impressed. She had known the doctor was smart, had read about her in the paper when she joined BPD, but she hadn’t realized just how much.

When they received their drinks and food – Jane insisted on paying, and Maura was compliant even though it was technically a few dollars more than Jane owed – they shuffled back out into the crisp afternoon air, finding a park bench where Jane finally stopped to take a sip from her fancy coffee. She thought it was supposed to taste something like crème brule, and whatever it was, it was delicious. “Mmm, wow, this is good.”

“I’m glad you like it,” Maura said with a bright smile, daintily biting into the scone she’d gotten as a snack.

Despite the thrilling history lesson on said scones, Jane had opted for a muffin, which she dug into with gusto, responding to Maura with her mouth half full, “I’m gonna have a hard time going back to Stanley's coffee knowing I could be having this.”

Maura chuckled. “Well, I do stop here before work some mornings when I’m able. Perhaps I could bring you something now and then?”

Jane wiped her mouth with the back of her hand, trying to quickly swallow the mouthful of muffin getting stuck in her throat. “That’d be awesome, but, Maura, you don’t have to do that.”

“It would be no trouble,” Maura assured, “though I imagine with your late nights at work you tend to be preparing to go home and sleep around the time I’m coming into work.”

Jane nodded. “Yeah, sometimes, but you’ll never see me turn down a coffee. Once my head hits the pillow I’m out anyways.”

“Even so, caffeine can have a disruptive effect on your sleep,” Maura said with concern.

“Yeah, and so can trying to sleep during the day, but I manage. What about you, Doctor? You’ve got to have some unhealthy habit.”

“Well…” Maura hedged, glancing around like she thought the health police might overhear her. “I do love donuts.”

Jane leaned back with an over exaggerated gasp. “Dr. Isles! For shame!”

Maura narrowed her eyes, scrutinizing Jane, and sounded genuinely curious as she asked, “Are you teasing me?”

Jane gently smacked Maura’s shoulder with the back of her hand. “’Course I am. Listen, I’m with you on the donuts. Might be cliché, ‘cause I’m a cop and all, but who doesn’t love donuts?”

“Speaking of being a cop – I’ve read about you,” Maura informed. “Top of your class at the academy, youngest officer ever to be promoted to detective, and the first woman to work in the drug control unit. You’re very impressive.”

Jane glanced down at her lap with a tiny smirk, fiddling with the rim of her coffee cup. “It’s not as impressive as it sounds. There were a lot of great recruits in the academy with me. Anyways, you’re one to talk. Didn’t you graduate medical school at like twenty-three? How does someone even pull that off?”

“I had a bit of a head start,” Maura said breezily, “and my course load was stretched to the max. It was taxing at times, but I do love a challenge.”

Jane snorted. “Yeah, so do I, but like, a fun challenge.”

“I find science very fun.”

“Yeah, I guess it’s kinda cool,” Jane admitted. “But y’know what’s even more fun? Baseball.

They started discussing sports then, and of course Maura’s idea of sports was fencing and cricket and rich people things Jane had never done. Jane was more stunned to learn that Maura had never played hockey or baseball – normal sports – and decided they would have to rectify that at once. Maura seemed interested, agreeing to try it out if Jane was offering to teach her.

Maura asked Jane about her job, and they talked about BPD for a bit – Maura said she liked it there, was glad to be back in Boston after some time spent abroad. Jane was quickly catching onto the fact that Maura had come from a wealthy family, that both women had vastly different life experiences, but Maura didn’t seem stuck up like most rich people Jane had come across. The doctor was kind and mostly modest, and it seemed like she was more oblivious than purposefully obtuse. Jane was good at reading people, and she could tell that Maura Isles was not so good with social cues. Maura had missed enough sarcasm and misunderstood several of Jane’s jokes, and it wasn’t just because Jane wasn’t all that funny. If the doctor had spent as much time focused on school and work as she alluded to, Jane imagined she hadn’t had much time for friends or socializing. She was wicked smart though, and sometimes Jane had trouble following what she was saying when she went on one of her tangents.

When it came time for Maura to leave, the doctor looked down at her wrist watch with some alarm as she said, “Oh, goodness, I’m so sorry. I should be getting back.”

“Oh, no worries,” Jane assured, rising to her feet with Maura, gathering up their long-emptied coffee cups and trash. “Go ahead, I’ll take care of this.”

“Thank you, Jane,” Maura said, looking a little flustered as she rummaged in her purse for her keys, smiling shyly. “I had a really good time.”

“Yeah, me too,” Jane said sincerely, smiling back reassuringly.

“I’d like to see you again, if you’re interested? Perhaps I could take you to dinner?”

Jane thought Maura had worded it a bit oddly, but Maura was a bit odd so she thought nothing more of it. She nodded. “Yeah, okay, sounds good.”

Maura beamed, a radiant smile that Jane couldn’t help finding endearing. “Wonderful. I’ll call you?”

“Works for me,” Jane agreed, and she and the doctor exchanged goodbyes, and Jane left the park thinking she had just made a friend.

Chapter Text

Maura had said the restaurant they were going to was fancy, so Jane begrudgingly tugged on an old black dress that she was pretty sure she’d had since her academy days. It was a little snug, but it looked all right, nothing a lint roller and a few shakes couldn’t fix. She did her hair and makeup and made herself halfway presentable; she’d been working most of the day and the rest of the week, so she had shadows under her eyes she wanted to try and cover. It had been two weeks since Jane and Maura had coffee in the park, and the two had mostly kept in touch, texting now and then, one or two phone calls, and Maura brought an extra coffee for Jane one morning at work. From those conversations, Jane knew that the medical examiner went without sleep plenty of times too, but she never once looked it, and Jane didn’t really care most of the time, but if she was going out to a fancy restaurant with the impeccable Dr. Isles, she had to at least look presentable, and that meant hiding her own weariness. It was kind of nice, too, to get all dressed up like a normal person for once and go out with the intent to enjoy herself. She found herself really looking forward to it in the days leading up to their dinner.

Maura offered to drive, said it wasn’t more than a few minutes out of the way to stop by Jane’s house, and Jane agreed, and she was even happier that she had when she saw the doctor pull up in a brand-new Mercedes, which Jane swooned over for several minutes before she even got in the car. Maura was laughing as she opened the passenger door with a flourish, and Jane was in a daze as she slid inside, emitting a tiny, excited squeal at the feel of the leather interior beneath her palms.

When Maura got in, Jane said, “Maura, this car is incredible.”

“I’m glad you like it,” Maura said with a smirk, and when she started it up with a low, thrumming roar, Jane’s jaw dropped. “I have been thinking of switching though. A Prius is a lot better for the environment and very fuel efficient.”

Jane groaned, sinking down into her seat. “Ugh, a Prius. No way. You can’t give up this for a Prius. At least if you’re gonna get the Prius keep the Mercedes too.”

Maura chuckled. “That is an option as well. I haven’t fully decided yet.”

“I’d buy it off you but I barely have a space to park my unmarked and I have a feeling I couldn’t remotely afford it.”

“Most cars depreciate in value the moment you drive them off the lot so anything is possible, though maintenance fees and insurance can be a burden. Are you a car enthusiast?”

“Sometimes,” Jane answered, and then they were talking about cars, old cars and fast cars, and Jane was surprised and not surprised that Maura knew quite a lot about them, even engines and repairs, and Jane was particularly pleased to show off her own mechanical knowledge to the impressed doctor. There wasn’t much that Jane had found so far that she knew more about than Maura, so she’d take what she could get.

The restaurant was fancy, and pricey, and Jane felt like she ought to order water and the least expensive thing on the menu – an appetizer that cost thirty dollars –, but Maura was insistent, assuring Jane that money was no concern, and considering the car Maura drove, Jane figured it was true and relaxed. It paid to have a wealthy friend, she supposed. What was the harm in an overpriced meal now and then?

“You look gorgeous, by the way,” Maura said halfway through the meal, and Jane nearly choked on her overpriced lobster, sucking down a drink of her even more insanely overpriced wine. “I meant to tell you earlier, but you were so entranced by the car.”

“Um, thanks,” Jane said, laughing a little awkwardly. Maura was blunt, that was something else Jane had figured out over the past few weeks. The doctor said what she felt. She wasn’t hindered by social norms. Maybe because she didn’t know them.

“I’m sorry. I hope that wasn’t too forward –”

“N – no, no, it’s fine.” She didn’t mind, really, she just wasn’t used to those kinds of compliments, except for the ones she got from sleazy perps or the occasional uncomfortable date, though she hadn’t had much of those in a while. Work took up a lot of her time, and most of the guys she met were on the force with her, and she didn’t like to complicate work with relationships. She had already gone too far with Martinez, and she wasn’t interested in some guy holding her back from her goals.

“May I be frank with you?” Maura requested around dessert, and she appeared suddenly nervous, fidgeting minutely with the stem of her wine glass.

“Yeah, ‘course you can,” Jane said without hesitation, only mildly concerned about what it might be, though she did hold off on taking another bite of her cake, just in case.

“I’ve really enjoyed talking with you these past weeks, Jane, and I would very much like for it to continue.”

“Yeah, me too,” Jane easily agreed, confused as to why Maura seemed concerned, but figured she was just worried about Jane not being interested in a friendship with her.

Maura smiled in relief, taking in a breath. “I’m so glad to hear that. So you’d be interested in a second date?”

Jane blinked, and the cake she had unwisely gone back to got lodged in her throat. She was stunned silent for a moment, wide eyes focused on Maura, with her pretty smile and plain delight, that Jane would be the one to dampen, a simple misunderstanding that Jane had never even considered, that looking back now made total sense, and her stomach sank with dread, her excitement over having found a friend fading in the light of this sudden realization.

“I – I’m – I’m sorry – I didn’t – I thought –”

Maura caught on before Jane could stammer out an apology, face dropping, the anxiety back, and the doctor was quick to say, “No, no, I’m sorry. I should have been more explicit. I misread things. I do that sometimes. I thought I had gotten better at recognizing such feelings. I’m so sorry if I made you uncomfortable.”

“No, it’s – it’s okay, I’m not uncomfortable, I just didn’t realize.” Jane started to reach across the table for Maura’s hand, but thought better of it and stopped halfway. “I really have liked hanging out with you. You’re like the smartest person I’ve ever met, and really funny, even though you have no idea how to tell a joke. I’m just not… I’ve never dated women.”

Maura nodded, understanding and still kind, but Jane could see her retreating, in that way she did sometimes when she felt like she was the brunt of a joke. “Of course. You don’t have to explain yourself to me.”

“I would still like to be friends,” Jane offered sincerely. “Really, I would, if that’s something you’d be okay with.”

“Y – yes,” Maura slowly said, features brightening just a little. “Yes, absolutely. I – I would like that.”

“Great,” Jane said with a smile, and she didn’t let herself think on it any further than that. So Maura Isles liked women, so what? It was just a little mix up, one caught early on, and the doctor didn’t seem perturbed, only a little embarrassed, but totally amicable to being friends, and that’s what Jane wanted, a friend, for Maura to be her friend. Even with their differences she thought they were a good match, as friends, nothing more than that. Because Jane Rizzoli had never dated women, had never thought of dating women really, hadn’t considered it as an option, and not because she didn’t think women were great, just that she had only ever been pursued by men and… and of course she preferred men, didn’t she? Of course she did. She was only feeling confused now because Maura thought they were on a date, but obviously Jane didn’t have those kinds of feelings for Maura.

That’s what she continued to tell herself for the following ten months, as her friendship with Maura grew and solidified. The mistake of the not date was not mentioned again, and Jane never again felt like Maura was harboring other feelings for her, like anything was amiss. They became comfortable with one another, exchanging text messages most days, getting coffee at lunch when Jane had a weekday off, spending the rare weekend at a restaurant – sometimes a fancy one Maura wanted to go to, more often at the Dirty Robber. After a time, they took to spending evenings at Jane’s apartment or Maura’s house, drinking wine and beer and ordering out, watching TV or taking turns picking a movie, with Jane’s picks sending Maura into tirades about inaccuracies, and Maura’s picks putting Jane directly to sleep. Some days, when their schedules aligned, they went for a morning run and then drove to work together, usually stopping along the way for coffee.

And in all that time they spent together, Jane never once thought of them as dating. When Martinez asked her when she’d switched teams and how she’d managed to bag the ME right off the bat, Jane was insulted for a number of reasons, but she did take a look at her relationship with the doctor and wondered if Maura was still hoping for something else.

That is, until Maura told Jane one evening that she was going on a date, and Jane was confused for three seconds because Maura had almost never discussed going on any dates since she’d known her, except for the stories the doctor would occasionally tell, about past dates gone wrong. It wasn’t that Jane thought Maura didn't date, just that it wasn’t usually a topic they lingered on for long, if at all. And Jane had always known that it wasn’t like Maura would never date, it was just that she had gotten so used to it being the two of them in the past ten months that she hadn’t prepared for someone else. She hadn’t prepared to end up at the Dirty Robber by herself on a night she usually spent there with Maura. She hadn’t prepared for the absurdly unreasonable feelings of – of… jealousy? Disappointment? She wasn’t sure, but it couldn’t be either of those, could it? Maura was perfectly welcome to date whoever she wanted. Because she wasn’t dating Jane. Jane had made sure of that, hadn’t she? Well of course she had.

Jane huffed and took another long pull from her beer, looking across the packed bar and scowling at all the noisy people. It sounded so much louder in the confined space when she had nothing – and no one – else to focus on.  She ought to just leave, but she was four beers deep and didn’t feel like calling a cab, and she had texted Frankie to come sit with her after her third beer so she felt obligated to stay until he arrived at least. But he was taking his sweet ass time and Jane was impatient. She was alone and impatient and checking her phone too many times and she didn’t have any messages from Maura, but then again why would she?

When Frankie came through the door, Jane sighed in relief, waving him down and grumbling as he slid into the booth across from her, “Took you long enough.”

Frankie was grinning broadly and buzzing with energy, and he completely ignored Jane as he burst out, “I got accepted.”

“That’s great,” Jane said sarcastically, “meanwhile I’ve been sitting here all night waiting for – wait… accepted for what?”

“To the academy!” Frankie exclaimed impatiently. “I start next year!”

Jane’s eyes widened, scowl unfurling. “Hey! Frankie!” She slapped him on the shoulder with an elated smile of her own. “Congrats, little brother!”

“Only four more months,” Frankie said, rubbing his hands together.

“What are you gonna tell Pop?” Jane asked with a snicker.

“Yeah, well, I was hoping maybe you could tell him?” Frankie suggested, with those pleading puppy eyes that never worked on Jane like he thought.

Jane scoffed. “Why would I tell him?”

“’Cause you’re his favorite! C’mon, Janie, ya gotta help me out.”

Jane rolled her eyes. “Tommy’s his favorite, and how you gonna face down a perp if you can’t even face down Pop?”

Frankie groaned dramatically and slumped back in his seat. “How mad you think he’s gonna be?”

“Well, it is Rizzoli and Sons.

“Yeah, well, I never wanted to be a plumber, y’know.”

“Yeah, I know,” Jane commiserated. “Ma’ll blame it on me anyways.”

“Yeah, probably,” Frankie agreed, snickering and jerking out of the way when Jane tried to punch him in the shoulder from across the table. Their waiter came and Frankie ordered food and more beer. “Why’d you ask me to come here anyways?” he asked then, looking around the bar. “Where’s Maura?”

Frankie was the only person in the family that Jane had introduced the doctor to so far. She half expected Maura to run away if she saw the whole Rizzoli clan, if she had to endure Angela’s intrusive questioning. Jane wasn’t sure she could endure it, and it wasn’t like she was twelve anymore. She didn’t have to introduce her parents to her new friend, nor did she have to prove to a disbelieving Tommy that she had managed to get a friend in the first place, let alone one that was a rich, genius doctor. But Jane and Frankie had always been close and he was the least crazy of the Rizzolis. He and Maura had gotten along great, and Jane was only slightly concerned he had a crush on the doctor, but in ten months of friendship Jane had seen most men’s eyes light up at the sight of Maura, so it was hardly anything new.

“She’s on a date,” Jane muttered, and it came out just as bitter as she was afraid it would.

“Oh yeah?” Frankie asked earnestly, apparently missing Jane’s tone or more pressed about his own crush on Maura. Not that Jane had a crush. It was Maura. “Who with?”

“Some hot doctor lady she met at a conference,” Jane grumbled, sucking down the rest of her beer.

“A doctor lady?” Frankie echoed in surprise. “You mean Maura’s…”

“She likes women, yeah,” Jane confirmed, giving her brother a hard look, half expecting him to say… something, something wrong.

But she was wrong to think so because Frankie just shook his head and whistled. “Damn. It’s a sad day for the men of Boston.”

Jane rolled her eyes again and didn’t mention that Maura dated both.

“But, hey, that’s good for you,” Frankie said, swatting Jane’s arm with the backs of his fingers, and she reeled back, rubbing her arm and scowling at him.

“What are you talking about?”

“Ma would be thrilled to have you come home with a doctor,” Frankie teased.

“Shut up,” Jane scoffed. “I’m not gonna date Maura.”

“Why not?” Frankie asked, sounding almost genuinely interested. “Isn’t that why you’re sitting here sulking? ‘Cause she’s on a date with someone else?”

No,” Jane snapped. “I’m not sulking.

“Sure you’re not,” Frankie said disbelievingly.

“Maura can date whoever she wants. It’s not like I date women.”

“You don’t date men either,” Frankie pointed out.

Jane glared at him.

Frankie laughed despite it. “Look, all’s I’m sayin' is that I’ve never seen you spend half as much time with anyone as you do with Maura these days, and definitely not a boyfriend. Who cares that she’s a woman? You could do worse.”

“I don’t think that’s how sexual preferences work.”

Frankie gave her a look. “You tellin' me you don’t find Maura attractive?”

Jane scoffed. “Obviously she’s attractive. Anybody with eyes can tell you that.”

“Yeah, but how many of those people are jealous that she’s on a date with someone else?”

“I’m not jealous,” Jane growled.

“Sure you’re not,” Frankie conceded with an unconvinced smirk.

Frankie,” Jane whined, desperately gulping down more of her beer, even though she would have been better off sobering up and driving herself home, to escape her brother if nothing else.

“I’m just messing with you,” Frankie said with one last chuckle. “But if, by chance, you do like Maura, you know, as more than friends, I’m totally cool with it.” He took a huge bite from his burger and kept talking, muffled, through it. “And Ma and Pop won’t care either. They both voted for that Sciortino.” As if that made them both understanding of one of their children being gay, because they voted for a guy that happened to be a gay rights activist. Though to be fair, Jane had never heard much judgement from her parents on the subject. Angela was always ranting live and let live, and Jane really had no idea what her father would think.

Jane shook her head. None of that mattered anyways because she wasn’t and she didn’t and –

“Oh, good, you’re still here,” a familiar voice said, and there was Maura all of a sudden, strutting over to Jane and Frankie’s table, still all done up from her date, with a smoky eye makeup that made her hazel eyes look brighter, her hair curled and sleek, wearing a tight black dress, and dammit she was stunning, and Jane could smell her vanilla perfume as she came to stand at the end of the table. “Mind if I join you?”

Jane was already sliding down the booth, making room for Maura to sit next to her, and as their hips bumped together and Maura smiled softly in Jane’s direction, Jane was annoyed to feel a flutter in her belly, pressing herself as far into the corner as she could, legs crossed tight. Frankie was grinning at her a little too pointedly and Jane gave him a warning look.

“We were just talking about you,” Frankie told Maura, followed by an, “Oof!” When Jane kicked him right in the shin underneath the table.

“I thought you were on a date,” Jane said, before Maura could ask. “Is it over already?”

“She was called away during dinner,” Maura answered, seeming unperturbed, but Jane noticed the way Maura was avoiding her gaze.

“For work?”

“That… is what she said, yes,” Maura said slowly. “Ooh, Frankie are you going to eat all of those fries?”

Frankie shook his head, mouth full of burger and smeared with ketchup, sliding his plate into the middle of the table so Maura could reach better. “Help yourself.”

Jane didn’t allow the change of subject to hold. “Do you not believe that’s why she left?”

Maura purposefully munched on three fries before she swallowed and finally admitted, “I don’t believe she’ll be calling me for a second date, if that’s what you’re asking.”

“Aww, how come?” Frankie asked.

“I’m afraid I may have been a poor conversationalist.”

“I don’t believe it,” Frankie said, looking scandalized. “She must have been stuck up.”

“Stuck up?” Maura said in confusion.

“Yeah. Like snooty, arrogant,” Frankie explained.

Ohh,” Maura said in realization.

“Hey, I’m gonna grab another beer, you want anything?” Frankie offered, cleaning his hands off with his napkin.

“A beer would be great, thank you, Frankie.”

Frankie went over to the bar, and Jane had the opportunity to rub Maura’s shoulder and softly inquire, “Hey, what happened?”

“Oh, it was nothing,” Maura said a bit sheepishly, glancing at Jane and away and back again. “We discussed work and I was talking about you, us, and I suppose she got the wrong impression about our friendship.”

Jane frowned. “She thought… what? That you were trying to date us both?”

“I’m not sure exactly,” Maura responded, and Jane might not have been convinced if it weren’t for the fact that Maura probably actually didn’t understand whatever social construct she had apparently broken.

Jane bumped her shoulder into Maura’s and teased, “Well, we should have seen this coming all along. She was a foot doctor, Maura. Obviously she’s insane.

Laughter bubbled up from Maura’s chest and out her throat, and that was really all Jane had been going for, so she sat back in her seat with a contented grin, and she let the rest of her beer go warm, ‘cause who needed liquor when she had Maura to make her head spin?

Chapter Text


October 2010

Jane felt her stomach drop out from under her when she saw the markings of Hoyt, saw a married couple no doubt terrorized and then murdered, remembered how close she had come to being like them, to being another of Hoyt's victims. It had been over a year since Jane’s run in with the evil bastard, since he had flipped her life upside down, her family’s life, Maura’s life.

And even though Jane felt the cold chill of dark memories trickling down the back of her neck, saw flashes of that horrible time in her vision, it was Maura she thought of, Maura she turned to the moment she saw the tea cup on the floor. Maura had straightened her spine, had taken a step back from the body and the coffee table under which the cup laid, was already retreating, heels catching on the rug. Jane called out to her, but Maura was already some place else.

She was clutching at her stomach and shaking her head, shaking her head like she could deny what she was seeing, like she could pretend none of it had any significance. Her face had gone pale, a sickly hue, lips trembling, speechless, half breathless, every inhale too sharp and short, chest moving rapidly as she struggled to take in air. Jane reached for her, but she turned away, went rushing for the door with Jane chasing after, back out into the cool night air, into darkness, away from the chatter at the front of the house, away from the bright lights and reporters, around the side to an alcove that wasn’t quite hidden from view, but enough that Jane hoped no one would notice them.

When Maura stopped her hasty walk, she bent over at the waist, one hand bracing against the outside wall, other still holding her stomach, and she retched, but nothing came out. She sucked in a deep, shuddering breath, and her whole body was trembling when Jane placed her hands on Maura’s back.

“Maura,” Jane rasped, like there was a knife in her chest, pain manifesting there, pain and grief and worry, but certainty too. She wouldn’t let this happen again. She wouldn’t let him get to Maura ever, ever again.

“He can’t –” Maura gasped, desperation in her voice, still shaking her head. “He can’t be –”

“I won’t let him, Maura,” Jane promised. “I won’t let him get near you.”

“Me?” Maura wheezed, straightening up a little to turn, taking Jane’s hands in her own, exposing the scars on Jane’s palms, looking at them with deep sorrow. “What about you? Jane, I – I can’t –” Maura’s eyes suddenly widened, and her hold on Jane’s hands went painfully tight. “Jamie – Jamie – he’s not safe!”

“It’s okay, he’s with Frankie, it’s okay, come here,” Jane soothed, tugging Maura into her arms before she could start hyperventilating, holding Maura tightly against her, so that she couldn’t suck in too much air, so that was forced to calm her breathing. “I’ll call. I’ll call and make sure Jamie is okay. We don’t even know that it’s – that it's him. Hoyt is – he’s in prison. This can’t be him.” Except there was a nagging feeling in Jane’s gut, because Maura never ran out of a crime scene, and all the details were too precise to be coincidence.

“What if it is?” Maura fretted. “What if he got out?”

“We would have known,” Jane asserted. “Korsak would have warned us.” Though it would have been better of him to warn Jane and Maura that this case was connected, that it reeked of Hoyt, for Maura’s sake if for no one else. Korsak might have been pissed at Jane still for requesting a new partner after the Hoyt incident, but he knew better than most what had gone on during Hoyt’s last spree, what had happened in that basement before he arrived in time to save them, how Maura had been terrorized for over sixteen hours before Jane had even found her. The worst had been prevented, but the toll it had taken had left lasting damage, not just the physical scars they both had, but memories that plagued them day and night for months after, the fear they felt any time one of them took too long to answer their phone or return home. Korsak would know that. Korsak should have told them before they walked into that house.

Jane was angry with her old partner, but she trusted that he wouldn’t have blind sided them this fully, that he would have called her first thing if Hoyt had actually escaped. This had to be something else.

“Why don’t I have Frost take you back to Ma’s?” Jane gently suggested, rubbing Maura’s arms as she was steadying her breath, wiping moisture from the corners of her eyes.

Maura was shaking her head before Jane even finished, straightening her spine. “No. I’m not leaving. Unless I’m asked to recuse myself, I will work this case like any other.” And Jane could almost see the shift in her wife’s eyes, the way that Maura compartmentalized, shutting herself down, the way she had immediately after Hoyt, the way she had cut herself off from her emotions until they boiled up inside of her and burst out in the middle of the supermarket.

“Okay,” Jane conceded as Maura was smoothing down her hair, the mild wrinkle in her dress. The distant light cast a soft glow on Maura’s features, and she would have been aghast to see the way her hair frizzed just a little in the damp air – the pain in Jane’s palms warned of a coming storm –, but Jane had always liked it, had always thought it made her sparkle in the right light, made her look more like the Maura that Jane knew, that others weren’t privy to. Dr. Isles was always impeccable, professional, put-together, the queen of the dead. Maura didn’t shut off from Jane the way she did others as Dr. Isles, the way she was right now.

“I’ll call Frankie,” Maura said mechanically, fumbling for her cellphone.

“Hey,” Jane murmured, squeezing Maura’s shoulder, leaning in to press a kiss to her flushed cheek, “I’m with you.”

Maura paused then, coming back to herself for just long enough to nod gratefully, and then she was turning away, calling Frankie, checking on their son.

December 2004

Maura was bent over a newly delivered body, rifling through the poor man’s pant pockets when she said, “Candy cane!” and popped up with a half eaten candy cane in hand.

Jane, who had only come down to the morgue to ask Maura what she wanted for lunch, made an unimpressed face. “He put that thing back in his linty pocket? Gross.”

Maura carefully set the candy cane down on a tray and resumed her search, and Jane opened her mouth to insist that Maura tell her what she wanted to eat, only to be cut off when Maura said, “The first candy cane was believed to be made a part of Christmas tradition in 1670 by a choir master at Cologne Cathedral, who handed out candy shaped like a shepard’s staff to the children to keep them occupied while watching their live Nativity.”

“Cologne Ca – Maura,” Jane complained, “you just made that up.”

Maura looked appalled. “I did no such thing!”

“Uh huh, sure you didn’t,” Jane said disbelievingly. “How many times have you told that story? Is that your Christmas party trick? Telling random Christmas facts?”

“No, but do you think people might like that?” Maura asked earnestly.

“Uhh, that depends, are these people nerds like you?”

Maura gave Jane an unamused look, eyes narrowed, but her lips were quirking up a little in the corners.

Jane smirked, glad that Maura knew she was teasing and not being malicious; it had taken a few months for Jane to teach Maura the basics of sarcasm and jokes, a difficulty in the beginning of their friendship because Jane had accidentally upset Maura a handful of times, striking nerves she hadn’t even known were there. “You gonna see your parents for Christmas?”

Maura shook her head. “I believe my father is in Japan, and my mother is visiting some family in London.”

“Do you have other family to spend the day with then? Or friends?”

Maura shook her head again, nonplussed. “No. I usually spend the day at work, or I’ll go to the theater if there’s a seasonal movie I’m interested in seeing. I have been invited to a few Christmas parties in the past, but they’re often a long plane ride away and I’m not always able to take the time off.”

Jane frowned. “So you’re spending this Christmas alone?”

“Well, not entirely. There will be other people working here on Christmas.”

Jane made up her mind without thinking on it for a second longer. “Oh my god, Maura. You’re coming with me.”

Maura tilted her head in confusion. “Pardon?”

“I’ve finally got Christmas day off and you’re coming with me to my parents' house. You’ll have to put up with some of my obnoxious relatives, but Aunt Carla makes the best cannoli.”

“Oh, Jane, you don’t have to do that,” Maura said, looking embarrassed. “I wouldn’t want to intrude.”

“Trust me, it’s no intrusion,” Jane assured. “Tommy brings whatever random girl he picks up out of a shopping mall every year. ‘Sides, Ma’s been badgering me about getting to meet you so it’s perfect, right? Unless you really don’t wanna go.”

“No, I – I do,” Maura stammered, smiling now, if a little nervously. “I would love to. As long as you’re sure. Perhaps you should call your parents first and ask them if it’s all right.”

“I’ll call and tell them to expect you, how’s that?” Jane offered with a smirk.

“I… suppose that could be acceptable,” Maura agreed. “Should I bring anything? A dish? Gifts?”

“Nah, they make way too much food anyways. So I’ll pick you up around noon then?”

“That sounds just fine.”

And so it was done, and Jane thought nothing more of it because Maura was her best friend and she wasn’t going to let the doctor spend Christmas alone. She had a gift for Maura already anyways, and as expected, when she called her mother to inform her that Maura would be coming along, Angela was thrilled – the more the merrier, she said –, looking forward to meeting the person Jane had become such good friends with over the past year, and Jane would have been offended by her mother’s insinuations that she hadn’t had a friend in years if it hadn’t been mostly true. Jane was mildly concerned about the refined doctor’s reaction to some of Jane’s family members, but Maura wasn’t easily put off, even if she had never been to an event like a Rizzoli Christmas

When Jane arrived at Maura’s front door to pick her up, Maura walked out in a fancy red dress and heels, expensive emerald jewelry adorning her neck and ears. Jane looked her up and down with an impressed raise of her brows, and then at herself, in jeans and a plain black sweater.

Maura was immediately awash with concern. “I’m overdressed, aren’t I? Oh, I knew I should have bought a different dress. I can change –”

“No, no, Maura,” Jane interjected with a laugh, lunging forward to grab her friend’s arm before she could retreat back into the house. “It’s okay. You look great, really. Come on, we’re already runnin' late.”

“Are you sure?” Maura fretted.

“Positive,” Jane assured. “Ma wears a dress every year. You won’t look out of place. I promise.”

Jane ushered Maura to the car, and Maura chattered nervously the whole way, questioning Jane relentlessly about who would be at the party and if there were any topics to avoid around certain people.

It wasn’t until they arrived at her parents' house that Jane started feeling a little anxious herself, thinking maybe some of Maura’s nervous energy had rubbed off on her. She had to wipe her sweaty palms on her jeans as they strode up to the porch, and started to lift her hand to Maura’s back, but abruptly changed her mind just before it could land, closing the offending hand into a fist and dropping it back to her side. She ran the other hand through her hair instead, and forced a tight smile when Maura looked over at her. She sucked in a deep breath when they reached the front door, and paused to ask Maura, “You ready?”

Maura nodded and inhaled too, her chest expanding and her chin lifting, smiling with a bit of excitement. “Yes.”

Feeling suddenly more relaxed, Jane turned the nob and stepped into her childhood home without further hesitation, holding it for Maura to step inside and closing it behind them. The warmth was almost oppressing after being out in the sharp cold, but the scent of Christmas dinner wafting through the air was a comforting weight. Loud conversation could be heard from the entryway, no one apparently having noticed Jane and Maura’s entrance yet. Jane took Maura’s coat and her own and hung them both up on the overflowing rack, and then ushered Maura down the short hallway to the living room, where most of the family was gathered. Her father and both her brothers were there, along with some of her mother’s family – Jane’s father didn’t speak to most of his own family, and when he did, he usually only went to see his mother on Christmas Eve. Angela’s brother, Marco, and her sister’s husband, Jack, were in the living room, as were Jane's cousins, Andre, Giana, and Kevin, including Kevin’s wife and toddler.

Frankie was the first to notice Jane and Maura in the entryway, sitting up straight from his corner of the couch and smiling broadly, waving them in with a, “Hey! There they are!”

There was a chorus of, “’Eyy” and “Janie!”, and Jane’s father got up to hug her.

“Merry Christmas, Pop,” Jane said, pulling back and gesturing to Maura at her side. “This is Maura.”

“The doctor, right?” Frank Sr said, eyeing Maura up with polite interest.

“That’s correct,” Maura confirmed, holding her hand out to Jane’s father to shake in greeting. “Chief Medical Examiner of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. It’s a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Rizzoli. Thank you for having me.”

“Ah, just Frank is fine,” he said with a wave of his hand. “We thought Janie was makin' you up.”

Jane rolled her eyes and said to Maura, “I told you.”

Maura chuckled lightly. “I am very much real. Jane has been a great friend to me at work. I’m very grateful to her.”

Jane smacked Maura lightly on the back and said, “You don’t gotta suck up. They won’t believe you.”

“Sucking up?” Maura echoed curiously.

Jane scoffed. “You’re kidding, right?”

Maura smirked and pinched the back of Jane’s arm, unable to keep the joke going, and Jane shook her head, but didn’t have a chance to tease Maura back.

Tommy interjected, sidling up next to his father with a beer in hand saying, “Hey, Janie, is this your friend?”

“Yeah, this is Maura. Maura, this is my little brother Tommy –”

“You didn’t tell us she was hot,” Tommy accused, that dumb, goofy grin on his face, and Jane scowled, reaching out to smack him on the back of the head. “Ow! What was that for?”

“Show some respect,” Jane scorned as he rubbed his head.

“Yeah, show some respect,” their father chastised, smacking the back of Tommy’s head too.

“Oh, it’s okay,” Maura said hastily, cheeks turning pink, looking a little concerned. “It’s nice to meet you, Tommy.”

Jane grabbed Maura’s arm and began pulling her away muttering, “It’ll be nice to meet someone else. Sorry about that.”

“It’s all right,” Maura assured. “I’ve certainly heard worse.”

Jane didn’t think that made it better but she let it drop. They greeted Frankie next, and then moved on to Jane’s extended family. Most of them were short in their greetings but polite. Giana gushed over Maura’s jewelry and Andre asked about Maura’s job until Jane decided he was showing too much fascination about opening dead bodies.

Uncle Jack said, “Maura, eh? That’s an Irish name. You from South Boston? I might know some of your relatives.”

“Oh, I don’t know,” Maura said brightly, interest piqued by the idea. “I suppose it’s possible, but I was adopted as a baby. I don’t know where my biological parents are from. My adoptive mother is originally from England though.”

“Oh no, not the Brits,” Uncle Jack said with a boisterous belly laugh. “They must’a stolen you like they stole our land.”

“You ain’t ever even lived in Ireland,” Jane scoffed, grabbing Maura by the elbow and guiding her away. “C’mon, Maura, I’ll introduce you to Ma.”

Angela was in the kitchen cooking up dinner, along with Jane’s Aunt Carla and Aunt Helen. The three women were gossiping noisily, while Angela and Helen weaved around each other to tend to various steaming pots of food. Carla was sitting at the island munching on bread sticks.

“Hey, Ma,” Jane called over the noise, and Angela spun, broad smile spreading across her face.

She dropped the spoon in her hand into the pot she’d been stirring and hurried over to give Jane a tight squeeze that took Jane’s breath away for half a second. Angela pulled back after dropping a loud kiss to Jane’s cheek, and Jane squirmed away with an exasperated face as Angela turned to Maura. “And you must be Maura! Janie’s told us so much about you.” Angela surged forward before Maura could fully open her mouth to respond, tugging the bewildered doctor into an embrace as well, shaking Maura back and forth.

Maura seemed startled, but not perturbed, and Jane chuckled for a moment before she took pity on her and nudged her mother’s shoulder. “All right, Ma, you’re suffocating her.”

Angela swatted at Jane with the hand towel over her shoulder, and then beamed at Maura again. “I’m so glad you came. Please, make yourself at home. If you need anything, don’t be afraid to ask. The food will be done around two – if you're hungry now there’s some bread and snacks. Are you thirsty? We’ve got wine. Jane, did you offer her wine?”

“Not yet, Ma,” Jane huffed. “Maura, would you like some wine?”

“Yes, wine sounds lovely,” Maura answered, still looking a little thrown off. “Angela, thank you so much for having me. Is there anything I can do to help?”

“That’s very nice of you to offer,” Angela said as Jane was grabbing a wine glass for Maura, “but you just relax and enjoy yourself. Of course, you’re welcome to hang out in here with us. Here, let me introduce you – this is my sister Carla and my sister-in-law Helen. Girls, this is Jane’s friend from work, Dr. Maura Isles.”

Helen waved with her spatula and wiggled her brows in amusement as she said, “A doctor, eh? Y’know, Jane, when your mother said she wanted you to bring a doctor home, I think she meant something else.”

Jane shot her Aunt Helen an unamused, narrow eyed look with a sarcastic, “Ha, ha, very funny,” and then she glanced quickly over at Maura, concerned for a moment about her reaction, but Maura was already distracted elsewhere.

Aunt Carla had slid off of her stool to approach Maura, arms held out as she exclaimed, “Look at this gorgeous dress!”

“I know,” Angela said, “isn’t she stunning? Maura, you have to tell me who does your hair.”

“And where you got this dress,” Aunt Carla crowed.

“Janie, have you noticed how nice your friend looks?” Angela called over. “Would it kill you to dress up like this every once in a while?”

“Yes,” Jane answered as she turned around, striding back over and pressing a glass of wine into Maura's hands. “It would kill me to dress like this. More importantly, it would kill my bank account. Now would you two quit? She’s not a prized steed.”

“Oh hush,” Angela huffed. “Some girls like to talk about fashion, you know.”

“What do you know about fashion?” Jane teased her mother, dodging another swat of the dish towel.

“I brought something for you,” Maura told Angela, reaching into the purse on her arm and pulling out a thin, square box with a pretty bow tied around it. “Jane told me not to bring anything, but I wanted to give you something to show my thanks to you and Frank. They’re authentic Neuhaus Belgian chocolates. I hope you like them. Jane said you didn’t have any allergies –”

“Oh, I have a feeling I will like these very much,” Angela assured, mouth all but watering over the box of chocolates Maura had presented her. “Thank you, Maura. I’m gonna go hide these from Frank.” Angela winked and Jane rolled her eyes.

“Here, Maura,” Jane said, inflecting her tone with an exaggerated air of pomp and a little bit of a British accent, “allow me to give you a tour of the rest of the estate.” Jane showed Maura the dining room, and then ushered her down the hallway, and once they were alone again mumbled, “I told you they come on a little strong.”

“That’s okay,” Maura said. “They're very nice. I don’t know why you were so worried about me meeting the rest of your family.”

“Give ‘em time,” Jane joked. “Here’s my old room.”

Jane held the door as Maura stepped inside her childhood bedroom, Maura’s face alight with interest. The room was mostly unchanged since Jane had lived at home, with a few extra boxes and knick-knacks being stored there, and a new flowery bedspread that Jane would have never used. Maura was drawn to the dresser, cluttered with trophies and ribbons from the sports Jane had played in high school, as well as the softball from Jane’s first home run and a hockey puck she couldn’t remember a special relevance for.

“It’s very you,” Maura decided after a thorough analysis of the room.

“Why does that sound like an insult?” Jane snorted.

“Oh, no, I just meant –”

“I was only joking,” Jane interjected, before Maura could start apologizing needlessly. “It’s actually less messy than when I lived here, if you can believe that.”

“Oh, I can,” Maura said.

Jane whipped her head around to look at Maura abruptly in shock. “Okay, now that was an insult.”

Maura's lips quirked in a failed effort to disguise her amusement, and then she was digging in her purse again. “I got you a gift too.”

“Yeah, I got you something too,” Jane said, pulling a small, badly wrapped box out of her back pocket.

Maura’s gift to Jane, of course, was perfectly wrapped and pretty looking. It was a small box shape too, but more of a thick rectangle than the flat box Jane had given. Jane was almost hesitant to ruin the nice wrapping, but too curious to pause for long, tearing it open as Maura watched her anxiously. Once unwrapped, Jane flipped the box open and her jaw dropped. There was an incredible watch inside, black leather band and gold metal face. There were a few diamonds inside, but the watch was subtle and small, perfect for work, but nice enough to wear elsewhere.

“Maura,” Jane gasped because it had to have been incredibly expensive.

“It’s waterproof,” Maura burst out, all but vibrating in anticipation of Jane’s reaction. “Not quite bulletproof but it is extremely durable. I also have coverage to have it fixed for free if it is somehow broken. Of course, if you don’t like it, I can exchange it for a different –”

“No, no, I like it,” Jane insisted. “I love it. It’s beautiful. Thank you, Maura, really. Although it might make my gift to you look kind of lame.”

Jane chuckled, and Maura seemed to remember the gift in her hands, hastily tearing it open – well, hasty by Maura’s standards, fingers carefully opening the wrapping paper.

When Maura began to examine what was inside, Jane nervously explained, “It’s a charm bracelet, with some of the stuff that reminded me of you. Coffee and a donut, ‘cause that’s what you got me when we first met. Heels, cause you buy way too many shoes. A baseball, since I've been trying to make you a Sox fan. And we can add more, if you like it. I know it’s kinda lame but I figured it was the one kind of jewelry you probably didn’t have and it seemed cute at the time and – ”

“Jane,” Maura quietly cut her off, reaching out to clasp Jane’s wrist, and she was smiling in that soft, adoring way that always made Jane feel warm inside. “I love it. It’s perfect. Help me put it on?”

“Yeah,” Jane agreed, setting her watch down on the dresser and taking the bracelet from Maura, who held out her wrist. Jane clasped the charm bracelet in place, the tips of her fingers brushing over the inside of Maura’s wrist, and the two women smiled at one another, gazes lingering.

And then Frankie was calling from the doorway, “Hey, Janie, we’re gonna play some ball, you in?” Startled, Jane looked over at her brother, and he smirked a little too brightly. “Sorry, did I interrupt something?”

“We were just exchanging gifts,” Maura answered. “What ball will you be playing?”

“Basketball,” Frankie answered. “You wanna play, Maura? I’m sure Janie’s got some old clothes you can wear if you don’t wanna mess up that dress.”

“I’ve got some sneakers too,” Jane added, with a pointed look at Maura’s heels.

“Oh, um, I think I’ll just go see if your mother needs any help in the kitchen,” Maura politely declined.

“I don’t have to play, if you want me to stay,” Jane offered.

“No, that’s okay. Go, have fun. I’ll be fine.”

Maura seemed certain and Jane was eager to show up her brothers. So Jane changed into a pair of old sneakers shoved into the back corner of her closet, and before she went to join the others outside, she took off her old watch and put on the new one Maura had bought her. Then she left Maura in the kitchen with Angela, Helen, and Carla, giving her mother a warning look on her way out the door, and went to join Frankie, Tommy, and Kevin outside.

Jane and the guys played a few rounds before Maura came outside to watch, smiling and waving at Jane, who had stripped off her outer sweater to the undershirt underneath and pulled her hair back. Jane grinned back at Maura just before she dribbled past Frankie and, with a layup, sunk the ball through the hoop.

After a few more scores, two for Jane and Kevin, and one for Tommy and Frankie, Jane jogged over to the porch, where Maura stood with her forearms perched on the railing. Panting, Jane looked up, hands reaching up and closing around the railing to either side of Maura’s arms. “You wanna give it a try?”

“I…” Maura leaned in, eyes nervously tracking the men’s movement over Jane’s shoulder, her warm breath brushing across Jane’s frozen cheeks as she admitted, “can't… I’ve never played.”

Jane’s jaw dropped. “You’ve never played basketball?” Of course, Jane had known that Maura had mostly played vastly different sports, rich people sports, that something like hockey wasn’t something the good doctor had ever played, but basketball? Who hadn’t played basketball? “Well, that settles it. Come down here. Come on,” she added with a beckoning gesture when Maura hesitated.

Maura came down off the porch, and Jane called over to Tommy, “Heyo, give me the ball. Let Maura try a few shots.”

Tommy passed the ball over to Jane but said, “All right, but it ain’t gettin' you outta our rematch.”

“You really wanna get beat again?” Jane snorted, turning her attention back onto Maura, who had sidled up next to Jane and was rubbing her hands together to warm them up. “All right, so when you shoot the ball you wanna hold it like this…” Jane demonstrated the hand placement, and then showed Maura how to shoot the ball at the hoop without following through, bending her knees and stretching her arm forward and back a few times until she thought Maura had seen it enough. Then Jane completed the move, and sunk the ball through the hoop. Frankie retrieved it and passed it back to Jane, who handed it over to Maura. “Here, you try it.”

Maura fumbled with the basketball, properly arranging her hands and asking, “Like this?”

“Yeah, perfect,” Jane confirmed. “Now bend your knees…”

Maura did, bouncing a little in her heels, and Jane instinctively held her hand just behind Maura’s back, in case she started to fall over in those things.

But Maura was steady, practicing her throw a time or two, like Jane had, but her elbow was too far out, and Jane reached over to gently pull it back down. “Like this… now aim for the backboard. Remember to flick the wrist and follow through.”

Maura nodded, steeling her face in determination, eyes narrowing in, and then she lifted up on her toes and threw the ball towards the hoop. She missed by several inches, but the ball did hit the corner of the backboard.

“Not bad, but wrong part of the backboard,” Jane teased.

Maura gave her a mild scowl and then held her hands out to Frankie. “Let me try again.”

On the fourth try, Maura managed to sink her shot, and Jane and the three men lifted their arms up and cheered raucously at once. Maura clapped and spun to face Jane, which was when she finally wobbled in her heels, and Jane thrust her arms out to catch Maura by the elbows, chuckling as Maura surged forward to briefly hug her around the neck in excitement. When she pulled back, her cheeks were flushed and her fingers were freezing as they brushed over Jane’s bare arms, teeth sparkling in a broad, childlike grin.

“I did it!” Maura said cheerfully.

“You’re a natural,” Jane congratulated with a smirk.

You’re freezing,” Maura noticed, frowning as she squeezed Jane’s biceps with her own chilled hands. Now that she wasn’t moving around, Jane really was missing her sweater.

“Yeah, let’s head inside,” Jane decided.

“Hey!” Tommy protested. “What about my rematch?”

“Maybe later,” Jane dismissed. “Maura and I are goin' back inside.”

Tommy complained, but Jane ignored him as she ushered Maura back inside. The boys remained to play another game or two, while Jane and Maura warmed themselves by the fire.

Not long after, the food was ready, and there was a great deal of noise and movement as everyone battled for seats at the dining room table, a few extra mismatched chairs crammed in until they were all bumping elbows trying to pile food on their plates. When Jane looked over at Maura to check that the doctor wasn’t on the verge of running, she saw Maura watching with unbridled fascination, as if she’d never seen such interactions before, and Jane was a little saddened to realize she probably hadn’t. Maura didn’t talk much about her family, but Jane had picked up on enough to guess that they weren’t very close, though Jane couldn’t imagine how. Maura had already charmed half of Jane’s family. Well, her mother and brothers at least, maybe her Aunt Carla and Uncle Jack. The cousins seemed a little confused by her and Jane’s father was always aloof about new people.

When Maura felt Jane’s eyes on her, she turned, and Jane smiled at her with irrepressible fondness.

As expected, Maura regaled the table with odd Christmas facts and the like occasionally throughout dinner. Jane only sought to silence the doctor when Maura went on a ramble about some flesh-eating disease that had half the table looking at her in horror. Otherwise, Maura was quiet most of the time, observing and eating two plates full with unexpected vigor. Maura had never been a dainty eater, per say, but Jane had never seen her so eager.

They all lingered at the table drinking wine and beer long after their utensils had settled, slouching in their chairs with full bellies. Eventually, they got up to begin clearing the table, and Jane and Maura helped wash some of the plates and cutlery. Afterward, they joined everyone else in the living room to sit around the tree, still drinking and telling stories – some of them embarrassing childhood stories of Jane that made Maura giggle, an odd enough sound coming from her that Jane only complained a little bit –, and exchanging a few small gifts.

It had long turned dark outside before the first people began to leave, and Maura went to use the bathroom before she and Jane prepared to go as well. Maura was a little tipsy from all the wine Aunt Carla had been supplying her with throughout the day, and she wobbled as she stood, grabbing onto the back of a nearby chair to steady herself before she managed to strut down the hall. Only marginally concerned, Jane had kept an eye out as she was saying goodbye to her parents.

“You don’t come around enough,” her father was saying.

“I like your friend very much,” Angela informed. “You should bring her more often.”

“You just want her to keep bringing you fancy chocolates,” Jane joked.

“What chocolates?” Frank asked.

“Uhh, nothing,” Angela hedged. “They’re gone.”

Jane looked over her shoulder when she heard the telltale click of heels falter in the entryway, and saw Tommy there – not just tipsy but plastered – and he was crowding Maura’s space, one hand pressed to the wall behind her head, his other hand pointing upwards to where mistletoe hung in the doorway.

Jane moved at once, closing the distance in three strides just as Tommy was slurring, “Mistletoe – y’know what that means –”

“Not a chance!” Jane interjected, shoulder checking him out of the way and making room for Maura to shimmy out of the hallway. “What the hell, Tommy?”

“Wha’s’a matter with you?” Tommy demanded. “I’m jus –”

“Just being an idiot,” Jane loudly cut him off. “We’re leaving now. Goodbye.”

She turned on her heel, eyes rolling heavenward as she strode away, to where Maura was saying goodbye to Jane’s parents.

Angela hugged Maura again and insisted the doctor return, and Maura promised she would, and the two women exchanged phone numbers. Jane half expected her mother to try and steal her own best friend.

Once outside in the brisk evening chill, Maura looped her arm through Jane’s as they huddled together for warmth and strode quickly to the car. Jane tried to apologize again for Tommy, but Maura waved it off.

The car ride back to Maura’s alternated between comfortable silence and long winded, laughter filled discussions over Jane’s various relatives. When they arrived, Jane walked Maura to her door.

“Thanks for coming,” Jane said as they stood on the front step, hands stuffed in her coat pockets. “It was really great having you there, made Uncle Marco’s awful jokes more bearable.”

Maura smiled brightly, her cheeks and nose pink, eyes sparkling under the overhead porch light, hair tousled by the wind. Somewhat amazingly, her makeup had held up through the whole day, but it smudged a little in the corners of her eyes and her hair was frizzing in the damp air. She was beautiful.

Maura gripped Jane’s elbow and earnestly replied, “Thank you so much for inviting me, Jane. This really was the best way to spend Christmas.”

“I’m glad,” Jane breathed, eyes still taking in the features of her friend, her best friend, this woman who had entered into her life unexpectedly, become so important in such a seemingly short time, this woman that was so different from her and yet they meshed so well, encouraged and inspired one another to try new things, to see the world through different eyes. Jane was confused by how strongly she felt, how much she cared for this woman and wanted no harm to come to her, wanted to shield her from all those that had and would wrong her. But Jane was certain about one thing, that Maura Isles was brilliant and stunning and kind and an absolute dork and okay, maybe that was more than one thing. Jane didn’t fully understand why Maura made her feel warm inside, and happy, and safe, and eager to be with her, but it felt right.

“Merry Christmas, Maura,” Jane murmured, leaning in slowly, pressing a short kiss to Maura’s soft cheek and then retreating, pulling back with an uncertain smile.

But Maura was still beaming. “Merry Christmas, Jane.”

Chapter Text

May 2005

A year and seven months into their friendship, Maura started dating some annoying lawyer guy that drove Jane up the wall.

Maura had been seeing Paul for about three months, dinner dates and art shows and theater tickets, and apparently a lot of decent sex that Jane had had the misfortune to hear about, and which Maura enthused was doing wonders for her immune system. What it wasn’t doing wonders for was Jane’s mood, and it wasn’t like she didn’t know that she was being a little unfair, that Maura’s time wasn’t exclusively hers and Maura was allowed to date whoever she wanted, but Jane didn’t like the guy. She didn’t like Paul's fancy suits or his arrogant face. She didn’t like the way he called Maura all the time or how he infringed upon time that used to be Jane’s. Maura had tried splitting the difference to make them both happy, inviting her dumb boyfriend to the Robber to spend time with him and Jane instead of just leaving one of them in the lurch, but Paul wasn’t the sharing type and Jane felt like a third wheel, like a pity invite. And she knew it wasn’t true and Maura was doing her best to appease them both but it still made Jane pretty mad.

Which was how she ended up fighting with Maura about it on the one day they got to spend together outside of work in over a week, because Maura had invited Paul again. Jane had made a passive aggressive comment that was more aggressive than passive, about Paul and how he was always hanging around, and Maura had apparently taken offense because she stopped in the middle of switching her purse to look at Jane with unbridled frustration.

It had spiraled out from there, because Jane had a short fuse on the subject and didn’t appreciate Maura’s accusations of jealousy.

“You’re perfectly capable of getting a boyfriend of your own to alleviate all of this repressed sexual energy that you’re feeling for Paul –” Maura was saying.

Jane cut her off with a disgusted, “Ugh! No, Maura, I’m not repressing some insane desire for a loser like Paul.” She was really just repressing whatever crazy ass feelings boiled in her stomach every time she imagined Maura being touched by Paul, or literally anyone else.

“Then I fail to understand the issue here,” Maura huffed, and she seemed genuinely appalled that she didn’t know why Jane was so irritable.

To be fair, Jane didn’t even know why she was irritable, just that she was, and okay maybe she kind of knew, or suspected, but she didn’t understand it, couldn’t half believe it.

“The issue is that it was better before!” Jane blurted out before she could stop herself.

Maura’s brows turned inward and she frowned, blinking twice before asking, “Before what?”

“Before Paul! When our time together was ours, not his.

“So this is because you don’t want to share?” Maura inquired, seeming now genuinely intrigued, like she had just come upon some new scientific discovery that she wished to study at length and then tell Jane every inane detail. And God it was stupid how much Jane enjoyed those inane factoids.

Jane scoffed. “I’m not a child, Maura. And you’re not a toy I’m too selfish to let someone else play with!” And she really hoped that didn’t come out as creepy as it sounded to Jane after the fact.

“I know that,” Maura said, nonplussed. “I only meant that I’ve read about female friendships, and how in some cases jealously can stem from one female succeeding in a way the other is not, or other times from the fact that one female feels that she is being replaced. Are you worried I’m replacing you with Paul?”

The fact that Maura had to read that from a book or a science journal or whatever ridiculous place she’d read that study, unlike Jane who had mostly just lived it in middle school, was a punch in the gut on its own. The fact that Maura was kind of right was another.

“You can do better than Paul, Maura,” Jane  muttered testily, trying to avoid speaking all that she was thinking but she felt like she was wearing it on her face and she looked quickly away as Maura scrutinized her.

“Jane, tell me what this is really about,” Maura pleaded, her voice softer.

But Jane couldn’t say it, shook her head, pursed her lips, rubbed her forehead and walked across the room, paced back and away again, shook her hand through her hair.

Jane sucked in a sharp breath and went abruptly still when Maura suddenly appeared before her, shifting into Jane’s space, a whiff of that familiar vanilla perfume, Maura’s face mere inches from Jane’s, not intrusive, but imploring, searching. She looked worried, hand skirting over Jane’s wrist.

“Jane,” she murmured, and as her lips formed the name, Jane surged forward without thinking.

She framed Maura’s face in her hands and leaned in, pausing for just a moment, holding her breath, heart thumping fast and legs feeling weak, feeling light headed and scared, but certain, and she could see surprise in Maura’s eyes, but she didn’t pull away, didn’t look at Jane like she had gone insane. So Jane went the rest of the way, resolved to release the pressure in her chest, to let herself give into what she was feeling, what she had been feeling all along but hadn’t allowed herself to acknowledge. Her lips pressed softly to Maura’s, and at first Jane was shocked by the contact and jerked her head back an inch, half expecting Maura to push her away, but when Maura didn’t retreat, Jane quickly moved back in, relieved to find Maura chasing after her, Maura’s hands grasping blindly at the sides of Jane’s shirt. There was a moment or two where they both shifted, adjusting to new territory, tilting their heads one way and then the other, all scorching heat and stuttering movements. Jane felt like she was on fire, like Maura’s hands were burning a hole through her shirt, the flames of Maura's touch all consuming, from head to toe, and Jane would have gladly burned on the spot.

Jane had never kissed a woman before, but if they all kissed like Maura then she had definitely been kissing the wrong people all her life. Maura’s lips were soft and tasted sweet like cherries. There was no rough stubble scraping Jane’s mouth, no sloppy, greedy pressure. Maura kissed as gracefully as she walked in those too tall heels, and suddenly Jane knew what she had been missing all her life, suddenly everything made a whole lot more sense. Why she was so jealous about Paul, why she felt some irrational twisting in her gut every time she had to listen to Maura talk about her dates, why she only ever felt threatened when Maura was kissing someone else. And maybe Jane had known all along but she hadn’t been able to acknowledge it, to accept it, but she could sure as hell accept it now, now that she knew that kissing Maura was right and not just some insane dream she couldn’t quite shake. And this was definitely no dream. She was so nervous her knees were shaking and her stomach was upside down, and when she felt Maura’s tongue trace her upper lip she thought she’d pass out, drowning in every sensation, moving by some mindless instinct.

Maura pulled away first, slowly, pulling at Jane's bottom lip, teeth scraping, and it was only then that Jane sucked in more than a short breath of air, only then that she took stock of their positions, Maura’s fingers bunched tightly into the back of Jane’s shirt, Jane’s fingers twined through Maura’s hair, chests pressed close together and Maura’s back up against the kitchen island.

Their eyes met, Maura still looking half stunned, and Jane smiled sheepishly, moving back a step to let Maura ease away from the counter, untangling her fingers from Maura’s hair and sliding her hands down to settle on Maura’s shoulders, murmuring a raspy, “Sorry.”

Maura shook her head, lips curling up coyly, breathily whispering,  “No, it’s…” She loosened her own grip on Jane’s shirt and moved her hands to Jane’s hips, biting her bottom lip and dropping her gaze for a moment, breathing in deep before locking eyes with Jane again. “I thought you didn’t date women.”

Jane huffed out a short laugh. “I don’t, but… it’s – it’s different…”

“How?” Maura asked curiously, and Jane never felt more exposed than she did under Maura’s earnest gaze, but considering they had just exchanged saliva and still hadn’t let go of each other, Jane figured she was already beyond exposed.

“I – I guess,” Jane struggled, trying to put into words what she had been feeling over the past several months, almost since she had met Maura even. She didn’t know how to articulate it, still didn’t know why it was different, just knew that it was. “I guess I never felt like this with – with women – hell, with anyone maybe, but I – shit, am I crazy, Maura? Is there not… something here – with us?”

“No, you’re not crazy,” Maura cut in. “I – I’ve felt… but I just want you to be sure. If this is… If you’d rather pretend that this – that this never happened –”

“No, Maura,” Jane insisted, sure of it and unsure all at once. “I don’t want to pretend anymore. I don’t want to pretend to be okay with you and Paul anymore.”

Maura snickered, one hand coming up to cover her amusement, shaking her head. “You never pretended to like Paul.”

“Well c’mon, Maura, the guy is a dick,” Jane complained, thinking of Paul’s stupid, arrogant face and feeling no guilt about trying to steal his girlfriend, if that’s what she was doing; she wasn’t entirely sure what she was doing just that she had to.

Maura was still grinning, looking a little too smug. “So that’s why you don’t like Paul? Because you thought I should be with you instead?”

“Well when you put it like that,” Jane grumbled. “Makes me sound like a jerk.”

“You’re not a jerk,” Maura teased fondly, tentatively stroking Jane’s cheek, tucking Jane’s wild hair behind her ear. But she frowned looking at Jane’s lips, hand stilling against Jane’s ear. “Jane… Jane, I know this is a big deal for you and I – I just want to know what you’re thinking here, what you’re feeling. What is it that you want?”

“I want to be with you, Maura,” Jane admitted, because that she could not hide, “whatever that means. I don’t want to assume… if you don’t want –”

“No,” Maura said quickly, hands squeezing Jane’s hips. “I do want, but I… Jane, I don’t have a lot of… I don’t want to lose –”

“Hey,” Jane interjected, framing Maura’s face again, searching for her eyes, “I can’t tell you that I know what’s gonna happen or that I’m not confused as hell, but you’re my best friend too, Maura, and I’m not trying to screw that up either.”

Maura released a shaky breath, looking relieved, smiling a little more securely. She tugged on Jane’s hips, pulling her in close again, brightly murmuring, “Good. Then kiss me again.”

And Jane was only too happy to oblige.

The enjoyment only waned when, in the midst of Maura kissing her way across Jane’s cheek, she made a disgruntled noise and paused, muttering, “Paul…”

“Ugh,” Jane grumbled, guiding Maura’s mouth back over to hers and, in between kisses, disinterestedly asking, “What – about – him?”

“He’s –” Maura started, kissing Jane for a moment before finishing, “on his way over.”

Jane immediately groaned, dropping her head to Maura’s shoulder in frustration, and then she lifted her head to look back up at her with a pout. “Can’t you call him and tell him not to come over?”

“Actually, it’s probably best that he comes over tonight,” Maura said.

Jane raised a brow. “Oh?”

Maura nodded. “That way I can tell him I can’t see him anymore.”

Oh,” Jane repeated, and that made sense but it made her being there a little awkward. “Maybe I should go then?”

“No, stay,” Maura insisted, pulling on Jane when Jane tried to step back. “He won’t stay long.”

“Yeah but it’s gonna be a little weird if I’m here while you’re breaking with him,” Jane pointed out, even as she looped her arms around Maura’s waist and interlaced her fingers.

“You can wait upstairs,” Maura suggested hesitantly, “unless you want to go home. I’m sure this is a lot to process.”

Jane smiled softly. “It is, but I can process with you. How about I wait upstairs till Paul leaves and then we go to dinner?”

Maura smiled too, but before she could answer there was a knock on the door and her eyes went wide. She called out, “Just a minute!” as she was hastily readjusting her blouse, which had come slightly untucked from her skirt, and patted anxiously at her hair. Jane rubbed her thumb underneath Maura’s bottom lip to rid it of the smudged lipstick there, half amused and simultaneously feeling a little guilty, except it was Paul so she only felt a little bad about kissing his girlfriend.

Once Maura was presentable, Jane rushed upstairs while Maura answered the door, and despite her interest in the whole ordeal, Jane refrained from listening at the top of the stairs. She also refrained from thinking too much about the deeper meaning of kissing Maura and taking Maura to dinner and Maura breaking up with her albeit casual boyfriend for Jane. She lingered instead on the delirious state of euphoria she was still riding from kissing Maura, her lips still tingling and her cheeks hurting from smiling like an idiot.

And ten minutes later Jane could hear the front door opening and closing, and she peeked down from the top of the stairs to see Maura smiling up at her, if a little sadly – Maura had liked Paul even if she did like Jane better – and Jane let herself be swept up in the excitement of this new facet to her relationship with Maura.

It was about four days later when Jane crashed down from her high.

She spent one great night taking Maura to dinner and kissing Maura, and then two nights busy at work sharing secret smiles across the lobby with Maura and text messages with Maura, and nothing was different between them except that they got to kiss now and everything felt right. And then on the fourth day Jane couldn’t resist, had found a coffee and a brief note on a post-it underneath with a little smiley face on her desk after a long shift, and had gone down to the morgue to thank Maura. She ended up kissing Maura in her office and they were nearly caught by some lab tech that came bursting in with a break in a case Maura was on, and Jane realized in that terrifying moment that everything had changed.

Jane and Maura being a couple… it was more complicated than Jane had even considered. She knew it was important that she be sure, that she not ruin the friendship they created, but it was more than that. It was the fact that Jane had spent half her life fending off accusations because she rarely had boyfriends and she played “boy” sports and she wore a gun on her hip. She’d had the word dyke spat at her by half the perps she dragged through the door, and even a few less respectable officers. And while she never really cared what other people thought, never let those things get to her, it would be different, wouldn’t it? If she was in a relationship with a woman, what kind of idiotic jokes and snide remarks would she have to endure? What hostility could come from being caught kissing Maura? Gay marriage had only been ruled legal in the state of Massachusetts a few months ago, was still illegal in most of the country, was still a point of contention for a lot of people. What would her family think? Her mother always pressing her to find a man? Her father and his mostly conservative opinions? And if anyone ever said a harsh word about Maura, Jane didn’t know how she could handle that and avoid punching someone in the face at the same time.

Beginning a relationship with Maura was complicated in so many ways, was not like any of the relationships Jane had had before. She had jumped into it, driven by what she had been feeling, but there was a lot she needed to consider. She had to be sure she should handle everything. She couldn’t jerk Maura around. She couldn’t just kiss Maura when she felt like it and change her mind later.

So Jane told Maura she was going to bed early and spent the evening alone, ignoring her phone, thinking, debating the pros and cons, barely sleeping a wink. When her father and brothers showed up at her apartment the next afternoon to watch the game, she was half asleep from a morning nap on the couch, groggy and rubbing her eyes, wincing at the sunlight burning her retinas.

“You look like hell, Janie,” Tommy snorted as he stepped through the doorway, beer already in hand.

Jane rolled her eyes and shoved him lightly. “You’re one to talk.”

“Look at you!” her father fretted. “You don’t sleep with this job!”

“I’m fine, Pop, just a late night,” Jane sighed, ushering him in the door, looking gratefully at Frankie, who presented her with a coffee. “God, thank you.

Pop and Tommy went straight to the couch to huddle around the game, already arguing over stats. After shutting the door behind him, Frankie asked Jane in a low voice, “You gonna tell me why you need a coffee at one in the afternoon? ‘Cause I know you didn’t have to work last night.”

Jane waited to answer, gulping down several mouthfuls of coffee as she walked over to the kitchen, Frankie following. She set her coffee cup down on the counter and turned to her brother, leaning back against the sink and folding her arms across her chest. “How’s work going?”

Frankie had recently finished at the police academy and had been working patrol for several weeks. Jane hadn’t seen much of him because he was on-call for most of the crap shifts that rookies got, but he hadn’t grumbled or complained, not half as much as their mother, who kept saying Frankie ought to come back to plumbing where the hours weren’t so crazy, who fretted over Frankie’s safety constantly. Angela was still marginally mad at Jane for not trying to talk Frankie out of his chosen career path.

“It’s great,” Frankie said brightly, and Jane smiled a little to herself, remembering how thrilled she had been just to be on the job. She still felt a little like that, but dozens of nights spent masquerading as a hooker had dampened her mood just a little. She was still working towards homicide though and she would do what she had to in order to get there. A spot would be opening up there in a few months and she was eager to apply. “Some nights are pretty slow, but it’s nice just being out there. But I’ll tell you all about it after you tell me what’s up.”

He raised his eyebrows and looked at her expectantly. Jane pursed her lips and looked across the room to where their father and Tommy sat. The pair of them had turned the TV up loud and were still noisily bickering. Jane still retreated further, into the doorway of her bedroom, beckoning Frankie to follow.

Only then did Jane murmur to Frankie, “I kissed Maura.”

Frankie’s eyes went wide and his mouth gaped open. It was comical until he loudly exclaimed, “You did what?!

Shhhhh!” Jane hissed, smacking him twice on the arm and glancing over at where her father and Tommy sat, relieved to find neither of them looking her way. She was ready to tell Frankie but not all of them.

Frankie slapped a hand over his own mouth and stifled an incredulous laugh, his other arm fending off Jane swatting at him once more. “You finally did it,” he whispered in amusement, practically bouncing on the balls of his feet. “You finally kissed her. Damn, Janie.” He was grinning from ear to ear and Jane felt a little embarrassed by his enthusiasm, biting the inside of her cheek to suppress an absurd smile of her own. “How was it?” he asked with a smirk.

Jane rolled her eyes, leaning back against the door frame. “It was good. But I’m tellin you ‘cause I – I wanna get your opinion.”

“My opinion? It’s about time, that’s my opinion.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Jane huffed, “but I mean more like… I don’t know.” She turned to stare at the back of her father’s head, smile waning, debating what she meant and how to say it.

“You mean you’re worried about what they’ll say?” Frankie deduced.

Jane nodded absently. “Yeah, I mean no, but… sort of. It’s just, I don’t even know if I’m – well I guess I must be.”

“You mean gay?” Frankie said, jostling Jane’s shoulder until she looked at him. “Hey, who cares right? If you wanna be with Maura and she wants to be with you then that’s all that matters.” He paused. “She does want to be with you, right?” he teased.

Jane shot him an annoyed look. “Yes, she does, as far as I’m aware. We haven’t talked too much about it –”

“Oh, I don’t need to hear all that,” Frankie interjected, plugging his ears.

Jane rolled her eyes again. “No, jerk, not like that. It’s just that it only happened a couple days ago and I needed time to think about it and now I’m talkin' to you, though I don’t know why –”

Frankie chuckled. “I’m just kiddin’. But really, Jane. Don’t worry about what anybody else thinks. If this is what you want, Ma and Pop will get over it, if they even care in the first place. As for anyone else, you direct ‘em to me if they’re givin' you problems.”

“Oh you gonna take care of it, huh?” Jane snorted, feeling just a little bit touched that her brother had her back. Frankie always had. That’s why she was telling him first, before anyone else. “Listen, I’m gonna tell ‘em, but for right now –”

“Nobody will hear it from me,” Frankie swore. “Whenever you’re ready. But for the record, I don’t think you have anything to worry about. Where is Maura anyways? You should invite her over for the game.”

Frankie briefly squeezed Jane’s shoulder with a smile and went to join their father and Tommy on the couch.

Jane deliberated for a moment, and then went to retrieve her cellphone, flipping it open and checking to see if Maura had texted her. She wasn’t surprised to see that she hadn’t. Maura missed social cues sometimes but she knew Jane. She must have assumed Jane needed some space after Jane’s early night.

Jane called Maura, and only had to wait two rings for her to pick up.

Jane,” Maura said brightly, but with an undertone of unease. “How are you? Did you sleep well?”

“Yeah, not really,” Jane admitted with a chuckle. “What are you up to? Are you busy?”

Just finishing up some paperwork. Why?

“My brothers and Pop are here to watch the game, was wondering if you wanted to join us?”

Oh, well, I’d love to, but are you sure? I know that’s quality time you don’t always get with them.”

“Nah, I’d like it if you came,” Jane assured. “Maybe after they leave we can talk more about… us.”

Of course, Jane,” Maura said softly, like she understood. “We can talk.

“I uh, I told Frankie, sort of,” Jane confessed.


“Yeah, he uh, he’s cool with it.” Jane winced, rubbing at her tired eyes. Was it okay that she was telling people?

But Maura just chuckled. “Well, I’m glad to hear it. And what about you? Are you… cool with it?”

Jane sucked in a deep breath, nodding to herself as she answered, “Yeah, Maura. I am. Are you – I mean, this is heavy y’know?”

I know,” Maura said quietly, nearly unintelligible across the phone line, “but… I am okay with all of this, if you are.

“So we’ll talk about it,” Jane decided, “tonight.”

I’ll be there in an hour,” Maura agreed.

Jane rejoined her family in the living room once she hung up the phone, told her father and brothers that Maura was on her way over, and they all nodded their okays without taking their eyes off of the TV.

When Maura arrived almost exactly an hour later, Jane went to answer the door, and when she saw Maura in a Red Sox jersey and ball cap, Jane felt a rush of affection, grinning and asking, “Did you go buy a whole new outfit for this?”

Maura grinned back. “I didn’t have any good watching baseball clothes!”

Jane laughed and ushered Maura inside, giving Maura the last spot on the couch next to Frankie, and perched on the arm next to her, handing her a beer.

“What have I missed?” Maura asked, and all three Rizzoli men groaned.

“You remember what I told you about Manny Ramirez?” Jane’s father asked Maura as Ramirez himself went up to bat.

“One of the best hitters on the team,” Maura replied, “with a .321 batting average for the season this year.”

“Yeah,” Frank Sr. muttered, “well forget all about it ‘cause he ain’t showin' up today. He’s lettin' Philly make us look like fools!”

“Well perhaps he’ll do better this time,” Maura said optimistically, and then, as if Maura’s words alone contained divine power, Manny Ramirez hit a home run, as did the second batter after him, and all of a sudden the Red Sox were back in the lead.

The Rizzolis were on their feet and cheering, Maura right alongside them even though she only half understood the excitement.

Tommy turned to Maura and Jane, reaching around Frankie to smack his sister on the back and saying, “You ought to bring Maura around more often, Janie. She’s our new good luck charm.”

Tommy turned his attention back to the game and Jane looked over at Maura, who was clinking bottles with Frankie in celebration, smiling brightly, and with the late afternoon sun shining in through the window across the room, Maura’s hair was set ablaze, all of her glowing, golden hair frizzed from the baseball cap now sitting on the coffee table, lips wet with beer.

“Yeah,” Jane rasped to herself in response, gazing fondly at Maura and feeling in that moment like nothing else mattered, like she’d endure all the vitriol in the world if it meant she got to see that smile and feel that lingering warmth, “she is.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 5 – Across the Table


October 2010

Hoyt wasn’t out, but he had trained an apprentice, one that knew details of Hoyt’s cases that hadn’t been released, one that had targeted a doctor and his wife for his first set of victims in Boston, and the message was not lost on Jane.

The Feds showed up, as if Jane wasn’t already having a pretty shitty evening, and they dumped a watchdog on Maura, a federal medical examiner that would ensure Maura didn’t make any mistakes on this case that she was too close to. Maura bristled at the implications but accepted the lackey. Jane was not as accepting of Gabriel Dean, felt like he had been sent to babysit her, like everyone expected her to screw the case up just because of her history with Hoyt. But it was her history with Hoyt that made her understand what the others didn’t. If Hoyt was back, even through someone else, it meant he had a plan.

Neither Maura or Jane slept that night. Maura paced the halls like a ghost, checked the alarm system and the locks seventeen times, checked on Jamie sleeping peacefully and unaware in his bed. Even when Jane eventually coaxed her wife back to bed, she could tell that Maura was still awake, still rigid in Jane’s arms, and the sun came up without incident, but this time they didn’t separate. Last time… last time Jane had gone to work early and Maura was meant to follow after she took Jamie to his grandparents but Maura had never made it to work.

This time, Jane waited until Maura was ready, went with Maura to drop Jamie with Angela and Frank, and there was still a uni outside watching the place. Then Jane dropped Maura at the morgue, but she didn’t go upstairs to homicide after, and she didn’t tell Maura that she was leaving, met Frost outside and left before Maura or Korsak could talk her out of it, out of going to prison to see Hoyt.

She knew she had to do it, but seeing Hoyt approach made her stomach turn sour, made the scars on her palms ache, made all the horrific memories of him burn against the backs of her eyelids, burn in her throat. He was grinning, that evil, vile grin. “I like that smell,” he said with a deep inhale, chains clanging together as he sat down at the metal table across from Jane. “The smell of lavender and fear.”

“See one, do one, teach one,” Jane said to him. “That’s what you learned in medical school. Who did you teach, Hoyt?”

“I dropped out.”

“You were kicked out for fondling a corpse.”

That wiped the smirk from his face, eyes dropping and jaw clenching, his anger apparent as he said, “Very good, Jane. You’ve learned how to irritate me.” But he gave as good as he got, eyes narrowing in on Jane’s hands. “I want to see them. Hands are so useful. Dexterous. And yours played the piano. Do they still work?”

Jane considered for a long moment, what she was willing to do to get information out of Hoyt, how far she was willing to take this charade. She didn’t want to give him the satisfaction, let him see the proof of what he’d done to her, what he’d taken, but she had to protect Maura. She had to stop Hoyt’s apprentice before he hurt anyone else. So she rose up from the table she’d been sitting on and exposed her hands, held them up for Hoyt to see, front and back, sitting directly across from him instead, closer than she ever wanted to be, throat tightening. “Good as new. So, your turn. You trained somebody, didn’t you?”

Hoyt’s gaze didn’t settle on her face, moved over her skin like spiders crawling across every inch of her. “I love your neck,” he whispered. “And your breasts… very firm.”

Frost, who had been standing silently nearby, lost his patience, slammed his hand down on Hoyt’s shoulder with a threatening, “Answer the question!”

Hoyt chuckled briefly, undaunted. “Tell me, Jane. What would you like to do to me?”

“I’d like to get my gun, and put it in your mouth, and pull the trigger,” Jane told him honestly, and if she could she would have, wished everyday that Korsak’s bullets had ended Hoyt a year ago.

“No, no, no. It’s so much better slowly, to take your time. You know, all my life I’ve been meticulous about finishing what I started, and that bothers me, because I haven’t finished what I started with you and Dr. Isles.”

“And you won’t, you sick son of a bitch,” Jane swore.

Hoyt was undeterred. “Do you dream about me, Jane? Do you dream about me with your wife? ‘Cause I dream about her, about you.”

“I don’t even think about you –”

“Does she call my name out, when she’s in your arms?”

“Who killed Dr. Yeager and where’s his wife?” Jane cut him off, her own patience thinning, hands clenching into fists.

“I’d like to see her,” Hoyt replied unhelpfully. “The doctor and I became very… close, during our time together. I’d like to know how she’s doing. None of my victims have ever lived before, what sweet torture must she –

“You’re never gonna see her again,” Jane asserted, leaning in close, face pinched with rage. “But I’ll visit you every damn day if you tell me who your friend is.”

Hoyt let out a long-suffering sigh. “I see that our time’s up.” He rose up to his feet, and Jane knew that her window of opportunity was narrowing, that she had to grit her teeth and take whatever slim chance she could get.

“I do dream about you,” she admitted as Hoyt was striding away, and he came to a stop at once.

“Am I ever your lover?”

“That’s enough, you son of a bitch!” Frost exploded, stomping over to Hoyt even as Jane grabbed at his wrist to stop him. “That’s enough!”

Leering, Hoyt turned to look at Jane once more. “You’re right, Jane. I should play fair. My friend is out there. Enjoy, because he’ll enjoy you. And tell Dr. Isles I'm thinking of her.”

June 2005

Jane put off telling people about her and Maura for about a month before Maura started getting antsy.

Maura couldn’t lie. It was an odd quirk that had startled Jane in the early months of their friendship. Maura kept saying “I can’t lie,” and while Jane believed her to some extent because Maura was Maura and of course she didn’t, Jane hadn’t realized how serious Maura actually was. She didn’t realize that Maura would literally hyperventilate and break out into hives if she told a lie, however mild. When it had first happened, Jane thought the doctor would honest to god pass out, and since then she had not pressed Maura to make any false claims, which made keeping their new relationship secret difficult. Not that anyone actually asked them if they were dating, because most of the guys at BPD didn’t think that two females spending time together were anymore than best friends gossiping and having totally platonic pillow fights or whatever idiotic thing men thought. But every now and then someone made a joke or got suspicious – and okay it was mostly Jane’s fault for not being able to refrain from kissing Maura at work sometimes – and Maura looked like she would explode every time she had to make an excuse or change the subject.

So Jane needed to get comfortable with telling people before Maura had a meltdown, but it wasn’t just that. She wanted it for herself too. Jane might have been a private person, but she had also never been shy about being who she was. She didn’t want to live a lie, didn’t want to hide how she felt. She wanted to be with Maura without worrying how people would find out or react, in particular, her parents. She needed to get it off her chest and deal with however they chose to respond.

So she went to Sunday dinner, relieved when Tommy didn’t show but Frankie did – she’d tell her youngest brother eventually but it’d be easier without him there to add his two sense; she didn’t expect Tommy to care but he made a lot of dumb jokes that Jane wasn’t looking forward to. Maura had asked Jane if she wanted back up, but Jane had declined, promising to call Maura after dinner to let her know how it went.

Frankie was more nervous than Jane all night, bouncing his leg at the table and staring wide eyed at Jane every time he thought she was about to tell their parents. Jane only made him suffer for an hour or two before she finally worked up the nerve to speak. She had only eaten a quarter of her plate of dinner when she sat her fork down on the table with intention.

Frankie started choking on his food and Angela huffed, sitting her own utensils down with a clang and demanding, “All right you two, out with it!”

Frank Sr looked up from his own plate in bewilderment. “What are you shouting about?”

“These two have been conspiring about something all night!” Angela asserted. “Don’t you ever pay attention, Frank?”

“I’m just tryin' to enjoy my dinner!” Frank complained.

“Ma, Pop, please,” Jane interjected before they could really get going. “Frankie and I aren’t conspiring. I’ve got something I want to tell you.”

“Something he knows about?” Angela accused.

“I told him already, yeah,” Jane started to answer.

“Is this a work thing?” Frank interrupted.

“It’s not a work thing,” Jane said with a shake of her head, sitting up straighter in her seat. “It’s a… well, it’s about Maura, and me.”

Angela frowned in concern. “Is something wrong with Maura?”

“No, nothing is wrong,” Jane assured, and now she was nervous, rubbing her sweaty palms on the front of her jeans, her mouth irritatingly dry, but she didn’t reach for the beer in front of her because she didn’t want to choke or lose her nerve. “I just wanted to –” she paused to clear her throat, her voice half giving out, but she powered through, “ – I wanted to tell you. You see, Maura and I… recently we decided to – we’re dating.”

Jane blurted it out and then waited, looking from one side of the table to the other, from her mother to her father, waiting for them to react, waiting for them to say something. Frankie was almost literally biting his nails in anticipation. Jane just sat very still.

Frank blinked first, and then he snorted in amusement. “Dating? Does that have some new meaning to young people now?”

“Uh, no, Pop, it’s the same,” Jane said tentatively, anxiously side-eyeing her mother, who had yet to so much as take a breath, was just staring hard at Jane, all but expressionless.

Frank shook his head in disbelief. “But Jane, you’re not gay. What are you even saying?”

Okay, Jane was really nervous now, but she wasn’t going to cut and run when she had made it this far. “I’m saying that Maura is – that I want to be with her and so we are. I know it’s kind of weird, at first. I didn’t really believe it myself when I… but now we are… together, I mean.”

“This is just some school girl crush,” Frank insisted, waving a dismissive hand, finally dropping his fork and sitting back in his chair, folding his arms across his chest. “She’s a pretty girl, Janie, but don’t go getting yourself confused.”

“I’m not confused –”

“Is she pushing you to do this?” Frank cut in, and his voice was rising with some misplaced emotion that made Jane’s spine stiffen. “I know she’s got money. This sounds like she’s trying to trick you into –”

Pop!” Jane loudly cut him off, frustration of her own brimming, but she put a stilling hand on Frankie’s wrist when his hands came down hard on the tabletop. “There’s no trick. Maura isn’t taking advantage of me. This is the truth and this is where we are. I’m telling you now because I’m sure –”

“And you knew about this?” Frank angrily accused Frankie.

“Yeah, I did,” Frankie replied just as hotly, “and I think it’s great!”

“Well that’s just ridiculous –!”

“Frank!” Angela shouted, sudden and sharp, the first time she had spoken since Jane had confessed, and Jane had actually almost forgotten her mother was there, jumped slightly at the sound, reacting to the tone that Angela had normally used when her children had been particularly bad – more specifically, when Tommy had been particularly bad, but Jane hadn’t been a perfect child either and she had always cringed when her mother’s voice hit that particular octave. And when Jane turned to look, Angela was on her feet, hands braced on the table, glaring at her husband, lips twisted into a scowl. “Take a walk.

It wasn’t the first time Jane had heard that either. Her father had a temper, and when he was getting out of hand, Angela often sent him on a walk through the neighborhood to calm him down. When Jane was young, she had often thought it was just so Angela could yell at whichever child had upset her herself, at least until Jane really started to see how bad her father’s anger could be, until she started seeing those tendencies in herself. Her mother’s “anger” was frustration and hurt, motherly concern; it wasn’t the volatile stuff that spewed from Frank.

Jane just couldn’t believe that coming out to her father had pressed one of those nerves. She felt sick as her father swiped his plate off of the table, flinching as it crashed loudly to the floor and shattered, as he stood abruptly from his seat and his chair scraped across the floor and fell back, as he stormed out of the room with a huff, throwing something else on his way out the front door.

Jane was annoyed to feel tears stinging her eyes, biting down hard on the inside of her cheek to hold her jaw still. Frankie tried to squeeze her arm with a quiet, sympathetic, “Janie,” and she frowned, pulling away from him, shaking her head.

“I’m fine,” she muttered, staring at the broken plate on the floor; she couldn’t look her mother in the eye. She didn’t want to see the same disgust she had seen in her father’s. “I’m sorry, Ma,” she said louder, forcing her voice not to crack, rising to her feet, moving in the direction of the mess her father had made, intending to clean it and then leave.

Before she could get farther than a few steps, her mother was calling to her, “Jane,” but Jane continued on, knelt to begin cleaning up the mess she was responsible for. It wasn’t the first time she had cleaned her father’s food off the floor. “You’ll cut yourself, Jane. Frankie, get the broom.”

Frankie went to do as his mother said without protest, and then Angela was kneeling beside Jane, tugging on Jane’s arm. “Jane… Janie… look at me.”

Jane clenched her jaw and looked, forced herself to meet her mother’s gaze, and her chin wobbled when she saw only love staring back at her, had to look away again to tamp down on the emotions building in her chest.

“Jane,” Angela whispered, her voice openly trembling, “are you happy? With Maura?”

That wasn’t a question Jane had to think about. She nodded and answered, “Yeah. Yeah, I really am.”

Before Jane could protest, her mother was pulling her into a suffocating hug, and Angela was sniffling and Jane’s cheeks were damp, and for a second Jane gave in, let herself collapse into her mother’s arms and be comforted, feel accepted.

It didn’t last long though. Jane didn’t like to be held much and she wriggled out of her mother’s embrace, roughly wiping the moisture from her face, as if it never happened.

“Janie, I love you,” Angela said in a wobbly voice as Jane resumed picking up shattered glass. “Your father loves you. I'll talk to him. He’ll calm down. He’ll see reason.”

Jane nodded but she didn't totally believe it, mumbled a despondent, “Okay, Ma.”

Angela squeezed Jane’s wrist until Jane finally looked over at her again. “I’m glad that you told me. Maybe you can bring Maura over for Sunday dinner sometime.”

Jane snorted wetly, letting some of the sorrow on her chest ease, trying to bring some levity back into the room by joking, “You want me to subject her to that already?”

Angela lightly swatted Jane’s arm and leveled her with a narrowed gaze. “Oh, hush. I have been perfectly nice to her. Not overbearing at all.”

“Yeah, well, that was before you knew I was dating her,” Jane said with a short laugh, wiping her eyes again and pushing up onto her feet.

Frankie had returned with the broom, eyeing his sister with worry, but Jane gave him a small reassuring smile.

“I think I’ll head out,” Jane told her mother and brother, and both of them started to protest but she insisted, “I’m tired and I’ve got work in the morning. But I’ll call later this week.”

“Promise?” Angela pressed.

“Yes, I promise,” Jane sighed, begrudgingly accepting another suffocating hug and a kiss on her forehead. Jane squeezed Frankie’s shoulder on her way past him and hurried out to her car, only inhaling a full breath when she was closed inside. Tears welled up in her eyes again but she shook it off, fumbled for her cellphone and dialed Maura’s number. “Hey, it’s me. Yeah, it, uh, it wasn’t great. Can I come over?”

When she arrived at Maura’s house she was tired and her eyes were itchy and she just felt drained, but when she saw Maura open the door, saw that soft, smiling face, she perked up, felt warmth spreading within her. She sunk into Maura’s arms for a moment, slumping to let her chin rest on Maura’s shoulder, inhaled that familiar vanilla scent.

“Here,” Maura said when Jane stepped back, taking Jane’s hand and leading her to the kitchen, procuring one of Jane’s preferred beers from the fridge.

Jane groaned in relief, thanking Maura quickly before drinking heartily from the bottle. With a smack of her lips she set the glass bottle down on the counter and sat heavily onto the stool.

“Do you want to talk about it?” Maura offered gently, and Jane sighed.

“Ma seems to be okay with it but… Pop was… he thinks I’m confused.”

“I’m so sorry, Jane,” Maura said, reaching over to clasp Jane’s wrist, stroking soft skin with her thumb. “I know it means a lot to you that your family is accepting of this.”

Jane shrugged, lips twitching. “If they can’t accept it that’s their problem.”

Maura’s mouth quirked in quiet disbelief and she murmured, “You don’t mean that.”

Jane’s shoulders slumped and she admitted, “No, I don’t.”

“I’m sure he just needs time.”

Jane nodded. “Yeah, maybe.” She turned her wrist over to slide her hand into Maura’s. “But I don’t wanna talk about all that anymore.” She tugged on Maura’s hand, pulling her into the space between Jane’s legs. Jane wrapped both arms around Maura’s waist, didn’t even have to tilt her head down because they were at the same level now, and lost herself in Maura’s kiss, in the happiness she felt there, forgetting about how the rest of the evening had gone, about how her father had reacted. Maybe he would come around, maybe he wouldn’t, but she wasn’t going to worry about that now, not when she had Maura in her arms.

It was several weeks before Jane’s father seemed to come around.

Jane had spoken to her mother a few times since the disastrous dinner, and each time Angela had said that Frank was closer to accepting Jane being in a relationship with a woman, but Jane heard what her mother wasn’t saying, that he wasn’t accepting at all. And then one day Angela called and said that Frank was finally feeling better about the whole thing and that Jane and Maura should come over for dinner Friday night. Jane resisted, uncertain that she wanted to bring Maura over to her parents' again until she knew for certain that her father had cooled off, but her mother was insistent and Jane was hopeful so she decided to risk it.

What Jane hadn’t accounted for was her father inviting Uncle Marco and Aunt Helen. Jane assumed it was her father’s way of creating a buffer, hoping that Jane and Maura wouldn’t act like a couple in front of Marco and Helen, hoping that Jane would want to keep it quiet, that Jane wouldn’t make a scene in front of family because everyone knew that if anyone was a homophobe in the family it was Uncle Marco. But her father’s pointed decision only made Jane want to do exactly what he hoped she wouldn’t do, and she knew that maybe it was childish and maybe now wasn’t the time to start a family feud, but her father had started this in motion and Jane was never one to back down.

As soon as Jane walked through the door and saw her mother’s apologetic expression, saw her Uncle Marco lounging on the couch, Jane resolved to make her father regret inviting others instead of just talking to his only daughter about what he was still avoiding; she’d atone for it later.

“Jane,” Angela’s voice quietly pleaded and apologized all at once, reading the hardened look on her daughter’s face and understanding exactly what Jane was about to do.

“It’s okay, Ma,” Jane interjected without looking at her mother. “Thanks for inviting us.”

Jane took Maura’s hand and pulled her into the living room, walked right up to where her father and Uncle Marco sat, said a casual, “Hey, Pop,” like she wasn’t about to ruin his entire evening, like she wasn’t brimming with anger and betrayal at what he had tried to do. She saw him look at her and where her hand was intertwined with Maura’s, and his eyes went wide with something like apprehension, and Jane turned a beaming smile on Marco. “Uncle Marco, you remember Maura? From Christmas?”

Marco nodded and started to lean forward, outstretching his arm for a handshake saying, “The doctor, right?”

“Yeah, that’s right,” Jane confirmed. “She’s my girlfriend now. We’re dating.”

Marco paused, hand stilling in midair, eyes darting from Jane to Maura and back again, noticing their joined hands. Then he snorted without much humor, the corners of his mouth turned down, leaning back in his seat and dropping his hand to his lap. “That’s real funny, Janie. You almost had me.”

“It’s not a joke,” Jane said plainly. “I’m surprised Pop didn’t tell you, figured that’s why he invited you here tonight, so you could hear the good news.”

Marco’s face was transforming, his displeasure all apparent as he looked over at Frank with furrowed brows.

“Enough of this,” Frank said to Jane in frustration.

“Enough of what?” Jane responded in exaggerated disbelief.

“Maura,” Angela’s concerned voice interjected, her strained cheerfulness trying to cut through the tension but she had a butter knife when what she needed was a hand saw, “are you thirsty? Why don’t you come to the kitchen with me and I’ll get you a drink?”

Maura looked at Angela but held fast to Jane, her other hand clasping Jane’s elbow, confusion and worry on her features, and that was what pulled Jane away from the fight she so desperately wanted to have with her father. She didn’t want to drag Maura into it anymore than she already had.

Jane said, “Yeah, let’s get a drink,” and ushered Maura into the kitchen with Angela. Aunt Helen was there, pouring herself a glass of wine, but Jane still rounded on her mother. “What the hell, Ma?”

“I know, I know, I’m sorry,” Angela stressed, going around the counter to stand next to Helen. “It was all very last minute. Your father didn’t tell me until this afternoon.”

“And you couldn’t have picked up the phone and warned me?” Jane huffed.

“Well I was worried if I told you that you wouldn’t come,” Angela pouted. “I haven’t seen you in weeks.”

“And who’s fault is that?” Jane countered.

“Your father is just being stubborn but I know he’ll come around,” Angela insisted.

“Men just can’t understand why a woman would ever choose not to be with a man,” Aunt Helen chimed in, already sounding a little bit tipsy, which wasn’t entirely unusual for Aunt Helen. “Don’t worry about Marco, he’s all bark and no bite.”

“I told your Aunt Helen about everything,” Angela admitted. “I hope that’s okay.”

Jane sighed and looked over at Maura because that’s all she was really worried about. “Are you okay with this? Because we can leave. I’m not gonna make you put up with them and I don’t know what they might say.”

“I’m okay, Jane,” Maura assured, and she sounded certain but Jane still felt guilty subjecting her to potential scorn, especially from her own family. “Are you okay?”

“Let’s just get this over with,” Jane muttered, reaching across the counter to take the wine bottle from her aunt, pouring her own glass and one for Maura. “If Pop wants to hide behind Marco then fine, but I’m not hiding.”

“It’ll all be fine,” Angela insisted, reaching over to pat Jane’s hand, smiling comfortingly at Maura. “How are you, Maura?”

Maura smiled in turn. “I’m doing well, Angela. Thank you for having me again. I hope I’m not causing too much of a problem.”

“Oh not at all!” Angela rushed to assure before Jane could, clasping one of Maura’s hands in both of her own. “I told Jane that you’re welcome here anytime and I meant it. I’m not upset that you girls are dating. She’s certainly done worse.” Angela gave Jane a pointed look and Jane rolled her eyes, but Maura laughed and it eased the tension in Jane’s shoulders a little. “I remember when she started bringing Charles around – that boy –”

Ma,” Jane whined. “Maura doesn’t want to hear about that.”

“Oh, actually, I think I do,” Maura said, with a mischievous little smirk on her face that Jane wasn’t sure she had ever seen before.

“Forget the boy,” Aunt Helen added through a mouthful of food, munching on strawberries she had dug out of the fridge. “Remember her little friend Maria? That whole feud between them makes more sense now.”

Jane groaned and Angela gasped in realization, hand to her heart. “Aww, little Maria.” Angela tsked, shaking her head and pinching Jane’s arm. “She broke Janie’s heart!”

Jane wiggled away from her mother with a disgruntled look.

Maura was intrigued, eyes alight with interest, and even Jane’s pouty lip didn’t deter her from asking for more details.

Angela and Helen were having their fun, teasing Jane and sharing all kinds of embarrassing stories that Jane might have at least waited to let Maura hear about until they had dated a while longer, like twenty years maybe, but Maura kept shooting Jane conspiratorial grins, and Jane would have gladly endured the embarrassment over the disaster that was dinner.

Uncle Marco was clearly disgruntled, sighing loudly every time Jane and Maura so much as looked at one another in a way he didn’t like. Maura tried engaging him in conversation, but he barely gave her a grunt in response. Jane tried to ignore it, tried to let Marco’s attitude slide off her back. It wasn’t like she hadn’t dealt with worse from the perps she dealt with at work. But she didn’t like the way he looked at Maura in disgust, the way he muttered under his breath like they couldn’t all hear him, like he wasn’t purposefully ruining everyone’s evening with his displeasure, only growing bolder the more beer he guzzled down.

So Jane snapped, smacking her fork down onto the table and whipping her head around to glare at Marco and heatedly exclaim, “Okay, Marco, we get it! You don’t like that we’re gay, but nobody asked your opinion. Maura and I are together and you’re just going to have to live with that.”

The room went quiet, but Marco didn’t remain so, huffing and looking over at Frank, pointing his knife at Jane as he demanded, “You’re gonna let this girl act like this? Letting her bring that filth into your house –”

“Oh you better not be talking about Maura,” Jane started to seethe, half prepared to jolt up onto her feet, wondering if she’d be risking her shield by punching her own uncle in the face.

“I’m talking about your sin,” Marco spat. “What you’re doing goes against nature!”

“Actually, in nature –” Maura started to feebly say.

Screw nature –” Jane said at the same time.

“ – many animals have been known to –”

“ – and screw you!

“You need help!” Marco countered. “You both ought to be on your knees in confessional begging for forgiveness –”

Jane stood at once, ready to either grab Maura and leave, or grab Uncle Marco and throw him out the door, but her father made the decision for her, rising up to his feet a second before Jane did and telling Marco, “That’s enough! Why don’t you just get outta here, Marco?”

Marco and Jane both looked at Frank in stunned silence.

“This ain’t right, Frank,” Marco continued to protest, but his tone had lowered.

“That’s not for you to decide,” Frank said gruffly. “She’s my daughter.”

Marco huffed and slid his chair back, clambering noisily to his feet. He didn’t say another word, just shot Jane and Maura an aggravated look and left the dining room. They all heard the front door slam a moment later.

Aunt Helen sighed as she rose more slowly to her feet and told Jane, “Don’t mind him. He just gets cranky when things change. Thank you for dinner, Angela. I’ll call you later this week.”

Angela gave Helen a tired smile and a nod, and accepted the kiss on the cheek. “Do you want some leftovers to take with you?”

“No, no, I’ve still got leftovers at home to finish off. I’ll try to find that recipe I was telling you about.”

Angela thanked her and then Helen was scurrying from the room, following her husband out the front door without all the raucous.

Jane looked at her father, uncertain if she ought to thank him or tell him off, uncertain what he was even thinking except that he looked weary and angry and she wasn’t sure how much of that was still directed at her.

Angela started to say, “Well that was –”

But Frank interjected, “I need some air,” bolting away from the table and leaving without any further explanation.

Jane slumped in her chair, giving Maura an apologetic look at the same time her mother said, “I’m sorry about my brother, Maura. I wish I could say he’s not usually so thick headed but he has been his whole life.”

“That’s okay,” Maura said quietly, smiling calmly at Angela, but her voice wobbled a little, and Jane felt guilt welling up in her chest again, like she should have never brought Maura along, no matter what her mother said to convince her, but she had felt like she needed to make it work, like she had to convince her father to accept it because Maura was… Maura was a lot to Jane, now, and Jane had always felt close with her father before, wanted him to feel okay with the person she chose to be with and not run from her, not scorn her for it. She didn’t want to be forced to choose between Maura and her family because how could she? The thought of giving up either one was too unbearable.

“We ought to have our own dinners,” Angela was saying as she began gathering up half full plates and silverware, and Jane thought bitterly to herself that it was another dinner ruined, “just the three of us girls.”

“That would be nice,” Maura agreed, standing up and reaching for her own plate. “Let me help you.”

Jane numbly began to help too, her mind only half focused on the task, thinking about her father and what Uncle Marco had said, and she didn’t care what Marco thought and she didn’t believe that there was anything wrong with her for wanting to be with Maura, Catholic guilt didn’t have quite the same hold on her that it did her parents, but she did worry that the things Marco said were the same things her father felt, that he might think his own daughter was filth.

Jane startled when a hand fell onto her wrist, and looked over to see Maura, with a soft smile and something like understanding in her eyes mixed with uncertainty. “Go ahead,” she said, and Jane was confused until Maura continued, “go talk to him.”

Jane started to shake her head, but Maura didn’t waver and Jane thought about it, decided maybe it wouldn’t hurt, to speak to him one on one, to make him see reason. So Jane nodded, murmured a quiet, “Yeah,” and went to look for her father.

She found him in the garage, cursing as he struggled with something underneath the hood of his car, his hands covered in oil and dirt. He glanced up when he heard Jane approaching, and then went back to what he was doing.

Jane stood by the front headlight, arms crossed, waiting to see if he would speak first, if he would send her away or go running again.

The first thing he muttered was an irritable, “Your mother is hell on cars.”

Jane sighed. “Pop –”

“Listen, Janie,” he cut her off, standing up and snatching up a dirty rag to wipe his hands on, “I know you’re mad at me, but you can’t expect… I mean have you really thought about this?”

Jane tried to be patient, calmly telling him, “Yes, I have. This isn’t a phase.”

“But you’ve always liked men before,” Frank reasoned. “Why is it different now?”

“Because it just is,” Jane answered with a shrug. “I didn’t understand it at first either but with Maura… it is different.”

“Well maybe you’re not gay then,” Frank insisted. “Maybe you’re just confused. You and her are just really good friends. You didn’t have many girl friends when you were young, always running around with the boys.”

Jane shook her head, tamping down on her growing frustration. “I’m not confused. Not anymore. I need you to accept that. Please. I don’t want you to hate me for this –”

“Ah, I don’t hate you,” Frank mumbled, looking back down at the car, bracing his hands on the top edge. “If… if this is really what you want then… well you just gotta give me time.”

Jane sucked in a deep breath. “Okay,” she whispered, disappointed, but she supposed she couldn’t ask for much else. At least he wasn’t outright refusing. “I can give you time, but you gotta stop running from me, or hiding behind Uncle Marco.”

Frank nodded, still not looking her in the eye, but he conceded, “Yeah, okay.”

Jane swiped away the moisture threatening to spill from her eyes and sniffed, gesturing to the car and asking, “You need help with this?”

Frank didn’t answer right away, but eventually he pointed to the work bench behind her. “You wanna hand me that wrench?”

Jane did so, and stayed a little while to help her dad with the car, and though it wasn’t quite the conversation she had hoped for, she felt like maybe, eventually, things would be okay between them.

Chapter Text

July 2005

A few days later, Jane had the day off, and still a little upset about how things had gone with her father, and with Maura busy at work, she fully intended to sit at her apartment and sulk.

When she heard someone knocking at her front door at eight o’clock in the morning, she rolled over in bed with a frustrated moan and clamped her pillow over her ears. She half expected it to be her mother, or a Jehovah’s Witness, neither of whom she wanted to talk to at the moment. She hoped that if she ignored it for long enough, whoever it was would go away, but the knocking persisted.

Jane allowed herself to scream quietly into her pillow for just a second, and then tossed it to the side, rolling out of bed in a huff, smacking the blanket down until it unraveled from her wrist. She stomped out to the door and yanked it open, prepared to berate whoever was on the other side, and stopped dead in her tracks.

Her angry mouth closed and her brows came together as she said in confusion, “Maura?”

Maura looked down at Jane’s state of dress and frowned. “Were you still in bed? At this time of day?”

Maura,” Jane whined, whole body slouching. “It’s eight o’clock in the morning not five p.m. What are you doing here? You’re supposed to be at work.”

“I took a sick day,” Maura said breezily, inclining her head as she asked, “Are you going to invite me inside?”

Jane stepped back to let Maura in, and Maura glided straight back to Jane’s bedroom, heels clacking along the hardwoods. “Maura, what are you –?” Jane sighed and closed the door, and then hastily went to find Maura, who was in Jane’s bedroom rooting through her closet.

“You have nothing to wear,” Maura deduced, shaking her head in disappointment as she leafed through Jane’s clothes.

“I have plenty to wear,” Jane scoffed, snatching back a shirt that Maura was staring at in absolute disgust. “Maura, did you lie to get out of work?”

“Of course not!” Maura said, looking appalled, but sadly not distracted from Jane’s closet. “I simply informed my staff that I would be using one of my sick days today and that I would check in with them later.”

“Y’know, that’s lying by omission,” Jane pointed out, folding her arms and leaning against the side of her wardrobe.

“It is not,” Maura denied, concern flashing on her features. “Is it?”

Jane nodded seriously. “It is. They’re likely to fire you for this.”

“They would not –” Maura gasped, only to narrow her eyes and flatten her lips a second later. “You’re teasing me.”

“Yes, I am,” Jane freely admitted. “Now will you tell me why you played hooky to come root through my closet?”

“I’m here to take you out,” Maura said brightly. “I planned the whole day for us. We were talking about all the things in Boston we never seem to have time to do so I thought we could do a few of them today.”

Jane smiled fondly. “Maura, that’s sweet of you, but you don’t have to check up on me. I’m okay, really.”

“I know,” Maura said softly, squeezing Jane’s fingers on her right hand, “but I want to. It’ll be fun, I promise.”

And how could Jane deny that face? It would be nice, too, to spend a day with Maura away from work, away from family, away from the routine and the usual places like the Robber, just the two of them being together. “Okay,” Jane relented without fuss, gently moving Maura away from her closet by the shoulders, “but I can pick out my own clothes. And I’m gonna need coffee.”

“That’ll be our first stop,” Maura easily agreed.

“Where are we going?” Jane asked, hesitating over what clothes to pick. Looking at Maura’s outfit wasn’t enough of a hint because, as usual, the doctor was impeccably dressed, though she had opted for a light pair of jeans instead of her usual skirts, and sandals with less of a heel.

“That’s a surprise,” Maura answered vaguely, “but comfortable footwear would be a good idea.”

Jane found her least offensive looking sneakers and an outfit to go with them, and in five minutes she was dressed and ready to go, checking her appearance in the mirror and patting down her hair.

“Don’t forget to bring a jacket,” Maura advised before they could get out the door.

Jane looked at her in disbelief. “Maura, it’s eighty-five degrees outside.”

“Eighty-three,” Maura corrected, “but there’s a chance of rain and it’s likely to cool down in the evening. There’s a cold front from the –”

“All right, all right,” Jane submitted, snatching a jacket from the coat rack, “but this better be good. I’m giving up eating ice cream in my underwear on the couch for this.”

Maura, who had been striding quickly to the front door, stopped, all of a sudden, turning around, and Jane almost smacked right into her chest to chest, but managed to flail her arms out and catch herself at the last second. Maura was looking up at her – so much sorter without the heels – and was eyeing Jane appreciatively, little smirk curling her lips, her tone low as she countered, “Well you could still do that, as long as you let me join.”

Jane rolled her eyes so she wouldn’t have an aneurysm on the spot, cheeks turning bright red as she spun Maura away from her and pushed her towards the door again saying, “All right, lady, keep your pants on, will ya?” Because any situation where Jane and Maura were both pants-less was bound to be dangerous. Jane was still coming to terms with being attracted to a woman, to Maura, with the intensity of it. They hadn’t had sex yet, hadn’t taken that next, next step, and it wasn’t because Maura wasn’t willing – or that Jane wasn’t, for that matter – but Jane was nervous, about messing it up, somehow. It felt like it was more important than most of the relationships she’d had in the past, and she didn’t want to just jump right in without thinking, no matter how difficult it was to refrain.

“Next time, perhaps,” Maura teased as they left Jane’s apartment, and Jane would have been lying if she said anything other than I hope so in response.

So she changed the subject instead. “You’re really not gonna give me any clues about where we’re going?”

“Nope. My lips are sealed until we arrive.”

And despite Jane’s persistent pestering, including a guessing game where she named all the places she thought Maura might take her, Maura really did remain silent, refusing to give into Jane’s questioning. Jane could think of a few places they might be going, was racking her brain to remember things she and Maura had discussed doing, but there had been so many things they had discussed. It was hardly fair that Maura had the better memory. And part of Jane was still intent on being in a bad mood that day, and even though she was already cracking under Maura’s brightness, she was still grumpy, still holding onto those last slivers of discontent. She wanted to be upset about the issues with her father, wanted to be pissed at him for making an issue at all, wanted to wallow in it for a day or two and then move on. It was difficult to wallow with Maura right next to her, didn’t seem fair to subject Maura to it even as she whined and complained for no good reason. She whined until Maura got her coffee and about how her breakfast sandwich wasn’t made right, and Maura offered to go back and get the right kind but Jane just pouted and picked at the sandwich, resolved to be miserable.

Then they arrived at their destination, whatever their destination was, and Jane complained when they got out of the air conditioned car into the oppressive heat, and grumbled when Maura made her grab her jacket from the back seat. Then they walked and walked and walked, until they finally reached the docks, somewhere along the Massachusetts Bay, and Jane could tell that they were at Long Wharf, but looked at the water stretched out in front of her with a lack of enthusiasm.

“Is this it?” Jane asked, unimpressed.

“Of course not,” Maura said, still all smiles and leading Jane confidently down the docks, to a long line of people, and Jane groaned internally because she really didn’t want to deal with people today.

But Maura took Jane’s hand and began shuffling past all the people, past the three-deck catamaran that those people were boarding, down the docks to a smaller yacht, shaped much the same with parallel twin hulls, but only big enough for a handful of people. There was one man on deck, seeming to be preparing the ship for launch, and when he looked up and saw Maura approaching, he straightened up with a smile and an enthusiastic wave.

Maura waved back and called, “Travis!”

“Hey, Maura! Come aboard!”

“Friend of yours?” Jane inquired as she and Maura were climbing onto the boat.

“I met Travis’s partner, Anthony, in medical school,” Maura explained. “We kept in touch over the years.”

“I thought she was a snob when we first met,” Travis said with a chuckle as he stepped over to Jane and Maura, giving Maura a chaste kiss on the cheek and then holding his hand out to Jane. “You must be the indomitable Jane. Maura has told me a lot about you.”

Jane shook Travis’s hand, side-eyeing Maura with a smirk. “Indomitable, huh? Sounds like someone’s been exaggerating.”

“And someone’s being modest,” Maura defended, even as her cheeks were colored pink, still clinging onto Jane’s hand.

“Please tell me you don’t actually refer to me as indomitable,” Jane teased.

No, I don’t,” Maura denied, but Jane wasn’t totally convinced. “Thank you, Travis, for putting this together for us on such short notice.”

“I’m happy to do it,” Travis said cheerfully.

“She hasn’t told me what we’re doing,” Jane muttered, bumping Maura’s shoulder with her own.

“I suppose I can tell you now,” Maura conceded. “We’re going whale watching!”

Jane sputtered out a surprised laugh. “We’re doing what?

“On our own private boat,” Maura added, beaming. “I know you talked about wanting to go on the whale watching tour, but I thought you would prefer a tour without all the people.”

Jane vaguely remembered talking about the whale watching tour, but she had mostly been joking, had some faint memories of already going once when she was six or seven, but Maura was looking so pleased, had chartered her friend’s boat so Jane wouldn’t have to spend the day surrounded by people, and Jane felt a rush of fondness settle in her belly.

“Settle in ladies and I’ll get us going,” Travis told them, but Jane only half heard him, looking intently at Maura – beautiful, thoughtful Maura, who had thought about how best to cheer Jane up and came up with whale watching.

“I couldn’t book a naturalist guide,” Maura said regretfully, “but I read up on all the whales we might see today so I can fill in a little, and there’s even a chance of spotting some Atlantic white-sided dolphins.”

Jane had zero doubts about Maura being able to fill in for a tour guide, and although she wasn’t the type for overt public displays of affection, Travis had his back turned and she felt like she needed to express how she was feeling, so she leaned in and pressed a quick but firm kiss to Maura’s lips. Then she pulled back to look into Maura’s dazed eyes and murmur, “Thank you.”

“Don’t thank me yet,” Maura warned, eyes lingering on Jane’s mouth. “Let’s make sure we see some whales first.”

“Oh I’m counting on it,” Jane asserted, slipping her arm around Maura’s waist as they went to find a good place to stand on Travis’s yacht.

And as it so happened, after almost an hour of searching, they spotted it – a minke whale, according to Maura, and Jane might not have had the same appreciation when she was young, but she sure did now. Maybe it was the sunny day or the woman at her side, the wind in her face or the smell of the ocean, but when Jane saw that whale rising up out of the bay, only to crash back into the sea, her mood was brighter, all her worries and distress faded, felt miniscule as she floated out there, the vast ocean stretched out before her.

It also turned out that Maura was right about bringing a jacket, that even in the hot afternoon sun, Travis’s speedy catamaran and the ocean breeze left her a little chilled. She could tell that Maura was too, even with their jackets, and Jane used it as an excuse to wrap herself around Maura’s back, her cheek pressed to the side of Maura’s head, hands clasped over Maura’s abdomen, and Maura leaned into the embrace, her fingers trailing up and down Jane’s arm.

When they returned to the docks, Jane was already in a better mood, feeling lighter. Her skin was warm and Maura’s nose was pink, and they were laughing along to some of Travis’s wild tales from his days living in Florida. Jane and Maura bid Travis farewell, and then Maura offered her arm to Jane and led her to their next destination. Jane didn’t ask questions this time, figured that Maura’s first plan had turned out well so she wasn’t worried.

When they came upon a tour group, Jane started to worry a little, but then Maura told her, “It’s a pizza, cannoli, and history tour. We don’t have to do the tour, if you don’t want to. I can take you to the pizzerias –”

“No,” Jane decided, squeezing Maura’s arm, “let’s do the tour.” Jane figured she had already seen most of the historical sites, wasn’t all that interested in some tour guide’s droning, but she knew Maura would be interested, for no other reason than to critique the tour guide’s facts, and Maura had already done plenty for Jane, it only stood to reason that Jane do something for Maura. “Just promise me there’s beer at these pizzerias.”

Maura chuckled and promised, “I’ll make sure that you get some.”

The walk was fairly long, but worth it in the end. Jane got to try pizza at three of the top pizzerias in Boston’s Little Italy, had two beers, a free cannoli at the end of the tour, and the added bonus of Maura whispering historical factoids into her ear the whole trip. Jane had a hard time stifling her laughter every time Maura got so distressed that she couldn’t hold it in and had to correct the guide, hardly stifled her laughter at all, which earned them a few glares from some of the tourists in the group.

After eating their free, absurdly good cannolis to finish out the tour, the pair of them returned to Jane’s apartment. Jane was stuffed and tired but feeling content and happy. There was no other word for it, she just was.

There were, however, some less specific feelings thumping in her chest, tumultuous feelings, conflicting feelings. She dropped a box full of cannolis onto her counter – she couldn’t leave that place without buying a dozen more – and tossed her jacket over the back of her couch, and she turned to face Maura, smiling, fidgeting a little, hands twisting her apartment key round and round. “Thank you for today, Maura. Really. It was really great.”

“I’m glad you enjoyed it,” Maura said, beaming pride on her face that pleased Jane.

Jane glanced down at her shoes, stuffed her hands in her pockets and rocked back on her heels, tentatively offering, “You could stay tonight, if you want.”

Maura’s smile fell a little, but she didn’t look upset or angry, only cautious as she stepped forward, took Jane’s hand and squeezed. “I do,” she said quietly, “want to, I mean. But… I should probably go.”

“Oh, yeah, ‘course,” Jane said quickly, pulling her hand back, feeling relieved and embarrassed all at once.

But Maura chased her, grabbing both Jane’s hands, holding tightly. “Jane, I just wanted to do something nice for you today. I don’t expect anything.”

“No, I know. I wasn’t saying you had to put out,” Jane tried to joke, but Maura quirked her head in confusion. “Never mind. Forget I said anything. I’ll see you at work tomorrow, yeah? Assuming they haven’t fired you for playing hooky.”

Maura pursed her lips and pinched Jane’s arm and Jane squirmed away with a grin. “Yes, I will see you tomorrow. But are we okay?”

“Yeah,” Jane said easily, hoping to assuage the concern on Maura’s face. “We’re good.”

Maura nodded and took a step back, preparing to leave, but she stilled, looking intently at Jane for a moment, so intently that Jane started to squirm under her gaze. “Jane, I just want you to know…” Maura trailed off, seeming uncertain of her words, which must have been a first for the doctor, but before Jane could ask, Maura was moving back into Jane’s space and their lips were crashing together.

Maura kissed Jane frenetically, fingers curled tight into Jane’s hair, palms holding Jane’s face close, no space between them, so that Jane could hardly tell where one began and the other ended, her own hands slipping blindly over Maura’s sides, her back. Maura’s lips commanded Jane’s, moving this way and then that, and Jane didn’t have a chance to think, just to feel, hanging on for dear life. Then Maura’s hot palm moved down to Jane’s waist, slid up underneath of Jane’s shirt, searing over Jane’s bare abdomen and up to her breast before changing direction and moving back down, Maura’s fingers grasping at the front of Jane’s waistband, and stars exploded behind Jane’s eyelids, her head was dizzy, and she thought she was liable to pass out.

And then, all of a sudden, Maura broke away, her hands disappeared from Jane’s body and her lips with them, and Jane whimpered at the loss, hands grabbing for Maura’s hips, dragging her back, and Maura came willingly, but she slowed her movements. She held onto Jane’s forearms, maintaining a little distance this time, kissing more leisurely, and Jane had time to catch her breath, to calm her rapidly beating heart to a less frantic pace. And Christ, in that moment she wanted nothing more than to have Maura stay, any other prior concerns be damned, desperate to feel Maura’s hands on her, to put her own hands to good use. But as she came down from her initial euphoria, as Maura’s kisses grew shorter and shorter, Jane thought about how she didn’t want to act rashly, that Maura was more than that, that Maura was too important.

“I’ll see you tomorrow,” Maura whispered when Jane’s eyes finally opened partway, and she saw Maura looking far too smug.

“Yeah,” Jane agreed, walking Maura to the door, still clinging closely to her, stopping Maura a second before she stepped out of the door. “Hey, call me, when you get home.”

Maura smiled almost sleepily, like she was half dreaming, kissing Jane one last time and promising, “I will.”

Chapter Text

October 2010

Maura walked across the stretch of grass to the tree line at the edge of the park, her footsteps sure but slow, eyes darting all around, to the lagoon in the east, to the foot bridge and the colorful array of flowers in the west. She recognized the place where she had been married, a place that filled her with joy and beautiful memories, Jane in her wedding dress and saying their wedding vows in the garden, Jamie taking his first steps across the pitchers mound of the baseball diamond across the street.

But it was also a place that Hoyt had ruined, the first time over a year ago when he dropped a dead body there to torment Jane while he held Maura captive. Now, Dr. Yeager’s wife’s body was laid out beneath a tree in that same park, relatively secluded this time, in a place no average park goer would come across, but a woman walking her dog had found her that afternoon. And now Maura was coming upon the scene by herself, because Jane hadn’t been upstairs when the call came in, because Jane had gone somewhere without telling Maura she was even leaving. It wasn’t that Jane always checked in with Maura before going out for work, but things were different right now, for both of them. This wasn’t just an ordinary case, not with Hoyt involved, not after what he had done to them. And maybe Maura should have expected it, but she couldn’t help feeling angry, angry that her wife was hiding from her again.

Maura was using vitreous potassium to determine postmortem interval just as Jane finally arrived, and glanced up briefly to report. “About 36 hours since time of death.”

Jane paused at the edge in Maura’s tone, but didn’t mention it, focused on the case, on the woman laid out on the ground before them. Any questions were strictly work related and Maura was short with her responses, didn’t even look Jane in the eye, too angry to be professional around all the detectives and crime techs surrounding them. Jane didn’t mention the significance of the location and neither did Maura.

They didn’t speak one on one until hours after returning to the precinct. Maura had completed the autopsy – with her keeper hanging over her shoulder, watching her every move –, had found signs of necrophilia after Gabriel Dean had asked her to look for it, Agent Dean, who did not seem surprised, who knew more about the case than he was saying. Jane and Korsak had been there for that as well but Maura could hardly look at either of them without dark memories flashing across her vision, all of this too much like last time, like Deja Vu. The federal agents were different, so Maura focused on them, on her work.

Later, after the federal agents had left, Jane stepped into the morgue again as Maura was pulling off her scrubs, without Korsak this time, with purposeful intent, but Maura still couldn’t look at her.

“Maura,” Jane sighed, trying to move with Maura’s gaze, encroaching on Maura’s space. “I know you’re mad at me –”

“Where were you?” Maura demanded at once, instead of giving Jane the silent treatment like she’d intended, heated gaze finally landing sharply on her wife.

Jane straightened her spine but didn’t immediately answer, and Maura read it all on her face, took a step back and shook her head in disbelief.

“You didn’t…”

Jane tried to explain, “Look, Maura, it was –”

“You went to see Hoyt?” Maura exclaimed, voice rising sharply. “What were you thinking?!”

“I knew he would want to taunt me,” Jane defended. “I thought I could use it as leverage to get information about his apprentice.”

“And did you?”

“Not… exactly,” Jane muttered. “But, Maura, I had to try! This is my job!”

Maura scoffed. “No. You did this for yourself.”

“Yeah, okay, maybe part of it was that,” Jane admitted. “I had to see for myself that he wasn’t getting out.”

“And you couldn’t tell me? Now? When you knew I’d be worried.”

“That’s why I didn’t tell you. Because I didn’t want you to worry. I planned to be back in the building before you even noticed I was gone.”

Maura shook her head in frustration, pacing away from Jane, leaning heavily with both hands against an empty slab. “You can’t do this again, Jane. You can’t go off on your own on your quest to take down Hoyt.”

Maura could hear Jane’s footsteps striding across the morgue, could feel Jane’s breath on her cheek and Jane’s warmth against her back as Jane tentatively curled herself around her wife’s back, voice a soft whisper as she promised, “Maura, I’m gonna be careful, okay? I won’t do anything stupid. But I gotta catch this guy. I can’t let him get to you. It was my fault, last time. I won’t let it –”

“Jane,” Maura breathed, turning in Jane’s arms, grasping at Jane’s sleeves, “it wasn’t your fault. He would have come after us regardless of anything you did.”

“Still,” Jane mumbled, brow furrowed deeply, gaze unfocused somewhere over Maura’s shoulder. “I should have –”

“We’ve been over this,” Maura cut her off firmly. “We cannot blame ourselves for –”

“I know, I know,” Jane sighed, and Maura could see her retreating, even as her arms tightened around Maura’s waist. “I hear you.”

“Do you?” Maura pressed. “Because we need to be together on this.”

Jane finally seemed to focus on Maura fully once more, brows turned inward, serious as she responded, “No, yeah, I know.” She pulled Maura in close, rested her cheek against the side of Maura’s head.

Maura sunk into Jane for a moment, pressed her face to Jane’s neck, and when Jane’s cellphone began to ring, shrilly in the silence of the morgue, she only held on tighter, reticent to let go.

Jane held to Maura with one arm, but used her other hand to grab for the phone at her waist, answered with a gruff, “Rizzoli.”

Maura couldn’t hear the entirety of the conversation, but she heard Hoyt and I’m sorry and felt Jane go rigid against her, and she looked up to see Jane's face looking suddenly ill.

“What is it?” Maura asked, but she had a sinking feeling that she already knew, that what she was about to hear was the absolute last thing she wanted to hear.

And Jane was reluctant to tell her, but she looked at Maura with terrible misery in her eyes and eventually rasped, “He’s out.”

August 2005

Tommy showed up on Jane’s doorstep one night with a bag slung over his shoulder, complaining about their parents and how they were always on his back, shouldering his way into Jane’s apartment without an invitation, dropping his bag and his shoes at the door and flopping onto her couch.

“Mind if I stay here a few days?” Tommy finally asked then.

“Yeah, I mind,” Jane huffed, closing the door and walking over to him, kicking his bag out of her way. “Tommy, you can’t stay here.”

“Why not?” he whined. “Is it ‘cause you got a girlfriend now? ‘Cause you can bring her over anytime. I won’t interfere!”

He was looking far too cheerful and Jane gave him an irritated look. “It’s ‘cause I gotta work. I’ll hardly be here, Tommy.”

“I don’t need a babysitter!” Tommy exclaimed. “What? You think I’m gonna wreck your place?”

“Maybe!” Jane replied, imagining him doing just that. “Tommy, why are you even here? Can’t you just make up with Ma and Pop? Better yet, get your own place.”

“I’m in between jobs you know that,” Tommy muttered. “Who can afford a place in this economy? Besides, Ma ought to apologize to me.

Jane rolled her eyes and prayed silently for strength. “Listen, you can stay here tonight but you gotta go home tomorrow.”

Except the following day came and Tommy was still sleeping on Jane’s couch, cracking open a beer instead of taking a cup of coffee at noon, and Jane admonished him for it but Tommy just waved her off, told her to stop nagging him, and Jane only had so much time to argue with him because she had to get to work.

She thought about it and thought about it, and maybe she was overreacting or worrying too much, maybe she was turning into her mother but she didn’t feel right about leaving Tommy to his own devices. She had called her mother to let Angela know Tommy was at her apartment, and Angela had been at her wits end and no help, telling Jane to keep Tommy or send him off, that she was done fighting with him and he had to grow up on his own. Jane knew Angela would change her tune in a day or two, after she calmed down, but until then Tommy was Jane’s problem and Jane didn’t trust her little brother. She loved him, but she didn’t trust him. He had always been a problem child and he had only been getting worse in recent months, drinking too much and getting into trouble that was liable to land him in jail and not just the principle’s office.

So when Jane arrived at BPD, she went first to Maura. As reticent as Jane was to bother Maura with the whole ordeal, Jane couldn’t get out of work and Frankie couldn’t either and Jane had no one else to ask. She trusted Maura, and as the Chief Medical Examiner, Maura had more flexibility with her hours than Jane did.

Except when Jane found Maura, the ME was already in the middle of a conversation, smiling benignly at a man who was very clearly hitting on her, leaning against the hallway wall with one hand, his other on his belt, detective’s badge gleaming, smirking appreciatively at the doctor.

“Maybe I could take you to dinner,” the detective was saying as Jane approached.

“Well that’s very nice of you to offer,” Maura said sweetly, “but I’m afraid I’ll be otherwise engaged.”

“I didn’t even tell you when,” the smirking detective persisted, undaunted.

“I’m a very busy woman,” Maura deflected. “I am booked for the foreseeable future.”

“You got a boyfriend?” the boneheaded detective questioned. “’Cause I’m bettin' you could do better.”

“Dr. Isles,” Jane loudly interjected, hands on her hips as she inserted herself half between Maura and the man, forcing a tight-lipped smile for the detective, looking him up and down, entirely unimpressed.

“Detective Rizzoli,” Maura replied, and she sounded relieved but also anxious, like she thought Jane was gonna slug the guy. “How can I help you?”

“I had a question for you,” Jane answered without breaking eye contact with the detective still standing in front of her. “You got a minute?”

“Of course,” Maura agreed. “Why don’t we go to my office? Excuse me, Detective Johnson.”

Johnson stepped back to let Jane and Maura pass, lips pursed, telling Maura, “You know where to find me, Doc.”

“Yeah, we do,” Jane called over her shoulder with an exaggerated grin that dropped the second she turned away from him, eyes rolling skyward.

As soon as Jane and Maura were closed into her office, Maura gave Jane an amused smile, folding her arms across her chest. “I could have handled him, you know?”

“Yeah, I know, but I did have something to talk to you about.”

“Oh?” Maura inquired, sidling closer, playfully tugging on the bottom of Jane’s shirt, kissing Jane’s cheek, the corner of her mouth, her lips.

Jane groaned because she wanted desperately to just stand there and keep kissing Maura, but she really needed to get to work before Martinez started blowing up her phone. “I gotta get upstairs,” Jane mumbled against Maura’s lips, only half-heartedly resisting.

“Can I see you tonight?” Maura murmured in turn, hands trailing tantalizing up Jane’s sides. “I know you’ll be working late, but I’ve got tomorrow morning off…”

Well, that’s sort of what I wanted to talk to you about,” Jane admitted as she pulled her head back to look at Maura, already cringing apologetically. “Would it be incredibly awful of me to ask you to go over to my place for a few hours when you’re done here and keep an eye on Tommy for me?”

Maura’s brow wrinkled, playful expression morphing into concern. “Is everything okay? What’s wrong with Tommy?”

Jane sighed. “He’s Tommy, and he’s fighting with my parents again and he came by my apartment last night asking to stay for a few days, and maybe I’m being paranoid but he was already drinking when I left and he’s not violent or anything but he doesn’t think sometimes and I can’t just bail on work to watch him and…” she sucked in a deep breath after her long-winded ramble, shoulders slumping. “If it’s too much to ask, please just say so. I know we haven’t been dating all that long and I just keep piling on with my crazy family –”

“Jane,” Maura cut her off, hands closing around Jane’s wrists. “It’s not too much. I’m glad to help. Really,” she added when Jane looked skeptical. “I just have a few more things to finish here and then I’ll go over to your place. I’m sure I can keep Tommy entertained for one evening.”

Jane felt herself slouching in relief, squeezing Maura’s hands gratefully. “Thank you. I promise I’ll try to get off early if I can. And don’t feel like you have to keep him entertained, maybe just keep him bored – really, really bored so he doesn’t want to stay at my place anymore. And call me if he bothers you at all.”

“We’ll be fine,” Maura assured, and if Jane trusted anyone to keep Tommy from doing anything stupid it was Maura, but she still worried for the rest of the evening.

She kept checking her phone despite Maura’s insistence that everything was fine, waiting for the other shoe to drop. But the panicked phone call never came, and when Jane entered her apartment that evening, she found everything exactly where she’d left it, and Maura and Tommy sitting at the kitchen island, playing chess of all things.

They both looked up at Jane’s entrance with differing grins, and Maura said, “There’s dinner in the fridge for you,” and then they both turned their eyes back to the board.

Jane wanted to be insulted but her stomach panged with hunger at the mention of food and she decided to go to the fridge first. She found a plate with steak and potatoes and a mix of vegetables and was half tempted to eat it cold so she wouldn’t have to wait for it to heat up. While her food was microwaving, she went to her room to change into sweats and tie her hair up. When she returned, she flopped down onto the bar stool next to Maura with a sigh and took a bite of her dinner.

Jane nodded approvingly as she chewed, saying through her food, “Mmm, Maura this is really good. You made this?” It wasn’t the first time Maura had made Jane food, but with their conflicting work schedules it was rare.

“I did,” Maura confirmed, still scrutinizing the chessboard in front of her. “I had a remarkable sous chef.”

“Did you invite someone else over?” Jane asked.

“No, it was me!” Tommy said indignantly.

Jane looked at her brother in disbelief. “You don’t even know what a sous chef is.”

“I learned what it was today,” Tommy responded petulantly, folding his arms across his chest.

“Didn’t I tell to you to make sure Tommy didn't set my apartment on fire?” Jane teased Maura, squirming away when Maura pinched her knee.

“Knight to B-3,” Maura told Tommy smugly, moving her piece across the board.

“Mm, declining the gambit,” Tommy replied with interest, his eyes sparkling a little too much with excitement. “Risky move.”

“Cooking and chess,” Jane said with a shake of her head, wondering if Maura had some weird super power of taming Rizzolis, wondered why it seemed to work on her entire family except her father. “You’ve got Tommy using all his brain cells today.”

“Ha, ha, very funny,” Tommy sarcastically replied.

“He’s quite good,” Maura defended.

“I didn't realize you two were so chummy,” Jane muttered, feeling a little put out the longer she watched them smiling wickedly at each other over the chessboard.

“Oh, this isn't chummy. I've all but destroyed his king's pawn defense,” Maura said mostly seriously, and that made Jane feel a little better, but it gnawed at her for the rest of the night.

It gnawed at her when Maura got up to go the bathroom and playfully warned Tommy, “No moves without me.” And when Jane told Tommy, “No moves at all,” and he just grinned and told Jane, “Your girlfriend is awesome.” It gnawed at her when Maura and Tommy played chess late into the night and Jane fell asleep on the couch, waking up to find the two of them still up. And when Jane rode with Maura to work that afternoon and Maura said, “Tommy has a beautiful mind.” And it just about ate Jane alive when, upon arriving at the precinct, Maura had to fend off more advances from another man that they ran into at the cafe, this one named Michael, whom she admitted to being involved with in the past.

So Jane got mad and muttered, “Of course you were. You’ve sure dated a lot more men than women.”

Maura looked up from her coffee, missing Jane’s tone entirely and beginning to say, “Statistically I suppose that I’ve most often –”

But Jane couldn't stand a Maura ramble just then and she wasn’t done with her own, snapping as she turned to face Maura fully, “And y’know, I don’t appreciate you hanging out with Tommy like that.”

Maura did show surprise then, looking at Jane with a furrowed brow. “You asked me to stay with him.”

But Jane was on a roll and kept putting her foot in her mouth. “I asked you to keep an eye on him not flirt with him.”

“What are you talking about?” Maura demanded.

Jane scoffed. “Come on. Playing chess all night? With my brother? In my own home?”

“Jane –”

“Y’know what? Forget it,” Jane huffed, abandoning her own coffee and storming off, refusing to turn around even as Maura called after her, “Jane!”

Jane spent the rest of the day at work in a piss poor mood, snapping at Martinez and anyone else that had the nerve to speak to her. And when Martinez gave her a smug smirk and asked, “Girlfriend troubles?” she just about bit his head off. She went home early without pay, at her lieutenant’s insistence, but she couldn’t stand to go home and have to see Tommy, so she went to the Dirty Robber instead, secluded herself in a booth with a steady stream of beers. But even the beer tasted bitter on her tongue, her stomach swirling with both guilt and uncertainty. She felt badly for fighting with Maura, but she also felt like maybe this was indicative of something else that was nagging her, that maybe she was fooling herself.

Maybe she was crazy to think she and Maura could work, and not just because they were two women, but because they were two completely different women. Maura had been raised with money. Maura was a genius. What did Jane have to offer someone like that? It was all fine now because they had barely scraped the surface of a relationship but what would it be like in a few months? A few years, if they made it that long? Would it all be worth it?

Jane’s drink had long turned warm when a familiar figure approached her table, and Jane looked up from picking at the label on the bottle to see Maura standing over her.

“May I join you?” Maura requested, looking hopeful and disconcerted all at once.

Jane nodded mutely, watching as Maura slid gracefully into the seat across from her. Maura took a long moment to situate herself, sitting her purse next to her, looking around the Robber to observe the evening’s clientele – just a handful of mostly solo drinkers and small groups on a slow weekday evening.

Then Maura finally made eye contact with Jane and confessed, “I’m sorry, for last night. You only asked me to keep an eye on Tommy and I should have listened. I didn’t mean to upset you, and I promise I wasn’t trying to flirt with your brother –”

“What? Maura, no,” Jane interrupted, shaking her head, pushing her warm beer off to the side. “I’m sorry I was such a jerk this morning. You didn’t do anything wrong. I just… it just made me think and, well… I don’t wanna stand in the way of a great romance.”

Maura’s brows drew together, her lips in a tight frown. “I don’t understand what you mean,” she admitted.

Jane sucked in a deep breath, her throat seeming to close up with emotion, her voice hoarse as she explained, “I just realized that – that you've got a lot of options. Not just Tommy or Johnson or that guy from this morning. And it’d be a lot easier, wouldn’t it, if you were with a man instead of me? You wouldn’t have to deal with my family thinking you’re going straight to hell or with the people at work that already don’t treat you right. Maybe we were just fooling ourselves to think this would work out.”

“Jane,” Maura interjected, hastily stretching her arms across the table to grab Jane’s hands in a vice grip, and Jane tried to speak again but Maura insisted, “Wait. Jane, I’m not dissuaded by what anyone else says about us. I don’t care if it would be somehow easier to be in a relationship with a man. Whatever options you think I have, none of them have piqued my interest since I’ve been with you.”

“You and Tommy looked pretty comfortable together,” Jane persisted. “Apparently opposites attract.”

“It's an evolutionary strategy to ensure healthy reproduction,” Maura said plainly.

Jane made a face of disgust. “Okay, why do you got to go straight to breeding? All right? With my brother?”

“Aren’t you and I opposites in many ways as well?” Maura pointed out.

“Yeah, but…” Jane was running out of steam but still convinced that she needed to give Maura a way out, preferably sooner rather than later when it might rip Jane’s entire heart out.

“Look,” Maura said seriously, squeezing Jane’s hands tighter, all earnest and maybe a little nervous as she quietly admitted, “I like Tommy. I liked Paul, and I liked Michael too. But I love you. None of those men made me feel half of what I feel with you.”

Jane’s breath caught in her chest, and for a moment all she could do was stare into the hazel of Maura’s eyes, thinking about what Maura had just said, about what it meant. Jane had only heard those words from a romantic partner twice in her life, one a boyfriend that she’d only had for a few weeks, and when he’d said it she had assumed he was joking and laughed, and a few weeks later they were going their separate ways. And once from the only serious relationship she ever really had, and even that had only lasted six months, maybe ten if she counted the periods when they couldn’t really decide if they were dating or not. That boyfriend had meant it when he had looked at Jane and told her I love you, but Jane had still responded with an unconvinced, “Are you sure?” And she had eventually told him that she loved him too but she had always felt like maybe she was just saying it because she thought she had to.

But when Maura said it, Jane felt surprise but mostly she felt affection, and joy, and surety. She knew that Maura couldn’t lie, that Maura didn’t lie, and that Maura never said anything like that unless she was certain. Jane herself had been struggling to put a word to what she felt for Maura ever since their friendship evolved into more, afraid to jinx it or misinterpret, afraid that it was too soon because they might have known each other nearly two years but they had only been a couple for maybe three months. Jane had only ever been able to say that Maura was important to her, that she cared very much about her. Perhaps love encompassed everything that Jane didn’t know how to describe, perhaps that was why she was so paranoid that it would all go wrong. When had she ever felt so much for anyone? Had she ever? Certainly not like this, certainly not this paralyzing fear that Maura would leave her. But Maura loved Jane, and that had to make the difference.

“You wanna get out of here?” Jane asked, voice raspy, a soft smile brightening her face as she looked at Maura, her Maura, and was rewarded with a pretty smile in turn.

“Where to?” Maura agreed, already gathering up her things.

“Well, not my place,” Jane answered as she slid out of the booth, digging in her pocket for some cash. “Pretty sure Tommy’s still there and I kinda want you to myself tonight.”

Maura slid her hand into Jane’s with an intrigued, coy expression and offered, “My place then?”

Jane nodded and let Maura lead the way out of the Robber, anxious excitement brimming in her chest, Maura’s words going straight to her head, her heart, reassuring her that this was right, that maybe she didn’t have anything to worry about, just other people and their opinion on the matter and she didn’t care at all about that. She cared about what Maura thought and Maura plainly thought they were solid, that she was invested in them, that this wasn’t just a fling, for either of them.

“Would you like a drink?” Maura asked when they entered her house.

Jane shook her head, putting her shoes in the closet by the door instead of kicking them into a corner like she did at her own place. She hung her coat up and locked her gun and badge in a drawer, and then went over to where Maura lingered by the stairwell, hand closed around the railing, biting her bottom lip, eyeing Jane curiously.

“Wanna head up?” Jane quietly suggested, tilting her head in the direction of the stairs, nervously stuffing her hands in her pockets, rocking back and forth on her sock-clad heels.

Maura nodded, but breathily questioned, “Are you sure?”

Jane was nervous as hell but she didn’t have to think about her answer. “Yeah, I’m sure.”

They went upstairs together, hands clasped tight, fingers intertwined, like Jane couldn’t have made it into Maura’s bedroom alone, like crossing the threshold transported them to some other plane of existence, where it was only them and this love that had sparked between them, and it didn’t matter that Jane was nervous, only that she had never felt safer following Maura’s lead. Kissing now was nothing new for them, but Jane still felt her heart racing, still felt like it was brand new and familiar all at once, comforting and nerve wracking. She hadn’t been brave enough to take the next step before, not when it mattered so much, but she trusted Maura, trusted this thing between them, and she wanted to know every part of Maura, wanted to show Maura what she hadn’t yet said. She had worried that moving into more intimate territory would be difficult for her, that she would get it all wrong, but she had thought a lot of things that turned out to be mistaken – and she usually had a much better track record about being right. She was happy to be wrong though, happy that her fears had been misplaced because nothing about being with Maura was wrong. They fit together just right, and Jane did not let her mind wander back to any misgivings, lost herself instead in the confidence of Maura’s touch, vying only to give back as much as she received, as insurmountable as that seemed. Jane may have been inexperienced but she had always been a quick learner, mapping out every spot that elicited a good reaction, analyzing every breathy sound that fell from Maura’s lips, languishing in the feel of Maura’s fingertips skirting expertly over her skin. If Jane had been convinced before that they were solid, that they were worth any difficulties that might arise from their being together, this moment was only further affirmation, further proof that Jane and Maura were a pair, and if Jane never left Maura’s bed it would be too soon.

Too soon came even faster than Jane would have thought.

Jane’s phone started buzzing on the nightstand later that evening, and she would have been happy to ignore it, content where she was in Maura’s arms, head resting over Maura’s breast, Maura’s fingers trailing through her hair, their legs intertwined, her own hand skirting along Maura’s bare side. She groaned at the sound, burying her face in Maura’s neck, squeezing Maura closer, reticent to let go, and she wanted nothing more than to ignore it but it might have been her lieutenant and she wouldn’t earn any bonus points at work for letting his call go to voicemail.

“Don’t answer it,” Maura murmured, kissing the top of Jane’s head, but she was already letting her arm fall away so that Jane could roll over and reach for her cell.

“I’m on call,” Jane said regretfully, stretching her arm over to grab her phone and flipping it open. She didn’t recognize the number as her lieutenant’s or Martinez, but it looked familiar so she answered it, surprised to hear an old colleague on the phone, a guy she’d worked with in her uni days. And when he was finished telling her the reason for his call, she wasn’t happy to hear from him. She sighed heavily and told him, “Thanks for the heads up. I’ll be there in twenty.”

“What is it?” Maura asked, sitting up and placing her hand on Jane’s back, brow furrowed in concern.

“Tommy,” Jane grumbled as she slapped her cell phone closed, looking around the room for her underwear. “He just got arrested for drunk driving. I gotta go take care of this.”

“I’ll come with you,” Maura said at once, starting to slide out of bed, but Jane grabbed her arm and stopped her.

“No, stay here,” Jane insisted, spotting her pants as she was looking over Maura’s shoulder and going to retrieve them.

“Jane,” Maura sighed, with an expression of disappointment.

Jane shook her head when she saw it, going back to the bed as she was pulling on her bra. “No, Maura, it’s not that,” she promised. She bent down to cup Maura’s cheek, maintaining eye contact even as Maura tried to look away. “It’s late and you have work in the morning. You already lost one evening watching Tommy for me. Let me deal with him tonight. I’ll call you in the morning – assuming I’m not in jail for killing my brother.”

She smiled tentatively, hoping Maura would laugh, and was rewarded with a soft snort.

“Okay,” Maura reluctantly agreed.

“I’ll call you in the morning,” Jane told her again, kissing Maura once, twice, three times for good measure. “I love you.”

Maura did smile brightly then, and Jane would take that memory with her through the night, remember it so that she would refrain from smacking Tommy square in the face.

Chapter Text


November 2005

Maura Isles had always prided herself on being practical, on being focused, on being able to compartmentalize all the facets of life that felt too overwhelming for her to deal with in order to accomplish an important set of goals. It was how she managed to navigate a childhood fraught with emotionally absent parents. It was how she was able to put her head down and study and study and study until she was graduating medical school far sooner than anyone else, receiving her doctorate at twenty-three years old, becoming the Chief Medical Examiner of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts before she even turned thirty.

She had worked hard for all that she had achieved, and in so doing had put a lot of other experiences on the back burner. That wasn’t to say that she had missed out on everything. She had traveled more than most; had made friends, few though they may have been; had fallen in love, even if that love seemed bland in comparison to what she felt now. But in so much of her travels and relationships, she had still approached them distantly, still did not open herself fully, did not rip her chest open to expose her beating heart. She hadn’t realized it then, but she had only been involved with half her heart. With Garrett and Stephanie it had been all exhilaration and experimentation, riding her endorphins to a natural high. With Ian and Jen it had been serious, so serious that when each of them left her, she had been genuinely heartbroken, devastated by the loss, but even then she had not been a major part of their lives, nor they hers. She had never introduced Ian to her family, had never convinced him to love her half as much as he loved his relief work. She had been prepared to give more to Jen, had brought her home to her parents she rarely saw, but Jen wasn’t ready to do the same and Maura had closed off long before Jen left her for a safer, male option.

And yet, in the span of two years, Maura had built a friendship and a partnership with Jane that went deeper than anything she had ever felt, anything she had ever been a part of. She knew Jane’s family, even the ones that didn’t approve of the relationship between them, was invited to family gatherings and had grown a friendship with Angela and Frankie that felt more genuine than anything she had felt with her own family. Even Tommy was like the frustrating and endearing little brother she never had. With Jane she was learning, growing, understanding social cues she hadn’t before, understanding a whole new world, the Rizzolis like a whirlwind through her life. It had been uncomfortable at first, such a drastic change from what she was used to, and there were days when she thought for certain that her friendship with Jane would never last, that Jane would wake up and realize that Maura was too weird, too self-involved, too obsessed with things that didn’t much matter to most people, least of all Jane. But Jane had proven her wrong, had stuck around, had opened herself to Maura and made herself vulnerable, subjected herself to the judgement that came with being in a relationship with another woman, took the leap even though she had never been with a woman before.

It was easy for Maura to fall in love with Jane, with the Rizzolis, with the dreams she had for the future, a future with Jane. Maura had never really envisioned herself as the marrying type – that sham wedding with Edward didn’t count –, had only fantasized about a wedding in the context of an exotic venue and beautiful décor, had not placed anyone in particular, or even herself, into that daydream before Jane. Now, she found herself imagining what it might be like, wondering if two years was long enough to know someone, wondering how she might convince Jane to have a destination wedding, or a wedding at all. They hadn’t really discussed it yet; gay marriage had only just become legal in Massachusetts a year ago, and Maura hadn’t let those thoughts be exposed to the air yet, had not let anyone hear them. She was still trying to wrap her head around it, trying to determine if she was out of her mind. But Maura had always been certain of herself, of what she wanted.

She was not, however, always certain of others, what they felt, and while she could read Jane better than most, there were still parts of her that were a mystery. Maura still felt like she was unraveling Jane bit by bit, still learning something new about her all the time, and she loved every moment of it but it was increasingly confusing. She didn’t know how Jane would feel about even discussing marriage. They had only really been in a relationship for six months, and those six months had not been entirely easy.

Maura didn’t know if Jane would ever be interested in marriage, in marriage with Maura, but before she could even try to find out, their relationship faced its greatest challenge. Not their own insecurities, not judgement from family or peers, not any of the multitude of differences between them. Instead, it was the one thing that both of them had always valued above all else – their careers.

Jane had finally been given the opportunity to apply for homicide detective, and Maura had been confident that she would get it, that she was the most qualified, the absolute best candidate. So Maura and Frankie were waiting at the Dirty Robber for Jane, prepared to celebrate or console after Jane was finished with her interview, both of them certain that it would be more celebration than consolation. Jane might not he hired on the spot, but she would certainly have to have some idea of how the interview went, if the homicide lieutenant seemed interested in hiring her.

When Jane entered the Robber, Maura couldn’t tell from the look on her face what she was feeling. Jane still smiled a little as she approached Maura and Frankie, but it looked a little sad, her eyes telling a different story than her lips, and Maura worried what Jane might say.

“Well?” Frankie pressed as soon as Jane slid into the booth next to Maura. “Come on, tell us! How did it go?”

“It went… okay,” Jane hedged, waving the waitress over and ordering a beer. Maura slipped her hand around Jane’s arm, looking at her searchingly, but Jane was avoiding her gaze.

“Ah, come on,” Frankie scoffed. “You don’t gotta be modest. I bet it went better than okay.”

“He said that I come highly recommended and that he’d be really interested in having me on the team,” Jane admitted.

“Well that’s good, right?” Maura insisted, jostling Jane’s arm a little, thinking maybe Jane was just being hard on herself.

The waitress returned with Jane’s beer, and Jane took a long gulp from it before setting it back on the table, holding the bottle in both hands, staring mournfully at it before turning those dark eyes on Maura. “He also asked about my relationship with you.”

Maura inhaled deeply through her nose, a fruitless effort to calm her quickening heart rate. “What do you mean?”

“What for?” Frankie added, thick brows furrowed.

“He thinks that there’s a conflict of interest,” Jane said. “He says that homicide and the medical examiner work closely together, and that our cases could be called into question.”

“Well that’s preposterous,” Maura sputtered.

“That’s nuts!” Frankie agreed. “That’s like sayin' Maura can’t be friends with anybody at BPD. And I know half those lab techs are hookin' up with cops.”

Jane shrugged, back to staring at her bottle. “He doesn’t want to risk one of us tampering with evidence for the other. I get it.”

“Jane,” Maura breathed, squeezing Jane’s arm. “I’m so sorry –”

Jane just flashed her a tight smile. “It’s okay. He didn’t say no, exactly, said he would let me know for sure in about a week. Maybe he won’t have any better options.” She snorted self-deprecatingly and shook her hand through her hair.

“He was probably just testing you,” Frankie waved off. “There’s no way he can pass you up.”

But Maura felt like her stomach had dropped into her shoes, which she knew was physically impossible, and yet she had never been so certain of impending doom. Maura was not one to guess or assume, but she knew Jane. She knew how important making homicide was, knew that Jane had always put her career first. How could it be any different now? How could Maura expect it to be? She couldn’t take that dream away from Jane. She couldn’t be the reason Jane didn’t make homicide because Jane deserved it. Jane would be great at it, better than some of the other detectives Maura had worked with since she joined BPD.

Maura’s relationship with Jane meant the world to her, but she knew what she had to do. She knew without a doubt that Jane’s job came first, and she grappled with that knowledge through the rest of the evening, nearly as closed off as Jane, even while Frankie tried to lighten the mood. Eventually, he admitted defeat, left the Robber early claiming he was meeting with a friend later, leaving Jane and Maura alone in that booth.

“You wanna go?” Jane suggested as soon as he left, and Maura nodded mutely.

They didn’t discuss it but Jane said that she would follow Maura and they both went wordlessly back to Maura’s place, went inside together and put away their shoes and Maura’s purse and Jane’s gun, and when Jane started kissing her, Maura gave in but only for a few moments. She could only take a few minutes before she felt like she would self-combust, pushing Jane out at arm’s length and looking up into her eyes.

“Jane,” Maura started, voice already trembling, and Jane immediately shook her head.

“Don’t, Maura,” Jane protested. “Don’t say it –”

“We have to break up –”

“No, we don't,” Jane argued.

“Jane, I won’t stand in your way,” Maura said firmly, grasping both of Jane’s hands in her own. “I won’t be the reason that you can’t have this opportunity. You deserve this –”

“Then I’ll get it another way, another time,” Jane countered. “You don’t give up on family, Maura.”

“You don’t have to, not really,” Maura said slowly, shakily, her throat closing off on her. “We can still be friends. We can go back to how it was.”

“C’mon, Maura,” Jane scoffed. “You know that won’t work, not now.”

And Maura did know that, knew that they were too deeply embedded into one another now, had invaded each other’s lives, and it would be too painful to walk away now, especially when they didn’t really want to, and trying to remain friends would be unbearable. But she had to say something to convince Jane to go, to follow her real passion.

“Would you do this for a man?”

Jane looked stricken, just for a second, which was answer enough without her even having to open her mouth, but she still answered, “If he was this important to me? Yeah, I would.”

Maura shook her head in disbelief, dropping Jane’s hands so she could put some distance between them, leaning heavily against the kitchen island. “No you wouldn’t. This is all that you’ve been working for.”

“And the job isn’t gonna disappear,” Jane asserted. “Unfortunately, people are gonna get murdered, and they’re gonna need detectives, and one day they’ll need me.”

How?” Maura stressed. “How will things be different? So long as you and I are still together, nothing will change –”

“You don’t know that!” Jane shouted in frustration, and it wasn’t as if Maura had never heard her shout before but it still made her flinch. “Someone else could take over, or the lieutenant could change his mind or, or, I don’t know what! I don’t want to talk about it anymore, Maura. Just drop it!”

“Okay,” Maura whispered, stepping even farther backwards, hands over her stomach, dropping her gaze. She heard Jane sigh heavily, heard her heavy footsteps approach and then falter.

“Maura… I…”

It didn’t seem that there was much left to say, and if there was Jane couldn’t voice it, and Maura was too busy trying to hold at bay the tumultuous emotions she wasn’t used to having, tears pricking at the corners of her eyes that she refused to let fall.

“I’m gonna go,” Jane quietly rasped after a long moment of terrible silence. “I’ll call you?”

Maura didn’t reply, and Jane went to gather up her things, and part of Maura twitched, pressed by the need to stop her, to call out to her, to make her stay so that they could sort it all out, but she didn’t. She stayed rooted to the spot even after Jane had left, and even once she eventually forced herself to move, she left her cellphone on her bedside table and didn’t look at it for the rest of the night.

Jane never called, and Maura didn’t run into her at work either, and for two days they avoided one another. Maura hated every second of it, hated that she was so consumed by another person, hated that all her science could not help her out of this predicament, hated that she knew what she had to do to fix it. She wavered, because she didn’t want to make the wrong move, for herself or Jane, didn’t want to make the same mistake she felt that Jane was making. But on the third day, when Jane finally came down to the morgue to see her, Maura knew what decision she had to make.

“I’m sorry,” Jane said as soon as Maura looked up from the spleen in her hands.

“Jane,” Maura said, watching in confusion as the detective marched across the room, unburdened by the dead body cut open in front of Maura, or Maura's bloody scrubs and gloves.

“I love you,” Jane asserted. “I don’t wanna fight you. But I will fight for this position, Maura. I promise I’m not giving up on homicide, but I’m not givin' up on you either.”

“I’m resigning,” Maura said in response.

Jane blinked, seemed to just notice the organ in Maura’s hand, and frowned, saying a confused, “Huh?”

“I’m going to resign from my position as Chief Medical Examiner,” Maura reiterated. “Then we can stay together and there will be nothing standing in your way of homicide.”

Jane reeled back, looking astonished, looking at Maura like she had just put the dead man’s spleen in her mouth and not back on the table. “Maura that’s – that’s insane,” Jane stammered.

“It’s the only logical course of action,” Maura countered.

“It’s not logical at all!” Jane exclaimed. “What about you? What about your career? How can you just abandon your work here?”

“I can be a pathologist anywhere,” Maura said without concern. “I may not be the Chief, but the only real difference that makes is pay and I’ll hardly be set back by a decrease in salary.”

Jane scoffed. “Seriously? You spend your current salary on shoes alone, let alone the Mercedes and the clothes and the house in Beacon Hills –”

“I’ll manage,” Maura waved off. “The important thing is that it solves our problems.”

“No it doesn’t!” Jane protested. “What about BPD? You’re just gonna abandon everything here? Convictions have been increasing since you got here. Good convictions. Your replacement would hardly hold this morgue to the same standards.”

“I will be sad to leave,” Maura admitted, “but I don’t make this decision lightly, and whatever location I move to can benefit from my expertise.”

Jane shook her head. “No. No. Absolutely not, Maura. How does giving up your career to give me mine make this any better? I won’t let you do it.”

“I’ve already made up my mind,” Maura said.

“Lost it, more like,” Jane muttered.

“Jane,” Maura said softly, stepping closer into Jane’s space, wanting to reach out but she couldn’t in her current state so she just looked lovingly at Jane instead, “if there is anything I’ve learned from this relationship, it’s that sometimes there are more important things than work.”

“Yeah,” Jane rasped, “which is why I didn’t break up with you to get myself into homicide, but that doesn’t mean I want you to blow up your own career just for me.”

“I was with someone once,” Maura slowly revealed, “someone I thought I was in love with, and I asked them to come with me to Boston. They said no, because their work was too important to them, and I understood that, but they never asked me if I would stay with them. I wondered, for a long time, if it would have changed anything, if I would have agreed to it. I’m glad now that I didn’t because I would have never met you or found this job, but I've spent my whole life so far focused on school, on work, and I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished, what I might still accomplish, but I don’t want to wake up at the end and find myself alone.”

Jane’s shoulders slumped, and she reached out without care of the blood on Maura’s scrubs and grasped Maura’s shoulders. “I get that. I do. And I don’t want that either. I just don’t want you to wake up and resent me.”

Maura shook her head once, prying off her gloves. “Ever since I met you, I’ve had to reconsider things, and I’ve been thinking a lot about our futures, about a future together, and Jane, I am willing to put that first. I don’t know if you feel the same, if you see this going any further than it has, but I… I do hope… one day, maybe –”

“Maura,” Jane cut in, as Maura was struggling to give Jane an out, “the only future I see is one with you in it, okay? I just… I can’t imagine this place without you either.”

Maura smiled broadly. “I’ll have to find some other way to leave notes at your desk.”

Jane’s lips quirked up and she started to move in, like she was about to hug Maura, but lurched back at the last second with a horrified look. “Oh, ack, yuck, I almost touched the dead guy’s bodily fluids. I take it back. We should definitely break up.”

Maura rolled her eyes and swatted at Jane’s shoulder, and Jane laughed and ducked away from Maura’s swipe, moving to the side to lean in and give Maura a quick kiss on the cheek instead.

“Listen, I’m sorry to run, but I literally left in the middle of a debrief so I gotta get back. Dinner tonight?”

“Yes, dinner sounds perfect,” Maura agreed, and she already felt better about the whole situation, felt happy and calm. When the time came to begin letting people know that she would be putting in her resignation, she was at peace with her decision.

Her bosses, however, were not. Her phone was ringing off the hook for days, all manner of people calling to ask why she was leaving, if there was something they could do to change her mind. She gave them all the same vague story, that it was a personal decision she had made for her family, that she couldn’t allow the job to interfere with that, and some of them understood, others pressed her, the governor even offered to get her an assistant to lighten her load.

It wasn’t until Vince Korsak came down to the morgue that Maura slipped up and gave the whole truth. He had walked in on Jane and Maura talking a little too closely in the morgue a time or two, had teased the younger detective about wanting homicide so badly she was sucking up to the medical examiner, and Jane and Korsak didn’t really know each other that well but they had worked a case or two together when homicide and the drug control unit overlapped. Korsak had offered to give Jane a recommendation when the position in homicide opened up, said he was looking for a new partner and thought Jane would be a good fit.

Korsak had never asked about Jane and Maura directly, but after hearing of Maura’s upcoming resignation, he looked at Maura with a scrutinizing gaze and asked in that soft, gruff tone of his, “Is this about Rizzoli?”

And Maura could have disguised the truth without lying, could have said that she made the decision based on a number of factors, but Korsak had always been nice, to her and Jane, had that all too knowing look in his eyes, and Maura found herself confessing, “She’s very important to me.”

“Nothin' wrong with that,” Korsak said, “but why’s that mean you gotta leave? You two think you can’t work together?”

“Actually, it’s your lieutenant that thinks so,” Maura revealed, a little surprised that Korsak hadn’t already known that.

Clearly he hadn’t had a clue because he looked at Maura with his eyebrows up to his hairline, and then swore under his breath. “That son of a… Listen, Doc, do me a favor and don’t start packing your bags yet. Let me talk to Peters first.”

“Oh, no, you really don’t have to –” Maura protested.

“No, no, trust me,” Korsak cut her off, both hands up in a placating gesture, already halfway out the door. “I’m just gonna give the lieutenant a friendly reminder of what it was like working with Dr. Pike.” He said the name with clear disgust, and Maura knew that was half the reason nobody wanted her to leave, that even the detectives that found her odd and slow to make a conclusion knew that she at least came to the right conclusions. Dr. Pike had been in pathology for years, but the years had not honed his skills in many areas.

Maura tried to stop Korsak anyways, half afraid that he’d hurt Jane’s chances of making homicide even more, but he was a man on a mission and moved surprisingly fast. He was in the elevator before she could get halfway down the hall, and Maura did have a lot of work to do, her time at BPD wasn’t up yet, so she went back to the morgue and tried not to worry too much.

A few hours later, she was in her office sorting through some paperwork when Lieutenant Peters came knocking, poking his head in the doorway and asking, “Dr. Isles, do you have a minute?”

“Of course. Come in,” Maura replied, rising up from her desk. “How can I help you, Lieutenant?”

“I’m here to make you an offer,” Peters said, closing the door behind him but only walking halfway into the room, keeping distance between them.

“Oh? And what would that be?” Maura inquired.

“You stay,” Peters said plainly. Something Maura had learned about cops since she joined BPD was that they were straight shooters, and it didn’t quite take her by surprise the way it used to. Even so, she raised a questioning brow, so Peters continued. “You stay, and I give Rizzoli the spot in homicide.”

Maura frowned. “Lieutenant, I do hope that you know I wasn’t trying to leverage you by turning in my resignation. I made this decision of my own volition –”

“Oh, I know,” Peters interjected. “I know you’re serious about leaving. And Rizzoli deserves the spot or I wouldn’t give it to her. But you’re important to the team too. I wasn’t trying to scare you off. I just want you – you and Rizzoli both – to understand what you’re in for.”

“I can assure you that neither of us takes this lightly,” Maura asserted, coming out from behind her desk. “Neither of us would jeopardize our work and our reputations.”

“I know that, but an outsider won’t. If a defense lawyer or a conflicted jury gets wind of, well… whatever your relationship is, it’ll be the two of you that have to answer to it. You’ll have to be above reproach, always. And if this becomes a problem, if we start losing cases? You both could be out.”

Maura inclined her head. “I understand completely, Lieutenant.”

“I hope you do,” Peters said seriously. “Because if not, it’s all our asses on the line.”

“I certainly wouldn’t want that,” Maura agreed.

“So you’ll stay then?” Peters implored. “I got the governor ridin' my ass over this and –”

Maura held up a hand to forestall any further explanation. “Lieutenant, if you’re comfortable with having Detective Rizzoli in homicide so long as I am here, then I would be open to reconsidering my resignation.”

Peters deflated with a relieved sigh, rushing forward then to roughly shake Maura’s hand. “Thanks, Doc, I really appreciate it. You do good work here. You’ll call the governor then?”

“I will,” Maura consented.

“Great,” Peters said, and then he smacked Maura lightly on the shoulder in some odd gesture of farewell that she had come to expect from cops, and left without another word.

A little bewildered, but hopeful, Maura went back to her paperwork, worried that all the excitement of the last several days would put her behind.

It wasn’t much longer than an hour when she was interrupted again, this time by Jane, who poked her head in after one knock, a cute little smirk on her face that made Maura grin before she even knew why.

“I got it,” Jane said as she stepped into the room, nearly brimming over with excitement, all but shaking when she came around Maura’s desk. “I got the job!”

“Oh, Jane,” Maura exclaimed, opening her arms to accept the elated hug Jane was clearly just waiting to give her, “congratulations! I’m so happy to hear that.”

Jane rocked Maura back and forth with a barely suppressed squeal that made Maura chuckle, arms wrapped tight. “I start next week. Korsak is gonna be my partner. God, is it wrong that I’m so excited?”

“Not at all,” Maura told her, pulling back just enough to look at Jane’s beaming smile. “You deserve it.”

“I heard Peters came down to see you,” Jane snorted, idly toying with a strand of Maura’s hair. “He told me I better not break up with you ‘cause you’ve got too many friends in high places and you’re likely to have all of homicide demoted to traffic cops.”

Maura laughed at the thought. “I hardly think I have that much leverage.”

Jane shrugged. “I’m glad that you’ve got some. It means you get to stay.”

“I think that was mainly due to their fear of being left with Dr. Pike.”

“That, and you’re the best medical examiner around,” Jane scoffed. “But this does mean we’ll be working very closely together. Do you think you’ll be able to keep your hands to yourself, Dr. Isles?”

Maura challenged Jane’s teasing smirk with a mischievous one of her own, sliding her hands down to Jane’s hips and yanking her in closer, pleased when Jane elicited a sharp gasp. “I don’t know, Detective, can you?”

Chapter Text

October 2010

Maura knew, logically, that she was at home with Jane and with Jamie, that they were as safe as they could possibly be, but she felt like she was someplace else, like she was coming unglued, like there was no safe place and it was only a matter of time before everything shattered around her.

Hoyt was out.

He was out.

By some unfortunate set of events, he had freed himself from prison custody, faked a heart attack and executed his doctors and fled. And now he could be anywhere, could be halfway across the country except that Maura knew that he wasn’t. She knew that he’d be sticking close to Boston, that he’d be coming for her, for Jane, that he wouldn’t rest until he finished what he started over a year ago. And because he would not rest, Maura could not either. Even with Frost and Frankie sitting outside watching the house, she felt like she needed to remain on high alert. She could not put Jamie down, pacing back and forth with him tightly secured in her arms, arms that had long gone numb. Breathing was difficult, her heart rate was too high, and when someone knocked on the front door she almost screamed.

It was Angela, overnight bag over her shoulder and a pillow under her arm, waiting mutely for Jane to let her in, as if it was a given, non-negotiable, and just outside Maura could spot Frank joining Frankie and Frost. When Jane and Maura had rushed to Jane’s parents' house to pick up Jamie, they had told Angela and Frank about Hoyt’s escape, and both of them had been insistent that Jane and Maura stay with them, but Maura couldn’t stand to maintain a conversation with anyone at that moment, and Jane wanted to act like everything was normal, even as she vacuumed the rug twelve times since they’d been home. They had convinced Angela and Frank to stay in their own home, but apparently not for long. Apparently, they had decided after Jane and Maura left that they needed to be with them.

“Ma,” Jane sighed, “what are you doing here? It’s the middle of the night.”

“Who could sleep?” Angela exclaimed, tossing her bag and pillow onto an arm chair and going straight to the kitchen, past Maura and Jamie, only stopping long enough to kiss them both on the cheek. “Ever since you had this crazy idea to become a police officer I haven’t stopped worrying. I never know if you’re coming home! And your brother Frankie –”

Maura could sense that an argument was brewing between Angela and Jane, their only way to express their concern and love by shouting at each other, and while Maura often remained to mediate, her nerves were shot tonight and Jamie was sleeping in her arms and she went down the hallway to the guest room, sucking in a sharp, shuddering breath, rubbing Jamie’s back soothingly as he stirred. She couldn’t go upstairs, not when the memories of being dragged out of her bedroom with blood in her eyes were so fresh on her mind.

She settled herself on the neatly made bed in the guest room, on top of the covers, half laying with Jamie on her chest, humming to herself in a desperate effort to quiet her mind, trying not to jump at every sound, focusing on the sound of Jane and Angela’s raised voices, until they went abruptly quiet and then all that Maura could hear was her own frantic breathing.

She heard footsteps coming down the hall a moment later, Jane’s footsteps, and then there was her wife poking her head in the doorway, looking at Maura with concern, and Maura wanted to give her a look of reassurance but tears sprang to her eyes instead.

Jane rushed over to the bed, climbing in next to Maura and Jamie, laying on her side and propped up on one elbow so she could clasp Maura’s hand over Jamie’s back, whispering comfortingly, “I’m here, Maura. You’re safe. You’re gonna be safe, I promise.”

And Maura desperately wanted to believe her but it was small comfort, considering what had happened last time, what could happen this time if Jane put herself on the line to protect Maura. But Maura didn’t want Jane to worry anymore than she was, saw Jane flinch when her mother clanged some dishes together out in the kitchen, so Maura looked down at Jamie instead, tried to focus on him to stop herself from crying. Their perfect son, Jane’s by blood and Maura’s by birth, conceived from Jane’s egg to grow in Maura’s womb, a baby they had created together. Jamie was their science experiment and their miracle and the result of their love, but he was also their pressure point. The last time, Maura had thrown herself in Hoyt’s path so that he wouldn’t notice Jamie, and maybe Hoyt just wasn’t interested in an infant, or maybe it was Maura’s split second decision that saved her son from harm. Hoyt’s M.O. didn’t include murdering children as far as they were aware, but it didn’t mean he wouldn’t, didn’t mean that Jamie wasn’t in danger just because of who his mothers were. And Maura couldn’t stop worrying, about Jamie, about Jane, about herself. What woman wouldn’t fear Hoyt? Especially one that was intimately familiar with his work.

“Tell me he won’t get to us this time,” Maura whispered, even if she wouldn’t believe Jane’s answer, even if it wouldn't change a thing.

“I promise,” Jane swore, tapping her forehead gently against Maura's. “I promise I won’t let him.”

Maura breathed in deeply, turning her head and bumping noses with Jane, closing her eyes and trying not to let her mind wander to that dark place from a year ago.

“I’ve never been so scared in all my life,” Jane admitted so quietly that Maura almost didn’t hear her.

But Maura did hear, and all she could do was nod in response, with her heart lodged in her throat.

January 2006

With Jane finally in homicide and Maura still the Chief Medical Examiner, and with only a few months until their relationship was a year old, Maura decided that she was definitely going to propose to Jane. Things at work were going well, their relationship was going well, and Maura wanted to make it official, to be able to tell everyone that Jane was hers and she was Jane’s and have that solid, tangible proof of wedding rings and a certificate and all that entailed. She had been dropping hints for a few weeks to see if Jane was interested, but either Jane was that oblivious or she was a very good actress. Either way, Maura wasn’t getting any revulsion or flat out denials so she thought she was good to go.

Except Maura had made an error when trying to plan the perfect proposal. She knew better than to go over the top because Jane wouldn’t like a huge display especially with people around, but she had wanted it to be special, memorable, perfect. So she booked first class flights for them both to go to London, where her parents were spending a late Christmas and the new year, and where Maura intended to both introduce Jane to her parents for the first time and propose sometime during the holidays. Jane had been onboard with traveling with Maura and meeting Maura’s parents, had actually seemed really excited to go, and everything seemed like it would work just perfectly.

But the trip was a disaster from the onset. A massive snowstorm at Heathrow airport rerouted them eighty miles south of their destination, and left them stranded for sixteen hours before the roads were safe enough to navigate and get themselves where they intended to go. Jane seemed to be trying to make the best of it, still smiling and relaxed, telling Maura it would all be okay, that they were in Europe together so that had to count for something, but even Jane’s mood soured when the airlines lost their bags. Maura would have had an aneurysm on the spot if she hadn’t thought to hide the engagement ring in her carry-on. By the time they made it to her parents' place, they were both exhausted and in need of a real meal that hadn’t come from an airplane or fast food chain, but they had no clothes or toiletries, and the snow made finding open shops near impossible. They spent hours buying just some of the things they’d need and some fresh food, and then they had no time to rest because they had to greet Maura’s family.

The only good thing about Maura’s family being rather emotionally distant and not all that close to Maura meant that they left Jane and Maura alone fairly quickly. They all had other plans and Maura was almost relieved when they dispersed. They had all welcomed Jane kindly enough, and Maura was too tired to care about anything else. But of course, at dinner time, they all gathered back together and the interrogation of Jane began. Maura’s father was asking too many questions about what kind of pay homicide detectives received and if Jane had set up a savings account for herself and where Jane went to college. Jane seemed to take it in stride but Maura was glaring daggers at her father, with whom she was already on shaky ground with since… well, since nearly forever now. She almost couldn’t remember a time when she hadn’t felt betrayed by him.

Her mother, though, was almost worse, aloof and quiet, not quite insulting Jane, but she certainly wasn’t giving much of herself, and when Maura requested having a nightcap with just her parents, so that they could get to know Jane without Constance’s various relatives and friends around, Constance had declined, claiming to be tired and perhaps another time, Maura. It was embarrassing and beyond frustrating. Maura might have expected it from her cousins, but her mother had always been mostly open minded, had taught students of all backgrounds without judgement, and Maura didn’t understand what it was about Jane that made Constance so close-lipped. Jane didn’t seem to take offence, said she was just happy to be an ocean away from her own family for a week, assured Maura that she didn’t think Maura’s parents were awful, but Maura was still upset. She hadn’t expected her parents to suddenly change and be open and warm, but they were good at faking charm and she had hoped for at least more of that.

And then New Year’s Eve came around and Maura and Jane spent the day together in the city before going to her mother’s exclusive new year’s bash. There was an excess of guests, and all the finest food and drink. The room sparkled with stunning décor, as always with Maura’s mother. Constance Isles knew how to throw a party, and Maura was used to it but Jane was in awe, staring up at the high ceilings, where tasteful gold and silver decorations hung in spirals, reflecting light and dancing in tandem.

The shimmering lighting cast a warm glow on Jane's complexion, made her dark hair shine and the glittery dress she wore throw off a frenzy of light. Maura tucked Jane’s arm more securely into the crook of her own and smiled fondly. She had been anxiously carrying around the engagement ring in her purse all day, waiting for the right moment to strike, half tempted to propose despite the trip’s setbacks, half thinking that she didn’t want to share a holiday with her proposal, which she would remember for the rest of her life no matter the outcome, good or bad. She just wanted everything to be right, wanted the moment to be as close to perfect as it could be. Jane deserved that much. Maura wanted to give her that.

But that night, there in London, miles away from home, closer to her parents than she had been in a long time, and yet feeling like they only grew farther and farther away, Maura let it get to her. The anxiety of how Jane might respond, the discomfort of being in a room of mostly strangers when she had spent so much of her time recently with the Rizzolis or the same detectives and crime techs she worked with every day, and the gnawing ache she now felt more keenly as she was continuously overlooked by her mother. At one time, Maura didn’t fully understand that her mother was so distant, had seen much of the same attitudes among the other wealthy mothers in her circle, but now that she had seen the way that Angela Rizzoli mothered, had seen Angela’s love and attention to all three of her children, Maura keenly felt the absence.

She knew, of course, that Angela and Jane’s relationship was not perfect, that Angela could be overbearing and interfering, but she loved her children, expressed it openly and often. She was never too busy or too tired to make time for her children. Maura knew that she ought to be grateful, that she had grown up with every material advantage, that her mother had supplied her with a good life, but she couldn’t help wanting more. She remembered how welcoming Angela had been of Maura, and wished her own mother could have extended the same courtesy to Jane, to Maura.

So Maura drank too much. Every time a waiter passed by with glasses of campaign, she snagged one. She drank until she stopped glaring across the room at her mother and finally found the liquid courage to approach her, to say what was on her mind. Constance was surrounded by people, and it took Maura a moment to get through, and even when she asked her mother for a moment alone, she was denied until she raised her voice enough to potentially cause a scene.

Constance smiled calmly at her guests and politely excused herself then, motioning Maura to lead the way, and only once they were far enough out of earshot of everyone else did Constance drop her smile and hiss, “What on earth has gotten into you?!”

“What’s gotten into me?” Maura scoffed. “What’s gotten into you?” She punctuated her question by jabbing her pointer finger into her mother’s shoulder.

Constance looked at her in utter disbelief, and Maura wondered if she had ever confronted her mother before, about anything. She certainly didn’t remember another time. “Maura, are you drunk? Where is Jane?”

“Oh, now you care about where Jane is. What about the last several days, huh? Where was your care then?”

Constance shook her head in bewilderment. “What is this about? It isn’t like you to behave this way.”

“Why don’t you like Jane?” Maura demanded. “Why can’t you stand to get to know her? Do you know how rude it is to treat her like – like she's beneath you?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Constance insisted. “I do like Jane!”

“Oh please, you’ve barely said three words to her!”

“You’re a grown adult,” Constance defended. “You hardly need my approval. I thought the two of you would want to be left alone, to spend your holiday as you see fit, but apparently I’ve missed something so why don’t you just tell me what it is that you expect from me?”

“I expect you to take an interest in the woman I’m seeing,” Maura tried to say sternly but it came out a little whiny, much to her chagrin.

“I really don’t know why you’re upset,” Constance huffed in bewilderment, idly patting at her hair and looking around the room, no doubt checking to see if anyone was watching, always checking to see if others were disturbed but not Maura. “The two of you seemed to be in your own world since you got here. You’re different with her – you’re… I didn’t want to interfere.”

Maura's brain was too muddled by champagne to even remotely understand what her mother was trying to say, because it was never just the plain truth from Constance, there was always something hidden underneath. “All I wanted was for you to spend some time with us while we were here,” Maura complained, “but you never had any time.”

“Well, darling, the two of you coming here was all very last minute,” Constance said flippantly. “Perhaps if you had given me more notice I’d have been able to schedule time for it.”

Maura felt like she had been kicked in the chest, misery descending on her, and she felt embarrassed, she felt stupid, she felt like she never should have spoken to her mother, should have left the pain to fester inside and push it down like she always did. Alcohol had made her tongue loose and the result was not at all what she would have hoped for, and even though none of it was a surprise, she had almost thought, for a second, that confronting her mother was all it would take, that maybe she’d get a real answer or an understanding, that Constance would see what Maura was feeling.

Instead, Maura looked across the expansive room, seeking only one set of eyes, and found them not that far, saw Jane lingering close by, leaving them to their moment but ready to step in at any moment, and as soon as her eyes locked with Maura’s, she was on the move, walking swiftly to Maura’s side. She looked at Maura with soft concern as she wrapped her hand around Maura’s elbow, then turned a hard look onto Constance as she asked, “Everything okay here?”

Constance gazed at Jane evenly, but didn't respond.

“We’re done talking,” Maura murmured, already moving away, drawing Jane with her. Her head was spinning and she wobbled a little as tried to turn too quickly. Jane was steady against her side and she clung to Jane’s arm, but she could feel her stomach beginning to recoil, from the alcohol or her emotions or a sickening combination of the two.

“Hey, are you all right?” Jane asked as Maura was hustling them towards the exit, and Maura was afraid to open her mouth so she just shook her head and kept walking, and Jane must have seen it on Maura’s face because she picked up the pace too, rubbing Maura’s back soothingly. “Okay, okay, hang on.”

They made it to an empty bathroom in time for Maura to be sick, and as horrible and mortifying as it was, it was fairly brief because she hadn’t eaten in hours and it was mostly just champagne and stomach acid. And afterwards, she felt a little better, sober and more clear headed and less overwhelmed. She was, however, still upset, even more so that Jane had seen her like this, and she wept there on the bathroom floor, like a freshman college kid that couldn’t handle their liquor. And Jane – beautiful, sensible, thoughtful Jane – sat right there with her, arm around Maura’s shoulders and holding a cool, wet cloth to Maura’s forehead.

“I’m sorry,” Maura cried, dabbing uselessly at her eyes and sucking in short, rapid breaths.

“For what?” Jane said, leaning away for a moment to grab Maura several tissues. Maura accepted them with a grateful pout, laying her head back down on Jane’s shoulder in an effort to hide her no doubt mess of a face. “There’s nowhere I’d rather be.”

Maura snorted wetly. “I doubt that. I’m sorry I ruined our holiday.”

“No, hey, look at me,” Jane softly insisted, nudging Maura's chin until she lifted her head just a little to meet Jane’s eye. “Maura, you didn’t ruin anything. I’m just happy to be here with you.”

“I just wanted everything to be perfect,” Maura murmured sadly. “I know my parents haven’t exactly been all that welcoming to you –”

“Maura, are you forgetting the fiasco of me introducing you as my girlfriend to my Uncle Marco? To my father?” Jane cut her off with a teasing smirk.

“I know, but your mother has been so sweet to me. She always wants to meet the people in your life.”

“That’s because she’s nosey,” Jane grumbled. “And that was kind of her job. She stayed home to watch me and my brothers. Your mom was a career woman, she meets a lot of people, she probably gets tired. I know I would.”

“Don’t defend her,” Maura mumbled, her breath finally steady as she tried to wipe away the makeup she was certain was smeared across her face.

“I’m not, I’m just saying… I don’t take it personally. I am peeved that she made you so upset. Is there anything I can do? Do you want me to arrest her next time she’s in Boston?”

Maura chuckled weakly, squeezing Jane’s thigh. “No, thank you. I’m just being ridiculous. I shouldn’t be so emotional.”

Maura tried to move away, but Jane stopped her, pulling Maura back into her side to insist, “Hey, there’s nothing wrong with you wanting some attention from your mom, and I’m sorry that she doesn’t tell you how incredible you are because you deserve that. But you’ve got me and my family is your family. You can take as much as my mother’s attention as you want. Seriously, you’d be doing me a favor.” Maura rolled her eyes fondly and Jane smiled, leaning in to kiss Maura’s forehead. “Why don’t we get you cleaned up and in bed, huh? Or is the room still spinning?”

“No, no, it’s not even midnight yet,” Maura resisted. “We can’t just go to bed before we spend the new year together.”

“Are you sure you’re up for it?” Jane asked with concern. “’Cause if you’re worried about me I really don’t mind –”

“No, yes, I’m feeling better,” Maura insisted. “I just need to fix my face and brush my teeth six times and drink only water for the rest of the evening.”

“Are you really sure?”

“Yes, I'm really sure. We’re in London on New Year’s. We should be celebrating.”

“Okay,” Jane relented, “but how about we find a different party? There’s got to be plenty in the city that we can crash, just the two of us.”

Maura smiled, and wished that she could kiss Jane on the lips but that would have to wait. “Yes, that sounds like an excellent idea.”

“Great,” Jane said brightly, clambering up onto her feet and reaching down to take Maura’s arms and help her up too. “Maybe we’ll get you some french fries later too, when your stomach settles. It’s been a while since you had anything to eat.”

Maura nodded in agreement, and couldn’t help stepping back into Jane’s space, sliding her arms around Jane’s waist, laying her head on Jane’s chest and closing her eyes for a moment. “Thank you, Jane.”

“Yeah, ‘course,” Jane said easily, looking a little bewildered as Maura stepped back, but still smiling. “Here,” she added, handing Maura the damp cloth. “I’m sure you’ll wanna clean your face. I’ll go get your toothbrush.”

“And my –” Maura started to say as Jane was going to the door.

“Your make-up bag,” Jane finished. “I got you.”

And despite the embarrassment of the last half hour, Maura felt better already. She cleaned the wreckage of her face while Jane was gone, and then finished freshening up when she returned, with Jane perched on the large bathroom sink flipping through a brochure she had picked up when they were out in the city earlier, reading it off to Maura as they discussed where they might like to go to spend the rest of their evening.

They brought in the new year at a small pub, looking a little overdressed among the locals, but welcomed by the drunken strangers that took shots of whiskey at midnight and watched from the sidewalk as fireworks exploded in the distance over the River Thames. Maura skipped the whiskey, but tasted it on Jane’s lips when they kissed amidst cheering and various noise makers that echoed up and down the street.

Maura didn’t end up proposing on that trip, but she made the most of her last two days in London with Jane, booked a hotel so she wouldn’t have to face her mother just yet, and stopped obsessing over what she couldn’t control. She had Jane and her life in Boston and she was happy, even if she couldn’t really share that with her parents the way she had hoped. Perhaps it was enough that they knew, perhaps they would be glad, even if they couldn’t fully express it, and that was enough for Maura, enough for her to move on from the fantasy she had created in her mind. Her perfect moment hadn’t come, so she packed the engagement ring safely away, and when they returned home to Boston, she hid it with her multitude of jewelry once more, with a little bit of sadness, but she was not deterred. She knew she would get to present it to Jane one day, that the moment would arrive even if it was not exactly how she imagined it. She wanted to spend the rest of her life with Jane, but in the meantime, she didn’t want to miss a single moment.

April 2006

Patriots' Day was a big deal in Boston, but especially in the Rizzoli household. It was an annual celebration commemorating the battles of Lexington, Concord, and Menotomy, some of the first battles of the American Revolutionary War, and occurred on the third Monday of April each year. The celebrations included battle reenactments and the Boston Marathon, but the main reason for the Rizzolis waking at dawn was to see the Boston Red Sox playing in Fenway Park at 11 a.m.

In order to beat the traffic – or at least avoid getting stuck in it twice –, Jane and Maura spent the night before at Jane’s parents' house with Tommy and Frankie, the both of them squeezed into Jane’s twin size pink canopy bed, the sounds of Frankie and Tommy’s snores floating through the thin walls from the next room over, Jane giddy with excitement against Maura’s back. They rose with the sun, following the smell of coffee and Angela’s pancakes and bacon to the kitchen, where the Rizzoli kids and Frank ate their fill and guzzled coffee, while Maura and Angela sipped their own cups and watched in fond fascination, munching on fruit and granola.

The bathroom was a revolving door as they all took turns getting ready, but they eventually made it out the front door and into the cars. Tommy and Frankie fought over who got to ride in the Mercedes with Maura and Jane, until Angela grabbed Tommy by the ear and dragged him to the backseat of his parents' car. Tommy was still in hot water over the DUI, still trying to prove it was a one time mistake while simultaneously still making poor decisions. He’d gotten off with probation and losing his license and meetings at AA, but rather than be grateful for the lesson, he seemed peeved that he’d gotten into trouble at all, and Angela was at her wit’s end trying to keep him in line, but today was a special day and Angela let him off the hook to go to the game despite her numerous threats the week before.

They arrived at Fenway Park with time to spare, time that they needed for how long it took to park and walk across the expansive lot. By the time they settled into their seats, the game was close to starting, and Frank Sr and Frankie Jr went to get drinks and snacks, returning with armfuls of peanuts, hot dogs, beer, and soda just as the anthem was playing.

The excitement in the air was electric, and though Maura was not the avid baseball fan that the Rizzolis were, she still enjoyed herself, still liked taking part in such a sacred Boston ritual, liked seeing Jane reacting with glee or frustration. And at the bottom of the eighth inning, with Boston in the lead and a home run hit that sent all five Rizzolis up onto their feet to cheer, Maura felt it – the perfect moment.

Jane turned to Maura in her excitement, putting her hands on both Maura’s cheeks and kissing Maura straight on the mouth. And when she pulled back a second later, she was grinning wildly and her eyes were bright, the top of her nose pink from the sun that was beating down upon them, and Maura grasped Jane’s wrists before she could pull them away and said, “Marry me.”

Jane blinked, startled, still beaming but her eyes moving rapidly over Maura’s face, like she wasn’t quite certain she had heard it right, but when Maura maintained her certainty, her eyes never wavering from Jane’s, her grip secure, then Jane’s smile softened and her brow creased and she replied, “Yeah, okay.”

Maura’s knees nearly collapsed, her whole heart felt like it would fly out of her chest, and she had to clarify, “Really?”

Jane smirked. “Yes, really.”

Maura surged forward to kiss Jane soundly, and then pulled her into a bone crushing hug, and Jane laughed and nearly fell over, rocking back on her heels to steady them both. Maura was laughing too, but she was also crying, joyful tears dripping from her eyes, and from the other side of Jane, Frankie noticed and furrowed his brow in confusion.

“Maura, are you cryin’?” he asked, and it was only the din of the still cheering crowd that kept the rest of the Rizzolis from hearing him. “I know it was a good play and all but –”

“She said yes!” Maura burst out, even though Frankie likely had no clue what she was talking about from that one statement. She had confessed to him over a month ago that she had been wanting to propose and he had told her she should definitely go for it, that he thought Jane would say yes, but they were both dreadful at keeping secrets so they hadn’t it discussed it much since, not when Jane and Angela both kept looking at them like they knew Maura and Frankie had a secret.

But Maura must have underestimated Frankie, because after a moment of frowning, entirely at a loss, he suddenly caught on, eyes going comically wide and his mouth gaping, and he excitedly exclaimed, “You finally did it!”

“You were in on it?” Jane huffed, whirling on her brother, one arm still around Maura’s shoulders, and Maura reached for her purse, dug through it until she found the ring she had taken to carrying around now and then for just this occasion. When Jane turned back to face Maura, her eyes fell on the ring Maura was holding up, and she looked about as shocked as her brother, emitting a short gasp of, “Maura.

“May I?” Maura requested, taking Jane’s left hand in her own, and Jane nodded eagerly so Maura slid the ring into place, feeling relieved when it looked as perfect there as she imagined it would.

“Ma! Look at this!” Frankie shouted over to his mother, two seats away between Frank and Tommy, and she craned her neck to look down the row.

“Look at what?” she called.

And Jane winked at Maura as she said, “Watch this,” before turning in her mother’s direction and holding up her left hand to show off the ring there.

Angela got one look at it, smacked a hand to her chest in shock with a shrill, “Is that –?!” and then her eyes nearly rolled back into her head and she all but fainted, falling backwards into Tommy, who caught her with an exasperated, “Ma!

Angela recovered quickly, but only enough to shove past her husband and sons to get to Jane, dragging Jane into her arms, squeezing her neck too tight, weeping, “My daughter, my daughter is getting married!” And Jane was squirming and grumbling, but she was smiling too, looking at Maura, looking at the ring on her finger.

And then Angela released Jane to look at Maura, eyes brimming with tears, and there was something on her face that Maura nearly didn’t recognize, but it was something like love, affirmed by Angela directing an emotional, “My daughters,” at Maura, just before dragging Maura into a tight armed embrace. And then Maura and Angela were both crying, and Jane was sniffling suspiciously and Frankie was rubbing at his eyes, and Tommy was giving them an approving thumbs up and Frank hugged Jane with an awkward but genuine congratulations, sweetheart. And Maura had never felt so much like part of a family before, a family that got together for weekly dinners and kept in contact more often than once every few months, a family that ate hot dogs underneath the hot sun wedged into a substantial crowd of people, but in that moment she was part of the Rizzolis and they were a part of her, and there was nothing in that moment that could destroy her happiness.

Chapter Text

July 2006

Jane groaned loudly and with great exaggeration, head in her hands, scrubbing at her eyes. “Ma! Enough!”

“What?” Angela exclaimed. “I’m just trying to help!”

“Well you’re not helping!” Jane complained. “This my wedding and Maura’s, not yours.”

“I know that!”

“Do you?” Jane snapped. “Because you’re trying to make an awful lot of changes.”

“I’m just giving you options!” Angela argued. “I want you to have the perfect day!”

“I will have the perfect day, if you butt out.

“I don’t know, Jane,” Maura chimed in, “this one looks nice –”

Maura,” Jane whined, leveling her fiancée with an exasperated expression. “Do not encourage her.”

“It would be nice if you would be a little more excited,” Angela huffed. “It is your wedding too.”

“Don’t take it personally, Angela,” Maura said, flipping curiously through one of the bridal magazines Angela had been pestering Jane about all afternoon. “She hasn’t been at all interested in helping me plan it either.”

Jane scoffed. “Hey, that’s not true! I’m plenty excited, okay? But I’m excited about the marrying part. I don’t care where we do it or what it looks like. We could get married in a barn for all I care.”

Maura wrinkled her nose at the thought and Angela rolled her eyes before swatting Jane with one of the magazines, and Jane flinched away, swatting back at her mother in annoyance.

“You must have had some kind of dream of what you would want at your wedding,” Angela persisted. “When you were a little girl, maybe? Before you became such a party pooper.

“Yeah, as a matter of fact, I did,” Jane said with a snarky tone. “I wanted to get married over the pitcher’s mound at Fenway Park, and we’d eat hot dogs at the reception and –”

“Oh my god!” Angela threw up her hands in surrender. “I give up!”

“Maura has planned a perfectly good wedding, Ma,” Jane called as her mother was stomping away in a huff, into Maura’s kitchen, where she began unwrapping dishware from the newspaper it was wrapped in. “Why would I ruin that?”

Angela didn’t respond, only muttered under her breath and handled the dishes with a little too much force.

Jane turned away from her to look at Maura, who was giving Jane one of those knowing looks from behind the couch where Jane was seated. “What?” Jane demanded.

“Nothing,” Maura lied, eyebrows raised, and of course that was the one lie Maura could tell, the nothing’s wrong and I’m not upset, the two lies that usually meant Jane had done something wrong.

“Oh come on,” Jane pressed as Maura turned her attention back onto the magazine in her hands. “We decided on this already.”

“Well… you decided,” Maura murmured, still not looking Jane in the eye.

Jane opened her mouth to say something, but her brothers' panting distracted her as Tommy and Frankie crossed the threshold lugging Jane’s heavy television, arguing and bumping into the wall, and when Frankie spotted Jane sitting on the couch, he shouted, “Hey! How come we’re movin' all your crap?”

“Yeah, yeah, I’m coming,” Jane said in plain annoyance, pushing back up onto her feet, grimacing at the sharp twinge in her lower back, the reason she had sat down in the first place, only to be roped into her mother’s nagging. It was moving day – Jane was finally moving into Maura’s house officially, after spending most of her time there as it was. With a wedding being planned and Jane’s lease nearly up, the only logical decision had been for them to move in together, and Jane was only partially freaked out about it. On the one hand, she rarely slept at her own apartment anyways, on the other, it made her half nauseous considering the fact that she had nowhere else to go if something went wrong. Then again, Maura did have a guest house right next door.

“Where do you want this thing?” Frankie questioned, shifting the heavy weight in his arms and the TV wobbled.

“What do you even need this for?” Tommy grunted. “Maura already has a TV.”

“Because it’s a perfectly good TV,” Jane defended, and why the hell was everybody on her case today? “I was thinkin’ we put it in the bedroom.”

That got Maura’s attention, whipping her head up to look between Jane and the television in concern. “Oh, I don’t know if that’s such a good idea.”

“Why not?” Jane goaded. “We can watch it when we go to bed.”

“Studies have actually shown that watching television before bed is not conducive to a good nights sleep and can cause –”

“Maura,” Jane cut in, “I was kidding.”

“Oh. Oh, of course,” Maura said, looking relieved.

“So where the hell are we puttin' it?” Frankie demanded.

“Put it in the guest room for now,” Jane decided.

“For now,” Frankie scoffed, already shuffling in that direction. “I ain’t movin' it again.”

“Oh no,” Maura suddenly said, throwing the bridal magazine down onto her desk as she caught sight of the muddy footsteps on her hardwood floors that Jane’s brothers had left behind. “Tommy! Frankie! Wait!”

Maura moved as if about to chase the pair of them down the hall, but Jane intercepted her, grabbing onto Maura’s bicep to hold her back. “Maura, don’t worry about it –”

“But they’ll ruin the carpet,” Maura fretted, her concerns punctuated by the sound of Tommy and Frankie bumping into several things on their way, including something that sounded like glass, followed by Frankie calling, “Sorry!”

“Oh I knew we should have hired movers,” Maura bemoaned.

“Are you kidding? They charge way too much,” Jane reasoned. “Listen, I’ll take care of the carpet, okay? It’s just a little dirt.”

Maura did not look convinced, looked more like she was on the verge of hyperventilating, but she gritted her teeth in what Jane assumed was a poor attempt at a smile and nodded.

“Hey, Janie,” Frank Sr called from the entryway as he came into the house carrying an autographed baseball bat that Jane was very proud of, “do you want me to hang this up for you?”

“Yeah, Pop, sounds good,” Jane agreed.

“Where do you want it?” he asked.

“Upstairs in the bedroom,” Jane started to say, until she saw the face Maura was making out of the corner of her eye. “Oh, come on, Maura, you bought me that.”

“I know, but… are you sure you want it in the bedroom?”

“It’s supposed to be our bedroom, isn’t it?” Jane pointed out.

“It’s just that –” Maura paused, looked at Jane and changed her mind. “No, yes, of course. I want this to be your home too. The baseball bat will be a nice touch.”

Frank was already headed for the stairs, and before Maura’s head could explode, Jane called to him, “Pop! Shoes off!

Frank looked bewildered, but paused to kick his shoes off at the bottom of the steps before walking upstairs to the bedroom.

“I’m gonna go help,” Jane told Maura, and Maura nodded without looking up. Jane could tell that something was off, but she didn’t want to hash it out with her whole family in the house. God, she hated moving, and she hated planning a wedding. She would have gladly gone and eloped in Vegas without anyone else involved, but apparently Maura had already done that once, and that had been a fun conversation that Jane had not enjoyed at all. Even if Maura had gotten a divorce twenty-four hours later, the jealous part of Jane had not loved the thought of her fiancée being married to some man. Jane supposed she did want to be the one who gave Maura a real wedding, the wedding of her dreams, but it was all such a hassle and Angela was nagging them constantly and Maura kept going back and forth on the date because her parents were apparently never available for their only child’s wedding. So maybe Jane was distancing herself from the whole thing a little, but it was only so that Maura could have whatever wedding she wanted.

Which is what she tried to explain to Maura, later that evening, when Jane was sitting on the floor trying to reassemble her dresser. Most of her furniture had been sold or given away, but Maura’s wardrobe alone took up the majority of her walk-in closet and then some, so Jane had brought one of her dressers, but it was old and heavy and it was easier to take it halfway apart to get it down the stairs of her apartment building. Maura was sitting at her vanity, going through her evening ritual of cleaning her face that Jane thought took way longer than it should, and she looked at Jane through the mirror with a disbelieving expression.

“You’re just saying all of that so you can get out of planning the wedding,” Maura asserted.

“I am not!” Jane argued, cursing when the screwdriver slipped and she smacked her knuckles into the metal frame.

She paused to stick her wounded fingers in her mouth for a second, and Maura muttered, “That’s so unsanitary.”

Ignoring her, Jane replied, “Look, if you want me to plan the wedding, I’ll plan it, I just don’t think you really want me to. If I pick the wrong flower arrangements you’re just gonna end up changing it to what you think looks better anyways.”

Maura turned in her seat to look at Jane directly, brows furrowed and mouth turned down into a frown. “Is that what you think of me? That I’ll just ignore you and do whatever I want?”

Jane sighed heavily, shoulders slumping because Maura just wasn’t getting it. “No, Maura. But let’s face it, you know how to decorate better than I do, and nothing I pick is gonna look half as good, and you care more about all that than I do. I just want to marry you. I don’t care if the centerpieces don’t match the invitations.”

“But you have to care about something,” Maura insisted. “This is your wedding too.”

“I care about you,” Jane reiterated, but Maura rolled her eyes like she didn’t buy it.

“You just don’t want to deal with your mother.”

“I mean yeah that too,” Jane admitted with a shrug, refocusing on the drawer that was giving her trouble.

She heard Maura set her facial moisture down on the vanity with a clink, and then had to strain her ears to catch Maura’s quiet, “I just feel like you don’t even want to get married.”

Jane looked up sharply at that, saw Maura staring glumly down at her hands, twisting her ring around her finger like she did when she was feeling anxious.

“Maura,” Jane stressed, dropping her screwdriver and clambering up onto her feet, wincing when her knees protested from sitting cross legged too long, closing the short distance between them in three long strides, squatting down closer to Maura’s level, hands on Maura’s knees. “Of course I want to get married. I just don’t understand what you want from me here.”

“I want you to want to be involved,” Maura murmured. “I want this to be our wedding.”

“It is our wedding. We already compromised by having it at Public Garden instead of Fenway or next to a volcano.”

“If you want it at Fenway let’s do it at Fenway.”

Jane snorted. “Can you imagine? Your mother? Walking through the dirt in those heels?”

“We don’t even know if she’s coming,” Maura waved off, “but we can have a fancy rehearsal dinner for her and a Fenway reception for you.”

“It’d be way too expensive,” Jane pointed out. “I’m not trying to spend our life’s savings on this.”

“My parents have already said they’ll contribute.”

“How about this,” Jane offered, taking Maura’s hands in hers and squeezing, leaning in to give Maura a kiss on her pouting lips, “there’s a ballpark right across the street. We can just go over there after the wedding and the cake and all the fancy stuff, and we’ll change into baseball jerseys and smack the ball around with my brothers and then it’ll be like we’re at Fenway. How’s that sound?”

“And you’d like that?” Maura worried.

“I’d love that,” Jane promised.

Maura brightened at that, and Jane exhaled in relief. “So I’ll handle the wedding and you’ll handle the reception?”

“Yeah, Maur, I’ll take care of it,” Jane agreed, because how hard could it be to rent a few tables and hire a caterer?

“You will get food other than hot dogs, right?” Maura fretted.

Jane rolled her eyes with a smile. “Yes, I promise there will be food that you find edible.”

“And real plates not just paper?”

“Hey, do you want me to plan this or not?” Jane teased.

“No, yes, of course, I trust you,” Maura said, taking Jane’s face in her hands and bending forward to kiss her firmly, and Jane would begrudgingly plan a hundred weddings with Maura if it meant she got to keep kissing her.

October 2006

On October 7th, it was a brisk forty-two degrees, a stark contrast to the balmy seventy-four it had been just a few days prior, but the sun was shining and the wind was moderate, and Jane was too nervous to be cold.

She was sitting in front of a mirror, her mother and her Aunt Carla behind her, fussing with her hair, curling it just so and weaving in a white, sparkly barrette on the side, a long veil that hung down her back but not over her face because Jane wasn’t going to miss a single moment of this day. Her brothers were bickering in the background, and her father was watching the TV too loud, so that Angela kept shouting down the hall for him to turn it down. All things considered, it was relatively normal, just another day at the Rizzoli household, but her leg shook all the while, bouncing up and down, her hands fiddling anxiously with the pearl necklace around her throat that had apparently belonged to her great grandmother once, with the lace sleeves that itched a little around her wrists. Staring back at her in the mirror was her own reflection, but different, a little, more makeup than she usually wore, her shoulders bared where the dress hung just below. She hardly ever wore white either, now that she thought about it, and she had balked at the price of the dress, but let her mother talk her into getting it because it was kind of perfect, shorter than the typical wedding dress where it landed just below Jane’s knees, but it made Jane feel more like herself and less like she was trying to be something she wasn’t, and even better, the dress wouldn’t make it difficult for her to walk or use the bathroom.

Jane’s phone buzzed on the counter, and she reached for it with sweaty palms, smirking when she saw Maura’s name there and the message, I think I might be experiencing a vasovagal episode.

Jane typed back, Yeah, I feel like I’m gonna puke too.

Maura didn’t take long to respond, You ate the hot dogs that were meant for the reception, didn’t you?

They were all just sitting there looking at me, calling my name, Jane replied. How could I deny them?

 That’s a very disturbing image, Maura texted. Your food shouldn’t be looking at you.

I’ve seen some of the fish you eat, Jane countered. They’re definitely staring at you.

It took a few minutes for Maura to respond that time, and Jane sat her phone down to argue with her mother about what earrings she was going to wear.

When she picked up her phone again, she saw Maura’s message of, I can’t wait to see you.

Jane checked the time. Only fifty-eight more minutes.

I love you, Maura sent next, and Jesus it was disgusting how exhilarated that made Jane feel, how it made emotion swell in her chest and momentarily cut off her breath.

I’ll see you soon, she typed back – she’d leave her own declarations of love for the embarrassing ceremony in front of all their family and friends. I’ll be the one in white.

Across town, Maura sat in front of her own mirror, alone but for the woman she’d hired to do her hair and makeup, who chattered on now and then to fill the silence.

Maura usually liked the silence, but on that day she missed the noise that she was steadily getting used to, the boisterous Rizzoli household and Jane’s rasping voice. She knew that in just a little while she would hear it all again, that she would be closer to Jane than ever, but she almost wished she had agreed to Jane’s idea of getting ready together. Instead, Maura had wanted to keep some traditions, had convinced Jane to stay with her parents the night before the wedding, so that the first time they saw each other was in their wedding attire, and she didn’t want them to be tripping over each other trying to get ready. She had thought, also, that she might like the alone time to relax and consider how her life was about to change, but mostly she had only filled the quiet with anxieties.

She had never been a wife, had never even been someone’s best friend before Jane, and while they had navigated it so far, it would be different, once they were married, once they were bound legally together. Moving in together had been contentious, at times, both of them trying to figure out suddenly having to share their space, having to be conscious of another person’s needs. One of the best parts of being with Jane was that Maura could be herself, but she worried anyways, about not being what Jane needed or wanted, of getting it all wrong.

So she did what she always did when she was feeling uncertain and reached out to Jane, texted her and told her that she was feeling anxious, and was rewarded with a typical Jane response that made Maura grin. Jane’s teasing set her at ease, reminded her why they were doing this, that they were right for each other, that Jane wasn’t backing out so why worry?

When Maura was finally just about ready and it was nearing time to go to the ceremony, she began to pull on her dress but was interrupted by the sound of her doorbell. She ignored it, at first, thinking it was maybe a delivery, and if it was someone trying to sell something she certainly was not interested today of all days. But there was a second ring, and then the sound of the door easing open, and a voice calling, “Maura, darling?”

Bewildered, Maura went to the top of the stairs and peered down, saw her mother standing in the entryway, all fashionable and fabulous as always, smiling tentatively. Only the night before, at the rehearsal dinner that had been planned specifically for Maura’s parents, everything expensive and with their preferences in mind, Maura had been disappointed by both her parents yet again. Her father had not even bothered to call and tell her that he would be missing the wedding, had simply sent Constance to tell Maura that he was very busy with a recent discovery. And Maura had prepared the guest house for her mother, only to have Constance book herself a hotel, and she only stayed at the rehearsal dinner through the entrée before she was making her excuses to leave, barely staying long enough to meet half of Jane’s family, who had been on their best behavior at Jane’s behest. After all that, Maura almost hadn’t even wanted her mother to come to the wedding, so to see her now, Maura was beyond wary.

But Constance began to say, “I wanted to see if you needed any last minute assistance or advice…” and then trailed off as her eyes moved down to Maura’s gown, and she sucked in a sharp breath, hand to her chest. “Maura… you look gorgeous, darling.

And even though Maura was upset with her mother and feeling disconnected from her and entirely uncertain where they stood with each other, she still felt a warmth filling her, a small, pleased smile curling her lips. She looked down at her dress, smoothing her hand over the front of the bodice, quietly replying, “Thank you.”

“Do you… need anything?” Constance asked uncertainly.

“Um, would you mind helping me with the buttons?” Maura offered, gesturing to the back of her dress.

“Of course,” Constance said at once, looking relieved, coming up the stairs, and Maura went back into her bedroom to wait, pulling her long train with her, pulling it off to the side so her mother could step up behind her without tripping on it. “Is this silk charmeuse?” Constance asked as she was butting up the back of Maura’s gown.

Maura nodded. “Yes, it is.” It was almost exactly how she had envisioned, empire waist and all, though the train wasn’t quite twenty feet long. That part just hadn’t seemed very practical.

“You made an excellent choice,” Constance said idly, focused intently on her task, not quite meeting Maura’s eye in the mirror in front of her. “Not just in choice of gown. I think… I think that you and Jane make a fine couple. She seems to love you very much.”

Maura was a little speechless, wondering if her mother had actually spoken at all, wondering if this wasn’t all a dream or a hallucination. She hoped she hadn’t passed out and missed the wedding.

“I am very proud of you, Maura,” Constance said, finally lifting her gaze, looking directly at Maura in the mirror. “I hope you know that.”

Maura swallowed, her heart rate picking up speed once again, chest tight, this time from a different kind of emotion from the anxiety she had been feeling earlier. “Th – thank you,” she stammered. “That – that means a lot to me.”

Constance nodded once, and then dropped her attention to the back of Maura’s dress, tightening it up. “There you are. How does that feel? Not too tight?”

A trash bag would have been too tight in that moment, but Maura focused on calming her breathing and answered, “Yes, it’s perfect, thank you.”

“Are you nervous? I thought I would faint the day I married your father.”

Maura laughed breathlessly. “Really? I didn’t know that.”

“Oh yes,” Constance confirmed. “I thought I was making a mistake, that marriage would only hold me back, that a man would certainly interfere with every decision I made. But he sent me a note, just before the ceremony, told me I could pick anywhere in the world to go for our honeymoon, that he could watch me paint beneath the moonlight on any continent. I know, it sounds incredibly trite and saccharine –”

“It’s sweet, Maura said in amusement.

“Well, it was one of the moments I knew I was making the right choice,” Constance continued, idly adjusting the curls in Maura’s hair. “Your father and I have had our ups and downs, our marriage certainly hasn’t been perfect, but he never held me back. That’s all I want for you. Is the freedom to be whoever you want to be.”

Maura reached up to touch the top of her mother’s hand where it rested on her shoulder, their eyes connecting through the reflection in the mirror. “I do have that, with Jane.”

Constance smiled. “Good. Then let’s get you to the wedding, shall we?”

Maura looked at the time and nearly had a heart attack, looking around for her shoes and rushing over to them. She finished getting ready and let her mother help her into the car, her stomach twisting with anticipation, excited for what was to come, and she couldn’t stop thinking about Jane during the short trip down the road to the park where they were to be married.

Maura arrived before Jane, but saw most of their guests already in their seats, and all of it was exactly like she’d planned, beautiful and elegant, but understated and sensible. Maura hadn’t been planning a walk down the aisle even before her father cancelled on her, so she went ahead to the front of the seating arrangements that had been set up, to where the officiant stood beneath the floral arch. It was a small gathering, only eighteen people in attendance, about six of whom were still missing, but Maura could hear the distant sounds of Rizzolis approaching. She caught the eye of Korsak in the second row, and he gave her a smile and a wink. Her mother smiled a little more demurely a few seats down.

And then there was Angela and Frankie and Tommy, and Jane’s Aunt Carla and cousin Giana bustling along behind. Angela came the whole way up the aisle, already tearful, and gave Maura a tight hug, whispering, “You look beautiful.

Maura’s throat was too tight to respond right away, and before she could, she saw Jane approaching with her father, and Maura’s breath got caught somewhere in her chest.

Jane was beautiful, wearing understated lace, her endless legs on display, her hair down in boundless, shiny curls, just like Maura liked it. Maura was smitten, and so overwhelmed with joy, and she knew, without a doubt, that marrying Jane would be the best thing she ever did.

Jane’s father walked her down the aisle, a soft melody playing, and she smiled so brightly. The sun was half obscured by clouds but cast a few stray beams of light onto the event, the ominous overcast staying blessedly away long enough for the ceremony to take place. There was a chill breeze that made Maura shiver now and then, but her focus was entirely on Jane, on trying to remember what she was supposed to say when she felt speechless.

Frank handed Jane over to Maura, and though he looked a bit hesitant, and though he was still struggling now and then with this path his only daughter had chosen, he inclined his head at Maura and released Jane, stepped back and took his seat next to Angela.

Maura took both of Jane’s hands and looked into those familiar brown eyes, saw Jane smirk and wink at her in turn, and any anxiety she had felt during the day dissipated at once.

Their officiant was Travis, who had taken Jane and Maura out on his boat so that they could have their own private whale watching tour, had kept in touch with the two of them after, and had been thrilled to officiate for them. He was brief and to the point, just like Jane had asked, and they went quickly into their vows.

“Jane…” Maura began, inhaling deeply, “how can I put into words what you’ve been for me these past three years? I can cite to you the etymology of any number of beautiful words, but I cannot combine them into poetry half as grand as you deserve. All I can say is that you are fierce, and witty, and you are always there for me when I need you most. Your laughter sustains me, and every time that we part I know that our bond is still there, that you are with me even when you’re not because you have etched yourself into my heart. I love you, and I vow to continue loving you through all that we might face, together.”

Someone was noisily sniffling, and Maura had to bite the inside of her cheek to keep from snickering when she saw Korsak red-faced and dabbing at his eyes.

Jane saw it too and grinned, and then jostled Maura’s hands and teased, “That sure sounded like poetry to me. You’re gonna make me look bad in front of everybody.” A few of the attendees chuckled, and Jane quickly swiped at her own watery eyes, clearing her throat. She squeezed Maura’s hands and looked at her seriously. “Maura, I know your eyes in the morning sun. You come to me on a summer’s breeze. You keep me warm in your love –”

Maura narrowed her eyes and couldn’t help interrupting, “Are you quoting a Bee Gees song to me?”

Half of their guests groaned or laughed. The Rizzolis started harassing Jane from their seats. Tommy booed, and laughed when his sister shot him a dark look.

How deep is your love?” Frankie cajoled. “Really?”

“We heard it on the radio the other day,” Maura told the crowd.

“Well it was a good song!” Jane defended. “Listen,” she tugged on Maura’s hands and smiled softly when their gazes locked again, “I tried to think up a good speech, or find one online that I could plagiarize, but all I can say is that I love you. I really, really love you, and I promise that I’ll keep showing you that I love you every day, starting with putting my shoes away instead of kicking them off wherever I want.”

Maura snorted wetly, tears pooling in the corners of her eyes now. “I would appreciate that.”

“Maura,” Travis said when it appeared that Jane was finished, “do you take Jane to be your lawfully wedded wife.”

“I do,” Maura said brightly, without pause.

“And Jane, do you take Maura to be your lawfully wedded wife?”

Jane nodded with a relaxed smirk, quietly answering, “Yeah, I do.”

Travis grinned. “Then by the power vested in me by American Marriage Ministries online ordination, I pronounce you Mrs. and Mrs. Isles-Rizzoli. You may now kiss your bride.”

Maura was all too happy to do so, dropping Jane’s hands at once to put her arms around Jane’s waist instead, pulling them close together, finally kissing Jane for the first time in twenty-four hours, kissing her wife. It was official now. Maura could shout it from the rooftops if she wanted to, flash the ring on her finger as proof that she was a taken woman, that she was a Rizzoli.

Their guests clapped and Frankie cheered and Maura was smiling so widely that her cheeks hurt. Jane was looking at her with that pleased smirk and everything was perfect but for the gray clouds creeping in, the chilly breeze across Maura’s bare shoulders. But there was something beautiful, too, about how the skies opened up and began to drop snow on their heads, the way the stark white flakes nestled in Jane’s dark hair. And Maura thought to herself, who needed the sun when she was encompassed in Jane’s warmth?

After a few obligatory wedding photos, enough to fill an album but not leave their other guests waiting too long, Jane and Maura crossed the street to the baseball field where their reception was to take place, planned almost entirely by Jane. The ceremony itself had been Maura’s own masterpiece of flowers and symmetry and class. The reception, by contrast reflected her other half, Jane’s unconventional style showcased in the location alone, but also in the minimalist décor and casual set up. Maura donned her coat now that the snow was falling steadily, while Jane threw on a long sleeved Red Sox jersey and baseball cap. Guests were encouraged to eat their fill of hot dogs and peanuts and beer, but there were also some more common wedding fare as an option, for which Maura was very grateful.

Maura was stunned, however, when Jane offered a plate of salmon and vegetables to Constance, and Maura’s mother decided instead, “I think I’ll try the hot dogs first.”

And when Tommy offered Constance a beer, she accepted with a smile, clinking bottles with Tommy and taking a large swig, coming away with a foam mustache and seeming unperturbed.

Maura watched in astonishment before muttering discretely to Jane, “I think my mother has suffered a head injury.”

Jane snorted, idly rubbing Maura’s arms, sticking close for warmth. “She seems to be relaxing finally.”

“She came to see me today, before the wedding,” Maura revealed.

“Did she?” Jane hummed, but didn’t sound at all surprised, and Maura narrowed her eyes at her new bride. “I’m glad.”

“You knew?” Maura accused.

Jane shrugged, looking out across the ball field at their friends and family, at the snow steadily falling all around them. “She and I had a little chat last night, before she left the dinner.”

Maura raised her eyebrows. “Oh? A little chat?”

Jane finally turned her head down to meet Maura’s gaze, and there was a ferocity in her eyes that Maura had seen a number of times, the protectiveness that came out of her, the loyalty that Maura had always been attracted to. “I just told her that we want her to be around, but she’s gonna have to make an effort.” And with that, Jane took a large bite of her hot dog and turned to accept congratulations from one of her cousins, begrudgingly enduring the hug that was offered.

Maura couldn’t even be upset with Jane for going behind her back to speak to her mother, could only feel an overwhelming fondness, a feeling of security, and she laid her head on Jane’s shoulder, burrowed closer into Jane’s side.

The rest of the reception was full of laughter and love, with Frankie giving a speech about how frustrating it was to watch Jane and Maura dance around each other for two years, and Korsak trying to give Jane and Maura a puppy as a wedding present, but Angela took the dog instead despite Frank’s mild protests. A few more pictures were taken over the pitchers mound, as well as a playful one on second base that Jane insisted on despite Maura’s eye roll. Tommy pulled out a bat, a glove, and a baseball and coaxed several people into taking a few swings at the ball, including Constance, who stepped out of her heels to stand on a towel Frankie laid down for her, looking a little absurd there at home plate in her fancy dress. She missed Frankie’s pitches several times before she managed to hit a fly ball, and accepted a high five from Tommy that nearly bowled her over. Maura had still never played baseball before, and took the opportunity to let Jane try to teach her how to swing, paying very little attention to what Jane was saying into her ear or the ball that kept sailing across the plate, focused on Jane’s steady presence against her back, the way Maura could feel Jane’s muscles flexing around her when they swung, both of them holding tightly to the bat with their fingers overlapping. It was extremely difficult for Maura to swing the baseball bat that way but she wasn’t about to complain, and eventually she and Jane managed to hit the ball, the force of it vibrating up Maura’s arms.

Some of the guests played for a bit too, but eventually they all conceded that it was just too cold to keep the reception going outside, even as the snow petered out, and some of them wished the brides well and went home, but a few agreed to meet back at the Dirty Robber later that afternoon for a continuation of the party, once they’d all changed out of their wedding attire.

Tommy, though, was already well and truly drunk, and for someone that had been in court ordered AA only a few months ago, it was making Jane’s brow furrow, a frown marring her lips every time she spotted her youngest brother across the ball field. And if it weren’t for the fact that it was her wedding day she’d have probably already dragged Tommy home herself.

When Frankie pulled back from hugging Maura in brief farewell, Jane snagged his sleeve and requested, “Look after Tommy, would ya?”

Frankie followed Jane’s gaze over his shoulder, and when he turned back his face had contorted into a disgruntled expression, but he nodded and said, “Yeah, I got him. Don’t worry about it.”

After a round of hugs and further congratulations and goodbyes from all their guests, Jane and Maura went back to Maura’s house – their house – together. Jane joked as they crossed the threshold that she ought to carry Maura inside, but as aware as Maura was of Jane’s strength, she doubted the logistics of it being a safe venture. She laughed as she squirmed away from Jane’s grip on her hips and warned, “Don’t you dare.”

The warmth inside the house was like a blast in the face after so long in the cold. Maura almost broke out into a sweat, her wedding gown feeling heavy on her back, and Jane must have been feeling much the same because she tore off her heavy jersey and tossed it over the back of a chair. Before Maura could complain, Jane was in front of her, hands settling on Maura’s waist, eyes blazing, cheeks red from the chill outside. Maura’s body was still half numb from the cold, but it sparked at Jane’s touch, began to come alive again, synapses firing.

“How much time you think we got before we gotta meet the others at the Robber?” Jane murmured, fingers toying with the buttons along Maura’s spine, mouth trailing kisses down Maura’s neck.

Maura sucked in a sharp breath and grasped at Jane’s thighs, the only thing she could find a grip on with her wearing that skin tight lace, and all she could say before her mouth was consumed by Jane’s was, “They can wait.”

Chapter Text

October 2010

Hoyt’s next victims were a lesbian couple, one woman tied up and left with her throat slit in their home, her wife missing. And then a delivery man brought a succulent plant arrangement to the scene, addressed to Jane and Maura, a clear taunt from Hoyt and his apprentice, and Jane had just about had enough. Yes, she was scared, scared that Hoyt would get to Maura, that he was already getting to her, just by being on the loose, but there was rage simmering too, burning through her chest. She needed to find Hoyt, she needed to take him down. No more back and forth, no more waiting for him to come to her. She had to take action, and when the moment presented itself to her, she knew what she had to do, but she knew also that Maura wouldn’t like it.

They found the missing woman’s body in a more secluded area this time, a place Hoyt’s apprentice could visit, and Jane had to set her plan in motion.

“You mean leave her here?” Maura said in disbelief as they were standing over yet another dead woman’s body, and this time they were alone. This time, Jane was keeping this as quiet as possible and only Frost was there, currently silencing the man that had called it in.

“I said you wouldn’t like it,” Jane bluntly replied. “Let’s go.”

“No,” Maura refused. “I’m calling my team.”

“Maura!” Jane reasoned. “They weren’t expecting anyone to find this body. Look at where she’s hidden. Okay, hear me out, hear me out. We get the hell out of here, we put both the park entrances under surveillance.”

“What makes you think that Hoyt isn’t watching us right now?” Maura countered, snapping on her gloves, ignoring Jane, kneeling by the body.

“He might be,” Jane conceded. “I am willing to take that gamble.”

Maura scoffed. “What, by leaving this body here? In hopes that they’ll return? No! No, the longer she stays here, the more forensic evidence is lost.”

And it wasn’t just that, was it? Though that was plenty to get Maura all twisted up. But this time Maura was looking down at that body, at that woman, with her blonde hair and her brunette wife dead in their home, and she was seeing herself. She was seeing what she might have become if she hadn’t been rescued, what she could still be if Hoyt wasn’t captured first, just a body left naked and abandoned in the woods, her entire life reduced to that moment, visited by a vile man, for him to do with her body whatever he wished. It wasn’t like the thought didn’t make Jane sick too, that she wouldn’t want better for Maura, for herself, but this was about bringing Hoyt and his apprentice to justice, by whatever means necessary, and she hoped this woman might understand.

“Maura, please,” Jane begged. “The faster we get out of here, the better chance we have of not being discovered. Okay? ‘Cause if we don’t do this we got nothin’. If we take this body back now, all we’ll find out is yep, she’s dead, and they killed her. Please. Do this for me.”

And that must have been enough, somehow, Maura’s trust in her wife even when she didn’t agree, even when she was grinding her teeth at the implications of what she was doing. Jane could see it all on her face, but she also had to hear about it the whole way back to headquarters, Maura’s displeasure and her concern.

“You need back up,” Maura was insisting from the passenger side.

“I have back up,” Jane asserted. “I got Frost and Korsak.”

“That isn’t enough,” Maura huffed. “You need an entire task force –”

“No way,” Jane refuted. “The more people we’ve got there the more likely we are to be seen. You can’t hide twenty cops in the trees.”

“There’s a fine line between courage and stupidity,” Maura muttered. “I won’t let you do this without some assurances.”

Jane sighed wearily because she wasn’t trying to piss off her wife but dammit she didn’t have time to argue semantics. “I’m gonna be fine, Maura. This isn’t my first time on the job.”

“Oh, of course. I’ll be sure to tell Jamie that when he asks what happened to his mother, that she was very experienced and so she didn’t need help. She would rather be killed than to ask for it.”

Jane almost wanted to be proud that Maura had actually pulled off sarcasm correctly for once, but Maura’s use of their son as a guilt trip rubbed her the wrong way and Jane just remained silent, focused on the road and driving and her hands squeezing too tightly around the steering wheel. There was no point arguing further. She had already made up her mind even if Maura was unhappy with it. Jane was glad to take Maura’s thoughts into consideration most of the time, but when it came to doing her job, there were some things that Maura just couldn’t understand.

Jane did relent and bring along three more cops to assist her, Frost, and Korsak, partially to appease Maura and partially to appease her Lieutenant. They had just enough time to prep and get back to the park just as night was falling, and then all they could do was wait.

 Jane didn’t let herself focus on the darkness surrounding her or the fear in her gut, consoled herself with the knowledge that Frankie was with Jamie and Maura was safe at headquarters and neither of them would disappear while she was waiting for Hoyt. She focused instead on bickering with Korsak, on the smelly dog he had hidden in the back seat.

And then everything went to hell. Korsak disappeared, Jane chased a dark shadow through the woods, tackled Agent Gabriel Dean, lost the shadow, and found Korsak bleeding on the ground from a neck wound.

Jane returned to headquarters with a stinky dog and a whole host of woes burning in her gut, adrenaline still pulsing in her veins, dripping sweat down her spine.

“Did you call Agent Dean?” she accused the second she saw Maura.

“Yes, I did,” Maura answered bluntly, with no remorse, a furrow in her brow as she looked at the dog in Jane’s arms. “How is Korsak?”

“He’s fine – I mean – he’ll be fine,” Jane sighed, softening a little, thinking of her former partner. He had scared the hell out of her that evening, but thankfully Hoyt or his apprentice or whoever was in too much of a hurry to kill Korsak. “Don’t change the subject. You called Dean without telling me.”

“I’m sorry,” Maura said, but she sure as hell didn’t sound sorry.

“Really, you’re sorry? Because I treated a senior federal agent like a perp. I tackled him, Maura, in a creek.”

“Well, that’s unfortunate, but I told you –”

“Really?” Jane interjected. “I told you so?” Jo Friday barked in her arms as if to reiterate the point, and Jane thanked the dog. Maura wrinkled her nose, and Jane scoffed. “Don’t look at me like that. You had a turtle when we got together.”

“A tortoise,” Maura corrected with a pout. “Well, at least give her a bath. She’s filthy.”

It was as they were giving the small dog a bath in the morgue sink that Maura had to stifle a laugh, asking Jane with barely suppressed amusement, “Did you actually tackle him?”

“Yes, like a linebacker. Very professional.”

Maura chuckled then, and it might have been worth it, the whole pointless operation and tackling a federal agent, if it finally got Maura to smile, and laugh, for the first time since Hoyt escaped. “Wow. You’re very brave.”

“Mmm very brave, or very stupid,” Jane teased, with only a little bit of underlying bitterness.

Maura did show some contrition then, but the embarrassed little quirk of her lips turned coy as she looked Jane up and down said, “Y’know, it’s – it’s actually kinda sexy.”

Jane’s brows lurched upwards. “Really? That’s what does it for ya? Me tackling a grown ass man that could put me in federal prison?”

Maura smirked, tugging gently on one of Jane’s curls that had fallen from her ponytail. “It does make me feel better, knowing you roughed him up a little. You've noticed that he’s attracted to you, haven’t you?”

Jane scoffed. “Pft, what? Agent Dean? No way.”

“Yes way,” Maura insisted.

“Well,” Jane murmured with a smirk, pinching the front of Maura’s blouse with her thumb and forefinger, tugging her closer, “Agent Dean is very pretty, but I only have eyes for one pretty person.”

Jane kissed Maura’s cheek and then her jaw, and her neck, and Maura complained, “You smell like wet dog.”

“Mmm, I thought I was sexy,” Jane mumbled against Maura’s lips. “Will it get you going if I tackle you?”

“Only one way to find out,” Maura said with a throaty laugh.

“Let’s go home and test that theory,” Jane said at once, tugging on Maura’s hand, already heading for the door

They got halfway down the hallway when Jane had to double back, snatching up Jo Friday as she barked indignantly. “Yeah, yeah,” Jane huffed, “I came back, didn’t I?!”

January 2007

Winter began in Boston with a slew of homicides that kept Maura and Jane so busy they hardly had a moment to sleep at the same time. But one morning they were both finally free for twenty minutes, and decided to go for a run together before work. Except halfway through Jane pulling on her sports bra, Maura thought of a better way to exercise, and who was Jane to argue?

By the time they finally made it out the door, they were running late and Jane’s hair was still wet from the shower and they did not have time to stop and chat with anyone. But as Jane rushed out onto the front sidewalk to where her unmarked sat, she nearly ran straight into a child that was rushing by, their mother in hot pursuit, calling an exasperated, “Lily! Be careful!”

“Woah,” Jane said in surprise as she had to swerve to stop from knocking the kid over, and her hands were full with her jacket and car keys and coffee thermos and files from work, but she managed to reach two fingers out to grab the young girl’s sleeve when she started to topple over, saving her little knees from a fall to the pavement. “Easy there, kid.”

The little girl couldn’t have been more than four or five years old, and she looked up at Jane with a mischievous spark in her dark eyes, smiling unperturbed up at Jane and offering, “You want some grapes?”

Jane chuckled as the girl – Lily – held up a sandwich baggy full of sliced grapes and shook her head. “No, I’m good, but thank you.”

“Sorry about that,” Lily’s mother huffed breathlessly as she came to join them, giving Jane an apologetic look and then turning a sharp one onto her daughter. “Lily, what did I tell you about running ahead?”

Lily’s shoulders slumped and her lower lip jutted out in a pout and she opened her mouth to answer, but was distracted by Maura’s voice carrying over to them as she rushed out of the house in her too tall heels.

“Jane you forgot to turn the coffee pot off – oh! Hello, Lily.” Maura must have known the kid somehow because she smiled at the girl and Lily smiled back in recognition.

“Hi, Tomato Lady!” Lily said with an excited wave.

Jane immediately turned to look at Maura in shock, mouthing a mocking, Tomato Lady? But Maura just made a face at Jane and turned her attention back onto Lily and her mother.

“How are you today, Anna?” Maura asked the mother.

“Ready for the weekend,” Anna responded with a short laugh. “How’ve you been, Dr. Isles? We haven’t seen you in a while.”

“Work has been very busy,” Maura answered. “That’s actually where we’re headed now and we’re running late. Forgive me for rushing off.”

“Oh, no, no, of course, don’t let us hold you up,” Anna dismissed with a wave of her hand, tugging Lily back out of the way so Jane and Maura had a clear route to the car. “But I still haven’t gotten to properly meet this wife of yours,” she added, turning her attention onto Jane, looking her up and down and then holding out a hand. “You must be Jane.”

Jane shifted her coffee into her other hand so she could shake Anna’s hand, realizing belatedly she still had her keys in her palm. “Yes, I am, sorry, it’s nice to meet you,” she said in a rush.

“I’m Anna. We live two houses up,” Anna explained, tilting her head back in that direction. “Maura has told us all about you.”

Jane’s eyebrow quirked with interest. “Has she?”

“The three of us should get lunch sometime,” Anna suggested.

“Absolutely,” Maura agreed quickly, reaching for the passenger side door, giving Lily one last bright look. “Have a good day at school, Lily.”

“Bye!” Lily said enthusiastically.

“Nice meeting you,” Jane called as she was hustling around to the driver’s side juggling all the things in her arms.

“I’ll call you!” Anna told Maura, who nodded and waved as she was settling into the car, shutting her own door before reaching across the center console to grab Jane’s coffee thermos and the case files so she could get into the car easier.

They were really late now so Jane waited a few minutes to say anything about their recent encounter, focused instead on getting the car moving in the direction of work. Once they were on the street and making progress, Jane glanced at Maura with a smirk and teased, “So, Tomato Lady, huh? What’s that all about?”

Maura’s cheeks turned slightly pink in embarrassment as she slowly admitted, “Oh, um, the first time I met them I was, well, I had just come back from the grocery store, and Lily had run off from her mother. She was very upset about something, her hamster had died, I think, or a pet bird maybe? Either way, I wasn’t sure what to do and I offered her the first thing I could find in my bag and it was a tomato.”

Jane couldn’t help the laugh that spluttered out of her, looking at Maura in fond disbelief. “You didn’t.”

Maura nodded. “Oh, yes, I did. I’m not sure it made her feel better but she was so bewildered she stopped crying, and I asked her where she lived so I could help her get home. By that time, of course, Anna had come running frantically down the sidewalk and Lily introduced me as the Tomato Lady.”

“You never mentioned them,” Jane noted. “Do you see them a lot?”

“No, not really, but they walk to and from the school bus stop at the end of the street every day so I’ve run into them a few times. Anna talks, mostly, but she noticed the ring on my finger one day and that’s when I told her about you. She’s been insisting on us having lunch but, frankly, I think I would prefer Lily’s company over her mother’s. Does that make me a terrible person?”

Jane chuckled and reached over to squeeze Maura’s hand in assurance. “No, it doesn’t.”

“Lily seems like a bright girl,” Maura went on. “She reminds me of you actually. The dark hair, the boundless energy. And she’s very quick witted. It’s a lot like how I imagine you were at that age based on the stories your mother has told me.”

“My mother exaggerates,” Jane grumbled.

And then her phone started blaring, and Maura reached for it so that Jane wouldn’t take her eyes off the road, reading the name on the screen and informing, “It’s Korsak.”

Jane groaned. “He’s gonna chew me out for bein' late.”

Before Jane could protest, Maura answered Jane’s phone with a relaxed, “Hello, Detective Korsak.” Jane couldn’t hear Korsak’s response, only Maura’s answer of, “Yes, we’re nearly there. I’m sorry, Detective, it’s my fault Jane is late. I promise to be more punctual from now on.” Maura paused, and Korsak said something else. “Oh, yes, we’re pulling up now. We’ll see you in just a moment.”

Maura hung up the phone as BPD came into sight, turning her head to tell Jane, “He thinks he has a lead on a suspect for the case. He’s going to meet you at the front doors.”

“You didn’t have to take the blame,” Jane said in turn as she was pulling up to the sidewalk in front of headquarters.

“Well it’s hardly a lie,” Maura teased. “I did keep you rather preoccupied this morning.”

Jane snorted. “Yeah, but you didn’t hear me complaining, did ya?”

“Mmm, no,” Maura hummed as Jane put the car into park, “definitely no complaints.”

Korsak came up to the driver’s side window then, and Jane lowered it before she could start thinking about what she and Maura had been doing an hour earlier, tearing her eyes from her smirking wife to look up at Korsak. He bent down to her eye level, shaking his head and mildly scorning, “Letting your wife take the blame, huh?”

Jane faked exaggerated offense. “Have you seen this woman try to pick out a pair of shoes in the morning?”

“The wrong pair of shoes can ruin an entire day,” Maura defended as she was gathering up her things.

“What’s this lead you got?” Jane asked Korsak.

“Well you would know if you had been on time,” Korsak replied.

Jane rolled her eyes. “Just get in.”

“I’ll see you later,” Maura said to Jane, grasping the door handle with one hand and leaning over the center console for a quick kiss. “Be careful.”

“Let me know when you get those results on the soil today.”

“I will. Call me when you’re done tracking your suspect.”

Maura got out of the car then to let Korsak in, and as she was passing by the front of the car and heading for the stairs, Jane belatedly called to her, “Love you!”

Maura turned her head back to smile and wave, and Korsak dropped into the car with a huff, mocking Jane in a high-pitched tone, “Aww, I love you too, snookums.”

Jane rolled her eyes again. “Shut up.

Later that night, their most recent case was all but solved and Jane and Maura went out for celebratory drinks with Korsak and Frankie. Jane was slouched in her chair, finally relaxed, legs spread underneath the table and her left elbow resting on the back of Maura’s chair, fingers idly playing with strands of Maura’s hair. She held her beer with her other hand down against her waist, occasionally lifting the bottle to her mouth for another sip, too tired after the last few weeks to indulge in more than one drink.

“I still can’t believe the son did it,” Frankie said halfway through his burger, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand and shaking his head as he chewed.

“All over a hundred bucks,” Korsak scoffed, taking a long pull from his own beer.

Jane groaned just thinking about it, a grown man killing his own mother because she started refusing to loan him money. “I’m never having kids.”

Korsak and Frankie both raised their beers like they half agreed, but Jane felt Maura’s back tense, and then that familiar sharp gaze landing heavy on Jane’s face.

“That hardly seems like a sensible reason to forego children altogether,” Maura remarked.

Jane sensed a shift in tone, but she didn’t really understand why so she tried to lighten it again, saying to the table, “I don’t know, seems like a pretty solid concern. I get shot at enough without havin’ to worry about my own kid doin’ me in.”

Frankie and Korsak chuckled along with Jane, but Maura wasn’t laughing, and she shifted her body away from Jane’s touch.

Jane furrowed her brow but didn’t question yet, asking instead, “Anybody want another beer?”

Korsak and Frankie opened their mouths to respond, but Maura abruptly decided, “I’d like to go home.”

Jane scoffed a little. “Maura, we just got here –”

“And I’d like to go now,” Maura sharply asserted, already gathering up her purse.

“Well maybe everybody else wants to stay,” Jane snapped, because surely Maura was being ridiculous. Jane could not for the life of her figure out what she could have possibly done to warrant Maura’s ire.

But Korsak and Frankie wanted no parts of the situation, and did not come to Jane’s aid.

Korsak looked at his watch and whistled as if surprised. “Wow, is that the time? I should be going too.”

“Oh, yeah, it actually is kinda late,” Frankie agreed.

And then they were all rising to their feet and their chairs noisily scraped the floor, and only Jane was left sitting staring up at the three of them in bewilderment. Korsak and Frankie left some cash and said goodnight as Maura was strutting straight for the exit, and Frankie shook his head at Jane like he thought she was dumb for upsetting her wife, and Korsak just gave her a sympathetic pat on the shoulder. And Jane wanted to scream because she didn’t even know what she had done.

She was half tempted to sit at the table a while longer, till she was good and ready to leave, make Maura sit and wait for her in the car, but she worried that Maura might leave without her and she really didn’t want to try and get a cab at that time of night. So she huffed and grumbled and smacked her beer bottle down on the table and rose up to her feet, following the others outside.

Maura was waiting in the passenger seat, staring resolutely straight ahead, so Jane climbed in the driver’s side and got the car running. Halfway down the road she glanced over at Maura and demanded, “What the hell was that all about?”

But Maura didn’t answer, turning her head to completely avoid Jane’s gaze, and Jane didn’t press because she was driving and steadily growing more annoyed.

When they finally reached home, Jane barely had time to put the car in park before Maura was clambering out of it. Jane shut off the ignition and hastily followed after her. Maura was quick in those heels though, and Jane only just saw her disappearing up the stairs.

Exasperated, Jane took her time following Maura, still at a complete and total loss and losing patience. She stomped up the stairs with a pout, entered their bedroom prepared for a fight, but Maura was locked in the bathroom going through her lengthy evening routine of facial scrubs and lotions. Jane didn’t want to wait, but when she jiggled the door knob it was locked, so she knocked impatiently and called, “Maura! Don’t hide from me! Come out of there!”

The sound of the sink running only became louder and Jane rolled her eyes, groaning loudly, smacking the door frame with the palm of her hand. She angrily changed her clothes and flopped into bed, arms folded across her chest, glaring up at the ceiling, running her words over and over in her head, trying to figure out why Maura was mad at her in the first place. It wasn’t like they hadn’t fought over stupid things since they were married, or since they met, for that matter, but usually Jane knew why Maura was upset with her, even if it was something Jane thought wasn’t worth fighting over. This time, she didn’t have a clue.

When Maura finally came out of the bathroom, Jane shot up in bed and immediately questioned, “Are you gonna tell me what the hell I did or am I just supposed to guess?”

Maura sighed, avoiding Jane’s gaze as she crossed to the closet, reaching for her robe hanging just inside the door. “It’s nothing,” she muttered.

Jane scoffed. “Well clearly it’s something or you wouldn’t be so pissed at me.”

“I’m not mad,” Maura lied, taking her sweet time putting on that robe, back to Jane, and there was a tremor in her voice, like she was about to cry, and the fight in Jane suddenly fizzled out, her shoulders slumping.

Maura,” Jane beseeched her. “Please just tell me what I did wrong.”

“You didn’t do anything, I just…” Maura paused to suck in a breath, fiddling with the sleeve of her robe, still not looking Jane in the eye. “I just thought we would have made this decision together.”

Jane tried very hard not to scream in frustration, gritting her teeth, utterly and totally confused but keeping her tone even. “Make what decision together?”

Maura finally turned around then, looked at Jane with those soft, sad eyes, and at long last she quietly explained, “The decision to not have children.”

Jane blinked, perplexed, and then it clicked – I’m never having kids. That’s what had gotten Maura so upset. Jane’s brow furrowed and she stammered, “Maura, I didn’t mean – what I meant was – I didn’t even know you wanted kids.”

“I thought that – well, I don’t know,” Maura wavered, pulling at the belt around her waist, dropping her gaze to the floor.

“Maura,” Jane sighed. “I’m not a mind reader. Just tell me what you’re thinking.”

Maura hesitated, seeming to think it over, and when she looked up, she walked over to the bed, gazing at Jane searchingly. “Why don’t you want children?”

“It was just a joke, Maura – mostly – but, honestly? I kind of gave up on the idea of kids when we got married.”

The devastation that washed over Maura’s face then was horrible, and it occurred to Jane too late how that sounded as Maura whispered, “Oh…”

“No, no,” Jane hastily said, stretching across the bed, grabbing onto Maura’s wrist before she could pull away. “I’m not saying I don’t want kids with you. I just meant, it’s not like we can get each other pregnant.”

“No, but there are other ways,” Maura said, her sorrow seeming to circle back to thoughtfulness as she sat down on the edge of the bed, turning her wrist over to clasp hands with Jane. “I always thought that we would use in vitro fertilization to have a child together.”

“You’ve thought about this?” Jane questioned, a little surprised. For all the things they had talked about, kids had never really come up. Before Maura, part of Jane had always thought she’d have kids, that it was a natural part of marriage, but two women trying to have a kid was complicated, and Maura had never expressed a desire to have them, and Jane loved Maura so she didn’t think on it anymore than that.

“Of course I have,” Maura replied. “Granted, not until recently. But I suppose… I started imagining what it might be like, to have a baby,” she smiled fondly, caressing Jane’s hair, thumb stroking Jane’s cheek, “one that has your eyes, and your smile… I know that you probably wouldn’t like desk duty very much, so we could use your egg and I could carry the baby, and then it would be a little like we made the baby together.”

“Wow, you really did think about this,” Jane snorted softly. “But Maura, in vitro is like, crazy expensive, isn’t it? And it doesn’t always work.”

“Well I don’t mind the cost,” Maura dismissed. “Not if it’s what we both want. But I’m not trying to coerce you. Is this even something that you’d be interested in?”

Jane breathed in deeply through her nose and thought about it, about having a baby with Maura, about Maura carrying her baby, their baby, someone with Jane’s genes but Maura’s smarts, a little baby that her mother would spoil and Frankie would teach how to throw a baseball, and they’d have a rich, elegant grandmother in Constance, who would probably be aloof but buy them all kinds of expensive toys that would drive Jane crazy. But that kid would never have to decide not to go to whatever college they wanted to because they worried about their parents spending their entire life’s savings to do it. That kid would never feel like they weren’t loved and cherished every moment of their life. And the whole idea was making Jane a little emotional, a little too sentimental, her hand settling over Maura’s abdomen even though there was nothing there, a little smile curling her lips, and she rasped,  “Y’know, I think I’d really like that.”

“Really?” Maura murmured, smiling hopefully, putting both hands over Jane’s, eyes so bright, and Jane nodded emphatically.

“Yeah. Yeah I really would.”

April 2007

Maura was halfway through describing the black, tarry substance that was in their most recent victim’s head wound when, all of a sudden, she stopped, lips pressed tightly together, face looking ghostly pale in the sunlight, one hand coming up to cover her nose. She looked up at Korsak, idly finishing his lunch over Maura’s shoulder as he bent to get a closer look, and in a tight voice she asked, “Is that tuna?”

Korsak looked at Maura and then at his sandwich in confusion, and then nodded, holding it even closer to Maura’s face. “Yeah, tuna salad. My own recipe. You want some?”

Maura heaved, and Korsak stepped back at once, and Jane watched in stunned stillness as Maura suddenly rose up, staggered a few steps away, and then promptly spilled her breakfast all over the pavement.

The various crime scene techs and police officers standing around all turned to look, disgusted and confused as to why the esteemed medical examiner was suddenly sick at a crime scene like some newbie. Jane gave them dirty looks and told them to get back to work, and went to position herself by Maura, trying to shield her from view, rubbing her back and waiting for her to stop retching. She held Maura’s hair back, and when Maura was finally able to catch her breath, Jane murmured, “Hey, you okay?” It was especially odd because Jane and Maura had had the same breakfast and Jane didn’t feel like she was going to puke, but Maura had complained of fatigue that morning and hadn’t eaten much, so maybe she was coming down with something.

“I don’t know,” Maura croaked. “I was feeling a little queasy, but that sandwich.” She shook her head and made a noise in the back of her throat just thinking about it.

“Let me finish up here and then I’ll drive you home,” Jane said, gratefully accepting the tissues Korsak was handing her from a safe distance and offering them to Maura.

“No,” Maura refused as she took the tissues from Jane. “I’ll be fine. I just need some water and some fresh air.”

“All right,” Jane conceded, “if you’re sure. I’ve got some water in the car. Go sit down and I’ll make sure Korsak gets rid of that sandwich.”

Maura grimaced and squeezed Jane’s wrist in thanks, and then straightened up gingerly with a hand over her stomach, nodding at Jane in assurance as she walked away.

“She all right?” Korsak asked when Jane rejoined him.

“Yeah, I think so,” Jane answered, watching Maura go before she turned back to Korsak, “but you better get rid of that sandwich. You’re lucky she didn’t puke on your shirt.”

Korsak just snorted and took another bite of his sandwich. “I knew my cooking was bad but I didn’t realize it was that bad.”

Jane could hardly even smell the tuna over the scent of decomposition, so she was a little bewildered that Maura had noticed it at all, even with her absurd sense of smell.

But then, just like that, a light bulb went off in her head, a sudden epiphany that rocked her back on her heels. She whipped her head around to stare at where Maura sat half in and half out of the car across the street, and smacked her hand against Korsak’s arm, squeezing his sleeve in her fingertips, saying a disbelieving, “You don’t think she’s…”

She couldn’t say the word for fear of jinxing it, but Korsak understood, chuckling warmly and patting Jane on the shoulder. “Ohh boy,” he said. “You’re in for it now.”

After their discussion about having a baby together, Jane and Maura had jumped straight into the IVF process over the next several months, with Maura sending Jane articles and medical journals everyday, Maura trying to explain every little detail to Jane about how it would work and what they should expect. They went and saw a specialist that explained it all again, and then argued over their options of sperm donors. Jane almost didn’t even want to pick, didn’t want to think about how weird it was to mix some random guy’s genetics with her own, to essentially have her wife carry some guy’s baby in her womb. She hated the idea that she might someday recognize the guy on the street somewhere, or that he might come looking for Jane and Maura’s kid. But Maura talked her down and they eventually came to an agreement, picked a donor that looked sort of like Maura, in the eyes at least, and the next step after that was to extract Jane’s eggs, which was a harrowing process Jane wished never to repeat. It was uncomfortable enough having Maura inject her with fertility drugs to induce ovulation, and was then painful as hell when it caused her ovaries to swell.

Throughout the entire process, Jane had insisted on not telling her family about it until they were certain the IVF would work, in part because she didn’t want to deal with her mother’s over excitement yet, and in part because she didn’t want to get everyone’s hopes up if it didn’t work. It would be difficult enough for her and for Maura without everyone else being involved. However, Jane had told Korsak, because he was her partner and they worked together so often it was hard not to tell each other most things. Plus, he had noticed Jane wasn’t quite herself during the fertility injections, and Jane had needed an outlet to complain. She had Maura for that, but it felt a little selfish to whine about a week or two of discomfort when Maura would possibly be experiencing discomfort for nine months if it all worked. Korsak had been surprised but delighted to hear about Jane and Maura’s attempts to have a baby, had wished them luck and promised to keep his mouth shut. Frankie had plainly noticed that something was up with Jane too, but he was too busy lately to ask.

Jane’s eggs had been extracted and fertilized and transferred to Maura's uterus weeks ago, but it had been too early to find out if it took at first, and then work had been insane and frankly Jane had forgotten, forgotten that they were trying to make a baby, but she was definitely thinking about it now. She could hardly focus on the case in front of her, kept casting glances Maura’s way, until Korsak said, “Go. We’re pretty much done here. I’ll meet you back at headquarters.”

“You sure?” Jane asked, but she was already striding away, headed straight for her wife without waiting for an answer.

Maura was still looking pale when Jane approached, sipping tentatively from a bottle of water, pushing her hair back from her clammy forehead. She gave Jane a small, forced smile, hands braced on her knees, sitting sideways in the passenger seat. “I’m feeling a little better,” Maura assured. “Must have been something I ate.”

Jane knelt down before her, placing her hands over top of Maura’s and asking, “Are you sure it’s not something else?”

She looked pointedly at Maura’s stomach, but Maura furrowed her brow, not understanding, at first, and Jane watched the comprehension dawn on her face.

“Oh my god,” Maura gasped, “I completely forgot! That would explain my recent fatigue and nausea!”

Jane grinned, she couldn’t help it, much as she hated seeing Maura unwell, it was too incredible to think that Maura might be pregnant, that they might have a baby. “I know it’s still early but we should be able to tell by now right?”

Maura nodded emphatically. “I can test my blood as soon as we get back to the lab.” It’d certainly be quicker than making an appointment.

“Well what are we waiting for?” Jane said impatiently, before remembering that Maura had thrown up ten minutes ago and maybe wasn’t up for a car ride just yet. “Oh, unless you need more time. There’s no rush –”

“No, no, I think I’m okay,” Maura insisted. “Let’s go.”

Jane was too eager to argue, but she did make an effort to ensure their journey was as smooth as it could be, taking the turns slow and avoiding pot holes. Thankfully BPD wasn’t too far from the crime scene – and Jane would have to make it up to the poor dead guy later for not being more attentive to his case just then – and they made it back to the precinct in less than fifteen minutes. Jane knew the blood test wouldn’t be instantaneous, but she still went with Maura down to the lab to wait, trying not to pace anxiously, her knee bouncing where she sat in Maura's office chair. She didn’t want to get her hopes up but her hopes were already up, already imagining Maura’s belly growing with their child, having a son or daughter of their own in just a few months. It was exhilarating and terrifying all at once.

And when Maura finally entered the office, test results in hand, Jane shot up out of her seat and crossed the room, and she saw the tears shimmering in Maura’s eyes and at first she thought the worst, but then Maura smiled so brightly and Jane nearly collapsed, hand at her heart, exhaling in stunned relief, and she was already feeling tears prick at her own eyes but she had to be sure. “You’re pregnant?”

Maura nodded and answered wetly, “I’m pregnant.”

Jane choked out a laugh and a sob all at once and they both collided, wrapping their arms around each other, reveling in their shared joy, swaying back and forth, so full of energy now that Jane felt like she would burst, like she had to go run around the block six times to tire herself out. She almost couldn’t believe it. They were having a baby!

Jane kissed Maura on the cheek, on the lips on her forehead, and pulled back just enough to tell her, “You’re incredible, you know that?”

And Maura just smiled proudly, all big and pretty, and there was something crazy about how different she looked, to Jane, who already loved Maura so fully, but damn if the thought of Maura carrying her baby didn’t bring out something primal in her, heightened attraction and a need to protect Maura all at once.

“You know what this means, don’t you?” Maura said.

“That we’re gonna have the cutest, smartest baby ever?” Jane guessed, but Maura shook her head and laughed before she dropped an unnecessary bomb on Jane.

“We have to tell your mother.”

Jane immediately groaned, loudly and with her whole body, head thrown back as if to ward off those cursed words. “You just had to ruin it,” she accused.

“Oh, come on,” Maura dismissed, “think of how happy she’ll be.”

“You’re lucky I love you,” Jane grumbled.

“Yes,” Maura said softly, still all smiles, and god Jane loved that smile, “I am.”

Chapter Text

May 2007

“Jane, the door?” Maura said from where she was pulling a pitcher of water from the fridge.

Jane looked up from the salad she was mixing up and shouted across the kitchen, “It’s open!”

Jane!” Maura admonished, hastily sitting the pitcher down on the counter, rushing like she was going to try and open the door herself even as Jane’s family came bustling across the threshold, but Jane grabbed her by the elbow and pulled her back.

“Maura, relax,” Jane beseeched. “You’re making me nervous. It’s gonna be fine.”

Maura was buzzing with anxiety, teeth clenched as she tried to smile at the Rizzolis, and Jane wasn’t really sure why. Maura was excited to tell Angela and Jane was not, but Maura was so concerned about making this dinner go well that she was stressing herself out, had been panicking all week about how they were going to tell everyone they were having a baby. Jane had been forced to be the calm one, to assure Maura that it would all go fine, even as Jane fretted internally herself. She didn’t really expect a bad reaction from her family, per say, but things had been tense lately, with Tommy acting out and Jane’s parents fighting over who was at fault and what they should be doing about it. It made having family dinners near impossible these days, and Jane was crossing her fingers hoping for no drama.

Except it nearly turned to disaster within the first ten seconds. Jane and Maura were standing together at the kitchen island, smiling and greeting the other four Rizzolis as they entered the house, and Frank and Frankie were talking about the Sox and it was all normal, until Angela sat a glass pan on the counter in front of Jane and Maura, and she opened the lid saying, “I know you said not to bring anything but I whipped up some tuna casserole –”

And Jane didn’t have time to stop the chain of events that occurred then, even as she tried desperately to slap her hand down over the lid to stop the smell from wafting out, but it was too late. Maura got one whiff of the tuna and gagged, whirling desperately away, practically throwing herself over the sink in her desperation.

Jane pushed the casserole back at her mother and exclaimed, “Ma! Get that thing out of here!” Like Angela should have known better, even though she had no way of knowing Maura’s recent aversion to tuna fish.

Angela was very clearly shocked and confused, but she took the pan from Jane and shoved it quickly into Frankie’s arms, telling him frantically, “Take it back outside!”

Frankie’s eyes were wide and his mouth gaped like he wanted to argue but he took the casserole and ran outside with it.

Frank looked around like he half expected some magical fairies to drop from the ceiling and said, “What the hell?”

“Yo, what’s wrong with her?” Tommy asked with a queasy expression as he stared at Maura trying desperately not to puke in the kitchen sink in front of everybody and dinner. “Is it contagious? ‘Cause I don’t want it.”

“Shut up it’s not contagious,” Jane snapped at her brother. “Get her some water, would ya?” Jane went to Maura’s side and rubbed her back, telling her in a softer tone, “It’s all right, honey, just breathe, it’s gone, you’re all right.”

Maura exhaled shakily, carefully breathing in through her nose, and slowly the tension in her shoulders began to ease.

Angela offered Maura a glass of water with a still bewildered but apologetic, “I’m sorry, Maura. I didn’t realize you were sick. Jane!” she berated her eldest, smacking Jane’s arm. “Why didn’t you tell me?!”

“Ow!” Jane complained, swatting her mother away with a scowl. “I was going to tell you. I didn’t expect you to show up with some stinky dish! I told you not to bring anything.”

“Listen, if you guys gotta reschedule,” Frank started to say, as Frankie was coming back inside.

“No, no, please stay,” Maura said in a strained voice, finally prying herself away from the sink, still looking drawn but her color was coming back. She had been struggling the last few weeks to get her nausea under control, and they seemed to have found her triggers – Korsak had made himself a list of things not to eat at headquarters or crime scenes – but Jane hadn’t accounted for her mother showing up with tuna of all things. “I’m so sorry. I promise there won’t be anymore of – that.

“What is going on?” Angela fretted.

Maura looked up at Jane, who looked back at her and shrugged, and they seemed to come to a decision, reluctant though it was.

“Well, we were gonna wait to tell you till after dinner,” Jane began, putting her arm around Maura’s waist.

“Is this bad news?” Frankie interjected, looking worried, and maybe Jane should have adjusted her tone ‘cause now her family was looking at her like they thought Maura was gonna die.

“No,” Jane assured, “it’s good. It’s…” She glanced at Maura again and smiled. “Maura and I are having a baby.”

There was a stunned silence that ensued, honestly longer than Jane would have expected from her family, and if she had known that was all it would take to shut them up she might have gotten Maura pregnant sooner.

Then the questions started.

Frank’s disbelieving, “What? How?”

Frankie asking, “You’re adopting?”

“No, Maura’s pregnant,” Jane answered.

And then Tommy exclaimed, “You let Maura sleep with a dude?”

No,” Jane scoffed, throwing a dish towel at her youngest brother with an annoyed look.

“We used in vitro fertilization,” Maura explained.

“My egg, her womb,” Jane added.

“Nice,” Frankie said with a grin, coming around the island to high five Jane. He opened his arms to Maura, but hesitated teasing, “You’re not gonna puke on me are you?”

“No,” Maura promised with a chuckle, happily accepting Frankie’s careful hug.

“How far along are you?” Frankie questioned, looking down at Maura’s flat stomach.

“Just about nine weeks,” Maura replied.

“Well I can’t wait to meet him,” Frankie said brightly. “Or her.

“Me either,” Maura agreed.

“You’re real quiet over there, Ma,” Jane said, noticing her mother’s teary eyes. “You all right?”

“I’m just… so… happy,” Angela whispered, framing Maura’s face in her hands, kissing her forehead, saying an emotional, “Thank you. I’m going to be a grandmother!” She laughed, hugged Maura tightly, and then Jane even tighter. “A baby! I can’t believe you didn’t tell me!”

“Well we wanted to be sure it’d work first,” Jane defended.

“But, how’d you do it?” Tommy wanted to know, still looking confused.

“Oh it’s a very complex series of procedures,” Maura was happy to enlighten, “starting with retrieving mature eggs from Jane’s ovaries, and then fertilizing them in a lab with –”

“Yuck,” Tommy cut her off, plugging his ears and making a face of disgust. “I don’t need to hear anymore. Let’s just say it’s time to celebrate and pop some champagne, huh?”

Tommy was already crossing to the wine fridge, and Angela huffed, “Oh, Tommy, don’t –”

“Relax, Ma,” Tommy beseeched. “I don’t even like champagne. It’s only one glass.”

And surprisingly, Tommy kept to his word, only had one drink and acted halfway normal through dinner. The trouble came instead from Jane’s father. He had two glasses of champagne and then helped himself to several of Jane’s beers. He seemed sullen and quiet through most of dinner, while Angela chattered on and on in her excitement. But Frank did not appear excited at the prospect of a grandchild, kept rolling his eyes when he thought no one would notice, but Jane noticed, and every time it broke her heart and filled her with anger all at once. She didn’t say anything at first because he was her father and she didn’t want to fight, not in front of Maura, but she had no choice but to intervene when he started getting vocal about his apparent displeasure.

Angela and Maura had started to talk about the donor Jane and Maura had used, and Frank scoffed, “So you have no idea who this guy even is? He’s supposed to be the father of your kid and you don’t even know if he’s any good.”

“Frank,” Angela warned, before Jane could.

“Well it ain’t exactly natural, is it? How do you know this guy isn’t gonna try to take the kid someday?”

“The donor agreed to sign away their rights,” Maura calmly began to explain. “There was a contractual agreement –”

“And what if you two break up?” Frank interrupted. “Who gets to keep it then?”

“We’re not gonna break up,” Jane cut in sharply.

“You don’t know that,” Frank argued belligerently. “She could just take it from you.” He pointed harshly at Maura. “She’s got all that money. She’s givin’ birth. I wanna know where you factor in here.”

“Enough, Pop,” Jane snapped. “Maura’s not gonna run off with the baby.”

“Jane will legally be considered a parent to the child as much as I am as soon as he or she is born,” Maura tried to help, but Frank was on a tirade.

“And what are our rights, huh?” Frank demanded.

“Why don’t you just cool it, Pop?” Frankie interjected.

“Yeah, you’re really killin' the mood,” Tommy muttered.

Frank huffed and snatched up his beer.

“Don’t you think you had enough?” Frankie chided.

“Oh you wanna police my drinking now?” Frank snorted. “What about him, huh?” He gestured to Tommy. “Where were you when he started drinkin' too much? Maybe if you’d said something then he might not be such a screw up.”

“Enough,” Jane said at once, as Tommy slouched in his chair with pursed lips and a furrow in his brow, and Jane hated the way he had been acting lately but she loved her baby brother and she couldn’t believe her father would insult him like that straight to his face, like it wasn’t half their father’s fault that Tommy was the way he was. Frank had never handled his liquor well, let it feed his insecurities and spewed venom from his mouth. Jane wouldn’t have it in her own home, wouldn’t let it spread to Maura or that baby now residing in her belly. Jane would protect them both, even from her own father, no matter what, so she yanked the beer bottle straight out of his hands and slammed it down on the table.

 Everyone went silent, and Jane’s father was staring at her like she’d just smacked him across the face. “What the hell?” he exclaimed.

“I said enough,” Jane hissed.

“You ought to show more respect to your father –” Frank began to say.

“Like the respect you’re showin' my wife?” Jane cut him off. “If you can’t be civil then you can just go home.”

Frank slapped his hands on the table, rattling the dishware, and rose at once to his feet. “Fine. That’s exactly what I’ll do.”

“Frank!” Angela admonished him. “Sit down and apologize!”

Frank was already storming towards the door, and Tommy got up too saying, “I’m gonna go too. I’ve got somewhere else to be.”

“Tommy wait!” Angela insisted, before turning in her chair and shouting to her husband, “Frank! I swear to god if you don’t get back here –”

The front door slammed and Angela slumped in her chair.

Tommy squeezed Maura’s shoulder as he passed behind her and said, “Congrats, Maura. Hope that baby ain’t as screwed up as the rest of us.”

He left out the back door and Jane would have chased him but she was too busy thrumming with rage at her father. The dinner had been ruined, why bother making Tommy stay? It was supposed to be a happy moment, an exciting revelation, instead it had been ruined, and for what? Jane didn’t even understand why.

“What the hell was all that about?” Frankie said into the silence, speaking exactly what Jane was thinking.

Angela sighed heavily, looking at Jane and Maura and telling them, “I’m sorry. He’s just been stressed with work and Tommy lately and I don’t think he meant to take it out on you girls.”

“Don’t make excuses for him, Ma,” Jane muttered, exasperated.

“Angela,” Maura said quietly, tentatively, “I hope you know that, even if Jane and I did split up, I would never try to keep the baby from her, or any of you.”

Jane and Angela both reached out to grasp at Maura’s hands, Jane grabbing one to pull closer to herself and Angela holding Maura’s over the table.

“I know that, sweetheart,” Angela murmured.

“He’s an idiot,” Jane added, scooting closer to the edge of her seat so she could put an arm around Maura’s back, rubbing soothing circles there. “I won’t let him talk to you like that ever again. I mean it.”

But Maura just looked distraught. “I don’t want to come between you and your father –”

“You’re not,” Jane said firmly. “He is, and so long as he’s acting like a jerk he won’t be allowed in this house.”

Frankie was with Jane in solidarity but Angela and Maura just looked worried.

Jane kept her word though. For nearly two months she refused her father, had occasional Sunday dinners without him, all but ignored him when she would see her mother and he happened to be there. She let him speak a time or two, hoping for an apology, but Frank wanted to sweep the whole thing under the rug, wanted to pretend it hadn’t happened, kept saying Jane was being dramatic and making a fuss over nothing. But Jane knew what words could do to a person, what her father’s words could do, to her pregnant wife or their baby, and she wouldn’t let him come in and destroy either one of them.

And maybe she was being extra sensitive and over protective, Maura kept insisting she wasn’t that deeply hurt, that she knew Frank loved Jane and that was all that mattered to her, but Jane didn’t want to let it go. She had been making excuses for her father her whole life, letting him get away with drinking too much and acting a fool, and now Tommy was following in those footsteps, acting even worse, getting into trouble so often that Jane was starting to lose him, starting to imagine her little brother behind bars for longer than a single night, and she could not let that happen with her own child. She and Maura had made the decision to have that baby, and Jane would not shirk her responsibility to that kid, even for her father.

Jane was only more certain of her stance after the ultrasound where they found out if they’d be having a boy or a girl. The first ultrasound had been surreal, had left Jane crying like a baby herself, listening to that tiny heartbeat, seeing that blur on the screen, and she had held Maura’s hand and silently thanked every decision she’d ever made to bring her to this, to Maura and that baby. And the doctor kept saying that everything was good, that Maura and the baby were healthy, everything was going the way it was supposed to, and Jane felt good, felt happy, had to stop herself from smiling at crime scenes, looking at her wife struggling more and more each week to kneel over a body, her middle growing with their child, and Jane really shouldn’t have been so delighted when she was standing over a dead body.

And when the doctor pulled up that grainy image of their baby again, and told them what that little one would, Jane could suddenly picture it all, picture a little face with dark hair and watching the Sox together at Fenway and toddler hands playing in the dirt. She could see a whole future, a son that they could take with them on their early morning runs when he was old enough, and he’d grumble and complain about it being too early, and Maura would give him some whole scientific spiel about the health benefits that he’d heard a million times, and Jane would tease them both about how they had this argument every day. Their son. She could take him to hockey practice or his chess team or whatever the hell he wanted to do, either way she’d be the obnoxious mom cheering for him from the stands – did chess matches have stands?

“A boy,” Maura said reverently, when they had settled into the car after the appointment, one hand on the swell of her belly, the other holding the blurry sonogram picture the doctor had given them, still looking at it with a soft smile. “You know, for some reason, I’ve been picturing a girl, but a boy…” She chuckled. “What are we going to do with a boy? What if he likes boy things?”

Jane snorted. “What boy things? I’ve seen you hold a man’s heart in one hand and a crankshaft in the other. What’s more boy like than that?”

“But what if he likes monster trucks, or, or –”

Jane laughed freely. “Monster trucks? That’s what you’re afraid of?”

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health measured the noise level at a monster truck rally and found that the spectators were exposed to average noise levels from 95 to 100 A-weighted decibels!” Maura exclaimed, as if such a thing should have been horrifying. “Sounds above 85 dBA can seriously damage your hearing.”

Jane bit down on her lips because she knew Maura wouldn’t appreciate her laughing, furrowing her brow and putting on a serious face, nodding and agreeing, “Of course.”

Maura saw right through her, giving Jane a narrow eyed look and reaching over to pinch her arm.

Jane swatted her away playfully, and then settled her hand over Maura’s belly, still waiting to feel their son move against her palm. It hadn’t happened yet, but Maura had felt the baby fluttering herself, had told Jane it wouldn’t be long before Jane could feel it too, and Jane didn’t want to miss it. “If he wants to see the monster trucks I’ll buy him some ear plugs, how’s that?”

“Maybe,” Maura half conceded, “but I hope he prefers books.”

“With you as his mother I’m sure he will,” Jane softly teased, leaving the boy to rest to put her hands on the steering wheel instead, pulling out of the parking lot. Then she asked, “Do you want me to take you back to work or home? I have something I need to take care of.”

“Oh?” Maura inquired, eyebrow raised. “Are you going to tell me what it is?”

“After, yeah,” Jane promised, and Maura was content to let it lie.

“Work then,” Maura decided.

Jane dropped Maura at headquarters, with a kiss for Maura and her belly, and Maura handed over one of the copies of the sonogram picture before she went. Jane smiled at it for a moment, and then tucked it into her sun visor before heading off.

When she arrived at her parents' house, she took the picture with her, holding it to her, as if just the grainy image of her little boy might give her strength, and perhaps it did.

Her mother was surprised to see her, but ushered Jane inside at once, looking hopeful, looking worried. Jane had remained in contact with her mother over the last two months, but it had been stilted, infrequent.

Jane went straight to the living room with her mother trailing behind, saw her father sitting there as she’d expected on a Friday afternoon. He looked up from the TV and his expression wasn’t hopeful, only guarded and wary.

Jane sat down across from him, forearms braced on her knees, fiddling with the ultrasound picture. “Why don’t you sit down, Ma?” she suggested. “I want you both to hear this.”

Angela hesitantly sat next to her husband, noticed Jane was holding something and asked, “What have you got with you?”

Jane smiled down at the picture one more time, and then handed it over to her mother. “It’s a sonogram picture, from today. We just found out… It’s a boy.”

Angela gasped, hand to her heart, looking at the picture and then at Jane, smiling shakily. “Oh, a boy.” She laughed brightly. “Look, Frank, it’s a boy.”

Jane’s father didn’t look half as excited, but there was a spark of interest, Jane thought, some tiny part of him showing an emotion for just a moment, and Jane could do nothing but latch onto it and hope for the best.

“So here’s the thing,” Jane rasped, looking straight at her father, clasping her hands together tightly. “I want you to be part of my son’s life. I want you both to have a relationship with him. But what happened at dinner that night… That can’t happen again –”

“Jane,” Frank started to protest, but Jane held up her hand to forestall him.

“Let me finish,” she cut him off. “I love you, Pop, but I can’t let my son see you like that. I can’t let you upset him. He may not have a perfect life but he’ll know damn well that he’s safe at home and with his family. And if you wanna be a part of that? You can’t drink around him, ever. Not at my house and not if he’s here.”

Frank scoffed. “You can’t be serious.”

“Oh I’m dead serious,” Jane asserted. “I can’t control what you do in your own time, but if you’re around my son you won’t drink. Same goes for Tommy.”

“But not Frankie?” Frank demanded. “Or Maura? Or you?

“The difference is that we can handle our liquor and you can’t,” Jane snapped. “A glass of wine or a beer at dinner is completely different from what you pulled. And it wasn’t the first time. And I doubt it’ll be the last time. You can take it or leave it but these are my terms.”

Jane could see her father grinding his teeth, working his jaw trying to think of what to say, looking angry, looking conflicted, but he didn’t speak, didn’t tell Jane off or agree, only sat there, fuming. He didn’t like to be told what to do, he never had.

Jane was happy to wait him out, but Angela was impatient, huffing in exasperation and warning, “I swear to god, Frank, if we miss a single second of that boy’s life –”

“Yeah, yeah,” Frank grumbled. “I’m thinkin' here!” He turned on Jane. “How am I supposed to watch the Superbowl with him and not have a beer? Or the World Series?”

Jane rolled her eyes. “I’ll tell you what, you can have two beers on special occasions, but if you cross the line, even once, I won’t have you around my family.”

Frank sat back, sullen as he muttered. “I thought I was your family.”

And Jane softened, a little. “You are. But Maura and that baby are my family too, and I gotta do what’s best for them now.” If there was anything her father might understand, it had to be that. For all his other issues, Frank had always taken care of them.

After another long pause, Frank finally answered, “Fine. I’ll think about it.”

And that would be enough for now.

October 2007

“Uh, Maura,” Jane said slowly, working her lips, trying really hard not to laugh because she knew that was the absolute last thing she should be doing when looking at her heavily pregnant wife. But Jesus, Maura was trying so desperately to squeeze into a too tight dress, and at eight months pregnant her breasts were twice the size and all but spilling out of the scoop neck. “I don’t think it fits.”

“Well maybe if I wear a shawl…” Maura considered, grabbing one from the closet and draping it over her shoulders, first one way and then the other, and then she threw it off of her with a huff. She pouted. “Oh, it just won’t work!”

“Why don’t you just wear one of your maternity dresses?” Jane suggested, reeling back a little in surprise when Maura shot her a murderous look. “Or… not?”

“Help me put this other one on,” Maura said, and Jane fought not to roll her eyes in exasperation. They had been trying to shove Maura into all manner of dresses for at least an hour, and they had dinner reservations they were liable to miss at this rate and Jane was starving, and if she was starving she was certain Maura must be, considering her appetite of late.

Jane would let this last dress go, but if it didn’t fit either, she was going to put her foot down.


It was difficult, navigating pregnant Maura. She was hyper sensitive and prone to unexpected meltdowns. Jane couldn’t blame her. Maura could hardly do her autopsies these days, had bought a special chair that would allow her to sit when she couldn’t stand being on her feet, and her belly kept getting in her way. Every part of Maura’s life had been altered, beholden now to the infant inside her. It would have driven Jane nuts. So she was trying very hard to be patient, but Maura had been finicky to begin with and pregnancy was strengthening that.

Jane managed to get the last dress zipped, after several strained tries, but it was bursting at the seams. “Maura, you can’t possibly breathe in this.”

“I can breathe just fine,” Maura puffed, voice very clearly strained, smoothing her hand over her abdomen and looking at herself in the mirror. This dress, at least, had a higher neckline, a simple, sleeveless black dress that covered her from her collarbone to the top of her knees. And Jane was just glad that they might have finally settled on an outfit so she didn’t press further.

The next problem, however, came when Maura tried to put her shoes on.

“Ah, come on, Maur, you can’t possibly walk in those things,” Jane complained as Maura was struggling to put her swollen feet into a pair of heels. Modest heels, perhaps, but heels nonetheless. “Why don’t you just wear the sandals I bought you?”

Jane had spent a pretty penny to get Maura some pretty, strappy sandals for her to wear in lieu of heels, some designer label ridiculous shoes that Maura had loved, but apparently not enough to wear that night.

“Because it’s our anniversary!” Maura exclaimed indignantly. “I can’t just wear sandals.

“You could wear a trash bag for all I care,” Jane countered. “Why make yourself uncomfortable?”

“I’m not uncomfortable,” Maura lied. “It’ll just take some getting used to. Now are we going, or not? We’ll miss our reservation.”

Jane did roll her eyes then because she had been saying the same thing for the last half hour, and now Maura was saying it like it was Jane’s fault they were late.

“Yes, fine, let’s go,” Jane agreed, but she grabbed the sandals on her way out of the closet and stuffed them in her purse.

All was forgiven once they made it to the restaurant and had their first appetizer. They both settled once they had food in their bellies, and Maura looked like she was sitting too straight but she seemed to be breathing all right so Jane let the dress argument go. Jane usually abstained from alcohol at dinner to be considerate of Maura, but Maura insisted that Jane get a glass of wine, that they hardly knew when they’d have the time for a fancy dinner once the baby came, so Jane gave in. And dinner was good, really good, despite the absurd price tag, something Jane didn’t think she’d ever get used to, even with a wealthy wife. She thought it strange to imagine they might bring their son there someday, or somewhere like it, that he would know which fancy forks went with what, that he would also know the ins and outs of baseball if Jane had anything to say about it.

They were getting so close to meeting him now, Jane could hardly believe it. It all felt like a dream. It was only their first wedding anniversary, they had jumped into having a baby so soon after the wedding, and sometimes Jane worried maybe it was too soon, that they never even got much of a chance to be married, but she was too excited about their son to dwell on it too much. She only wished that Maura might relax some. She kept fretting that they weren’t ready, that they needed to buy more things for the baby. Everyday there was a new package at the door or Maura was asking Jane to take her to pick something up from the store. Maura wanted to be prepared for any and every situation, and Jane figured she must be freaking out about having a baby and was over compensating with material objects, but every time Jane brought it up, Maura changed the subject or feigned ignorance.

But that night, Maura was forced to face all that was troubling her, and frankly, Jane was happy to have it all out in the air, so she had to be grateful for that dress giving out when it did.

Jane had given Maura a small anniversary gift, a new charm for the bracelet Jane had gifted Maura several Christmases ago, before they’d even started dating, and when Maura leaned over the small table to briefly kiss Jane in thanks, there was a ripping sound that made them both freeze.

“Uhh, what was that?” Jane asked slowly, hoping she was wrong about her first guess, but the look on Maura’s face was telling.

“I think my dress just ripped,” Maura whispered fearfully.

“You think?” Jane questioned.

“I’m afraid to look,” Maura admitted.

 So Jane and Maura looked together, peeking over the edge of the table to Maura’s side, where the too tight dress had quite literally burst at the seams, ripping a sizable hole down Maura’s right side.

There was a glimmer in Maura’s eyes, like she was about to panic, and Jane reached out quickly, snagging Maura’s wrist and reassuring, “It’s all right. I’ve got a jacket in the car. Just hold tight and we’ll make a quick exit when I get back.”

“No, but,” Maura started to protest, “I wanted this to be special. We haven’t even had dessert. We can’t leave now.”

“Honey, unless you wanna eat cake in your underwear, I don’t think we can stay,” Jane reasoned. The dress was stretching open more and more every time Maura shifted. “Actually, now that I mention it, that’s a great idea, let’s go home and eat cake in our underwear.”

Maura snorted but her eyes were brimming with tears. “Are you sure?” she asked in a wobbly voice. “I didn’t ruin everything?”

“Are you kidding? I’ve been itching to take this dress off since I put it on. Just keep that dress on till I get back.” Jane stood, kissed Maura on the cheek on her way up, and then went quickly back out to the car. She had to wait a few minutes, because these fancy places had valet service, and she tapped her foot impatiently until the guy brought their car up to the curb. She asked him to hold it there for a second, grabbed her jacket out of the back seat, and rushed back inside, where Maura was trying very hard to merge with the table cloth.

Jane’s jacket didn’t really fit around Maura’s frame, but they tied it around Maura’s belly enough that it covered the growing tear in her dress. They paid quickly and then shuffled out to the car like they were trying smuggle out the bread rolls.

It was only once they were in the car and on the way home that Jane started to laugh, slowly and quietly, steadily becoming more hysterical as Maura fought not to laugh herself, telling Jane, “Stop.” But Jane couldn’t stop and soon neither could Maura, who said between breaths, “Oh, don’t make me laugh. The baby is pressing on my bladder.” But that only made Jane laugh harder, and she had to take several deep breaths to calm down when Maura pinched her arm saying, “I mean it!” And Jane believed her because Maura’s bladder was like the size of a peanut lately for how often she went to the bathroom.

“We’ll be home soon,” Jane assured, “or do you need me to stop somewhere?”

“No, no, I’ll make it,” Maura said soberly, her amusement seeming to evaporate at once, staring out the window, smoothing her hands over her round belly. Jane could tell that she was upset about their evening not going perfectly, but she decided to wait until they were home to talk to her about it.

After the pair of them struggled to pull the ruined dress off of her, Maura told Jane, “I’m sorry. It seems you’re always having to come to my rescue.”

“You don’t have to be sorry, Maura,” Jane insisted, examining the tear in the dress, wondering if her mother might be able to fix it. “Who took care of me when I broke three fingers six months ago?”

“I just wanted tonight to be perfect,” Maura mumbled, staring glumly at the anniversary gift in her hands. “It’s the only wedding anniversary we’ll have before the baby comes, and I know I’ve been… difficult to deal with lately.”

“Please,” Jane lightly scoffed, “you’re growing a whole person inside of you. You’re entitled to being a little difficult.”

“You were supposed to say I’m not being difficult,” Maura teased with a little smile and a pout.

“Yes, of course, that’s what I meant,” Jane quickly corrected, smiling brightly. She grabbed Maura’s hand and smoothed her thumb over her wrist. “Hey, this anniversary was perfect enough, and we’ve got plenty more to go. Maybe next time you can rip your dress on purpose.

Maura groaned. “I can’t believe I ruined this dress. It was a Salvatore Ferragamo.”

Jane snorted, putting her hands on Maura’s belly, delighted to feel the little kick against her palm. The baby always got active right around that time of night, much to Maura’s chagrin. “Maybe that’s what we oughta call him – little Salvatore Isles-Rizzoli.”

“I’m not sure it’s fitting, since he clearly didn’t like this dress,” Maura said, “but I’m glad that you’re thinking outside of the box with names. We really should pick one for him soon.”

“I won’t know for sure until I see him. What if we name him Salvatore but he looks like a Greg?”

“We are not calling him Greg,” Maura refused.

“You hear that Greg?” Jane said to Maura’s belly. “Your Mommy doesn’t like your name.” Maura inhaled sharply, and Jane looked up, half worried. “What is it?”

Maura shook her head. “Nothing, it’s just… I never thought about that… about being called Mom. What if… what if I’m not very good at it?”

“Oh, honey,” Jane commiserated, “you’re gonna be great. We’re both gonna have to learn. Believe me, I don’t have any idea what I’m doing either.”

Maura reached out and tucked Jane’s curls behind her ear, smiling softly. “I’m really glad I married you.”

“Yeah,” Jane said with a grin, “me too. Happy Anniversary, Maura.”

Chapter Text

November 2010

“There’s something you should know,” Maura said quietly, pressed close to Jane so as not to be overheard, looking around the precinct for anyone that might be listening in, paranoid now for more reason than just that there was a serial killer on the loose that meant to kill them.

“What?” Jane asked worriedly, tipping her head down to hear Maura better, squeezing Maura’s upper arm. “What’s going on?”

“This case,” Maura whispered, “it’s a lot bigger, and it’s far more complicated than we thought.”

Now Jane looked around the office space too, at her coworkers, wondering if any of them knew more about her own case than she did, or if it was just the FBI holding all the cards. “What do you mean?”

“Dr. Williams,” Maura revealed, naming the federal medical examiner that had been charged with overseeing Maura’s autopsies in relation to the case. “She must have felt sorry for me. She revealed something to me... Hoyt’s apprentice, he can’t be found by DNA or finger prints because the government didn't want him found.”

Jane furrowed her dark brows, frown marring her face as she pulled back to scrutinize Maura in confusion. “What does that mean?”

“I’m not sure,” Maura admitted with a shake of her head. “She wouldn’t say anymore than that, except that it involves national security.”

“Are you kidding me? Why is she part of the need-to-know loop when – he’s trying to kill us,” she said in frustration.

“I know,” Maura sighed.

“Come on,” Jane decided, grabbing her purse and her keys off of her desk.

Maura looked at her in bewilderment. “Where are you going?”

We’re going, come on, let’s go,” Jane beckoned, ushering Maura to the elevator. “We’re going to see Agent Dean.”

They burst into his current office space some time later, Jane shoving their way in until they found Dean, making noise, making a scene, demanding answers while Maura cringed next to her and quietly apologized to the people they disturbed as they scurried past. Maura wanted answers too, but she might have asked politely first at least. Her wife, on the other hand, was self-assertive and impatient and she would not be stalled any longer. Maura loved her for it, but it did make for some awkward situations.

Agent Dean eventually found them, likely following the sound of Jane’s voice, and he looked at her and Maura standing there causing a raucous and he seemed unsurprised and unperturbed. He simply said, “Come with me.”

He was silent as they walked, not answering Jane’s insistent questioning yet, shooting her a look when she continued to speak above a whisper.

“What?” Jane scoffed at him. “Am I being a little too loud for you?”

“Do you ever relax?” Dean asked her in that murmur of a voice.

“No! I don’t ever relax,” Jane answered loudly, and it was all Maura could do not to snort because wasn’t that the truth. “And you know what else? I’ve had it up to here with your need-to-know bullshit –”

They entered a room then, where another man – Senator Sam Conway, Chairman of the Armed Services Committee – was there to greet them brusquely. He explained what Jane and Maura had so far not been told about the case, that there was evidence that Hoyt’s apprentice had been a green beret working for the CIA, his identity wiped from record so that he could not be found. But from that information, Jane discovered the connection. Hoyt had once used an assumed name to get into a combat medic training program at Fort Stewart. If they cross referenced Hoyt’s records, they might discover who he met, and it would help them find Hoyt and his apprentice both.

Maura didn’t feel better after the meeting, per say, but Jane seemed to think it progress, that they were one step closer to tracking down Hoyt, to ending their nightmare, but then Jane's cellphone rang as they were leaving the office.

“Frankie,” Jane answered, “what is it?” A pause, and then, “What? Why?” And there was rage and sorrow warring in Jane’s eyes when she next looked at Maura, a look that made Maura’s stomach turn. “We’ll be right there.”

Jane snapped her phone closed, already grasping Maura’s arm, moving her for the exit, and Maura was afraid to ask but she did anyways. “What happened?”

“Hoyt,” Jane rasped. “He’s been at the house.”

It made Maura feel violated, feel sick, like she had been dropped into the past, and her head was spinning. It had been difficult enough the last time, to feel safe in her own home again, and now it was happening again. “How did they get past the alarm?”

Jane shook her head, frowning grimly. “I don’t know.”

They drove quickly back to the house, and had to park up the street because the whole block was packed with patrol cars and unmarked and CSU. Maura inhaled deeply to steel herself, red and blue lights flashing in her eyes, blurring her vision, hyper-focused straight ahead, with putting one foot in front of the other. Jane kept her hand wrapped tight around Maura’s.

As they were approaching their home, they were interrupted by a man next to a coroner’s van. “Detective Rizzoli, Dr. Isles? Detective Korsak asked if you’d I.D. the bodies.”

“What bodies?” Jane demanded, crushing Maura’s fingers as they turned as one to face the man.

“Sorry, thought you knew,” he said. “Detective Korsak said it was your neighbors. Middle-aged female and her young daughter.”

Jane and Maura both stopped in their tracks, and Maura felt like the air had been knocked out of her, could barely get out a disbelieving, “Lily.

“Oh, God, no,” Jane breathed, and then she was whirling on Maura, pushing her backwards, away from the van. “Maura, go inside.”

“No,” Maura feebly protested.

Go,” Jane insisted. “If it is her, you don’t need to see this.”

“Actually,” the man by the van was saying, lingering nearby, edging closer to Jane and Maura, and Maura might have found it strange if she wasn’t whirling from the thought that Lily and her mother might be dead in that van, “the doctor might have some idea of cause of death –”

Jane ignored him, pushed Maura farther and farther. “Go, Maura. Go find Frankie. I’ll be with you soon.”

And Maura was too stunned and grief stricken and everything was spinning around her and she would have feinted, she thought, if she had to climb into that coroner’s van, so she tried to keep walking, to get to Frankie, to something safe to cling to.

But halfway down the sidewalk she was stopped again, this time a woman’s voice saying, “Maura? Oh thank goodness!”

Maura turned at once, convinced she was hearing things, but she wasn’t. There stood her neighbors, Anna and Lily, looking none the worse for wear, huddled together and looking curiously at all the police surrounding the street.

“We were so worried!” Anna exclaimed. “We thought something had happened to you guys –”

Maura’s heart slammed against her chest as she thought about Jane, spinning back in that direction, ready to take off, to sprint the short distance in her heels, a scream climbing up her throat, but by the time she looked down the street, the back doors of the van were slamming closed and the man was climbing into the driver's seat, taking off down the road, with Jane nowhere to be seen.

November 2007

“Well, I don’t think we’re going to get much further on this today,” Korsak sighed, throwing his pen down on his desk and leaning back in his chair. “I’ll stay and sort through the last few files. You ought to go out and have a life, while you still can,” he teased.

“I can stay, if you want me to help,” Jane offered, not because she didn’t like the idea of going home with Maura, but because she didn’t want to leave Korsak in the lurch with this case that was quickly becoming dead in the water. She kept thinking that if she just came across the right bit of evidence, she might finally find a lead.

“Actually,” Maura interjected, having come upstairs to drop off a file of so far inconclusive evidence, “you can’t. We have plans.”

“We do?” Jane asked in surprise.

“You remember our neighbor, Anna?” How could Jane forget the woman that never stopped talking? “I offered for us to babysit Lily for her this evening.”

Well, Lily was better than her mother, but Jane raised an eyebrow and inquired, “Uh, why?”

“I thought it would be good to have some practice,” Maura reasoned, and her hands were braced on top of her large belly, looking more and more like she was about to explode everyday. She’d had to cut back on her hours and let a medical examiner from a neighboring county help out, much to her chagrin, but she could hardly pull herself up out of a chair these days let alone stand for an autopsy all day long. “The baby is due in five weeks and we’ve never been parents before. This will give us an idea of how it works.”

“I know how it works,” Jane protested. “We tell the kid what he can and cannot do and he ignores us and does whatever he wants anyways.” Maura gave her an admonishing look, but Jane persisted. “Are you sure this isn’t just Anna’s way of getting into our house and never leaving?”

“It won’t kill you to be civil for ten minutes,” Maura said.

Jane scoffed and muttered, “Ten minutes? More like forty five.”

Korsak chuckled. “Go ahead. I’ll call you if I find anything.”

Jane sighed heavily and began to gather her things. “All right, but only ‘cause I like Lily.”

“Just Lily?” Maura teased with a pout, and Jane smirked.

“I guess I like you too.” She looked around the room to make sure no one was watching, and then leaned in quickly to kiss Maura on the cheek.

“Oh, go on you two,” Korsak shooed them off. “You’re makin' me sick.”

“Oh be quiet and say goodbye to the baby,” Jane told him, turning Maura’s large belly in his direction while Maura rolled her eyes.

But Korsak softened at once, bending forward to wave and say to Maura’s abdomen, “Bye, bye, little Columbo.”

Maura wrinkled her nose. “Definitely not.”

“I’ll come up with another,” Korsak promised.

“Yeah, you do that,” Jane snorted, shaking her head at him and his poor choice of names, tugging lightly on Maura's shoulders as they moved as one to leave.

They were hardly home for more than twenty minutes when Anna and Lily arrived, and much like Jane had feared, Anna talked and talked and talked, but must have been in a hurry to leave because she kept her breathless, mostly one-sided conversation to ten minutes. She thanked Jane and Maura and promised to be back in time for Lily’s bedtime, and then the three of them were on their own.

Lily was just standing there, staring up at them, not exactly scared, but certainly not looking entirely comfortable.

Maura spoke first, asking the girl, “What would you like to do? Jane and I could read to you. Or we have some coloring books, or some dolls.”

“We do?” Jane said in confusion.

“Yes,” Maura impatiently replied, “I bought them.”

“When did you have time to – never mind.” Jane shook her head and turned to Lily. “Hey, kid, you like pizza?”

Lily nodded emphatically.

“Great, let’s order a pizza,” Jane decided, holding her hand out to the girl, guiding her over to the couch. “You like pepperoni?”

“And mushroom,” Lily piped up.

Jane made a face and teasingly accused, “Did the Tomato Lady put you up to this? Mushrooms are yucky.

Lily snickered delightedly. “Nu uh, mushrooms are yummy.

“Yeah, well, you and Maura can have a whole mushroom pizza to yourself. You wanna watch some TV while we wait?”

“Okay,” Lily agreed, hopping up onto the couch.

“You like CSPAN?”

Lily wrinkled her nose. “Huh?”

Jane snorted. “So you and Maura don’t have that in common. Got it. How about Adventure Time?

“Oh, Jane, I don’t know that we should,” Maura started to say as Jane was turning on the noisy cartoon.

But Jane quickly shuffled over to usher Maura into the kitchen, assuring her “It’s fine. We’ll only let her watch till the pizza comes and then turn it off. Let her get comfortable with us first, then we’ll try coloring or dolls or whatever else you secretly bought.”

Maura nodded, sucking in a deep breath. “Of course. You’re right. I just don’t want to mess this up.”

Jane rubbed Maura’s back soothingly while reaching for the phone. “Relax. You’re gonna do great. And besides, this is just the test kid, we’ll do way better with our own.” Maura narrowed her eyes and reached out to pinch Jane's arm, and Jane grinned, lightly batting away Maura's attempts, hissing at her, “I’m on the phone!”

After Jane ordered the pizzas and a salad, she insisted Maura sit down and they joined Lily on the couch. Jane spaced out thinking about her most recent case, but Maura and Lily were fully engrossed in the cartoon, Lily mildly enjoying it and Maura looking halfway appalled. When the food arrived, they turned the TV off and crowded around the kitchen island. Jane lifted Lily up onto a stool and Maura helped her with her pizza. Maura tried unsuccessfully to get the girl interested in eating a few bites of salad, but Lily was not a fan, though she did laugh when she saw the tomatoes, seeming to solidify her belief that Maura was indeed a tomato lady.

After they had finished eating and helped Lily clean up her hands and face, Jane sat the girl back down on her feet and told Maura, “Why don’t you break out those coloring books?”

Maura was all too delighted to do so, bringing out a whole stack and a huge box of crayons, the one with the sharpener on the back that never quite worked right, but that Jane had always envied as a child. Lily asked them to color with her, so the three of them sat around the dining room table together and colored, swapping books and crayons, and Jane was too impatient to keep her coloring in the lines but she was sort of enjoying it, turning her mind off for a few minutes to just scribble on paper.

She was stunned, of course, when she looked across the table and saw Maura’s coloring, all meticulously shaded, but Maura just looked up at her and shrugged, explaining, “My mother’s an artist.”

But the coloring only lasted all of fifteen minutes or so before Lily decided she was bored. She wanted to play hide and seek, and Maura was fretting about having Lily out of their sight but Jane made the rule for no hiding upstairs and that seemed to appease her.

Hide and seek quickly turned into a game of Lily’s own creation, something about dragons and robots, and Jane didn’t really understand but she dutifully ran around pretending to be a dragon, flapping a throw blanket like wings. Maura tried to keep up, doing the worst impression of a robot, but she was carrying a lot of extra weight these days and Jane could tell her back was aching, that she wasn’t just holding onto furniture as part of the game.

All the excitement eventually tired out Lily too, and soon Maura and the girl were both asleep on opposite ends of the couch. Jane covered them both with blankets and then turned the sports channel on low, made herself comfortable in one of the armchairs.

Maybe thirty minutes later, Anna arrived to pick up Lily, and Maura and Lily slept straight through it. Jane gestured for Anna to be quiet and led her into the living room, helped her gather up Lily and her things, and Anna thanked Jane in a whisper and took Lily home.

Jane quietly began to clean up the mess left behind, idly thinking how chaotic it had gotten in such a short span of time and how Maura was going to have a hard time getting used to that when the baby came. Maura had a slight obsession with keeping everything neat and tidy, was distressed by the slightest thing being out of place, but everything was going to be out of place with a baby in the house, at least part of the time.

When another, louder knock on the door disturbed the quiet, Jane looked up with a frown, confused as to who would be at the door at that time of night. She thought maybe Lily had forgotten something, so she went to look through the peep hole. She didn’t recognize the man standing casually on the other side, and he didn’t look like Lily’s father even in the dim lighting, so she hesitated. But he also didn’t look all that threatening, and he was about to knock again and wake Maura, so Jane pulled the door halfway open and stuck her head out.

“Can I help you?” she asked sharply.

The man seemed surprised to see her, like he was expecting someone else, but he smiled genially. “I’m sorry,” he said in an Australian accent. “Does Dr. Isles still live here?”

“Who’s askin’?” Jane demanded.

Just as Maura popped her head up from the couch, rubbing her eyes and sleepily inquiring, “Jane? Who’s there?”

At the sound of Maura’s voice, that man had the audacity to take a step into the doorway, bypassing Jane, leaning his head into the house to seek out Maura’s face, and Jane was just about to shove him back out when Maura said a stunned, “Ian?”

“Hello there,” Ian said, and Jane noticed then that he had luggage sitting on the stoop behind him. “I hope I’m not intruding.”

“You know him?” Jane asked Maura.

“I – yes,” Maura hesitantly answered, giving Ian a small smile, and only then did Jane step back to let him in, but she didn’t move from the doorway, still blocking his entry to the rest of the house.

“I didn’t think you’d mind me dropping by,” Ian told Maura, and then eyed Jane up and down. “Was I wrong?”

“Oh, no, it’s not that,” Maura said, gripping the edge of the couch with one hand, the other clutching at her back as she slowly pushed herself up onto her feet, revealing her protruding belly to Ian, who very clearly had no idea to expect it, and Jane felt some smug delight in that.

“Oh,” Ian said, eyebrows raised. “I see. I am intruding.”

“Ian,” Maura said delicately, walking over to Jane’s side, “this is my wife, Jane.”

“Your wife?” Ian echoed, and there was something like regret, in his voice, but he looked at Maura and he looked at Jane and he smiled, if a little sadly. “That’s incredible. So when I saw you last, this is the person you were referring to?”

Maura inhaled sharply, still rubbing her lower back in discomfort. “Yes. Yes, it is.”

Jane frowned, wondering why she had never heard of this Ian who was so bold as to show up on Maura’s doorstep with his luggage and expect to be let in, this man who Maura had seen at some point while she and Jane were together, whom she had spoken to about Jane, without telling him exactly who Jane was, apparently.

“Well, then I must say congratulations,” Ian said fondly, reaching out with his long limbs to grasp Maura’s hand, bringing it up to place a kiss on the back of it, making Jane grit her teeth at the move. “When was the wedding?”

“Last October,” Maura answered.

Ian looked down at Maura’s pregnant belly and glanced at Jane with a smirk. “You work fast.”

Jane folded her arms over her chest and widened her stance, staring firmly at Ian even as he stood a good head above her. She didn’t trust him, didn’t trust how forward he was with Maura, nor his winning smile that must get him out of all sorts of trouble.

“I’m Ian,” he told Jane, holding out a hand to shake, and Jane was tempted to ignore it on principle, but she played nice and shook his hand. “Well, I ought to find myself somewhere to stay,” he began to say.

Maura protested, “Oh, no, it’s late. You could stay in the guest house. It isn’t prepared but –”

“No, no,” Ian refuted. “That’s all right. I won’t intrude. But I would like to see you again, while I’m in town. Perhaps the three of us could have dinner.”

“Perhaps,” Jane responded with a fake smile and narrowed eyes. Maura gave her a warning look and she ignored it.

“I’ll call you?” Ian offered.

“That would be fine,” Maura agreed. “Can we call you a cab?”

“Oh no I’ll make it on my own, but thank you. Good bye, Maura. Jane.” He inclined his head in farewell and Jane shut the door behind him.

Jane half expected Maura to berate her for being so rude to a guest, but Maura just stood, watching Jane anxiously, hands resting on her abdomen.

“What was that all about?” Jane asked, when Maura gave no explanation.

“That… was Ian,” Maura said unhelpfully.

Jane snorted. “You don’t say. What was he doing here?

“Could we sit down?” Maura requested.

“Oh this is a sit down conversation? That’s not comforting.”

Maura was already shuffling back towards the couch. “Mostly it’s that my back is killing me,” Maura admitted, “but I have a feeling you won’t be happy to hear this either.”

“That does not make me feel better,” Jane grumbled, and she did follow Maura to the couch, but she didn’t sit. “Please don’t tell me you cheated on me.”

“Of course not!” Maura immediately denied, and she looked so appalled that Jane believed her, and that at least put her at ease. “However…” So a brief ease then. “He did come to see me, shortly after you and I began dating.”

Jane waited a breath, chewed the inside of her cheek, remained calm. “And? What happened while he was here?”

“Nothing,” Maura said quietly, “but he did… he kissed me, and he stayed for a while. We only spoke. I admit I… I wanted to know about him, how he had been.”

Jane inhaled slowly, deeply, considered what Maura had said, and there was a burning jealously low in her gut, churning, bubbling up, but she tamped down on it for now. “So that’s all it was? A kiss and talking?”

“Yes,” Maura answered. “I’m sorry that I didn’t tell you. It’s just that… we had only just gotten together, and there was already so much uncertainty.”

“But you told him about me,” Jane pointed out.

“Well yes, mostly. Typically, when he comes… I’m more inviting. This last time, I held back. I told him that there was someone in my life. He took the hint and he didn’t stay.”

“But he came back tonight expecting different.”

“I suppose I didn’t impress upon him how serious it was. Perhaps he thought enough time had passed that I’d be free. I hadn’t heard from him since then. I didn’t even have an address or phone number to tell him that we were marrying.”

“You said… when he usually comes by,” Jane said with mounting trepidation. “You’re saying he just pops by unannounced all the time? And you never mentioned him?”

Maura dropped her gaze then, rubbed her lower abdomen, and Jane was reminded of the baby there, of how they had loved each other so much that they had made that baby, together, in a way, that they were changing their whole lives for this. But what did it mean that they had begun all this without the truth between them? Perhaps it was not the worst secret of all time, but it rubbed Jane the wrong way, thinking Maura had kept it from her. Maybe she didn’t want to tell Jane when their relationship was so fresh, but why not later? Obviously this man meant something to Maura, if she had let him into her home on many occasion, without warning, without him even bothering to keep in touch.

“Do you remember…” Maura whispered, “when I told you that I once loved someone, that they left and didn’t ask me to go with them, but that I thought I might have if they did?”

“That was Ian?” Jane surmised.

Maura nodded, and Jane wished that she hadn’t. She remembered Maura saying that, remembered Maura adding, later on, that she had once thought that person to be her soul mate. And if Ian was Maura’s soul mate then what was Jane?

“I see,” Jane muttered, and Maura looked up at the bitterness in her tone.

“Jane –”

Jane held up her hand to stop her. “You don’t have to explain.”

“No but I –”

Jane’s phone suddenly rang sharply, interrupting them from where it lay on the kitchen island, and Jane was almost happy for the reprieve, tearing her eyes from Maura’s, from the sorrow there, the sorrow that Jane couldn’t understand and didn’t want to pry into just then. She didn’t want to hear that Maura had loved Ian, might still love him, somehow.

She crossed the room to her phone and answered with a brief, “Rizzoli.”

It was Korsak, and he said simply, “You might want to come down here. I’ve got something.”

“I’ll be right there,” Jane told him, and then hung up, going to gather the rest of her things, her gun and badge and shoes, frustrated all of a sudden that all of it was so smartly tucked away, just as Maura always insisted.

“Are you leaving?” Maura questioned.

“Korsak says he’s got something. I’ll probably be gone a while.”

“Jane,” Maura said shakily, but Jane couldn’t look at her, “you must know –”

“Get some rest,” Jane cut her off. “I’ll text you if I can.”

And then Jane left without another glance, because she didn’t want to face whatever this meant. She knew well enough that Maura had dated other people, that Maura might have even loved some of them, but Jane had always thought that the love between them was greater, was different, but what if Jane was only the one Maura had chosen because Ian hadn’t chosen her? He was an idiot, of course, if he had let Maura go, but why else would Maura have kept him secret? If there was nothing to worry about then why worry about telling Jane about him? Jane hadn’t pried before but she wondered now if she should have, if it would have made a difference. Maura had told Jane all about her other suitors, the good and the bad, but she had never even said Ian’s name, like it was too painful, like she wanted to preserve it.

It all twisted Jane’s stomach and she just needed to be elsewhere, to focus on something else, so she focused on work. She didn’t let herself linger a moment longer on Ian, tried to soothe herself with the knowledge that Maura was carrying Jane’s baby in her belly and not his. And for a few hours, she succeeded, followed Korsak’s lead down the rabbit hole, to one idea after another, until they had begun to stitch the case back together from where it had splintered.

When Maura called the first time, Jane let it go to voicemail. In part because she truly was busy and in part because she just wasn’t in the right head space to hear whatever Maura wanted to say. They could discuss it all tomorrow, in the daylight, after Jane had maybe solved this case and the wounded feeling wasn’t so fresh.

When Maura called the second time, Jane missed it, because Maura had tried calling Jane’s desk phone next, but Jane had gone with Korsak to request an update on a test from one of the lab techs that was still down there that late at night.

Maura’s third call was to Korsak’s cellphone, and Jane felt a shiver of concern when he told Jane who was calling him, because Maura wouldn’t call Korsak just because she wanted to have it out with Jane. But three seconds after Korsak answered, his cellphone died, and Jane spent several seconds berating him for not charging it when he needed to, reaching for the phone on her own hip and desperately hoping that whatever Maura was calling for wasn’t serious. Maura was heavily pregnant, but there hadn’t been any complications throughout the pregnancy and she was still over a month from her due date.

Maura was calling Jane’s cell again before Jane even had a chance to dial Maura’s number, and Jane answered it at once. “Maura, what is it?”

Jane,” Maura responded, and her voice was tight, tense, and Jane was already rushing to her desk, to where her keys and her jacket sat. “Tommy’s here.

Jane paused, for a moment, bewildered, wondering why Tommy was at her house at 1 o’clock in the morning and why Maura sounded so distressed about it. Jane had given Tommy the same ultimatum as her father, no drinking in front of Jane’s kid, and Tommy had reacted as expected and scoffed, but he’d agreed to do it, said he could stop anytime he wanted, and Jane hadn’t entirely believed him, but she had been hopeful he might try for his nephew. Was he drunk now? Had he come to Jane for help when she wasn’t home?

Then Maura continued, “He’s brought some – some friends. Some men that he met at the bar this evening.

Jane’s blood ran cold, and she darted into motion once more, scowl curling on her face, her tone sharp as she responded very seriously, “Maura, listen to me. Go straight upstairs and lock yourself in the bedroom right now, you hear me? Don’t let anyone in until I get there, not even Tommy, all right?”

Jane was running for the door and Korsak was on her heels, must have seen the severity on her face or heard it in her voice, and he told her, “I’ll drive.”

On the other end of the phone, Maura could be heard speaking, but it was distant, like she was talking to someone else, politely telling whoever it was, “Excuse me, I just need to…” And then there was a man’s voice, and Jane could tell it wasn’t Tommy’s but she couldn’t make out what they were saying. “No, that’s not… I’m –

Suddenly, Maura’s voice cut out and the line went dead and Jane couldn’t feel her legs but she just kept running until she reached the car, calling Maura back again and again while Korsak sped out onto the road, calling Tommy too, but nobody answered, and there was so much fear and rage expanding within her she thought she might choke on it, and if anything, anything, happened to Maura or that baby, she would never, ever forgive her brother.

She was impatient the whole drive home, even as Korsak sped down the road and got them there in record time, and by the time they arrived, she was fuming. She couldn’t believe that her brother could be so thoughtless as to bring strangers into her home, to possibly endanger Jane’s whole world.

Jane was out of the car before Korsak had fully brought it to a stop, storming into the house, one hand over her weapon, door slamming against the wall, alerting them all to her arrival. There were three men in her house, one of them sitting too close to Maura on the couch, one of them pouring shots of liquor with Tommy in the kitchen, and the other was rooting through the cabinets behind the couch.

“Jane,” Maura said in breathless relief, and Jane looked at her for a moment, breathed a solitary breath of relief that she was safe and whole, and then let fire fill her lungs once more.

Tommy looked up, bleary eyed and grinning like an absolute fool, waving at his sister obliviously. “Janie!”

“Party’s over,” Jane barked at the men, sharp eyes landing threateningly on the man next to Maura. “Everyone out. Now.”

“No need to be hostile,” the man by Maura cajoled, rising up onto his feet with a sneer. “We’re only having some fun.”

“Yeah c’mon, Janie, lighten up,” Tommy slurred.

“Get OUT,” Jane reiterated. “Or I’ll arrest every single one of you for trespassing and whatever else I can think to stick you with. NOW!”

Korsak came in then, and the pair of them seemed to be enough to frighten off Tommy’s  friends. The one at the island and the one rooting through the cupboards left at once, shuffling past Jane and Korsak, who was snarling too now that he’d gotten a look at the situation, and before Jane could do it herself, he marched over to the man lingering next to Maura, grabbed him by the elbow and shoved him towards the door.

While Korsak was corralling the man out the front door, Jane stopped by the couch to check on Maura, clasping her wrist and asking, “Are you all right?”

Maura nodded, but she was grimacing and she clutched Jane’s hand too tightly.

Before Jane could say anything, Tommy was stomping over to accost his sister, and Jane was distracted by her rage at him. “What the hell, Jane? Why you gotta come in here guns blazing, ruining every –”

Jane cut him off, “Have you lost your god damn mind?! You bring these strange men into my house! You risked Maura’s life –”

“Oh you think too much like a cop!” Tommy interjected hotly. “There was no danger –”

“Got this off one of ‘em,” Korsak said as he reentered the house, holding up one of Maura’s diamond necklaces. “He dropped it tripping down the sidewalk.”

Jane turned a furious look on Tommy, but he rolled his eyes. “He was probably just looking at it –”

“Jane,” Maura said breathlessly, but Jane thought it was just her warning Jane off from being too harsh with Tommy, and Jane was far past that.

She surged around the couch and grabbed her brother by the front of his shirt, shoved him and shoved him, resisted the urge to strangle him, and pushed him the whole way to the door while he huffed and stumbled and shouted, “Get off me!”

“Don’t. Ever. Come. Back. Here!” Jane seethed with every shove.

“Jane!” Maura said more urgently, and Jane only glanced for a moment, was intent on finishing what she had to say to Tommy, but when her brain caught up to her, when she realized that something was wrong, she turned her full attention onto her wife.

Maura was on her feet but bent over, clutching to the couch, clutching her belly, and there was pain twisting her pale face. “Jane, I think I’ve gone into labor.”

Jane’s eyes went wide. “But – but… it’s too soon. Are you sure?”

Maura nodded. “I’m sure.”

Tommy hadn’t noticed, was yelling his head off at Jane about being ridiculous, but Jane was done with him – done.

She pushed Tommy the rest of the way out of the house, hissed at him, “I don’t ever want to see you again,” and slammed the door in his face.

Maura groaned in pain, and Jane rushed over to her, all that burning anger freezing up in her chest, turning to cold fear, her legs shaky, but she had to hold them firm, had to take Maura in her arms and hold her steady.

“All right, it’s okay,” Jane tried to soothe. “We’ll go to the hospital right now. Everything will be okay.”

“Oh but we haven’t packed a bag and the nursery isn’t finished,” Maura fretted. “We haven’t even picked his name.”

“We’ll think of something on the way,” Jane assured, as Korsak came around to help shuffling Maura to the door. Tommy, thankfully, had long gone by the time they got outside, and they took Maura straight to the car.

It was all a bit of a blur from there, Jane’s worry all consuming, her focus on Maura and the baby. Korsak drove them to the hospital, and Jane sat in the back with Maura, soothed her through what must have been a contraction. The contractions weren’t too close together yet, but it was early, and Jane was concerned at what that meant, if there was any danger, and if Tommy had caused it, because if he had…

Maura tried to tell Jane otherwise, as they were waiting to be admitted. “It wasn’t Tommy’s fault,” she said between shallow breaths. “My back was hurting all day. I had felt some cramps but I thought – I thought it might be Braxton Hicks. It was only after you left I started to rethink.”

And Jane had that to feel guilty for too, that she had left because she was upset with Maura over some man that never should have mattered. That she had ignored the first phone call when she should have known to answer, whether it was important or not.

Once Maura was taken to a room, her doctor confirmed she was in labor and that it was progressing too much to attempt slowing it down now. Jane and Maura were both worried about it being too early, but the doctor repeated much of what Maura had said months ago, that often times babies conceived by in vitro were born somewhat premature, and added that they shouldn’t be too anxious because Maura was far enough along that the baby shouldn’t face any major health complications by being born a month early, that if he had been healthy so far they had no reason to suspect he wouldn’t be now. As for Maura, her blood pressure was a little high so they were monitoring her, telling Jane to coax her into relaxing, so Jane did just that, put on a smile and swallowed all the emotions swirling like a hurricane within her and did her best to calm Maura. The doctor had said it might be a few more hours, so they would have to settle in to wait. Jane let Korsak know that everything was all right and promised to call if anything changed, and he went ahead home to charge his phone and catch a little sleep, since it was well past two in the morning.

“We should call your mother,” Maura told Jane not long after, resting back against her pillows with her eyes closed, tired but too uncomfortable to sleep.

“I don’t want to wake them till we get closer,” Jane tried to deflect from her seat at Maura’s beside, stroking the back of Maura’s hand.

“She’ll be upset if she misses anything,” Maura reasoned.

“She’ll be upset if she finds out I threw Tommy out,” Jane grumbled. “I’m not ready to face her yet. What if she invites him here?”

“Well he is your brother,” Maura said carefully, opening her eyes a little to look at Jane, but Jane kept her gaze on the blankets and Maura’s hand. “I don’t think he meant any harm tonight.”

“He never means it but he causes it anyway,” Jane huffed. “He needs to grow up and I’m tired of giving him chances. What if one of those guys had hurt you?”

She locked eyes with Maura then, and she must not have been too far off the mark because Maura didn’t argue. Jane had seen the fear in Maura’s eyes when she had arrived home.

Jane’s phone rang and it made her jump, and she almost threw the thing across the room, didn’t want to hear from whoever was trying to interrupt her when she was right in the middle of having an internal meltdown. She felt like her head had been spun around with all the drama that night, and now she had to quickly come to terms with the fact that she was about to become a mother.

When she saw Frankie’s name on the screen, she felt both relieved and confused. It didn’t make sense that he’d be calling her at this hour, not unless he knew, somehow. Had Tommy called him for a ride?

“It’s Frankie,” Jane told Maura, who looked equally confused, and then she answered the phone. “Frankie, what’s up?”

Sorry to wake you,” Frankie began, and he sounded tense, “but I thought you’d want to know.

Jane frowned. “You didn’t wake me. Thought I’d want to know what? What’s going on?”

It’s Tommy,” Frankie sighed, and Jane’s stomach plummeted. “He’s really done it this time. He’s not too badly hurt, but I’m meeting Ma and Pop at the hospital, if you want to come.

Jane swallowed thickly, guilt like tar in her throat. “What happened?”

He drove drunk again, but this time he didn’t just get pulled over. He – he hit someone, a priest, in a crosswalk. It’s – it’s pretty bad. I don’t know all the details but… he’s going away this time, Janie.

And it was at least half Jane’s fault, because she had let him walk out of her house drunk, had pushed him out, had told him never to come back, had left him to find his own way home, his own way into more trouble.

She couldn’t find the words to respond to Frankie, and Maura was looking at her with a wrinkle in her brow, mouthing a quiet, “What is it?”

Frankie spoke through Jane’s silence, “Do you think you’ll come to the hospital? For Ma, at least. I understand, if you can’t –”

“I’m already here,” Jane croaked, clearing her throat but it was bone dry.

You are?” Frankie said in surprise.

“I hadn’t had a chance to call you, everything happened so fast… Maura’s in labor. We’re gonna have the baby tonight, or, in the morning maybe.”

Jane could hear Frankie swearing, heard a short chuckle and the delight in his voice, even through the fog of Tommy’s latest screw up, as he said, “That’s awesome. You’re gonna be a mom soon! How’s Maura?

“She’s doing all right,” Jane answered. “Listen, text me when you get here, tell me where I can find you.”

Yeah, ‘course,” Frankie agreed. “I wanna see Maura too. You want me to tell Ma?

“No, I’ll tell her when I see her. I’ll talk to you soon.”

Frankie said brief farewell and they ended the call, and Maura was waiting patiently to hear what was going on.

Jane sighed heavily, bringing Maura’s hand up against her cheek and slumping forward. She reiterated what Frankie had told her, and Maura looked stricken.

“Oh, Jane. I’m so sorry. Is there anything we can do?”

 Jane shook her head. It was too late now. She should have done something before, before her brother had harmed anyone.

“Jane,” Maura whispered softly, “it isn’t your fault. You couldn’t have – oh.” She broke off into a sharp gasp, squeezing Jane’s hand very tight, hunching over, holding her breath.

“Breathe, sweetheart,” Jane coaxed, rubbing Maura’s lower back through the contraction, feeling a bit useless and desperate to help. She was so looking forward to seeing their boy, she only wished it didn’t cause Maura such pain, wished there wasn’t the dark cloud of her brother’s latest mistake hanging over her head.

After several difficult breaths, Maura looked desperately at Jane. “Jane, please, you must know… Ian –”

Jane stopped her from going on, shaking her head. “No. You don’t have to explain. Just tell me one thing.”


“Do you regret… Do you regret that you didn’t go with him?”

“Never,” Maura answered at once. “Seeing him all those months ago only reaffirmed that for me. I never loved Ian half as well as you. It only took meeting you to figure that out.”

“Then let’s forget about Ian and have this baby, huh?”

Maura snorted. “Well, it’s bit late to back out now.”

Jane’s phone chimed, a text message, no doubt from Frankie, and Maura patted her hand. “Go ahead. See your family.”

Jane hesitated. “I don’t want to leave you.”

“I’ll be fine for a little while,” Maura insisted. “It’s later that I’ll need you.”

Jane mulled it over, but decided it was important she see her mother at least, if only for a few minutes. Maura wouldn’t have the baby for at least several more hours. “All right, but if anything happens, have the nurse call me. I’ll take my phone.”

“We’ll be fine,” Maura assured. “Please, give your mother my love.”

“I will,” Jane agreed, and on her way up onto her feet, she leaned in to kiss Maura’s forehead, stroking her hair back, and she lingered for a moment, smiling, gazing at her wife’s lovely face. “I’ll be back soon.”

“I love you,” Maura responded.

Jane turned to leave, but she stopped at the door, whirled back around to say, “Oh, shoot. Should I call your mother? Do you want me to call her for you?”

Maura smiled. “No, thank you. I’ll call her while you’re gone. Now quit stalling.”

“Right, yeah. I’ll be right back.”

Jane found Frankie outside Tommy’s room, arms folded across his chest and staring sullenly through the open doorway. He looked like he’d gotten dressed in the dark, his sweatshirt askew and his hair sticking up in places. At the sight of Jane coming down the hall, he brightened just a little, pushing up off the wall and crossing to meet her.

He hugged her and asked again, “How’s Maura? It’s early, isn’t it? For the baby to come?”

“A little, but the doctor thinks they'll be okay,” Jane answered. “I want to get back to them soon, though. How are things in there?”

“Just as you’d expect. They’ve got him cuffed to the bed and Ma is hysterical. He’s barely got a scratch on him so once they’re finishing checking him over he’ll be out by morning. They’ll take him straight to holding.”

“And the priest he hit?”

Frankie grimaced. “Broke both his legs, and god knows what else, but they say he’ll live so there’s that.”

Jane looked over Frankie’s shoulder, took in the distant scene of her youngest brother lying in a hospital bed, hand cuffs holding his wrist to the rail, their mother weeping and fussing, their father stoic and still.

“He was at my house, just before,” Jane revealed.

“What?” Frankie questioned.

“He showed up while I was at headquarters, drunk as hell. He brought a couple of men with him that he met at the bar. Maura called me, and when I got there… I bit his head off.”

“Sounds like he deserved it,” Frankie scoffed, and Jane couldn’t help the rush of affection she felt. She could always count on Frankie to take her side, whether she deserved it or not.

“Maybe, but I let him leave the house in the state he was in. I didn’t know he was driving, but I should have…”

“Tommy made his choices.”

“Did they call the lawyer yet?” Jane deflected.

“They’re waiting till morning. Did you want to go in?”

“No,” Jane denied. She couldn’t look at Tommy just then, whether because of the guilt she felt or some residual anger. “I’ll see him later.” Behind bars, probably.

“Well you gotta tell Ma you’re here,” Frankie insisted. “It might cheer her up a little, to know the baby’s coming.”

“Maybe I’ll come back later,” Jane hedged. “I don’t wanna interrupt…”

But Angela spotted Jane first, said something to Tommy and Frank and came bustling out of the room, eyes red-rimmed and shadowed. “Oh, Janie,” she whispered desolately, and Jane was only just about to become a mother, but it would kill her, she thought, to see her son going to prison.

“Hey, Ma,” Jane murmured, accepting the hug her mother wanted without grief. “How are you?”

Angela shook her head, wiping at her eyes, breathing in deep, like she hadn’t taken a breath in a long time. “He really messed up this time. I don’t… I don’t know what I can do. I can’t imagine him in – in prison.

“We’ll figure it out, Ma, okay,” Jane tried to reassure, even though she had little idea of what to do. “We’ll get him some help. Frankie said the priest is gonna live so that’s good.”

Angela shuddered. “Oh, that poor man. I’ll have to go and see him. I ought to apologize.”

“Maybe leave that for later,” Jane advised, exchanging a look with Frankie.

“Are you going in to see him?” Angela asked, looking back over her shoulder into Tommy’s room. “He’ll be happy to see you came.”

Jane wasn’t so sure of that, but it must have meant Tommy hadn’t told his parents yet that he had been at Jane and Maura’s house just before the accident. “Actually, I can’t stay, I gotta get back to Maura. She’s… she’s having the baby.”

“What?!” Angela exclaimed, grabbing Jane’s arm in a vice grip. “What do you mean she’s having the baby?!”

“She went into labor not too long ago, that’s how I got here so fast,” Jane explained, trying to wriggle out of her mother’s hold. “We’re on the next floor up.”

“Oh well this is just terrible,” Angela bemoaned, looking back at Tommy and then at Jane and back again.

“Uh, I’m sorry?” Jane said in bewilderment. That wasn’t exactly the reaction she had been expecting.

“I wanted to be there for every second!” Angela fussed. “I told Maura I would be.” Jane remembered that conversation, and also Maura begging Jane afterwards to ensure Angela wouldn’t become her midwife. Maura and Angela were close, and Maura appreciated all of Angela’s pregnancy knowledge, would call Angela to question her about various symptoms, but even she wasn’t a fan of her mother-in-law being that involved in the birth. “But I can’t… I can’t leave him just yet –”

“It’s all right, Ma,” Jane told her. “Maura will understand. Just come by when you can. It’ll be a while till the baby comes, they think.”

It was several hours of sweat and tears and pain before the baby came – for Maura and Jane, who was fairly certain Maura had broken all the fingers on her left hand. But it was all so, so worth it, when their little boy finally came into the world, and it was only then that Jane could relax, when she knew that Maura and the baby were both healthy, that both of them had made it through delivery without any adverse effects. Maura was exhausted, of course, beyond exhausted, by the look of her, face drawn and hair wet and frizzed with sweat, but she was smiling so brightly through her tears as the doctor held the baby up for them to see, as she collapsed back against the bed in relief.

“You’re incredible,” Jane told her, kissing her forehead, smoothing her damp hair back from where it had fallen near her eyes. “You know that? You’re so amazing.”

“Is he all right?” Maura rasped, closing her eyes for a moment, trying to catch her breath.

Their son let out a small, plaintive cry then, as if to reassure his mothers that his lungs were strong and working. The nurses were still looking him over, cleaning him up, but they were smiling over him, there was no concern on their faces, and Jane nodded. “He’s perfect, Maura. You did great, honey.”

When they brought the baby back to Maura and Jane, Maura perked up, held her arms out for him, and looked at him in awe as they settled him on her chest. “He is perfect,” Maura quietly agreed, reverently running her fingers over his cheeks, his little nose, the shock of black hair on top of his head.

Jane leaned in to get a closer look, beaming at the sight, her son and her wife, and her chest felt fit to burst, emotions spilling out of her all of a sudden, great tears pouring down her face, dripping from her chin, and she must have looked a fool, must have been an absolute sight to behold, but she was just so happy, and terrified and eager.

“Oh, Jane,” Maura said, half in surprise, a touch of amusement, lifting one hand to wipe uselessly at the tears flooding Jane’s face.

Jane tried to play it cool, sniffed and wiped her cheeks with the back of her hand, said, “Nah, it’s nothing, I just got feeling back in the hand you crushed.”

Maura chuckled a little, grasped said hand in her own, and Jane did wince even at the soft touch, but Maura brought the hand to her lips and placed a soft kiss there. “I’m sorry, darling, but I’m not sorry.”

Jane laughed, and moved in to kiss Maura proudly on the mouth, bursting with so much joy and admiration. “Have we settled on a name yet?”

Maura looked down at the baby in her arms again as she replied, “What do you think? Is he a James or a Theodore?”

Jane scrutinized the boy, thinking on it, wanting to be certain they gave him the right name. They had narrowed their choices down to two, the only two names they could agree on, but it was still difficult. In the end, she settled on, “James. He’s definitely a James.”

Maura smiled down at him and said fondly, “Hello, James. It’s so good to finally meet you in person.”

“But we never picked a middle name,” Jane pointed out. “We could still use Theodore.”

“No,” Maura refuted at once, still all soft and bright – the sun had recently risen and the glow of it burned through the cracks in the blinds over the window, alighting the faces of Maura and their baby. “I think we should name him Angelo. James Angelo Isles-Rizzoli.”

Jane smirked. “Y’know, she already loves you, you don’t have to suck up.”

“She’s been supportive of us from the beginning, and she’s helped me a lot the last few months. It only seems right that she’s honored for that.”

“Yeah,” Jane agreed. “I like it.”

It wasn’t long before Jane’s mother came knocking, Frank and Frankie in tow, and Tommy must have been gone then, if they were all there at once, and it was a sobering thought, one that pricked at Jane’s heart, but all she could allow herself to linger on just then was her son.

Jane was seated on the edge of Maura’s bed when her family entered, James in her arms now and Maura’s head resting on her shoulder, and she had never been so content in her life, didn’t want to move away from the warm cocoon they had created, but it was time for James to meet the rest of his family.

Angela’s most recent grief over her youngest son was palpable, still plain in the droop of her shoulders and the worn look on her face, but at the sight of her first grandchild, she brightened considerably, her eyes focused on him at once, so full of love and devotion before she even saw him fully. “Oh, Jane, he’s beautiful,” Angela raved, both her hands clasped over her heart as she peered down at him over Jane’s shoulder. She reached over them both to clasp Maura’s hand, asking her, “How are you, sweetheart?”

“Tired,” Maura admitted with a weak smile, “but good.”

“She did great,” Jane said proudly. “Doc said they’re both healthy.”

“Can I hold him?” Angela impatiently pressed.

“I guess,” Jane relented, “but you’d better not try to run off with him.”

“I make no promises,” Angela denied as Jane was transitioning the baby into her arms. “No I will not,” she cooed to James, “No, not when you’re so handsome and lovely.”

“Did you decide on a name?” Frankie asked, peering at James from over his mother’s shoulder.

“As a matter of fact, we did,” Jane answered, smiling, a little smugly, watching her mother closely as she revealed, “His names is James. James Angelo Isles-Rizzoli.”

It took Angela a second to catch on. She was still so smitten with the baby in her arms, watching him, rocking him back and forth, murmuring, “James, that’s a good name –” And then it dawned on her, what else Jane had said, and she looked up suddenly, mouth gaping. “Did you say…?”

“It seemed like the perfect name,” Maura sleepily chimed in, smiling a little too smugly herself. “After all you've done for us.”

“Kiss ass,” Frankie teased his sisters.

“Oh hush,” Angela told him with a watery scowl, chin trembling, holding onto her emotions with a thin tether. “I don’t – I don’t know what to say.”

“You don’t have to say anything,” Jane assured. “Just don’t make me regret it.”

Angela rolled her eyes and Frank snorted. Jane’s father was hanging back a bit, clearly sullen about Tommy, but looking at his grandson with a flicker of fondness. He had so far agreed to watch his drinking, for Jane, for her son, and she could only hope he’d stick to it.

“He looks like you, Jane,” Frankie said.

“If he’s anything like you were, you’ll have your work cut out for you,” Frank warned Jane.

“Oh I’m looking forward to it,” Jane said brightly.

“Come on, Ma, quit hoggin' him,” Frankie interjected. “Let me hold him.”

“Fine, but be careful,” Angela stressed, reluctantly passing James over. “Hold his head!”

“I know!” Frankie said indignantly, taking his nephew into his arms with only a little fumbling. He smiled down at James and greeted, “Hello, James. I’m your Uncle Frankie. I’ll keep all your secrets from your Mamas. James… Jamie – can I call you Jamie, huh? You like that?”

“Jamie,” Maura murmured, resting against Jane’s side, eyes fluttering halfway closed. “I like it.”

“Mmm,” Jane hummed, and her eyes were burning with exhaustion too but she couldn’t tear her gaze away from their son, “me too.”

Chapter Text

September 2008

“Maura! Have you got the diaper bag up there?!” Jane bellowed from downstairs.

 Up in Jamie’s bedroom, Maura looked down at Jamie in discontent, unable to give the look to his other mother. The little boy looked back up at Maura with an unperturbed expression, sticking his fist in his mouth and slobbering down his chin. “No, no,” Maura gently scolded him, tugging his hand from his mouth, and he kicked his legs out with a disgruntled squeal. “Don’t give me your sass, Mister.” Leaving him resting there on his play mat, Maura rose up onto her feet and went to the doorway of Jamie’s bedroom, softly calling back to Jane, “It should be in the hall closet where it belongs.”

“What?!” Jane yelled in response.

Maura gritted her teeth, raising her voice slightly and repeating, “It should be in the hall closet –”

“It’s not!” Jane cut her off. “I already looked there!”

Maura sighed, eyes rolling skyward and praying for patience. “Jane, would you please stop yelli –”


“Would you please stop YELLING!” Maura impatiently shouted.

“All right, all right. You don’t gotta shout,” Jane said in a much lower tone, as if she had been using it all along.

Maura looked over her shoulder, saw Jamie still lying contentedly on his mat, whole fist back in his mouth, and she shook her head. “The two of you will be the death of me.”

“You sound like my mother,” Jane snorted, suddenly appearing in the doorway, and Maura jumped.

“Well it turns out your mother was right about a lot of things,” Maura defended.

Jane shivered, an appalled look crossing over her face. “Never say that again.”

“Did you find the diaper bag?” Maura asked. “We’re going to be late.”

“No, it’s not downstairs. It’s gotta be up here somewhere.” Jane was already looking, digging through Jamie’s dresser drawers and his closet, upturning all manner of things.

Jane,” Maura protested, coming in behind Jane to reorganize the things she was tossing around. “Are you sure you looked in the closet?”

Yes, I’m sure,” Jane insisted. “That’s the first place I looked!”

Maura crossed her arms over her chest. “So if I go downstairs right now and look in the closet, I won’t find it?”

Jane froze, looking over her shoulder at Maura with indignation, but she answered with a somewhat uncertain, “No…

Maura turned at once and started down the stairs, Jane clambering noisily after her with an exasperated, “Maura!” but she had to turn back to go pick up Jamie and her complaints were too distant to be heard.

By the time Jane made it down the stairs with James on her hip, Maura was pulling his diaper bag right out of the closet and holding it aloft with a raised eyebrow.

Jane scoffed. “You cheated.”

Maura scoffed back. “Cheated? How could I have cheated?”

“You took it out of your hiding spot while I wasn’t looking and planted it there,” Jane accused.

“How could I have had the time?” Maura inquired.

“I had to go back for Jamie,” Jane reasoned. “You had plenty of time.”

Maura rolled her eyes. “Can you please stop being ridiculous and finish preparing your son so we can go?

“What’s your hurry?” Jane goaded. “You wanna cheat at softball too?”

“That would require you to let me play,” Maura countered.

“I let you play!” Jane argued.

“Only if you know you’re going to lose,” Maura muttered, only a touch bitterly, because she really wasn’t all that good at it, despite all her science and stamina. She was better at other things, like keeping the bench warm apparently.

“Hey don’t change the subject,” Jane teased.

As Maura was checking the diaper bag to make sure they had everything they needed, Jane sidled up next to her, very close, so that James was all up in Maura’s space too, and he smiled, his one little tooth poking out of his gums. “Is Mommy the prettiest Mommy?” Jane murmured to their son, pressing her cheek to his and making an overly sweet face at Maura, batting her eyelashes.

“If you are trying to appeal to my vanity in order to get out of letting me play you are making a calculated error,” Maura said primly, but she couldn’t keep a smile off her face no matter how hard she tried, not when she had Jane and Jamie’s matching eyes peering brightly at her.

“I’ll let you play, I promise,” Jane conceded, kissing Maura on the cheek, simultaneously grabbing Jamie’s hand just before he could grab a fistful of Maura’s hair. “We’re gonna lose to narcotics anyways.” Maura narrowed her eyes into a glare and Jane chuckled. “I’m kidding.

“You really shouldn’t teach our son that winning is everything,” Maura advised, going into the kitchen to grab a few more things to place in Jamie’s diaper bag.

“I think we can wait until he’s at least a year old before we teach him to lose,” Jane jested.

Maura considered for a moment, and then nodded her head once. “That’s acceptable.”

Jane snorted. “All right, well do we need anything else? Or are we ready to go?”

Maura looked through the diaper bag one more time to make sure they had everything, and then confirmed, “Yes, I think we are ready to go.”

“Wait, just one more thing,” Jane said, rushing over to the couch, where she had left something sitting, and she lifted a tiny hat up and slid it onto Jamie’s head. Then she turned to Maura with a beaming smile. “All ready.”

Maura melted at the sight, Jane and James in their matching Boston Homicide baseball tees and hats, and it was everything she had imagined, when she’d been so eager to have Jane’s baby, to see her reflected in their child, and Jamie was all Rizzoli, so far. Quieter though, as Jane liked to point out. Half the time he didn’t cry when he woke, just laid in his crib and waited for his mothers to come check on him. It had made them both paranoid in the early weeks of bringing him home, but they had spent the last several months growing accustomed to being mothers and learning all about their son. It had been one of the most challenging things Maura had ever faced, and she didn’t always know the right answer, much to her chagrin, but she loved every minute of it.

They only arrived at the softball game fifteen minutes late, and that was something Maura was having to get used to too, being late more often than ever. Travelling with a nine month old came with a number of bumps in the road, and it was rare that they made it anywhere as early as they ought to.

Korsak was used to waiting for them though, still greeted all three of them with bright smiles the second he laid eyes on them rushing across the field. He took his sunglasses off and placed them on top of his head when they drew close, bending just a little to be eye level with where Jamie was held against Maura’s hip. “There he is! Come here, slugger!”

James immediately lurched in Maura’s hold, reaching his little arms out for his Uncle Korsak, and Maura swung him off her hip and handed him over, only cringing a little when Korsak tossed the boy up in the air. The first time he’d done it she’d nearly had a heart attack, but she was more used to it now, and Jamie always squealed with delight, and he wasn’t going that high in the air anyways. She often had to remind herself to relax when she so frequently wanted to place her son in a hermetically sealed bubble, where no harm could come to him.

“Did we miss anything good?” Jane asked Korsak while she was dropping their bags on the bench. Out on the field, homicide was up to bat, with another detective on second base.

“Not much yet,” Korsak distractedly answered, making faces at Jamie. “Jerry’s got a hell of a right arm. He’s struck out two of our guys already.”

“Let me get a crack at him,” Jane said eagerly, pulling on her batting gloves.

There was a ping as the homicide detective at bat finally hit the ball, a grounder that bounced past the pitcher’s mitt, just long enough to get the batter to first base and keep homicide in the game. Jane grabbed up her bat and leaned in to kiss Jamie on the cheek saying, “Kiss for luck.” Jamie squirmed and squealed, bouncing in Korsak’s arms, rolling his wrist in a mild imitation of his mother’s wave as she backed away from him with a grin.

“Get a move on, Rizzoli!” Jerry heckled from the pitcher’s mound, and all the boys on the field chimed in too. “We’ve been waitin' on you all day!”

Determined to make them wait longer now – and showing off for good measure – Jane stopped next to Maura and presented her cheek, smirking smugly as she repeated, “Kiss for luck?”

Maura rolled her eyes with an affectionate smirk of her own, and was half tempted to deny the request, but she gave her wife a kiss, eliciting a round of whistles from the field.

Satisfied, Jane went out to the plate and hit the first pitch, far enough outfield that she made it all the way to third base. Maura cheered from the sidelines, and then took James back from Korsak so the detective could go out and take the next pitch himself.

Homicide’s luck began to run out shortly after that. They got their third out, and when narcotics went up to bat, they got point after point, so that by the time homicide got up to bat again, they were far behind. James had long stopped paying attention, sat on the outdoor mat Maura had brought for him, playing with his toys, only mildly complaining when Maura stopped him periodically to reapply sunblock.

When Jane came in from the outfield, sweaty and dusty and annoyed, Maura offered her a bottle of water, which she drank from greedily. Then she knelt to play with Jamie for a moment while she was waiting her turn. While she was there, Maura told her what she had observed about the other team, that the left fielder had a bum knee and one of their hitters was susceptible to curve balls.

Then Korsak was calling for her. “Rizzoli! You’re up!”

“Thanks, babe,” Jane told Maura hastily, giving Jamie his toy back and hopping to her feet.

As she went, James watched her, outstretched his arm and called out to her, an unidentifiable babble, at first, and Maura encouraged him, telling him, “Cheer for Mama, Jamie. Cheer for Mama. Say go, Mama!”

She hadn’t expected him to suddenly mimic her with a stilted, “Ma – Ma – Ma – Ma –”

Maura gasped, leaning in close to make sure she was hearing him right, and Jamie kept going, kept looking for Jane and saying Ma. “God job, Jamie!” she praised him. “Good job, sweetheart! Oh, you’re such a brilliant boy, aren’t you?” She kissed him excitedly on the cheek and then started waving her arm at Jane, shouting across the field, “Jane! Jane!”

Jane was already up to bat, but she missed the first pitch as it came across the plate when she heard Maura shouting, whirling as it whizzed past her, squinting across the distance. Maura beckoned her over, and Jane dropped her bat and raced over, looking a little worried, but Maura was grinning.

“What is it? What happened?” Jane asked.

“Listen, listen,” Maura urged, shushing Jane and turning back to James, prepared to try and coax it out of him again, but she didn’t have to.

Jamie reached out as soon as Jane drew near, both hands up and shouting, “Ma – Ma – Ma!”

Jane nearly collapsed, mouth agape, kneeling down in front of their son, tearing her baseball cap off of her head to see him better. “Did he just say what I think he said?”

“Ma, Ma,” Jamie repeated.

Jane picked him up off the ground with excitement, peppering his cheeks with kisses and bouncing him up and down. “Thank god you got your mommy’s brain,” she exclaimed.

Maura chuckled as she rose up with them. Idly she noticed that their phones were ringing in Jamie’s diaper bag, but she ignored them for the time being, let herself be present for this moment they would never have again, Jamie’s first comprehensible words. “That is impossible in so many ways.”

“He got it through osmosis while he was in your belly,” Jane joked, beaming as she kissed Maura too and then James again.

Maura and Jane’s phones continued to ring persistently, and across the field Korsak was answering his own phone.

 Jane groaned and complained, “Do we have to? Let’s call in sick.”

Maura snorted as she knelt to fish their phones out of the bag. “I’m sure he’ll still be saying Mama when you get home.”

“But what if he forgets?”

Maura retrieved their phones, but before she could even answer, Korsak had jogged over to them, looking a little grave as he told them, “We’ve got another one. Same MO.”

He must have been talking about the case they had been working for the past several weeks, a serial killer they hadn’t been able to catch, who liked to torture and murder couples. Jane frowned at the thought and reached out for her cellphone, and Maura was even less eager to answer her own now. With this many bodies piling up, there would be even more pressure on them to find the killer and stop him, which meant they’d likely be working all night.

Once Maura had been given the details of where the crime scene was located, she told Jane, “I’ll call your mother.” Jamie would have to spend the night with his grandparents yet again, something that had become more and more frequent since these particular murders began to occur.

They had to go straight to the crime scene from the softball field, stopping halfway at a gas station, where they met Frank and Angela and passed James over into their care. Thankfully, Jamie didn’t fuss too much, which made the whole thing less difficult.

The scene was much the same as all the others, husband bound and gagged, a teacup fallen from his lap and his throat cut open, the wife raped and murdered, evidence that the killer had used a stun gun to subdue his victims. But still there was no evidence at the scene to figure out who was doing this. That is, not until Frankie entered – just as Maura was releasing the bodies to be taken back to the morgue – having questioned the victims' neighbors and discovered a possible break in the case.

“Neighbors across the street have got a front door camera,” he said, holding aloft a set of dvds. “The killer might be on here.”

“Great job, Frankie,” Jane commended him, taking the dvds in hand, eager to get back to headquarters and see what she could find. She and Maura drove back to BPD together, and separated at the elevators to do their own investigations.

When they reconnected several hours later, it was to share a pizza and their findings in the squad room. That’s when Maura heard all about what Jane and Korsak had found on those recordings.

“A flower van,” Jane explained through a mouthful of greasy, pepperoni pizza. “We’ve got footage of it parked on the street. No good image of the man getting in and out of it, but it’s registered to a Henry Clarkson. Obviously an alias because there’s no record of him before last year. But we’ve got an address for the flower shop that isn’t a flower shop, probably where he’s staying. We’re heading out there first thing in the morning. If we can get his DNA then we can nail him for this.”

It seemed simple, but it was anything but.

Korsak and Jane found this Henry Clarkson, brought him down to the station, questioned him and got no definitive answers from him, only well-planned excuses for being in the area of the murders. When they asked for his DNA, he gladly agreed to give it, but until the test came in, they didn’t have enough to arrest him and had to let him go. They kept a detail on him though, and kept investigating, and figured out that Henry Clarkson was actually called Charles Hoyt, and that he may very well be tied to similar crimes in several other states. When the DNA from the Boston crime scenes came up a match, they went and picked him up.

But at the bail hearing, Hoyt and his lawyer claimed foul play, that the DNA had not been tested correctly due to Jane and Maura’s relationship. It wasn’t the first time someone had tried that at trial, but normally Maura and her team were above reproach, and the judge didn’t let that excuse fly. But this time, Jane had been overheard telling the forensics team to put a rush on it, to make sure there was no mistaking Hoyt’s connection to the crimes, and there was a missing signature that made the DNA test look as if it wasn’t handled correctly, and the judge threw it out. Without the DNA to link Hoyt to the murders, there was no keeping him in prison without bail, and their trial was in hot water. Hoyt got the money for bail and was out on the street in hours, while Maura was being reprimanded by the governor for letting her employees slip up, and Jane and Korsak had to follow Hoyt themselves.

Except Hoyt knew what he was doing, must have known they were on his tail, and he managed to slip out of their sight at a busy intersection. Jane was beyond pissed, at herself and Hoyt and the entire series of events, even more so when she woke the next morning to a phone call about another murdered couple. So when the press showed up to the scene, asking why homicide hadn’t made the arrest stick, if they had let a murderer go free, Jane had spun, directing her voice straight to the camera, to the reporter, and said firmly, “Charles Hoyt is a killer, and it’s only a matter of time before we catch him. I will catch him, and he’s going away for the rest of his life.”

 That was Jane’s first mistake.

The second was going to work the next morning without waiting for Maura.

She had just been so frustrated and hell bent on finding Hoyt, and she had gone into work early, was dressed before Maura had even gotten out of bed, kissed Maura and told her she’d talk to her later. She had offered to drop Jamie at her parents' house on her way in, but Maura had insisted she’d take him when she went to work herself, and Jane had thought it all well and good, just another day, just a few hours they’d be separated.

She noticed around ten a.m. that Maura hadn’t texted or stopped by to see Jane on her way in, which wasn’t entirely unusual when they drove to work separately, but more often Maura would stop by with coffee or breakfast, or at least send Jane a text message saying she was in the building. Jane wasn’t too worried at first, thought maybe Jamie had been fussy that morning or Angela had been particularly talkative and Maura had gotten held up, but when Jane called Maura just to check, she received no answer, and no call back after ten minutes. Jane wasn’t prepared to send out a search party just yet, but when her phone rang not long after she had tried calling Maura a second time, she grabbed it up quickly and answered without checking the caller ID, thinking for sure it’d be Maura.

“Hey, there you are –”

Instead, their neighbor Anna’s voice came through the receiver saying, “Jane?”

“Anna?” Jane said in confusion. “Sorry, I thought you were Maura. Did you need something?”

Well, it was just something a little odd,” Anna began, and Jane rubbed her forehead in silent exasperation, wishing that Anna would get to the point, worried she’d miss Maura calling her back. “Lily and I ran into a delivery man that was at your house earlier and I didn’t see anyone letting him in, so I wanted to make sure you guys were okay with him being there. I tried Maura first but she didn’t answer –”

“Delivery man?” Jane interrupted, a sudden rush of adrenaline sparking inside her, wracking her brain in the brief seconds it took for Anna to respond, desperately hoping she had forgotten that they had something coming to the house, that Maura had ordered more shoes without telling Jane about it.

But then Anna continued, “Yeah, a flower delivery. At least, that’s what the van said, but I didn’t see any flowers, just a tarp, for landscaping I think, but then, we only saw him leaving. He told me to tell you that he looked forward to seeing you, but he kind of gave me the creeps. Is he a friend of yours? If I were you I would –

Jane didn’t hear the rest of what Anna rambled on about, in part because her ears were ringing, in part because she was already racing for the door, calling to her partner a desperate, “Korsak! He has her!”

And all she could think was no, no, no, not Maura, God not Maura and it was all her fault, it was all her fault. She had ruined everything, everything, because Charles Hoyt had Maura and it was all her fault and Jesus Christ what about Jamie? What about their son? What if Hoyt had taken him too? Done something to him? And Jane would die. She would die if anything had happened to her son and Maura and it was nothing short of a miracle that she didn’t just collapse, didn’t just disintegrate under the pressure in her head, in her chest, agony burning, searing, tearing her apart.

She burst into the front door of her home and she was shaking so hard she probably wouldn’t have been able to shoot the broad side of a barn door, but she raised her gun anyways, swept the house as she was trained to do, for the most part, moving on adrenaline and fear and muscle memory. She could hear Jamie wailing upstairs, muffled sounding, but he must have been screaming at the top of his lungs, and Jane followed the sound, up to his bedroom, and found the door locked.

Even more troubling was the trail of blood at the top of the stairs, which was smeared the length of the hallway, leading straight to Jane and Maura’s bedroom.

Jane was petrified to look, felt Korsak’s hand on her arm, heard him saying something in a sharp tone, warning her away, probably, trying to go first to spare her, but Jane shoved him aside, left her son within the safety of his room for just a moment longer, because she had to know, she had to see it with her own two eyes. If Maura was… Jane had to know.

She staggered down the hall like she was drunk, everything spinning and her limbs all heavy and numb and feeling like she was gonna puke. When she got to the doorway she stopped, and she looked quickly around the room once, looking for just one thing, hoping she wouldn’t find it, and both relieved and devastated not to. Maura wasn’t in the room, but it was clear that there had been a struggle, broken glass and overturned furniture, spots in the carpet that Maura would have called reddish brown strains but Jane knew was blood, and the autographed baseball bat Maura had gifted her was soaked red and lying on the floor.

“Maura,” Jane wailed, checking every nook and cranny to be sure, the closet and the bathroom and the yoga room. “Maura!” But Maura was gone.

Maura was gone.

After Jane left for work that morning, Maura dragged herself out of bed, feeling warn down after the last few weeks, but she let Jamie sleep in. His sleep schedule had suffered much as his mothers' had, and Maura wanted to make sure he got his rest.

Around eight a.m., she couldn’t put it off any longer, and she started up the stairs to go get James ready and take him to his grandparents’. She had made it the whole way up to the top of the stairs when she heard the front door clicking open, and she turned, confusion marring her brow, wondering why Jane would be coming home already, wondering if she had missed a message or a phone call while her phone was lying untouched on the kitchen island.

What she hadn’t expected was to see the face of Charles Hoyt staring up at her, and for a brief moment she thought that she was dreaming, that if she pinched herself or shook herself she’d wake up and find Jane sleeping next to her, find her home safe and free of killers. But this was no dream, the sudden shock and fear pulsing in her veins was all too real. Charles Hoyt was in her home, looking up at her with an evil, crooked smile, Charles Hoyt had her cornered and even a brain like hers couldn’t calculate a way out. She wasn’t a fighter like Jane, couldn’t take him in a hand to hand altercation, didn’t have a gun on her hip to aim at him, wouldn’t hardly know how to use one if she did. And Jamie, her son, he was lying in his crib unaware, defenseless, so small and so pure and all that she knew was that she had to protect him.

So she turned and ran.

She sprinted down the hall and stopped, only for a brief, brief moment, at Jamie’s bedroom door, and she turned the lock on the inside and pulled it closed. It wouldn’t keep Hoyt out, else she would have gone in and stayed there with Jamie, but it might deter him, might make him pay the room no mind. As long as Maura could keep him focused on her, her son might be spared, and no matter what hell faced her, she could endure whatever if it meant that monster never so much as laid eyes on Jamie.

Maura could hear Hoyt’s footsteps on the stairs, persistent but unhurried, and she moved away from Jamie’s door, went to the other end of the hall, and then lingered there long enough that Hoyt would see her going into her bedroom. Once inside her room, she cast her gaze all around, looking desperately for one last chance to save herself, something to use as a weapon, something that might deter Hoyt even for a moment. She thought about the scissors she had in the adjoining bathroom but she wasn’t sure she had the time to retrieve them and she’d have to get so close to him, either take him by surprise or over power him to even cause enough damage.

And then her eyes landed on the autographed baseball bat that she had bought for Jane years ago, that had been hung up above Jane’s dresser when she moved in months before they were married. It wasn’t in a glass case, only hung on two brackets screwed into the wall, and Maura lunged for it.

When Hoyt came through the doorway, Maura lifted the bat up over her head and swung it down onto his outstretched arm. He dropped the stun gun in his hand with a surprised shout, and Maura struck him again, this time on the shoulder, and he spun slightly, displayed his back to her, and she struck him again. He bent forward with a yelp, but by the time Maura brought the bat up over her head once more, he managed to adjust his footing and moved in too close, so that when Maura tried to hit him, she missed his head, and he threw his elbow into her ribs.

Maura grunted and backed hastily away, not helped by the heels she was wearing, stumbling and flailing to keep her balance. Hoyt took advantage, grabbed the bat with both hands, but Maura held on, desperately, fighting his pull, going back and forth, and Maura would have been concerned about her shoulders being yanked out of socket if she wasn’t so worried about her life, worried about what would happen if she lost her only weapon.

But she had known that she wouldn’t be able to take him in hand to hand combat, that she may have some strength from yoga and her morning runs with Jane, but she wasn’t adept at fighting, and her ability to do swan pose didn’t exactly supply her with the upper body strength she needed to over power a full grown, psychopathic man, no matter how desperate she was, no matter how hard she tried. Eventually, one of her hands came loose, Hoyt twisted the bat and her wrists at once, and shoved, hitting her in the chest and knocking her backwards. She tripped and lost her footing, and crashed into the full length mirror behind her, going down in a shatter of broken glass, idly feeling it piercing her skin, her sleeves, her two hundred dollar skirt, but her mind was on protecting herself, protecting Jamie, getting away from Hoyt’s grasp, and she tried to roll away, scrambling up onto her knees, but she never made it any farther than that.

Hoyt swung the baseball bat at her in retaliation, and it smacked against the side of her head. Her vision went black at once, all senses consumed by the stark agony ringing in her skull, and for a moment – long or short she had no idea – she knew nothing but pain, did not even have time to mourn her fate, barely even knew her own name in the seconds before she slipped into oblivion.

Frankie had often felt admiration for and jealousy of his sister in equal measure. He had strived to mimic in her in many ways, not just in the same profession, but in mentality. She was incredibly bright, could walk into a situation and quickly calculate all the possible outcomes before he could. It’s what made her such a good detective, and Frankie only hated being compared to her because he knew he’d never measure up. But he was inspired by the way she never gave up, and so he never did either, not when Jane had everything Frankie could ever dream of. She was the youngest homicide detective, had a beautiful, brilliant wife, and a son that looked just like her. Her life wasn’t perfect but it was pretty damn good. Frankie wanted that life, wanted to earn that life just as she had. Jane had always been so certain and strong and brave, was always five steps ahead of Frankie, was always so formidable, and maybe he had built her up in his mind a little, but she had never disappointed.

On the day that Maura was taken, however, Frankie saw Jane in a way he never had before, in a way he wished he never would, when her almost perfect life began to burn down. When he first got the call from Korsak, Frankie staggered out of his patrol car because he was certain that he would puke. And when he got to Jane and Maura’s house, rushed across the threshold and saw his sister on the floor, he had never been more devastated, had never seen her so devastated.

She was just sitting there, holding Jamie close against her chest, rocking him, soothing him, while she wept quietly, openly, her gaze unfocused somewhere across the room, eyes moving back and forth, like she was thinking too much, and Frankie could only imagine what was going through her mind, the grief that must have consumed her. She looked broken, and it was scary as hell. She was numb to everything else around her, the cops and crime techs noisily picking through her house, each of them carefully avoiding her, some of them casting her pitying glances now and then, like they knew her life was over, but it couldn’t be, could it?

Frankie didn’t know the right thing to do, didn’t know that there was a right thing to do, but he went straight to his sister and his nephew, both of them crying together and it made him want to cry too, but he held it together, his voice only a little hoarse as he knelt next to them and whispered a sorrowful, “Janie.” He gripped her shoulder and waited for her to slowly drag her dark, shattered gaze onto him. “We’re gonna get her back, Janie. We’re gonna get her back.” He would scour every street in Boston if he had to, he wouldn’t stop even if his shoes filled with blood. He wouldn’t stop until he found Maura, his sister.

Jane didn’t seem like she believed him, shook her head and sucked in a sharp, short breath, told him in a watery rasp, “I should have known. I should have known he’d come for her –”

“No,” Frankie tried to interject, “you can’t do that to yoursel –”

“I taunted him,” Jane went on. “I taunted him. In interrogation. On that stupid news broadcast. I pissed him off ‘cause I wanted so badly to catch him. And for what? He has Maura, Frankie. He’s gonna kill her and God –” she paused, forcefully swallowing like she was trying desperately not to puke, “and God knows what else. And she doesn’t deserve that. She doesn’t deserve it. It should be me. It should be me.

“Stop,” Frankie asserted, firm and quivering all at once, emotion creeping into his voice. He would probably be feeling the same way if he were in her shoes, but thinking like that would only make her reckless, more than she already was, but was there anyway to stop her, when her whole life was on the line? “Stop. You can’t think like that. You gotta think about Jamie now. He needs you –”

“He needs his mother,” Jane scoffed.

“You are his mother, and I’m gonna do everything I can to bring Maura back to you both. She’s strong and she’s smart and this isn’t over yet, you hear me? We’re gonna find her.” Preferably before it was too late.

“Jane!” A shrill voice called frantically from the threshold, and Jane and Frankie both turned to see their mother and father coming in the door, arguing with the police officer trying to hold them back. Frankie had called his parents on his way over, reluctantly telling his mother what had happened, knowing Jane would need the extra support while Frankie was out looking for Maura. Not that he expected Jane to sit back and do nothing, but if she couldn’t be convinced to stay out of it, even for a little bit, someone would have to watch Jamie at least.

At the sight of her mother, Jane wiped at the tears on her face, sucked in a shuddering breath, tried to sit up straighter and look like she wasn’t falling apart.

“Oh, Jane,” Angela commiserated as she reached them, dropping down next to Jane on the floor. “Oh, sweetheart, come here.” And Jane let her mother take her into her arms and hold her there for a moment, accepted the comfort even though she’d likely be squirming away soon.

Frankie stood up to give his mother room, and seeing that Jane was being looked after, he stepped back out of the living room, nodding grimly at his father standing uncertainly nearby, and going up the stairs to where the majority of the crime scene was located. His stomach turned at the sight of the blood trail in the hall, Jamie’s bedroom door busted through. He had only ever been into Jane and Maura’s bedroom maybe twice, and he was reluctant to enter it now. Already he could see the destruction, the horror and defeat his sister-in-law must have endured. The mirror in the corner was smashed and toppled over, a wooden baseball bat lay nearby, all of it bloody, all of it ruined.

“Looks like she put up a hell of a fight,” Korsak said from the other side of the room, moving over to join Frankie in the doorway, his voice a little bit choked, shaking his head.

“How the hell did this happen?” Frankie demanded.

“No sign of forced entry, but Jamie’s diaper bag and Maura’s purse are in her car, so we’re thinking she took it out there and came back in to get Jamie, left the door unlocked, and Hoyt just walked right in.”

“Did he do that to Jamie’s door?” Frankie questioned darkly, fists clenching at his sides.

“No,” Korsak answered. “That was me. The door was locked from the inside, kid was screaming his head off. Maura must have had time to lock it before Hoyt got to her. He carried her out in a garden tarp, but the neighbors saw him, got suspicious. Who knows if he had any plans to involve Jamie, but thank God he didn’t have the chance.”

“What are we gonna do?” Frankie despaired, now that his sister was out of earshot. “We gotta find her.”

“Yeah,” Korsak gruffly agreed, “and soon.”

“Come on,” Jane’s voice said suddenly behind them, gruff and hoarse, but steady, and Frankie turned to see her leaning in the doorway, eyes still red and darkened by shadow, but her face was dry and she looked resolute, resilient, more like herself, but scarier, somehow, murder in her eyes. “There’s nothing here that’ll help us. I’m gonna go find her.”

Chapter Text

November 2010

When Maura saw the van turning onto the street, with her wife somehow trapped inside, she moved without thinking. She sprinted over to her car, scrambled for her keys, and tore down the street after it. She had never driven like a maniac before and her sweaty hands were clenched tight around the steering wheel, her stomach was in knots, but she put the pedal to the floor and raced down the road. It was only maybe a mile into the chase when she realized she was being stupid. What was she going to do if she caught them? If she didn’t cause an accident and hurt herself or others first? If she followed the van, what would she do when they stopped? She had no weapon, no plan.

But she had to do it. She couldn’t leave Jane alone. She couldn’t let her disappear. Jane had come for her, had torn Boston apart looking for her when Hoyt had taken her years ago, and Maura couldn’t leave Jane to fend for herself.

She did, at least, have her cellphone on her, and in the midst of whipping around a corner – teeth clenching as she slid too far into the other lane and nearly swiped a car coming from the opposite direction – she fumbled for her phone. It took her a while to get Korsak’s number up when she was busy driving dangerously and trying not to lose sight of the van ahead of her, but eventually she got the phone ringing.

Maura?” Korsak answered on the third ring. “Was that you pulling out of the –

“Korsak, they have her,” Maura hastily interjected. “I’m following a van, Jane is in it, I think with Hoyt and his apprentice.”

“What? How –” Korsak dropped mid-question, and there was a commotion on the other end of the line. “Where are you?

“I’m on – um – turning onto Nashua Street. I think we’re about to go across the Charles River Dam.”

There was another pause, as Korsak barked orders to someone on his end before responding to Maura. “Hang on, Maura, we’re sending units your way. Do not approach them, you hear me? You hang back and keep safe.”

“I’m not leaving her,” Maura insisted, even as she doubted herself, even as she worried about Jamie and what would become of him if the worst happened to both his mothers, what would happen to her if she threw herself into this danger again. But she knew what it was to be held by Charles Hoyt, and she wouldn’t let that happen to Jane. She wouldn’t leave her to deal with it alone.

When the coroner van finally drove off the main road and onto one that was uninhabited, Maura stopped hanging back and being careful. There was no one else around to injure now, and the police hadn’t caught up with them yet. She had one last chance to make a move before it might be too late.

Breathing in deeply, trying to calm her nerves and steel herself, Maura sped up the car, swerved into the left lane and came up next to the van. Then she braced herself and, without over analyzing why this was probably a terrible decision, slammed her car into the side of the van. She could barely suppress a scream as metal collided in a horrifying screech and she was lurched side to side in her seat. The tires on her car skidded and rattled, and the van slid halfway off the road, but bounced back quick, colliding with Maura’s car and sending her flying off the other side of the road. Her left tire struck a ditch and spun her until her back bumper struck a tree and the car jolted to a stop.

Breathing too rapidly and heart thudding violently in her chest, Maura scrambled for the door handle and her seat belt and threw herself out of the car. She landed on the ground on her hands and knees, still half twisted up in her seat belt, rocks scraping her palms and shins, but she stumbled up onto her feet and spun around, blinking dizzily as the world quivered around her. She steadied herself and squinted in the darkness, and eventually she caught sight of the van again, saw the tail lights glowing up ahead. She saw the van stop, right in the middle of the road, and there was no one else for miles out here, and there was someone getting out of the van. And Maura had nothing to defend herself, and she had no idea when Korsak and the others would arrive, but she staggered forward, tried to be braver than she felt, to be strong for Jane, pulled the sharp-heeled shoe off her foot to brandish no matter how useless it was. She stepped out onto the road, put one foot in front of the other, and maybe it was stupid and maybe she was signing her own death certificate, but Hoyt’s memory had been tormenting her for two years, and this time, this time she would have a say in the narrative.

September 2008

“You cannot expect me to sit out of this!” Jane snapped as she rounded on Korsak, and she would put her fist through the window of her car and hot wire it if he didn’t give her keys back to her in the next ten seconds.

“Hoyt’s lawyer already used your relationship with Maura to screw up this case,” Korsak snapped back, bodily blocking the driver’s side door. “If you’re gonna be a part of this then you need to stand back and let me take the lead, otherwise this son of a bitch could walk, after all he’s put you through.”

“There’s not gonna be a trial if I get my hands on him,” Jane growled. Because she’d kill him, she’d fucking kill him for hurting Maura. If Maura was – if he had – she didn't even want to think about – God dammit why hadn’t she just stayed home that morning? Why hadn’t she just waited for Maura?

“And that’s why you can’t be running off on your own,” Korsak huffed. “Getting yourself arrested or killed isn’t going to help Maura. So get in the passenger seat, and let’s go.”

He turned around then and opened the door, got into the car and started the engine, and Jane ground her teeth, clenched her fists and tried not to scream into the open air. But she didn’t argue with Korsak because it would only waste time, time that Maura didn’t have.

They went back to headquarters and started the dreadfully long, horrible process of digging through traffic cams and neighboring cameras from Beacon Hill, looking to spot Hoyt, to find a clue, to figure out where he might take Maura. Jane’s only minor consolation was that she thought Hoyt wouldn’t have killed Maura yet, that he would take his time, that he would torment Jane for a while before he did the worst, that he might even try to lure Jane to him so he might be able to torture and kill them together. And wasn’t that just pathetic? That she was hoping that the psychopath keeping her wife would be deranged enough to hold onto her.

They had almost nothing to go on but they split up to track down every miniscule lead, following the path they thought Hoyt’s van had taken, driving up and down the streets of Boston, questioning everyone, seeking out surveillance cameras. Nearly all of BPD was on the case, cops flooding the streets searching for the medical examiner, but Hoyt was still five steps ahead of them.

Korsak got a phone call while they were out, some seven hours since Maura had been taken, and he answered it with a gruff, “What is it, Frankie?”

Jane turned, trying to listen, but she couldn’t hear what her brother was saying, could only see Korsak’s pinched expression and hear his wary response, “Where?” At Frankie’s answer, Korsak’s eyes locked with Jane’s, but she couldn’t read what he was thinking, and it felt like her chest would explode. “Do you know if it’s –? … All right, we’ll meet you there.”

Korsak ended the call and headed back for the car, gesturing for Jane to follow him without even telling her what was going on.

“What is it?” Jane demanded, falling right into step with him.

“A few unis found something.”

“Found what?” Jane pressed.

Korsak didn’t answer, reached for the door handle and started to pull it open, but Jane rushed over and smacked the car door closed, standing firmly in Korsak’s space, staring him down, sharply questioning, “What did they find? Tell me.”

Korsak inhaled deeply, shakily, and regretfully answered, “They found a body.”

Jane clenched her jaw, holding her breath. “Is it her?”

“Unis can’t tell,” Korsak admitted. “They don’t know Maura well enough. They only gave a description, blonde female of the right age.”

“But you think it could be her. Why? Where did they find her?” Korsak still hesitated to answer, and Jane reiterated, “Korsak, where?!

“The park where you were married.”

Jane inhaled sharply, and it was like her lungs and her heart had gone cold in her chest, like they had frozen stiff and begun to crack apart. When she went to move, her knees buckled and she fell against the hood of the car. Korsak grabbed at her elbow to steady her, but she shook him off, hoarsely tried to tell him, “Let’s go,” though her voice was so strained she wasn’t sure the words came out. She stumbled around the front of the car and slumped back into the passenger seat, eyes glazed over, seeing nothing, nothing but the image of Maura laying dead in the place they were married, Maura beautiful and still, that beaming smile she’d worn on their wedding day erased forever.

When they reached the park, Jane ran ahead even as Korsak barked at her not to, ran straight to where she knew the body must be, where Hoyt had known to put it. It was surrounded by police already, the same damn crime techs that had been at her house a few hours earlier.

Frankie was there, bent down to get a closer look at the body laying on display beneath a copse of trees, and he looked up at the sound of Jane’s hurried footsteps. He stood up at once, grim faced and worried and rushing forward to intercept her before she could get close enough. All she could see was an outline, and she wanted to think she knew her wife’s body well enough to know if it was her even without seeing her face, but her vision was so blurred she couldn’t even avoid running straight into Frankie, colliding with him, trying to look over his shoulder at the body but there were so many people in the way. People and a field of flowers, beautiful flowers, like the ones in her wedding photos, flowers that had bloomed even in the harsh Boston winter. If that was Maura in there… if it was Maura then Jane thought she ought to just lie down next to her in those flowers and never get up, let the soil take her.

“Janie,” Frankie huffed, pushing her back, moving his head this way and that to try and block her view. “Janie, you don’t wanna see this –”

“Is it her?” Jane rasped, tears pricking at her eyes, leaning heavily against her brother, fingers digging into his shoulders. “Is it her, Frankie? Tell me!”

Frankie pushed her out at arm’s length to look her directly in the eye, and God it felt like a century passed waiting for him to speak. “It’s not her. It’s not her.”

Jane collapsed in sheer relief, knees hitting the ground and her head dipping forward, and she shuddered bodily, took a long breath, closed her eyes and thanked God and felt guilt all at once, because a woman was dead but it wasn’t Maura and she couldn’t help feeling glad.

Jane had to pick herself back up, pushed Frankie away when he tried to help because she had to do it herself, she had to rebuild her strength and her resolve, because she was going to find Maura, before it was too late. Hoyt was playing with her, which meant Maura was still alive and Jane would not waste a single second feeling grief. Not while there was still a chance. Not while she still had fight left within her.

“Tell me someone saw him,” Jane croaked, clearing her throat and sniffing back her tumultuous emotions. “There’s no way he dropped a body here and nobody noticed.”

“We’ve got a witness,” Frankie confirmed, “and we’ve got detectives tracking down the van. Someone saw it on the news and called it in, said they saw it by the harbor.”

“Any idea who this is?” Jane asked about the body, the poor woman who had been killed just to make a point, just to torture Jane with thinking it was her wife. “How’d he have time to kill another woman?”

“He’s escalating,” Korsak said grimly as he moved to join Jane and Frankie. “I spoke with the unis that found her. She had her I.D. and her cellphone on her. He’s not even trying to cover any of this up.”

“Good, he’s getting cocky,” Jane muttered. “He’s gonna screw up.”

“He can’t have had her long,” Korsak went on, “but she’s wearing a wedding ring. There’s probably a spouse back at home that’s dead too.”

“Wait a minute…”Jane said, squinting at the rings on the woman’s finger, inching closer to the body to get a better look, and there was blood on the rings but no blood on the woman’s hand, and… Jane’s stomach lurched. “Those are Maura’s rings.”

The rings they had chosen together, after Maura had proposed, because Maura had given Jane a ring but Jane hadn’t gotten one for her, and Jane wasn’t stupid, knew it was difficult sometimes for her to get Maura’s taste right, so she and Maura had shopped together, until Jane had found the perfect ring, and Maura had agreed, and now that ring was bloody and connected to a dead woman.

Jane did not often pray to God, had not fallen on her Catholic faith more than a handful of times in her life, and maybe it was cheating to only pray now, when she was desperate, when she was so damn terrified, but in that moment she prayed anyway, because she would take any help she could get, and if there was a chance in heaven or hell that some higher power could help her, could spare Maura, she would not squander it with uncertainty. So she prayed to whoever was listening, prayed that Maura’s suffering would end and she would be brought some safely, prayed that Hoyt’s terror would be brought to an end, prayed for his victims' souls.

And then she got back to work, looking for clues to find Maura, because no higher power would do that for her, and they were running out of time. Whatever Hoyt’s plans, Jane doubted he’d keep Maura for longer than a day, and even if he did, Jane didn’t want to imagine what that would do to Maura, as if it wasn’t already bad enough. So she focused, not on her rage or her grief or her worry or regret. She focused on finding Maura, and she would not – could not – fail.

Maura woke slowly, gradually, over what felt like a very long period of time, her memory in shambles, confused, uncertain of what had happened and what was still to come, some part of her remembering Hoyt, remembering being abducted, but thinking, somewhat, that it might be some kind of dream, a vivid nightmare she had not yet woken from. Even as the haze began to lift, and she struggled to fight through the fog and figure out what was going on around her, she still could not sort out her senses or her memories. Her first solid thoughts were of Jamie, wondering what time of day or night it was and when she had fed him last. Surely he would be awake soon, surely she would need to get up and take care of him.

And then she became aware of a pounding ache in her skull, and she frowned in her half-asleep state, unsure what had brought on the headache and eager to find something to relieve it. That would require her to get up out of bed though, and she wasn't quite sure she was ready for that. Perhaps Jane would be nice enough to help her, that is, if Jane was even home yet.

What time is it?

Maura shifted lazily, intending to roll over and search for the time on her alarm clock, but it dawned on her then that something wasn't right. Whatever she was laying on was not her bed, or even her couch for that matter. The surface was far too rough and hard and...was it moving?

Maura became aware of her predicament all at once. She was definitely not at home, but rather, based on the way she was bouncing and shifting against the moving surface beneath her, she was laid on the floor of some sort of vehicle. It was suffocating underneath the heavy fabric laying on top of her, which she had previously assumed was her blanket, but which, upon prying one heavy eyelid open, turned out to be a black tarp. Her other eye flew open as panic and confusion began to consume her. She tried to suck in a deep breath of air through her nose, her mouth blocked by what she quickly realized was duct tape. That very same type of duct tape was wrapped tightly around her wrists and bound her legs and ankles together.

Cold fear swept through her and settled like a rock in her stomach. Her memory returned to her in a rush, reminding her of the moment she had caught sight of Hoyt in her front doorway, of the quick decision she had made to lock Jamie in his room and let Hoyt find her in the hopes that he would take her and pay no mind to her son, of the cell phone she had left in the kitchen earlier in the day and had been too late to reach in order to call and warn Jane. She remembered fighting Hoyt, trying to be braver than she felt, the vicious sneer that had overtaken his face as he looked at her, and the eruption of pain as she was struck across the face and promptly knocked unconscious.

Ruled by her own subconscious mind, Maura's bound hands rose to touch the spot on the side of her head where the pulsing pain from the blow originated. The contact caused her to wince and flinch away, her hands jerking back down to rest atop her stomach as the pain in her head briefly intensified. She felt her heart rate pick up, blood pumping loudly in her ears. Her breath quickened as panic began to overwhelm her and she struggled to breathe. She needed to get ahold of herself or she'd surely pass out from lack of oxygen. The tape over her mouth was hindering her from gasping in the amount of air her lungs were fighting to receive. Hyperventilating was not an option now. She needed to be awake, focused, she needed to escape.

But then a feeling of dread settled down upon her and for a moment she stopped breathing altogether.

She had been kidnapped by Charles Hoyt.

There was no escape.

She wasn't getting out of this alive because nobody ever did. She'd examined all of them on her autopsy table, and nothing in her seemingly infinite amount of knowledge was going to get her out of this. She wasn't strong like Jane was, she didn't have the sort of street-smarts that her wife did. She was a doctor, a scientist, she couldn't disarm a man or take someone down in a fistfight, proven now from Hoyt’s ability to overpower her earlier. Her logical mind knew all the reasons she couldn't possibly live through this experience and all hope she might have had left simply shattered around her.

The only thing that lacked sense was the fact that Hoyt had only captured her. She knew, of course, that he more than likely had it out for Jane after her public announcement promising to take him down, and Maura was no better because she was the one who had discovered the forensic evidence that would put him away. But Hoyt liked to torture couples, and there were thousands of those for him to choose from, so why just Maura? Why hadn't he come in the middle of the night and tortured Jane and Maura both, unless he was suddenly changing his M.O.? Surely he couldn't capture Jane...right? She had been at work when Maura was abducted, and she always carried her gun these days, always looking over her shoulder.

Whatever the situation, Maura was grateful if Jane had been left out of Hoyt's game at least. Of course, she would be devastated by Maura's death, but the important thing was that Jane would be alive, she would have Jamie, and she would never have to witness whatever Hoyt had planned for Maura. But then she thought about Jamie and was he safe? She had locked his bedroom door, but what if Hoyt had gone looking anyways? What if Jamie had woken to the commotion of Maura trying to fight Hoyt off and had started to cry? Jamie didn’t seem to be there with Maura in the vehicle, so she hoped it meant he had been spared, had to believe that he was safe at home, because to think anything else was unbearable. She had to believe that Jane had found him, that he hadn’t been alone for too long, that Hoyt had never touched him, but what if that wasn’t true?

Tears sprang to Maura's eyes and, had her mouth not been covered, she might have vocalized her grief. Instead her throat and chest vibrated from the attempt at sound, but whatever noise escaped was drowned out by the thrum of the vehicle's engine. She wept for Jane, her lovely, incredible wife, her best friend and the love of her life. She wept for Jamie, their beautiful baby boy, who she'd never get to see grow up. She thought of Angela and Frankie and Korsak, the people who had taken her in and loved her. She thought of her parents, whom she loved despite the strain in her relationship with them and she regretted having not seen them in months.

Maura was not ready to die, but she knew that it was imminent, and it was better she weep and come to terms with it now rather than later in front of Hoyt. If she could help it, she would not give him the satisfaction of seeing her this way. She would draw strength from the memories of her wife and their little boy. Believing that the two of them were safe was all the incentive she needed to keep some level of composure in front of the monster she'd soon have to face. She may not go down fighting in the way that Jane might, but she would still do her best to make Jane proud. She would disappoint Hoyt in this final action of his, because she would take plenty of his DNA with her into the afterlife and BPD would hunt him down before he brought anyone further harm.

Just as Maura was wiping the tears from her face with the backs of her hands, she felt the vehicle make an abrupt turn, causing her to roll into the back of the seats in front of her. She let out a quiet cry of pain and surprise, the sound once again muffled by the tape, and rolled back over onto her back as the vehicle began to bounce roughly across an uneven terrain that sounded very much like gravel. And then the vehicle came to a stop and she heard it being yanked into park. She felt fear bubbling up in the pit of her stomach despite herself, making her feel suddenly sick. The vehicle was shut off; the door creaked open and slammed closed.

Hoyt took his time going around to the other side of the vehicle, and by the time he pulled open the door that Maura concluded was right behind her head, she had already worked herself up into a state again, her breath coming in quick, shallow pants that left her shuddering and wheezing for air.

Well, so much for being strong.

A hand grasped the top of the tarp and threw it off of Maura's face, and her eyes squinted halfway closed at the sudden bright light filtering in through the open door. Hoyt's form cast a shadow over her and darkened his face, but she could still see the malicious smile there, and she was frightened into a silent stillness while he cheerfully said, “Good morning, Doctor.”

She could only stare back up at him in terror as he bent over and grabbed her under the arms, dragging her out of the back of what she now realized was a van, but not the flower van she had seen on security tapes, a nondescript van that could have come from anywhere. The toe of one of Maura's heeled shoes caught on the tarp still draped over her lower half, and pulled it halfway out of the van with her. Just before her feet hit the ground, she realized that her other heel was gone, leaving her with only one shoe on, and her bare foot landed in a patch of cold, wet, mud.

Once fully outside and having been twisted away from the van, Hoyt's arms still hooked under hers, Maura was startled by the complete brightness of the sun, her eyes squeezing closed of their own volition as the white light burned her retinas and enhanced the pounding in her head.

"Lovely weather we're having today, don't you think?" Hoyt commented nonchalantly, as if he wasn't planning on brutally killing her.

He began to drag Maura forward, holding her tight against his side, his breath hot and uncomfortable on the back of her neck. Maura carefully pried her eyes open, taking in her surroundings and finding that they appeared to be on a fairly regular street, an old house looming before them. But from what she could see of the other houses on the block, many of them looked abandoned, and there was no one milling around that might help her. When her remaining heel got stuck in the mud, she let it slip right off of her foot, hoping that maybe, if the police happened to come looking for her, they might catch sight of it and figure out where she was, assuming that Hoyt didn’t get rid of it – or her – first.

Hoyt took her around the side of the house to a pair of cellar doors, and her stomach lurched, thoughts of what was to come overwhelming her, and she instinctively attempted to yank herself from Hoyt's grasp. But she couldn’t manage much because it felt like her brain was bouncing around in her skull – she thought she must surely have a concussion – and he laughed at her weak attempts, pushing her where he wanted her to go, and all she could do was stumble along with him awkwardly.

He dragged her down the stairs and into a musty, unfinished basement, piping exposed and a layer of dust on most surfaces. It was bitterly cold down there, colder than it was outside, and Maura shivered, keenly feeling the absence of her coat and shoes, her wet foot. There was a dirty mattress on the floor, and Hoyt took her there, forced her onto her knees, and Maura clenched her jaw, focused her eyes on a spot on the floor and tried to think of something, anything else, of Jane’s smile and Jamie’s laugh, of how safe and warm she felt in Jane’s arms, the way Jamie’s hair smelled after a bath. She wanted to remember all the good things she’d had in her life, not the smell of Hoyt’s sweat or the feel of his hand gripped tight around her neck.

He grabbed her left hand from where it was clenched into a fist at her waist, and yanked it up. “Open,” he ordered her, and in his other hand he held a scalpel in front of her face, “or I’ll remove the finger completely.” He’d need more than a scalpel to cut through bone, but she didn’t doubt he’d have the right tools, or go out of his way to get them, so she opened her hand.

In a flash, Hoyt had moved the scalpel across her palm, cutting deep into her flesh, and Maura cried out, flinching away, trying to pull her hand back, but Hoyt grabbed onto her wrist and held her hand open, let the blood spill down her fingers and wrist, dripping onto the mattress beneath her. He roughly pulled her wedding rings from her finger, and Maura tried to hold on, to grab them back. If she was going to die she wanted to hold onto the one thing she had left to feel connected to Jane, but she was still sluggish and tied up and Hoyt took them for himself.

“I’ll need these,” he said, and she felt him step back from her, heard something metallic clinking as he rustled through a bag he’d brought with him, but she was staring at her bleeding palm and the empty space on her ring finger. “I’m sorry to run so soon, Doctor, but we’ll have plenty of time to spend together as soon as I’m finished. Why don’t you rest until I get back?”

Maura did turn then, blinking slowly, but all she saw was a brief glimpse of a needle just before Hoyt plunged it into her neck, and then, once again, she could do nothing but watch as if from somewhere outside of her body as her vision blurred and her body slackened, and she lost all ability to think or feel or do as she succumbed to the dark embrace of unconsciousness.

Maura had been missing for thirteen hours before they finally caught a break.

After dumping the body of the woman in the park, Hoyt had also left behind his van, where they found one of Maura’s shoes and blood that tested positive for her DNA. Oddly, though, there was no trace of the dead woman’s DNA, and Hoyt had to have moved Maura elsewhere before he abandoned that flower van, because there was no way he had her walking through the streets of Boston without someone noticing. Maura’s picture was all over the news and she was clearly bleeding from some kind of wound. The witnesses that had seen Hoyt in the park shortly before the woman’s body was found hadn’t seen anyone else with him either.

That’s how they found out about the second van, the one that had been stolen some time earlier that morning, and which they managed to track through traffic cams to within a ten mile radius.

But ten miles in every direction was a lot of ground still to cover, and they didn’t have someone like Maura to find some random residue on the body or in the flower van that might narrow down their search. Dr. Pike was barely handling the autopsy, let alone anything else, and Jane didn’t have the time to coerce him into looking in the right places. Instead, she did what she did best and struck the pavement, searching every possible area for any sign of Maura or Hoyt, communicating with the rest of BPD scouring the streets and the labs looking for clues.

It turned dark and cold while they were still searching, temperatures dipping below thirty degrees that night, and it had been nearly sixteen hours since Maura had been abducted, and Jane was not losing hope but she was struggling. It had been too long, and for all she knew she could be looking in the wrong location, and what if she never found Maura? What if she found her but it was too late? She couldn’t go back to that house, back to Jamie and her family, and look them in the eyes and tell them she had failed, to look at all that she and Maura had built together and not feel like her heart was being ripped right out of her chest. For years she had never expected to find anything like the love she felt for Maura, their connection and their understanding, the way they knew each other inside and out, and to lose that would be worse than losing a limb, would feel like her whole body was breaking apart. It didn’t make sense to exist in a world without Maura.

She just needed a clue, a break, something that would lead her in the right direction. She just needed one more chance to save her wife, just one, and she would do anything, anything to make it right.

And then she got a call from headquarters.

Detective Rizzoli?” an unfamiliar voice came through her phone. “This is Detective Frost. I’m sorry to bother you, but I think I might have something that will help.”

“Detective who?” Jane asked, racking her brain for a Frost and coming up empty.

Recent transfer into BRIC,” Frost supplied. “We haven’t met, but everyone here is working this case and your brother asked me to look into something.”

“Well what is it?” Jane questioned, long past impatient.

Your neighbor, a, uh, Anna Schofield, said that when she spoke with Charles Hoyt she asked him if he was doing work for Dr. Isles, and Hoyt responded, ‘She saw some of my work when I was just starting out. I hope she’ll be pleased with my improvements.’ Officer Rizzoli and I thought that was a little odd, but we’ve already been through cases with Hoyt’s signature, so I started searching through old cold cases. I found something that isn’t exactly Hoyt’s M.O., which is why it didn’t come up in our initial search. But it’s a husband and wife that were found dead in their home, only the killer set the place on fire when he left and there was no DNA left behind to test, but they were definitely dead before the fire. It’s from 2003, so it was one of Dr. Isles's first cases in Boston, and she ruled it a homicide, but the detectives on the case never found a good suspect.”

“And you think Hoyt was referencing that case?” Jane deduced. “That it might have been his work?”

Well I looked up the address, and it falls within the ten mile radius you guys are searching. The house where it took place was never rebuilt, but all the houses on that street and the connecting two blocks are nearly identical. It could be nothing, but –”

“No, I think you might be right,” Jane interjected. “Send me that address. Thanks, Detective Frost.”

Frost texted Jane the address, and she raced over there, told Korsak to check the next street over, praying that this was the break she was looking for, but still uncertain of where to start outside of scouring every inch of every house, which would take too long.

And then she saw it.

The matching blue heel to the one they had found in the flower van, just lying in the yard of an inconspicuous looking house, one of ten other abandoned houses on the street. And as soon as the glare of her flashlight fell upon that shoe, she knew.

Jane didn't wait for back up.

How could she when she knew where Hoyt was keeping her wife? She called Korsak on the radio, told him where to find her, but he was a block away and she didn't have time to wait for him or anyone else. She couldn't possibly wait another second. God only knew what Maura had endured in the last sixteen hours since she had been reported missing, and there were no more minutes to spare, not when it could mean the difference between Maura living or dying.

So Jane stepped up onto the porch, solid grip on her gun, eyes moving rapidly, searching, footsteps quiet and careful. She crept in through the front door, wincing when it creaked, but the blistering wind made the whole house screech so she hoped it’d go unnoticed. She searched the house frantically, up the stairs and through every room, trembling but senses heightened, coming up with nothing until at last she discovered the open door to the basement. There was a dim light leaking across the room, but no sound, and Jane sucked in a quiet breath before ducking her head and taking the first step down the stairs.

She traversed the stairs quickly but carefully, gun raised and senses on high alert. She would not falter despite the knee-shaking fear that was racing through her. She would not fail Maura. Not this time. Not again. There were dark shadows in every corner and her head was on a swivel, looking for Hoyt, looking for Maura.

She had only just made it to the bottom of the stairs when she heard a muffled cry.


Jane swerved in the direction of the sound, her finger pressed against the trigger of her gun, but she pulled it away just as fast. There in the corner of the basement was Maura, her wrists, ankles, and mouth bound by duct tape. She was laid out on a dirty mattress, and her pale skin was smeared with blood, her hair caked with it, and she looked at Jane with teary eyes wild with fear.

"Maura!" Jane whimpered, in relief and in grief, and she lurched forward, arm outstretched towards her wife while the hand that held her gun dropped back down to her side, all thought of Hoyt and danger escaping her mind for just a brief second, a second long enough to drop her guard and screw the whole thing up.

Maura was shaking her head violently, eyes wide and focused on something behind Jane's back as she tried to shout through the tape over her mouth. "Mmnnne! Nuuuu!"

And Jane had only a moment to realize her mistake before she felt something hard slam into the back of her head. She hit the ground hard, her gun flying from her hand and skittering across the floor, her ears ringing and spots dancing across her vision. She tried to lift her throbbing head, tried to reach for her gun, but all she managed was one last glimpse at Maura's terrified face before she blacked out.

When she drifted back into consciousness, she was on her back on a cold, stone floor, and there was a weight over top of her, the stink of sweat in her nose, and she shook herself awake, eyes fluttering open, and she flinched back at the sight of Hoyt right in front of her, dragging the flat end of a scalpel across her cheek.

“So nice of you to finally join us, Jane,” he hissed at her.

He was holding one of her wrists down and he was pinning her legs to the floor, but one of her hands was free and she curled it into a fist, swung it at Hoyt’s face, but he leaned back and she missed, and as she tried to swing again, he held open her other hand and stabbed his scalpel straight through her palm.

Jane screamed, back arching off the floor, eyes rolling back, agony racing up her arm, the whole way up into her neck, down in her gut. When he plunged a second scalpel into her other hand, it was like a rock was lodged in her throat, choking her, her whole body stiff and burning and all she knew was pain.

But the weight lifted off of her, and Hoyt was no longer above her, and that meant he was somewhere else, he was with Maura.

Jane twisted her head around to look, saw Hoyt kneeling over Maura, and Jane shouted, strained against the scalpels pinning her to the floor, pulled and pulled and her skin was ripping apart but she had to stop him, had to get to Maura –

A bang rang out loud and piercing, echoing off the walls, and Hoyt slumped over, and there was a rush of blistering wind blowing in through the now open cellar doors, and there was Korsak, gun in hand, dark scowl on his face, and Jane shuddered out a guttural cry. Maura. Maura. And then darkness crowded her vision again.

In all his years on the force, Korsak was sure he had never seen something as gut-wrenching as what he witnessed upon entering that basement.

Jane, his partner and his friend, lay bleeding on the floor, scalpels stabbed through each of her hands to hold her in place. She was screaming and flailing, though not because of her injuries, but because of what was happening just a few feet from her. Jane's wife and Massachusetts's own Chief Medical Examiner was duct taped and battered and laid out on a dingy mattress. The brutal rapist and murderer, Charles Hoyt, hovered over her, one arm holding down her squirming form while his free hand dragged a scalpel down her chest, like he planned to cut her open right there, with her heart still beating in her chest. He was leering at Jane, reveling in her pain, in Maura’s, and it took him a second to notice the cellar doors opening behind him, and when he turned to look, Korsak did not hesitate to fire two rounds at the disgusting son of a bitch.

Hoyt fell over on his side, next to Maura, half slumped over her legs, and was still.

Korsak rushed forward and reached Jane first, but he'd hardly managed to stoop next to her before she was gasping blearily, "Maura...Maura...get Maura..."

So Korsak went to Maura, who was shaking so badly he thought for a second she might be having a stroke or a seizure or some other horrible, terrible thing, just to make the whole situation even worse. But it must have been the cold and the fear and the shock, and Korsak heaved Hoyt's body away from her before quickly stripping off his own coat. Maura was glassy eyed and breathing too rapidly, and she started up at Korsak with wide, terrified eyes, as if she'd never seen him before, and when he went to cover her with his coat she shrank away from him.

"Shh, shh, it's all right," Korsak soothed, voice low so as not to startle her. "It's just me, Doc, it's Korsak. You're safe now."

Maura was still trembling violently, but she managed a slight nod, allowed Korsak to gently wrap his coat around her. Even more carefully, he removed the duct tape from her mouth, and then began working on the tape around her wrists and ankles. “Jane,” she whimpered, trying to sit up, swaying. Her hair was matted with blood from a visible head wound, and Korsak had to hold onto her arms as she tried to make her way across the room to Jane.

He watched with a heavy heart as Maura collapsed against Jane's side, losing what must have remained of the adrenaline that had kept her moving. They tucked their heads together and that seemed to be all they could do, with Jane pinned to the floor and Maura barely mobile, and Korsak wished that he could do more for them, but all he could do was remain by their sides as the other officers and EMTs flooded onto the scene.

When they announced that that bastard Hoyt still had a pulse, Korsak had to grind his teeth and focus on Jane and Maura to keep from acting on the impulse to stop them from saving Hoyt’s life, had to hold onto Maura while they tore Jane’s hands free from the floor, helped the EMTs put Maura onto a stretcher and carry her up out of the cellar.

With her hands wrapped and somehow still standing, by sheer force of will, Jane climbed into the back of the ambulance to ride with Maura, who was barely conscious and on the verge of hypothermia. Korsak followed them the whole way to the hospital, and promised Jane he’d stay with Maura when the pair of them were inevitably separated. Frankie caught up to them shortly after, and Korsak told him where to find Jane, and then there was nothing to do but sit and wait for news, to sit vigil while Maura shivered herself into a restless sleep as the doctors tended to her, while his partner’s damaged hands were being stitched up in another room, while Hoyt was being needlessly saved on the floor below.

And four months later, Jane had a new partner and Maura tried to return Korsak's coat to him. And even though it was dry-cleaned and smelling fresh and looking newer than when he first bought it, he still took it home and burned it.

Chapter Text

September 2008

For the first twenty-four hours of her stay in the hospital, Maura was rarely conscious. She was being treated for the onset of hypothermia and a concussion, hooked up to IVs and enduring various tests. Her scalp needed stitched up from the blow she had sustained to her head, but the rest of her physical wounds, at least, were mostly superficial. Hoyt had been mostly busy with trying to throw BPD off of his trail and tormenting Jane with another woman’s body that he hadn’t had much time to spend with Maura, and because he was hoping Jane would show up, had left just enough clues to make sure she would, he had saved all of his worst plans for Maura and had not been able to carry them out.

Thanks to Korsak, who Jane could hardly look in the eye now. She was beyond grateful for him, knew that he had saved her and her wife from the worst fate, but he had seen her weak, and damaged, and how could he ever trust her to watch his back now? Before, they had been partners, equals, but now she was a victim and he her savior, and Jane knew she couldn’t be his partner anymore, that it wouldn’t be right.

That is, if she could ever return to work at all. Hoyt had stabbed clear through both her hands, cutting through muscles and nerves, and there was a possibility of recovery, but there was also the possibility that she’d never regain function in her hands again. Without her hands, she couldn’t be a cop, right now she couldn’t even hold onto Maura or pick up her own son, and it felt like her whole world had been disrupted, turned on its head, and she was still reeling from it all. She hated the waiting, the unknowing. They wouldn’t know if Maura’s head wound had caused irreparable damage for a few more days, and they wouldn’t know if Jane’s hands would heal for a few more weeks, and everything was up in the air.

Except, they were alive. Maura was alive and Hoyt hadn’t raped her and that bastard would rot in prison now, and Jane was glad. She wished, maybe, that Korsak’s bullets would have killed Hoyt and that she would have found Maura sooner and that she wouldn’t have slipped up and let Hoyt destroy her hands, but Maura was alive and she was safe and Jane could breathe at last.

When Maura finally woke, no longer delirious and bleary eyed, but looking at Jane with steady recognition, Jane could have wept with relief. She wished desperately that she could have held onto Maura’s hand or her arm or something, but all she could manage was lightly touching her bandaged hands to Maura’s shoulder, leaning in to press her forehead to Maura’s.

“Hey,” Jane rasped, kissing Maura’s cheek, only leaning back so she could look in her eyes, to be reassured once again that she was awake and okay.

“Hey,” Maura replied groggily, clasping a clumsy hand around Jane’s sleeve, holding on tight, and there was worry mounting in her eyes. “Jamie? Is he okay?”

Jane nodded immediately. “Yeah, yeah, he’s just fine. You did good. Hoyt never went near him.”

Maura exhaled in relief, closing her eyes briefly, whispering, “I couldn’t fight him off. I –”

“You survived, Maura,” Jane asserted. “You did everything you could. I’m just sorry I didn’t find you sooner. I’m sorry I let him hurt you – I should have known –”

Maura shook her head and then winced, but insisted, “No, it’s not your fault. I’m just so glad to see you.” Her eyes filled with tears and she grabbed the back of both Jane’s shoulders and pulled her down into a tight, contorted hug, and Jane felt pressure building in her own eyes, her chest, the weight of all of it overwhelming.

“I was so scared,” Jane confessed in a teary whisper, face pressed into Maura’s neck. “I thought I had lost you.”

“I never thought I’d see you again,” Maura murmured back, stroking the back of Jane’s head, still sensitive from where Hoyt had struck her with a wooden board, but it was soothing to feel Maura’s fingers trailing through her hair.

Jane turned her head, placed her injured hand on Maura’s cheek and kissed her firmly, desperate for the heat of her, to keep reminding herself again and again that Maura was safe, Maura was alive. This wasn’t a dream she was about to wake up from and find herself still in a nightmare. This part was real too, Maura was real.

Maura seemed just as desperate, clinging to Jane, kissing her hard. At least, until she seemed to remember, pulling back at once and clutching at Jane’s wrist, carefully moving the damaged hand into her eye line with a sad frown. “Oh, Jane, your hands…”

Jane shrugged, suppressing the urge to pull her hands away and hide them. “I’ll live.”

“What did the doctors say?” Maura pressed. “How bad is it?”

“They said a lot of words you’d understand better than me, but I’ll have to do some physical therapy and see how it goes. The doc thinks I’ve got a good chance of regaining function, since I’m young and healthy and all that, but we’ll see. For now I’m just kind of useless.”

“No,” Maura said, shaking her head, cradling Jane’s hand in both of hers, “not useless. You’ll overcome this. I know you will.”

“How are you feeling?” Jane turned it around, stroking Maura’s forehead with her thumb, avoiding the head wound they’d had to sew up, a patch of her hair missing now.

“I feel… like I’m not in my own body,” Maura answered slowly. “Everything that happened… it’s muddled, in my head. I’m not even sure… I was unconscious for so much of it. How long was I…?”

“He had you for about sixteen hours,” Jane quietly informed.

“How did you find me?”

“An old case you worked, one we think might have been him, five years ago. It happened nearby where he had you. It wasn’t really his M.O., so we didn’t catch it at first. Once we did, I found your shoe in the yard of that house, and I knew you had to be in there.”

“How’d you tie the case to him if it wasn’t his M.O.?”

“When he took you from our house, he talked to Anna –”

“Anna?” Maura interrupted with a sharp inhale. “Is she okay?”

“She’s fine, she’s fine,” Jane assured. “But she thought it was weird that he was there. She’s the one that called me. And when she talked to Hoyt, he told her that you saw some of his earlier work.”

“That’s still very vague.”

“Yeah, but a Detective Frost in BRIC put it together. I owe him like, seventy-five beers now.”

“I’ll have to thank him myself,” Maura sighed, lying back against the pillows, looking weary, and Jane decided she’d tell Maura the rest of it later, when she had healed.

“Why don’t you get some more rest?” Jane suggested. “I’ll call Ma, tell her to bring Jamie later so you can see him, yeah?”

Maura nodded slowly and agreed, “Yeah. Yes, I want to see him. But, Jane… my wedding rings – Hoyt –”

“It’s okay,” Jane reassured again. “We got ‘em back. I’ll make sure you get ‘em soon.” After they’d been thoroughly cleaned.

With that, Maura let her eyes flutter closed, but they sprang back open a moment later, breath quickening. “Jane… I remember… a gunshot… is he…”

“He lived,” Jane muttered regretfully, “but he’s hurt bad and he’s restrained and he isn’t getting out of it this time. You’re safe, okay? I promise.”

Maura nodded, exhaling slowly, reaching out to squeeze tight to Jane’s wrist, and she held on until she fell back into a fitful sleep.

Later that afternoon, Angela and Frankie arrived with Jamie, who was squirming fitfully in his grandmother’s arms the second he caught sight of his mothers. Jane stood up at once, lifted her arms for half a second before she remembered, dropping her damaged hands back down to her sides and leaning back against Maura’s bed. Jamie had his eyes on Maura anyways – Jane had seen him the night before, when Maura was still too unwell for visitors, but Jamie hadn’t seen Maura in over two days and he was reaching for her, stretching out of Angela’s hold.

“Mumumumum,” Jamie babbled, his little hands grabbing at the air like he thought it’d make him reach his mother faster.

Maura nearly burst into tears, sitting up in bed and holding out her arms as Angela carefully placed Jamie into her hold. “Oh, my love,” she murmured into his dark hair, kissing him over and over and holding him close, and Jamie basked in the affection, had no idea why they were in this strange place or why he had been without his mothers but he was happy to be with them now.

But Jamie was just a baby and he was a little too rough, trying to tug on the ends of Maura’s hair, and Jane reached out to gently tap his hand away, murmuring, “Careful, baby.” And Jamie grasped onto Jane’s fingers and held on, clinging to both his mothers, and Jane was just relieved that he was too young to be traumatized by any of it, to know that his mother had been abducted by a monster. Jane had not been able to protect Maura from this nightmare, and she would regret that for the rest of her life, but at least Jamie had been spared.

Angela couldn’t stand on the sidelines for long, reaching for Maura’s hand and asking, “How are you, sweetheart?”

“I’m okay,” Maura said with a tired smile. “Thank you, Angela, for taking care of James.”

“He’s been just fine,” Angela assured, stroking the boy’s hair. “He missed you very much.”

“I missed him too,” Maura said with a quivering lip, gazing at her son with such love and sorrow.

“Maura?” a voice at the door interjected, and Jane and Maura both turned to look in surprise, but Angela and Frankie seemed nonplussed.

Mom?” Maura said, watching Constance slowly entering the room, looking cautious, like she expected something to jump out at her.

“Mumumum,” Jamie echoed.

“I called her,” Angela admitted.

“And I’m glad she did,” Constance added, finally reaching Maura’s side, and there was concern there, love even, but it was awkward. Maura and her mother’s relationship had improved in recent years, but it still wasn’t the kind that provided for an easy comfort. “I came as soon as I could. Are you all right, darling?”

“I’m okay,” Maura repeated, like if she said it enough times it might be true, and Jane didn’t doubt that even Constance and Angela could see through it, but they didn’t press.

“Hello, James,” Constance said to the little boy who was waving his fist around trying to get her attention. She patted his shoulder in greeting.

“Any idea when they’ll let you outta here?” Frankie asked Maura.

“Soon, I hope,” Maura answered. “I’m not impressed with the bedding here.” She frowned down at the sheets, pinching them between her thumb and forefinger and wrinkling her nose.

“Oh I can fix that,” Constance decided.

And before Maura could even begin to protest, “Oh, you don’t have to –” Constance was off, heels clicking in her wake, and they could hear her harassing nurses in the hall.

Maura looked like she wanted to stop her, but Jane soothed, “Ah, let her fuss. Maybe it’ll get you a good blanket for tonight.”

“So another night here?” Frankie questioned.

“Yeah, but the doctors said she could probably leave tomorrow morning if she tests out okay,” Jane explained for Maura.

“Hopefully I’ll start to feel more like myself once I’m home,” Maura sighed.

“Don’t you worry about a thing,” Angela said, patting Maura’s knee. “You just need some rest in your own bed, and Frankie and me will help with Jamie.”

“Speaking of going home,” Jane suddenly realized, “Ma, I need you to grab a few things for me.” Jane began to walk towards the doorway, out of Maura’s earshot, gesturing for her mother to come with her, and Angela seemed a little perplexed but followed.

Angela started to ask, “What are you –”

“Ma, I hate to ask,” Jane cut in, “but I can’t bring Maura home without… and right now I can’t…” she looked down at her useless hands and shook her head. “I can’t clean up and I don’t want her to – ”

“Jane,” Angela interrupted, clasping her daughter’s wrist, “I already took care of it. I scrubbed the floors and the walls and your father fixed Jamie’s door and we cleaned up the mirror. We’ll have to get you a new one, and it might be a good idea to paint some of the walls, I might have used a little too much bleach –”

“Ma,” Jane wearily interjected, before her mother could go on, “thank you. I appreciate it, really. All of it.”

Angela waved her off. “If you want to thank me you can quit this dangerous job of yours before I have a heart attack.” She was tentatively teasing, but Jane could hear a note of seriousness in the request too.

And it wasn’t like Jane hadn’t considered that, considered what this job could have cost her, that she could have lost Maura and Jamie both in the blink of an eye, but she liked being a detective. She was good at it, and what else could she possibly do? Then again, if her hands never worked again it wouldn’t matter what she wanted. The decision would be made for her.

But right now she couldn’t think about the job or her hands. She could only think about Maura, about what Maura would need. Jane didn’t know what she could do, but knew that she had to do something, that bringing Maura home after what she had endured wouldn’t be simple, that they couldn’t just go back to normal, no matter how much they might want to.

They were home for all of a week before Jane felt like she was going crazy.

Maura wouldn’t go upstairs at all, so they were sleeping in the guest room downstairs, but it didn’t feel right and Jane couldn’t sleep there. She couldn’t sleep, and she woke to every creak of the house and Maura’s restless shifting from one side to the other, kept getting up to check the locks and the security alarm and the windows. And her mother and Maura’s mother had not left, not once, except for the time Angela went to the store for groceries. And since Maura wouldn’t sleep upstairs, she insisted on Jamie sleeping downstairs with his mothers so he was sleeping in the guest room too, which was fine because Jane wanted to keep an eye on him too, but it was different and confusing so Jamie wasn’t sleeping well either.

Constance was in the guest house and Angela was in Jane and Maura’s room, and Frankie was coming over and falling asleep on their couch most nights, and the house was too full. On the one hand, it barely gave Jane time to think too much about Hoyt or all the things she was worried about, but it also didn’t give her the silence she needed to think, period. She was just going through the motions, being waited on hand and foot, like she had forgotten how to take care of herself, like she didn’t even want to. She hated that her hands didn’t work, that her independence had been shattered, that she couldn’t even take care of her family, and it was easier to just let her mother and Constance take care of everything.

But eventually, it got to her. She had been sitting on the couch with Maura, both of them mindlessly staring at whatever was on the TV, Jamie napping in his bassinet within eye sight, Angela and Constance chattering away in the kitchen. Then Maura started to stand, saying that she was hungry, but Angela stopped her, insisted she’d bring food to the couch for her. Then Jane reached for her glass of water, but even with both hands around the glass, her grip was still weak and she dropped it. She cursed and started to get up, to go get a towel and a new drink, but Constance came rushing over saying, “No, no, I’ve got it!”

Constance grabbed the cup on the floor and pushed Jane back down onto the couch. And Jane smiled and thanked her and waited until Constance was back in the kitchen. Then Jane turned to Maura, who happened to be turning to Jane too, and both of them hissed at the same time, “Your mother is driving me nuts!”

“You knew what you were getting into with my mother when you married me!” Jane whispered to Maura. “Your mother was supposed to be distant and aloof!”

“Well you’re the one that told my mother to be more involved!” Maura argued under her breath, checking over her shoulder to make sure Angela and Constance weren’t listening. “And your mother is the one that called her!”

Jane opened her mouth to protest, but she stopped, uncertain, and then she shut her mouth. “Fine,” she mumbled, “but I’m telling them they need to get out.”

Maura started to say, “No, you don’t have to –”

Then Angela called from the kitchen, “Maura, honey, I rearranged some of your dishes. I hope you don’t mind.”

Maura looked back at Jane and changed her mind, “Just go easy on them.”

That was totally what Jane intended to do, to be gentle, because her mother and Constance had been extremely helpful after all that Jane and Maura had been through, but when the pair of them came over to the couch, Constance cleaning Jane’s spilled water from the carpet with gloves up to her elbows and an apron on like she was scrubbing a biohazard, and Angela with a huge plate of food for Maura that she wouldn’t eat a quarter of, trying to put a napkin down the front of Maura’s shirt, Jane kind of forgot to be gentle.

“What are you two whispering about?” Angela asked as she was tucking Maura in like a toddler.

“We need you to leave,” Jane blurted, and Maura looked at her incredulously.

Constance and Angela both froze in the middle of their tasks, and Angela scoffed, “What are you talking about?”

“We need a break,” Jane sputtered. “From you two and Frankie and – and all of it.”

“We were only trying to help!” Angela defended, already getting riled up, and Jane really should have approached the subject differently but it was too late now.

“Yes,” she agreed, “and you’ve been very helpful, but Maura and I haven’t had a minute to ourselves all week.”

“So, what? You just want us to leave? Right now? Who’s gonna take care of you?!” Angela exclaimed.

We will,” Jane huffed. “We are grown adults you know?”

“And what about Jamie?” Angela needled. “You can barely pick him up right now and Maura is still getting light headed. What if he needs something and you can’t get it?”

“Then we’ll call you, but for god’s sake, Ma, we’re never gonna be independent again if you don’t let us try it!”

Angela opened her mouth to protest further, but Maura interjected softly, “Angela, what Jane is trying to say is that we are extremely grateful for all that you’ve done, but we would also very much appreciate a few hours of privacy.”

“Or a few days,” Jane muttered, squirming away when Maura tried to pinch her.

“Well I think it’s too soon,” Angela declared, folding her arms across her chest stubbornly.

“Actually, Angela,” Constance finally chimed in, “I think the girls may be right. Perhaps we could leave them alone this evening and come back to check in tomorrow afternoon?”

Angela looked like she wanted to keep protesting, but with all three of them looking at her she recognized a losing battle. “Fine!” she relented, “but I’m calling you later and you’d better answer!”

“All right, all right,” Jane conceded in exasperation.

“Angela, why don’t you let me take you to dinner?” Constance suggested while she and Angela were gathering up their things. “You can bring Frank, if you’d like.”

Jane’s father hadn’t been to see Jane or Maura since they had come home from the hospital, had only called Jane twice all week. Angela said that it was because he was upset, that he had been worried about Jane but didn’t know how to express it, and maybe that was true and maybe it wasn’t, but Jane didn’t have the energy to worry about her father.

“That would be nice,” Angela said, before turning to Jane and Maura once more. “Are you girls sure you don’t need anything? Should I bring you some dinner later?”

Nooo,” Jane insisted, “we’ll be fine, Ma.”

Jane got up to usher her mother and Constance out the door, and only breathed a sigh of relief when they drove off.

Back in the living room, Maura was lifting Jamie out of his bassinet, since he had woken to all the commotion. She sat him down on the carpet, and he immediately began crawling all over the place, inspecting everything, eventually noticing Jane approaching and heading straight for her. She crouched down closer to his level with a smile, and maybe she couldn’t pick up her baby with her broken hands but she could play with him, moving his blocks around, shaking his stuffed elephant at him. Maura joined them there on the floor, and that’s where the three of them stayed for a while, Jamie’s mothers chasing him around the couch, peppering him with kisses when they caught him, helping him build a tower with his blocks so they could watch it fall over.

Angela called to check in barely two hours later, and Jane indulged her for ten minutes before she insisted they were fine and made her excuses to hang up. Frankie called shortly after, asking if he could stop by, but Jane forbid him and told him to give her some space, to which he grumbled but relented a lot faster than their mother. Korsak called too, but Jane didn’t answer, was mostly avoiding him recently and wasn’t up for a talk tonight.

When they were ready for dinner, they ordered pizza because Jane couldn’t pick up a pan and Maura couldn’t be on her feet for long without getting light headed. They fed Jamie while they waited for the pizza, and by the time they had their own dinner, they were all three ready for bed. They had been going to sleep early most days just so they could toss and turn half of the night.

But that night, with their mothers and everyone else gone, just the two of them and Jamie for the first time since the abduction, Jane found Maura standing at the foot of the stairs. She was staring up at it like she was bracing herself for war, hand clenched tight around the railing. Jane gave her a minute, kept her distance in case Maura wanted to be left to her own thoughts, but she didn’t want to leave Maura hanging so she carefully approached.

“Hey,” Jane said, waiting until Maura turned her eyes Jane’s way before laying her hand on the small of Maura’s back. “You okay?”

“I was just thinking,” Maura murmured. “Maybe we should try sleeping in our own room tonight.”

Maura hadn’t been upstairs all week, had sent Jane or their mothers to get her clothes and face creams. Jane hadn’t loved passing through the hallway where she’d seen her wife’s blood smeared across the carpet, and she couldn’t imagine how it would feel for Maura to return to the place where Hoyt had grabbed her, so she hadn’t pushed it, had happily slept in the guest room even if the mattress wasn’t quite right and the room felt too cramped.

“Are you sure?” Jane asked gently.

Maura breathed in deeply and then nodded. “Yes. I miss our mattress.”

“Well, we could always move it down here,” Jane half joked. “Or we could just throw the whole house away and start again.”

Maura snorted a little. “No, but you’re sweet to offer. There’s nothing up there to be afraid of after all, right?”

“No, but it makes sense to be a little hesitant,” Jane reasoned. “Why don’t we just take a trip up there and see how it goes? No pressure. We can always change our mind and come back down.”

“Okay,” Maura murmured, but she turned back, looking for Jamie. “What about James?”

He was in his play pen, entirely invested in his stuffed animals, and Jane assured, “He’ll be fine for a few minutes.”

Maura took a few more moments to breathe, and then took the first step up. She went at a slow pace, and Jane followed, hand pressed to Maura’s back, supportive and patient, grounding herself with the knowledge that Maura was safe and alive, that she might have been brutalized and dragged from their house, but she had come out the other side. They would be all right, they would recover. It was Hoyt that would spend his life in prison, and Jane and Maura would go on living and together despite his efforts.

Maura’s breath quickened when they reached the top landing, and her footsteps faltered as they walked across the hall.

Jane soothed, “It’s okay. You’re safe. You’re good. I’m right here with you, Maur.”

Maura kept going, paused at Jamie’s bedroom door, peered inside, hand braced against the door frame, still scuffed from where Korsak had kicked the door in. And then she moved on, the whole way into their own bedroom, shuffling to a stop in the middle of the room. She looked around, hands pressed over her belly, steadying her breath.

“You doin' okay?” Jane quietly asked, running her fingers up and down Maura’s spine.

Maura nodded slowly, blinking repeatedly. “Yes. Yes, I’m… It isn’t as bad as I imagined it. You can hardly tell except… Except the mirror is gone and… Oh, I’m sorry. Your autographed baseball bat –”

“Oh please,” Jane cut her off. “I’d rather have you than that bat.” It was laying in an evidence locker now, with Maura’s hair and blood stuck to it, and Jane never wanted it back.

“I think we can sleep in here,” Maura decided. “But could we… could we move Jamie’s crib in here for a few nights?”

“Yeah, no problem,” Jane agreed.

They had to drag the crib across the carpet, and between Jane’s busted hands and Maura’s head wound it took far longer than usual, but they managed. Once the crib was settled, they checked and double checked all the locks and the windows and the alarm, and then carried Jamie up to bed. Maura closed and locked the bedroom door for good measure, and left the closet light on.

Only then did she climb into bed and settle down, and Jane curled around her, holding on tight, kissing her cheek and murmuring, “I love you.”

“I love you too,” Maura said on a relaxed sigh, sinking into Jane’s embrace, only shaking a little bit, and eventually they managed to fall asleep, lulled by their luxurious mattress and Jamie’s soft snores.

But Jane woke a few hours later in agony.

Her hands were throbbing, radiating the whole way up her arms, her ears popping, either from the intense pain or the way she was clenching her jaw, she wasn’t actually sure which one.

She tried to ignore it, at first, tried to focus on Maura sleeping peacefully against her, but it was impossible to ignore and even more impossible to go back to sleep. She was breaking out into a sweat and had to carefully roll away from Maura, pushing the heavy comforter off of herself and laying on her back, staring up at the ceiling, trying to breathe slowly through her nose. She looked at her hands, half expecting to find them bleeding profusely, but they just looked the same, maybe a little enflamed around the stitches, but it was hard to tell with only the distant closet light leaking into the room.

She had to get up, checking on Maura and Jamie, who slept on unperturbed, and she went to the bathroom first, shut the door most of the way before she flicked on the light. Her palms were enflamed, so she turned the sink on and ran them under cold water, thought maybe that’d help a little, but it only made it worse, felt like cold air on a busted tooth. She rooted through the medicine cabinet, but all the pain pills were downstairs in the kitchen, where they had been left since Maura couldn’t go upstairs all week.

So Jane crept out of the bedroom and down the stairs, found the pill bottles on the counter and knocked a few over before she got the one she was looking for. But the cap was screwed on tight and Jane let out a distressed whimper when she realized it. Her mother had been opening the damn pill bottles for her, coming to her on the hour to make sure Jane took them, and now Jane couldn’t get past the child lock, not when she couldn’t grip anything. Using her teeth didn’t work either, and struggling with it was only making her hands hurt worse.

Jane cursed and threw the bottle at the wall, opened up the freezer and struggled to drag out a bag of frozen vegetables, and then slumped to the floor, back to the kitchen island, her hands and the frozen vegetables pressed between her knees.

She wasn’t sure how long she sat there, rocking back and forth, eyes screwed shut, begging for it to end.

Then light flared against her closed eyelids and she heard, “Jane?”

“Yeah,” Jane croaked, opening her eyes a little, saw the kitchen light was on and the frozen vegetables were melting into her sweat pants.

“Jane?” Maura repeated, concern creeping into her voice this time as she came around the counter and saw Jane on the floor. “Honey, what’s wrong?”

Maura knelt in front of her, and Jane tried to force a smile through a grimace, rasping, “Hands hurt, couldn’t get the pills open.”

“Hang on,” Maura said, getting back up and going to retrieve the pills and making up a bag of ice. Then she put the tea pot on the stove and poured a glass of water and returned to Jane. First, she opened the pill bottle and helped Jane take two with the water. Then she coaxed, “Let me see,” carefully removing the melting bag of vegetables from Jane’s grip.

Jane held her palms out for Maura to inspect with a doctor’s touch, and then Maura began to carefully massage Jane’s hands, working around her palms, starting from the outside and inching her way inwards. It was a little painful at first, but over time it began to soothe some of Jane’s pain, loosening the tension in her hands, and Maura kept at it for a while, only pausing to get the tea, after which she made Jane alternate between holding the ice pack and a hot teacup, massaging Jane’s hands in between.

“Are they feeling any better?” Maura eventually asked, kissing the back of Jane’s left hand.

“Yeah,” Jane answered, and she wasn’t sure if it was the pain medicine kicking in or Maura’s efforts or all of it, but her hands were no longer throbbing unbearably. “Lot better. Thank you.”

“Next time, wake me up,” Maura gently chided.

“I didn’t want you to lose anymore sleep.”

“You don’t have to worry about that,” Maura insisted.

“I’m worried about a lot of things, Maura,” Jane muttered, laying her head back against the island, closing her eyes, fatigue settling over her, her ass entirely numb at this point.

“Well, tell me about them,” Maura urged.

Jane didn’t want to, didn’t want to burden Maura more than she already had been, but maybe it was the late hour or the pain pills or the exhaustion, but she found herself confessing, “I’m scared that my hands are never gonna work right again, that I won’t even be able to pick up my son, that I won’t be able to go back to work, and I don’t know what I’m gonna do if that happens. And I’m worried about you, about when this all sinks in. I’m scared that you’re never gonna be able to sleep without the light on again and I don’t know how to help.”

Maura was quiet for a moment, and Jane opened her eyes to peer at her wife, who was still massaging Jane’s hands, and her ass must have been numb too but she didn’t complain, just looked back at Jane thoughtfully and admitted, “I’m worried too. But no matter what happens with your hands, we’ll figure it out. I’ll help you with whatever you need. As for me, well… I think that I should go to therapy.”

Jane’s brow furrowed, mostly because it was the first she was hearing of it and she hadn’t expected Maura to so readily suggest it. Maura had been reticent to talk about anything related to the abduction since she’d come home, and Jane hadn’t pushed her, wasn’t sure she’d even wanted to talk about it herself. “Therapy?”

“Yes, I think that you’re right and that I should get ahead of it. Eventually we will have to go back to some kind of normal. I won’t be able to stay here with you and Jamie in sight forever. It might be a good idea to speak with someone about coping mechanisms. I wouldn’t mind a full night’s rest now and then, for both of us.”

Jane nodded. “All right. Then we’ll get you into therapy. Whatever you need.”

“And you’ll tell me, from now on?” Maura questioned. “When your hands hurt or you’re worried? I know you’re concerned about putting too much on me, but I can handle it.”

“Yeah,” Jane agreed, leaning forward to give Maura a kiss. “We’ll figure it out, right?”

“Of course,” Maura said with a soft smile, smoothing Jane’s unruly hair back from her face. “Do you think you’re ready to go back up? I can’t feel my legs.”

Jane snorted. “Me neither. Let’s go.”

It took some maneuvering, some grunting and wincing, but eventually they made it up onto their feet together, holding onto each other for help, and it was a small step towards feeling better, but when they got back into bed, Jane managed to sleep through the rest of the night.

Chapter Text

November 2010

Jane only had a few seconds of being awake to remember, remember that her house had been broken into and there had been bodies she needed to identify but there weren’t actually bodies. Her neighbors hadn’t been in the back of that coroner’s van. Instead it was Hoyt and his apprentice, electrocuting her and then stabbing her with a needle and putting her to sleep, so quickly that the only thought she had was gratefulness that she had sent Maura away, that Maura was safe.

But Maura wasn’t safe. Jane could hear her voice, could hear Hoyt’s voice, and that meant Maura was here, wherever that was. It took a few seconds or minutes maybe for Jane to come around, to get feeling back in her limbs enough to move. She heard distorted sounds, felt herself rocking around on some hard surface, the floor of the van, she deduced. And Hoyt, telling his apprentice, John Stark, as he was apparently called, to keep going, to get ready, that he’d handle the doctor.

One door opened and then another, one set of footsteps trekking hastily through leaves and twigs and fading, another stepping out onto pavement. There was a third set, growing nearer, the familiar click of heels, and Hoyt chuckling all too cheerfully.

“Dr. Isles,” he was saying, and Jane lurched up, eyes still half closed and her arms sluggish as she tried to lift them. She noticed then that she was bound by duct tape, but she left it for now, only removing what was over her mouth, scrambling quietly around the back of the van, looking for something, anything that could be used as a weapon. “I’m so glad you came. You’re just in time for our final game.”

“It’s over, Hoyt,” Maura responded, in a tone she was trying to make strong even as it shook. “The police are on their way here. If you leave now, you might have a chance to escape.”

“You know what your problem is, Dr. Isles?” Hoyt said, undaunted. “It’s that your heart rules your head. It’s what made it so easy to capture you both, once again. But this time, I’m going to finish what we started.”

Jane finally found something, a flare, maybe not the best weapon but if she could get close enough it might just work. She lifted herself to peer out the back window of the van, and saw Hoyt standing close by, edging closer to where Maura stood with one of her shoes in hand, probably to use that sharp heel as a weapon, but Hoyt had a gun in his hand and Maura’s heel wouldn’t defend her from that.

One of the van doors was slightly ajar, Jane noticed, so she’d be able to get out of it fairly quietly, but her ankles were still bound and she didn’t want to take the time to unravel them and she wouldn’t make it far like that. But Hoyt was still close enough that it might just work, that she might manage to take him by surprise before he managed to point that gun at her. Jane had only to look at Maura, her wife, standing there looking brave and determined, having apparently chased her own personal nightmare down just to get to Jane, and Jane knew that she had to act. She had promised Maura that Hoyt would never get to her again, and she wasn’t about to go back on her word.

So Jane shimmied to the van doors, lit the flare, and then leapt out onto the street, holding the flare against her chest even as it burned through her shirt, landing on her knees more so than her toes, and Hoyt began to turn at the raucous she caused, but she sprang up, forcing her legs to snap straight and her body to lunge forward across the last bit of distance, and she collided with him, stretching her arms out to stick the flare directly in his face, and he screamed as they both went down in a flurry of limbs, both of them dropping their weapons that went clattering across the pavement.

When they hit the ground, Jane hastily rolled away from Hoyt as he writhed, clutching at his face, whimpering like a wounded animal, and Maura’s heel was clicking rapidly in their direction as Jane scrambled on the pavement, looking for the gun in the dark. She found the stun gun first, and used it on Hoyt, sticking it into his ribs until he flailed and went still.

“Jane,” Maura said breathlessly as she knelt at Jane’s side, still clutching that shoe in one hand, grabbing onto Jane’s shoulder so hard with the other that her nails dug into Jane’s skin. “Are you okay?”

Jane didn’t have time to respond, heard a clattering of noisy footsteps as Hoyt’s apprentice rushed through the nearby woods, coming back, likely having heard the commotion, and Jane didn’t doubt that he’d have a weapon of his own. “Go!” Jane hissed at Maura, shoving her in the opposite direction. “Hide!”

Maura hesitated, looking at Jane trying to force the stun gun to charge back up, still tied up and half defenseless, but Jane snapped at her to run and she finally got up and went. Jane watched Maura slip around the other side of the van, out of sight, and then she dropped onto the ground, curled up in a ball, pretending that she was unconscious like Hoyt, and held her breath.

Stark took the bait, went to his master first with a frantic, “Dr. Hoyt?!”

He kneeled over Hoyt, his back to Jane, but his back was to the van as well, and Maura came out from behind it with that Louis Vuitton heel raised up above her head, and she stabbed the sharp end right into the back of Stark’s neck. It wasn’t enough to stop him completely, but he cried out in pain, stumbling away from her and right into Jane’s path, and the stun gun had regained power. She stuck it against his ankle and zapped him, and the pistol in his hand went flying as he flopped to the ground. Jane watched its trajectory this time, and she and Stark went scrambling for it at the same moment, her hindered by the duct tape and him trying to shake off the electrocution, both of them on hands and knees in the dirt, but Jane got to it first, and she didn’t hesitate, knew that he would kill her if she did. She aimed it right at him and fired two shots.

Stark dropped and moved no more, and Jane swung the weapon on Hoyt, but he was lying mostly still on the ground, groaning, and Jane sucked in a shuddering breath, let the pistol drop from her shaking hands.

“Jane!” Maura breathlessly exclaimed again, dropping down in front of her, framing Jane’s face in her hands, looking her over frantically.

“I’m okay,” Jane gasped. “I’m okay. How are you here –”

“I followed you,” Maura answered before Jane could even finish the question, helping Jane remove the duct tape from around her wrists and ankles.

Followed?” Jane huffed. “Jesus, Maur… Hang on.”

Jane could see Hoyt moving, wriggling and reaching for the gun she’d dropped, and now that she was free of her restraints, Jane could rise onto her feet and step over to him, nudging Maura behind her. She pressed her boot down onto Hoyt’s hands, stopping him in his slow tracks, and she bent to pick the gun up, aiming it directly at him, and for a moment, the last two years flashed through her memory, the day he took Maura, the blood staining their bedroom floor, the fear that had all but crippled Jane, thinking she’d never see her wife again, and she had found Maura but Hoyt had stabbed Jane’s hands, kept her out of work for months, kept her from picking up her own son, and the nightmares and the PTSD, and how what he had done had tormented them, and Jane could have easily ended it all, could have pulled the trigger and ended him, right there. But she wanted him to suffer, knowing he had failed, again, wanted to walk away from this and him, and when her finger slipped over the trigger, she aimed instead at his hands.

“We match,” she told him, and they all did, the three of them, Maura with the scar on her left palm from where Hoyt had sliced her hand open, Jane with twin scars on both hands from where he had stabbed through hers, and now him, with bullet holes through both of his own. They were linked, unfortunately, but this was the end of the road. Hoyt was grinning, holding his hands on display, his face badly burned from the flare, but Jane was done with him.

She looked instead to her wife, to Maura standing there with her chin up, and she had come the whole way on her own, to help Jane, with nothing but a pair of heels to protect herself. The sound of approaching sirens filled the air, and police cars came speeding around the corner, Maura lit up among a backdrop of red and blue, like a halo of emergency lights surrounding her. And Jane couldn’t spare anymore fear of Hoyt in that moment.

Jane and Maura stumbled toward each other at the same time, falling into each other. Maura was trembling and clinging to Jane’s back, and Jane soothed, “It’s over, baby, we got him.”

“You’re okay? Really?” Maura questioned.

“Yeah, thanks to you. What’d you do? Run here?” She snorted disbelievingly but she didn’t see a car anywhere.

“No, I, uh…” Maura hesitated, leaning back to look at Jane with chagrin. “I wrecked the Mercedes.”

“Oh, no. Frankie is gonna be devastated.”

They both huffed out a laugh, half in tears, half hysteric, grim but happy despite it all. He hadn’t gotten them, and he’d be back in chains by sunrise, and Jane couldn’t help it. Her wife was incredible.

“So you chased us down?” Jane guessed, impressed and stunned.

Maura nodded as the hoard of squad cars screamed to a stop just behind her. “I also tried to ram the van.”

Jane couldn’t suppress another laugh, because it was crazy to imagine, Maura – her Maura – driving like a mad man. “Damn, I didn’t realize I was married to Dom Toretto.”

Maura looked confused for a second, and then she realized, “Is that a character from those ridiculous car movies that you and James like?”

Jane just grinned and hugged Maura tight, holding her in sheer relief as police and EMTs swarmed around them. “C’mon, Michael Schumacher,” Jane teasingly murmured against Maura’s ear, “let’s go home.”

December 2008

Over two months after Maura’s abduction and Hoyt’s subsequent arrest, things at Jane and Maura’s home were going fairly okay. Aside from some insomnia and heightened anxiety, Maura was doing better, had not had any unbearable side affects. She was going to therapy once a week, her head wound had fully healed except for a scar left behind on her scalp, and she had recently returned to work. She and her therapist had both agreed that it would be good for her to get back into a regular routine that wasn’t just her and Jane and Jamie sitting on the couch half the day.

Jane still couldn’t go back to work, had regained some function in her hands, but not enough to hold a gun steady. It was difficult for her to adjust to not having a job, and even more so when Maura got to go back and she didn’t. She was jealous, but she was also nervous every time Maura was out of her sight for that long. They both got unreasonably anxious any time it took too long for the other to respond to a text or a phone call, but they were working through it as per Maura’s therapist’s instructions.

Maura had tried getting Jane into therapy too, but she was resistant, kept insisting it was Maura that had been traumatized and that she was fine. She didn’t need a shrink to tell her that she was feeling angry and guilty and nervous. She already knew that, and she knew that she would get over it, that if Maura was good then she was good. She just wanted her hands to work again, threw her effort into physical therapy instead. It was going well, for the most part. She was making good progress according to the doctor, but she was impatient to see more.

If one good thing had come out of Jane’s injury, it was that she was getting a lot of quality time with Jamie that she wouldn’t have had if she had been working her usual hectic schedule. Constance had left and Angela was still dropping in frequently but she was giving them more space, and with Maura back at work Jane and Jamie often had the house to themselves. He was only a baby once, and Jane was getting to see all the little ways he was growing, was teaching him new things now and then that they delighted in showing Maura when she came home from a long day at work. Jamie might not remember this time that he had with his mother, but Jane would cherish every moment.

For the most part, things were good, and Maura was good, and Jane thought maybe they were through the worst of it, maybe they were gonna be just fine, but then they had a major setback.

They were only making a simple trip to the grocery store, Jane and Maura and Jamie and Angela, a trip they’d made a hundred times before. Jamie was contentedly chewing on one of his toys and Jane was throwing random odds and ends into the cart, snatching anything off the shelf that looked enticing. Angela took over Maura's usual role of chastising Jane's food choices, exasperatedly returning boxes of Fruit Loops and Gushers to their respective shelves. Maura herself was busy gently tugging Jamie's toy out of his mouth over and over and prattling on about germs. Jane scoffed and moaned and fought with her mother, but Jamie only whined quietly for the brief seconds his toy was extracted from his mouth and then shoved it right back in when he thought Maura wasn't looking.

All was well, until the four of them pushed their cart up into one of the lines to be checked out. Maura was entertaining Jamie while they waited, and Jane and Angela were still arguing, this time about what they were going to make for dessert for Christmas dinner the following week. Just as the line shifted forward slightly, and Maura went to move the cart along with it, they heard a voice nearby saying, "Lovely weather we're having today, don't you think?"

And it was true, technically, because most of December had started out dreary and cold, rainy and cloudy nearly every day, but today, the sun was out and it was almost warm, and Jane didn’t even blink at the comment, hardly registered it at all until she saw Maura’s face.

One moment she was smiling at Jamie, and then all of a sudden it dropped from her face, head swinging in the direction of the voice, but her eyes were glazed over, seeing something Jane couldn’t see, her complexion turning awfully pale, her grip on the cart tightening. She grimaced and squeezed her eyes closed, and Jane was already moving to her, but Maura was backing away, shaking her head, blindly staggering.

“Maura?” Jane rasped. “Maura,” she repeated louder when Maura backed right into the impulse rack, knocking candy and gum all over the floor and startling the old woman standing in the next line over. “Maura, honey, look at me – Maura…”

But Maura was somewhere else, all but paralyzed, breath coming in quick, short pants, looking and looking but not seeing Jane or Jamie, and when Jane tried to grasp onto her wrist, Maura whimpered, jolting away from the touch, smacking back into the rack and cowering.

Jane persisted, “Maura, listen to me, Maura, you’re safe, Maura, I’m right here…”

“Jane?” Angela was fretting somewhere behind, but Jane stayed focused on Maura. “Jane, what is happening?” And then Jamie was fussing in the grocery cart, as if sensing his mother’s distress, and a second later Angela could be heard soothing him.

But either Jane or Angela or Jamie’s cries must have awoken something in Maura. She shook her head, blinked and blinked again and some recognition appeared in her eyes, sudden realization dawning as she squinted at Jane, as she concluded that where her mind had gone, that wasn’t where she was now, and when Jane slowly put both hands on Maura’s arms that time, Maura flinched, but did not yank away.

“That’s it,” Jane encouraged softly. “That’s it, sweetheart, you’re okay.”

Jamie was crying in earnest now and Jane wanted to reassure him too, but first she ran her hands up and down Maura’s arms, maintaining eye contact, telling her over and over that she was safe, that it was all gonna be okay, trying to pull her back from whatever ledge she was standing on. And it clicked somewhere in Jane’s memory then, remembering how she had tortured herself with reading the police report Maura had to give after the abduction, where she had detailed everything she could remember about that day, what Hoyt had done to her, what he had said, and at some point he had mentioned the weather all casually as he dragged her into that basement, and now some stranger in the grocery store had unknowingly triggered an all out panic.

Maura was shaking even as she choked out the words, "I'm fine."

Jane was not convinced or relieved in the slightest, but stilled the motions of her hands and nodded. “Yeah, you’re a’right.”

Maura looked around, at the confused shoppers openly staring, at Jamie sniffling in his grandmother’s arms, and dropped her gaze in apparent shame, tears spilling onto her cheeks, and she grasped at the backs of Jane’s biceps and whispered, “I’m sorry.

“It's okay, Maura," Jane murmured, carefully placing an arm around her wife's waist and gently beginning to lead her in the direction of the exit, abandoning the full cart in the middle of the line where it sat. "It's okay, sweetheart, let's just get you home, okay?"

"Jamie," Maura mumbled, trying to look over her shoulder to see where he was, to see if he was okay.

“He's okay too, Maura," Jane reassured her, slowing their walk so Maura could catch sight of him and Angela coming up behind them with her hazy vision. "He's okay, he's just upset, don't worry, all right? Just...don't worry, I promise we're all safe."

Maura must have been persuaded enough because she stumbled along beside her wife, clutching tightly to Jane's arm. She was still severely shaken by the time they reached the car, and her heartrate hadn't slowed even as Jane eased her down into the passenger seat with her legs still outside of the car. She watched, though, with rapt attention as Jane knelt down in front of her, broken hands placed on Maura's knees as she looked up into her wife's eyes.

“Maura, honey, breathe," Jane said. Maura was on the verge of hyperventilating, her chest heaving with effort and air escaping her lungs at a rapid rate, and it was scaring Jane a little – or a lot. "Take a deep breath, all right? Like you did when you had Jamie, remember? Remember how you dragged me to all those classes with you? And they taught you how to breathe through the pain? Well it's like that, honey, okay? Just...breathe in –” Jane sucked in a deep breath of air as if to show Maura how it worked, " – annnd breathe out." Jane blew out the air in her lungs and then went to demonstrate again. "Do it with me, Maura... breathe in... and breathe out."

Maura did, wide, terrified gaze focused on Jane's as she struggled to take in the necessary oxygen. It was several minutes before Jane managed to calm her down, and several more before she could get her the rest of the way into the car and close the door. But by the time Jane had rushed around the front of the car, Maura was throwing herself back out of it, half knelt onto the pavement as she retched.

“Ma,” Jane stressfully requested, “I think there’s some water bottles in the trunk, can you –?”

And even though her mother had her arms full with Jamie she said, “I got it,” catching the keys that Jane tossed to her and going to open the trunk.

Jane hurried back over to Maura, helping steady her as she was falling forward, tucking her hair back behind her ears, rubbing her back until she stopped shuddering.

“I’m sorry,” Maura sighed again, pressing her thumb and middle finger against her closed eyelids, rocking back on her heels, half sitting on the ground.

“No, no, it’s okay,” Jane assured, reaching up to accept the bottle of water her mother was holding out for her. “Here, have a drink of water, take your time, it’s all right.”

It took another fifteen minutes for Jane to get Maura back into the car, and five more to argue with her mother. Angela was in panicked mother mode, thinking they ought to take Maura to the hospital but Maura just wanted to go home and Jamie was still crying, and Jane was having a hard time keeping it together. She was on the verge of a breakdown of her own, feeling helpless and uncertain of what to do for her wife, and eventually she snapped, barking at her mother to get in the car or she would be left in the parking lot. They were all halfway a disaster by the time they left the grocery store. Jamie was fussing, Maura was trembling, Angela was quiet, and Jane had a white-knuckled grip on the steering wheel.

Once they got home, they were all drained. Jamie fell asleep almost as soon as he was in the safety of his own home. Angela went to the living room and sat down in one of the armchairs with him in her arms, humming to him quietly with a pinched expression on her face. Maura walked past all of them without saying a word, with blank eyes and slumped shoulders. She went straight to the couch and curled up on her side.

Jane took a moment, standing there in the foyer, sucking in a deep breath, trying to think, but her mind was racing and she’d be standing there all day if she didn’t just put one foot in front of the other and act. She wished that she could take away Maura’s pain, wished that she could go back in time and strangle Hoyt before he ever got his hands on her, but neither of those options was physically possible. So she went over to the couch, carefully pulled Maura’s shoes off and set them on the floor, and pulled the throw blanket off the back of the couch and laid it over Maura’s shivering frame. Then she knelt down to Maura’s level and asked her gently, “What can I do for you, Maur?”

Maura latched onto Jane’s hand and held it tight against her chest. “Just stay with me.”

“Okay,” Jane agreed, because she would have done anything if it made Maura feel even a little better. “I can do that.” She settled down on the floor, half her upper body on the couch, and laid her head against Maura. “I’m here, baby, I’m here.”

February 2009

Seven weeks after her meltdown in the grocery store, Maura had maintained a steady state of calm, avoiding any more setbacks with frequent therapy, and keeping herself busy with work or yoga or Jamie or cleaning the house. The first few days after had left her feeling run down and anxious, her body aching like she had the flu, and she struggled to get the proper sleep. But Jane was attentive, and patient, even though it must have been just as exhausting for her. Maura was grateful, but also felt guilty for making her wife worry, for adding more to their plate, and she resolved to make it up to her, to be better, not only for herself but for her family, and for a while she was. For a while, they were good again.

Jane finished with her physical therapy and passed all her tests with flying colors. The second she was approved to go back to work, she did, and it was different but it was right; it was where they belonged. Korsak was upset with Jane for requesting a new partner, and Jane felt guilty but certain, and Maura thought they were both being ridiculous by not talking about it, but Detective Frost seemed bright and a good match for Jane, even though he had puked all over Maura’s crime scene the first time Jane brought him out on the field. Jane was happy to be back in her element, and Maura was happy that she was too, that they were back in it together, and for a while it was almost like everything had gone back to normal.

Until Hoyt’s trial finally came around.

After taking two bullets to the chest and somehow surviving, Hoyt had endured his own long journey to recovery, and hadn’t been fit for trial for several months. Even once he was able, his lawyer repeatedly tried to appeal for having the charges dropped, coming up with new, absurd reasons every other week, which delayed things further. The prosecutor had been hoping to avoid trial all together, had been trying to get Hoyt to plead guilty if they made a deal, but Hoyt wasn’t accepting any deals and the prosecution wasn’t offering anything less than life.

Hoyt wanted it to go to trial, and Maura didn’t realize how much she was dreading it until the date was finally set when she would have to take the stand in front of him. She would have to face him in that court room, would have to describe to the jury what he had done, and she had been in court a hundred times but never like this, never when it was so deeply personal, never when the stakes felt this high.

When she was called to the witness stand, she had to walk up there alone, past Hoyt smiling wickedly at her, and it was like she could feel his cold eyes on her; it was all she could do not to flinch. She would not show him a single ounce of weakness, would not meet his evil gaze. She sat right down in that witness chair and folded her hands in her lap, straightened her back and looked instead to where her family sat. Her mother had flown in for the trial and Jane was right there next to her, and Korsak was there in support even if he was mad at Jane, and Frankie was there too. They had already testified themselves, had faced down Hoyt and his lawyer, and Maura looked to them, connected eyes with her wife, and drew strength from them.

Assistant District Attorney Donna Kressler started the questioning, striding out from behind the prosecution’s table and stopping a few paces from where Maura sat, asking her directly, “Dr. Isles, were you abducted from your home on the morning of September 23rd?”

“Yes,” Maura answered.

Kressler prompted, “Please describe to the jury what happened to you.”

Maura swallowed, wiping her sweaty palms on the front of her skirt, and cleared her throat. “I was on my way up the stairs to get my son ready to go when I heard the front door open behind me. When I turned, I saw Charles Hoyt standing there. I thought first of protecting my son, so I locked his bedroom door and then I went to my own bedroom, just as Hoyt was coming up the stairs. I had a baseball bat there, which I tried to use to defend myself, and I managed to strike him with it, but he eventually overpowered me.”

Kressler then used the remote in her hands to turn on the screen positioned in the center of the room. “I’d like to direct the jury’s attention to the pictures of the crime scene. Dr. Isles, is this your bedroom?”

“Yes,” Maura answered, biting the inside of her cheek as she looked at the first picture. She hadn’t seen her bedroom after Hoyt had snatched her from it. Angela had cleaned it up before Maura came home from the hospital, and seeing it now was a little jarring. She had never realized how much blood she had lost from her head wound, but she could see it there puddled on the carpet, smeared across the room and down the hallway, her shattered mirror lying on its side on the floor, and a close up of the baseball bat with the David Ortiz autograph smeared with blood and a chunk of her hair.

“And what happened after he took you from your home?” Kressler questioned.

“When I became conscious again, I was in the back of a van, which he pulled me out of and dragged me into the basement of an abandoned home.” Kressler flipped through pictures of the front and inside of the house, Maura’s shoe lying in the mud in the front yard, the basement where he had kept her. “He stole my wedding rings from me and cut open my hand. Then he told me that he had to go finish some things, and inserted a syringe in my neck to put me back to sleep. When he returned, he threatened me, told me that he was waiting for my wife to find us. When Jane arrived, Hoyt hit her with a wooden board and used scalpels to pin her hands to the floor. He tormented her by coming at me, cutting into my chest with his scalpel. And then Detective Korsak arrived and shot Hoyt to stop him.” Maura couldn’t look at the rest of the pictures, the holes in Jane’s hands, the wounds on Maura’s chest, hand, and scalp.

“Thank you, Dr. Isles,” Kressler said, waiting a moment, letting the jury take it in.

And then it was time for cross-examination, the part Maura had really been dreading, the part she wasn’t sure she was ready for.

Jane had been telling Maura all week that she was, that they were in this together, that they would get through it and Hoyt would go to prison. Maura wanted to believe her, tried to believe in the science that would ensure his incarceration, and she used the techniques her therapist had given her to remain calm and collected despite her concerns, but as Hoyt's lawyer approached her, her stomach was twisted into knots. It was probably a good thing that she hadn’t even been able to swallow her coffee that morning, and she just wanted it to be over, wanted to break the hold that Hoyt had on her, but only she could do that. Only she could put it all behind her, and as soon as this trial was over, that’s exactly what she planned to do.

“Good afternoon, Dr. Isles,” Hoyt’s lawyer began, and Maura snapped her gaze to him, defense attorney Robert Maddox, a balding man with a sharply trimmed mustache and a condescending smile that Maura had seen before. He was known to represent many a scum bag in the Boston Municipal Court, and this wouldn’t be the first time she was on the receiving end of his questioning. “The prosecution has so far made a compelling case against my client, wouldn’t you say?” Before Maura could consider an answer, he was continuing, “But I think we all want to hear what really happened between you and Charles Hoyt on September 23rd. I want to start with his initial arrest, for which he was out on bail at the time of your alleged abduction. Is it true that you testified that his DNA was found on the victim Sherry Holmes?”

“Yes,” Maura answered simply.

“And is it also true that that DNA evidence was ruled out?” Maddox went on. “That the judge found your lab’s handling of it to be below the necessary standard?”

Maura pressed her thumb into the scar tissue on her palm to keep herself from fidgeting, begrudgingly answering, “Yes, but there was no –”

“And is it true,” Maddox spoke over her, “that you were unhappy with the judge’s ruling? That you believed my client deserved to be in prison?”

“I believe what the science tells me,” Maura stated.

“And you were unhappy that your science was being questioned?” Maddox pressed.

“I wouldn't say that,” Maura answered hesitantly.

“So you were happy that Mr. Hoyt was released on bail?”

“I… wouldn’t say that,” Maura repeated.

“What would you say you were feeling then?” Maddox persisted.

“Asked and answered, Your Honor,” ADA Kressler cut in impatiently. “Where is Mr. Maddox going with this?”

“Goes to the witness’s state of mind, Your Honor,” Maddox defended, “when she claims she was abducted less than twenty-four hours after my client was released on bail.”

“Witness may answer,” Judge Barrett responded, and Maura knew him to be a fair judge, but in that moment she was not all that happy to be sitting next to him.

All eyes turned to Maura, and she clenched her fingers and spoke carefully, “I was disappointed with the judge’s ruling, but she had every right to –”

“So you were upset that your evidence was thrown out,” Maddox interrupted her again, “and your wife, Detective Jane Rizzoli, was visibly angry as well. At Mr. Hoyt’s bail hearing, Detective Rizzoli was loudly heard to be saying, ‘You gotta be kidding me. This is bullshit,’” He quoted from the file in his hands. “I’m sure you were aware of your wife’s displeasure, yes?”

“My wife is passionate about her work,” Maura said flippantly.

“And what about you, Dr. Isles? Are you passionate about your work?”


“How long have you been in this career line? Of cutting open dead bodies?”

Maura narrowed her eyes at the defense attorney, noting how he was phrasing her line of work, but she answered truthfully, “Approximately seven years.”

“Seven years,” he echoed. “And did you have a lot of friends growing up?”

“Objection,” Kressler interjected from her chair. “Relevance?”

“Goes to her character, Your Honor,” Maddox replied.

“I’ll allow it,” Judge Barrett said.

“So did you?” Maddox questioned Maura. “Have a lot of friends?”

Maura shifted in her chair and admitted, “No.”

“And did you always want to cut open dead bodies? As your career, of course?”

“I – not always,” Maura stammered, and she could feel a cold sweat breaking out along her spine.

“But you have wanted to for a long time,” Maddox inferred.

“Your Honor,” Kressler said wearily.

“I’m getting to my point,” Maddox promised, going back over to the defense table and picking up a different file, which he opened and began leafing through the pages until he found what he wanted. “Dr. Isles, BPD’s own criminal psychologist evaluated my client after his second arrest. In the interview, Mr. Hoyt stated, ‘My parents were very aloof. I spent much of my childhood alone, but I always had a fascination with the dead. I enrolled in medical school because I thought I had finally found my place.’ Dr. Isles, would you say that you saw a lot of yourself in Charles Hoyt?”

“What?” Maura scoffed in disbelief. “No.”

“But you said it yourself,” Maddox pressed. “You were a loner, you were fascinated by pathology from a young age, you wanted to go to medical school. You’re practically one and the same –”

“Your Honor,” Kressler heatedly objected, rising swiftly to her feet, “Dr. Isles is the esteemed Medical Examiner of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, not a criminal –”

“My client has never been convicted of a crime either,” Maddox loudly spoke over her. “Your Honor, I am simply trying to show that –”

Judge Barrett banged his gavel once, before Maddox and Kressler could continue shouting, and the room went quiet. And Maura… Maura couldn’t help it. She let her eyes slide over to where Hoyt sat, caught his gaze for the first time since he had abducted her, and there was a tiny smirk on his face as stared at her unwaveringly, and she thought that there was nothing about them that was the same, that he was a monster and a killer and she was not, but… But what if Maddox wasn’t wrong? What if she was like Hoyt? What if – what if there was some part of her…

“Dr. Isles?” Maddox’s voice rang in her ears, at least three times before she yanked her eyes away from Hoyt and back onto his lawyer.

“What?” Maura croaked, like her throat was closing up, and he was closer now, Mr. Maddox with his rank cologne and his unrelenting gaze, right in front of the witness stand.

“You testified that Charles Hoyt abducted you from your home on the morning of September 23rd.”

“Yes,” Maura said.

“Was there anyone else at home with you that morning?”

“Just my son.”

“Your infant son, yes?”

“Yes. He was only nine months old at the time.”

“And did anyone witness you being taken from your home?”

Maura frowned. “No.”

“Did anyone hear you scream for help?”

“I – I didn’t.”

“You didn’t scream for help?” Maddox said with faux confusion, glancing over at the jury. “Why not? You said in your testimony that you saw Hoyt enter your home.”

“Yes, but I was worried about my son,” Maura tried to explain, but her tongue was beginning to stick to the roof of her mouth.

“You were worried about your son so you didn’t seek help?”

“I – I went to lock his bedroom door first, and then I went to look for a weapon.”

“A baseball bat,” Maddox supplied. “You said that you struck my client with the bat.”


“How many times?”

“Um, two or three, I think.”

“And then what happened?”

“He grabbed the bat and we fought for it, but he overpowered me.”

“So you hit him three times with a baseball bat and he still overpowered you?” Maddox said disbelievingly.

“Yes,” Maura huffed.

“So a young, fit woman, twenty years my client’s junior, supposedly adrenalized by fear, struck a man that weighs a hundred and thirty pounds three times with a bat, and he still overpowered you?”

“Objection!” Kressler exclaimed.

“Withdrawn,” Maddox waved off, stalking closer to Maura, bracing his hands on the railing in front of her. “Dr. Isles, is it possible that you wanted Mr. Hoyt to take you from your home? That you were fascinated by him and felt a kinship with him, and that you staged the abduction for the benefit of your cop wife, who was obsessed with putting my client in prison?”

“Objection!” Kressler shrilly repeated, back on her feet and looking incensed. “Your Honor, this insane line of questioning is in no way relevant –”

“The witness claims to be a victim of abduction,” Maddox argued. “It is my client’s right to question her motives.”

Judge Barrett considered it, and then decided, “Overruled, but move it along, Counselor.”

Maddox looked at Maura again and she felt like she was going to be ill. “Dr. Isles, you believe that Charles Hoyt murdered seven people, three of them married couples, and that he raped all four women. Is that correct?”

“That is what the investigations have concluded, yes.”

“So you claim that you were abducted by a serial rapist and murderer. And how long were you with Mr. Hoyt after the alleged kidnapping?”

“Sixteen hours.”

“Sixteen hours. And were you raped?”

Maura sucked in a sharp breath. “No.”

Maddox pushed off of the railing to walk over to the jury, still speaking to Maura without looking at her, “So you’re saying that you were held against your will for sixteen hours by a serial rapist and murderer, but the only injuries you seemed to have sustained are a cut on the hand and a concussion.” He snorted, like the whole thing was ludicrous, and turned to face Maura from where he stood next to the jury. “Are you attracted to Mr. Hoyt?”

“Objection,” Kressler seethed.

“Sustained,” Judge Barrett agreed.

Maura desperately sought out her wife in the crowd of onlookers, palms clammy and eyes burning, and when she saw Jane she saw rage in her wife’s face, saw Frankie trying to keep her from shouting her own objections. But when Jane met Maura’s gaze, her eyes softened, and Jane looked back at Maura with unspoken comfort and support, with grim understanding and love, and Maura wanted very much to cry, to run from that stand and from Hoyt’s unyielding stare, from Maddox’s despicable questions that were obviously false to her but could make the jury view her in a different light. But she looked at Jane and thought only of her, and Maura stayed in her seat, clenched her hands in her lap and reminded herself to breathe steadily.

“Dr. Isles,” Maddox said, softer that time, like he was trying to be sympathetic, but he was anything but, “is it possible that you and your wife were so angry about Mr. Hoyt being released on bail, that you concocted this abduction story to try and prove his guilt?”

“Absolutely not,” Maura said firmly.

“Then is this a cover up?” Maddox swiftly followed up. “Did you leave your house with Mr. Hoyt willingly, but didn’t want your wife to know? Perhaps you found yourself swept up in the fantasy of being pursued by someone you believed to be like you?”

ADA Kressler smacked her hand down on the table when she stood up this time. “Your Honor, this is ridiculous –”

“Mr. Maddox,” Judge Barrett warned.

But Maddox was already walking back to his seat, saying, “I’m finished with this witness, Your Honor.”

“Redirect, Your Honor?” Kressler requested.

“Go ahead,” Barrett allowed.

Kressler stormed forward, brow still furrowed with frustration, but she softened her voice to ask, “Dr. Isles, were you abducted from your home against your will on the morning of September 23rd?”

“Yes,” Maura breathlessly answered, her heart racing now, feeling like she had just run a mile.

“And is Charles Hoyt the person that kidnapped and terrorized you?”


“Thank you, Dr. Isles,” Kressler said, and then she turned to the judge. “Your Honor, I’d like to request a recess.”

“Very well,” Judge Barrett agreed. “We’ll reconvene in fifteen minutes.”

He banged his gavel, and it was only then that Maura realized she was shaking, that her legs had gone numb and her head was spinning. She looked across the court room, and saw Jane leaping up to her feet, rushing across the room.

Maura felt like she was soaked in sweat, and had to brace both hands on the arms of her chair to stand up, and when Jane reached her, she fell into Jane’s hold, clinging to her, concealing her uneven breaths in Jane’s shoulder.

“C’mere,” Jane murmured, shuffling Maura through the back door, concealing them away from any prying eyes.

“What if they believe it?” Maura gasped, nails digging into the back of Jane’s shoulders. “What if he gets away with it?”

“He won't,” Jane asserted, hugging Maura back fiercely. “He won’t, Maura. The jury heard you, and they saw the evidence and heard from the other witnesses, and they’re gonna know. They’re gonna look at that evil monster and they’re gonna know.”

And maybe she was right but Maura couldn’t breathe, still felt sick to her stomach, and she didn’t think she could go back in that court room, didn’t think she could share the room with Hoyt for a second longer.

You’re practically one and the same.

“Hey,” Jane coaxed, “let’s go home, yeah? This isn’t gonna be over today. We don’t have to sit through the rest of it.”

Maura nodded, but when Jane started to move, Maura remained still, and Jane turned back to her, their hands intertwined. “Jane…”

And it was like Jane read Maura’s mind, because she tugged Maura into her side and vehemently said, “Listen to me, Maura. You are nothing like him, you hear me? That attorney was just grasping at straws. They know he’s goin' down for this.”

And Jane was probably right but the mere possibility haunted Maura for days, through the rest of the trial, that she might have something in common with the man that had so upended her life, and was that why he stuck with her? Because he was some kind of mirror image, distorted and damaged, but similar enough to recognize?

Maybe it was true, and maybe there was something within both of them that was the same, but as Maura sat waiting for the jury to come back with a verdict, when the trial was finally over, she decided that it was okay. It was okay because Hoyt had chosen to use his intelligence and his upbringing for evil. Maura had chosen a different path, was using her abilities to speak for the dead, not to cause death. She had chosen the path of love and been rewarded with Jane and their son, and a whole family of Rizzolis. And maybe Maura wasn’t perfect and there would be moments when she chose the wrong path, but she would never be Hoyt. She would never choose evil.

And as she sat there and listened to the jury find Charles Hoyt guilty on all counts – the rapes, the murders, her abduction – Maura looked over at her wife and she felt peace.

Chapter Text

July 2009

On a sweltering Saturday in July, Jane and Frankie took James to Chuck E. Cheese, while Maura and Angela went shopping for Jane’s birthday. Jane was both easy and impossible to shop for, and every year Maura had the same problem. Jane would always says she’d be happy with some t-shirts and a pack of socks, and then Maura would try to improve upon that formula, but her attempts to liven up her wife’s wardrobe had never gone off well. Straying from that formula was difficult too, because Jane would pretend to like a cereal bowl if Maura got it for her, and Maura desperately wanted to get something incredible that Jane actually wanted, but Jane was not really wowed by extravagant gifts and Maura was often at a loss.

So Maura and Angela were on a mission, jumping from one store to the next looking for some good options. Angela had already picked a few things, had long since given up on trying to pin down exactly what Jane wanted and simply went with her gut. Despite Jane’s insistence over the years, Maura still did not follow her intestines when making decisions. She could follow science and reason, and okay sometimes she was ruled by feelings, but even those had a vaguely scientific explanation. But Jane’s tastes in gifts could not be determined by science – Maura didn’t have quite enough data yet – so Maura was still testing some of her own hypotheses.

However, she and Angela hit a snag halfway through the day. They were driving down the road to the next store when Angela’s car started to overheat, the dashboard dial steadily rising all the way to the H. Angela didn’t even notice at first, but Maura did, tapping her mother-in-law on the arm and saying, “Um, Angela…”

Angela was mid-rant, and glanced over at Maura in confusion before following Maura’s gesture to the dial. “Oh! Goodness!” she exclaimed, abruptly pulling off the road and shutting the car off. “What is going on?!”

“Let me look,” Maura offered, stepping out of the car and going around to the front. She popped the hood and leaned in to look, and after some inspection she noticed a leak in the coolant. “It doesn’t seem too serious,” Maura assured Angela, “but we should probably have it towed to avoid damaging it further.”

She was already pulling out her cellphone and searching the number, and Angela looked around to get their bearings, wondering out loud, “Where are we? Oh! I know where we can take the car. It’s just a few miles from here.”

“You know of a repair shop?” Maura asked.

“Gilberti and Sons,” Angela confirmed. “The owner is an old friend of mine. They’re not far. I’ll call Lorenzo, maybe he can come pick us up.”

While Angela was on the phone, animatedly speaking half Italian, a car pulled off of the road in front of them, and a man came hurrying over, asking if they needed any help.

“No, thank you,” Maura denied him, smiling politely and waiting patiently for the man to go back and forth with her until he finally relented and left.

“He’s sending Giovanni to come and get us!” Angela informed Maura when she finally hung up the phone. “That’s Lorenzo’s son. He and Janie went to school together.”

“Oh really?” Maura responded with some interest. “I don’t remember her mentioning a Giovanni.”

“He’s a good kid. If a little brainless,” she muttered.

Maura chuckled and bent forward to inspect the car engine again while they waited for the tow truck, but her patience wore thin as she was interrupted three more times by random men pulling over trying to be helpful. Eventually Angela suggested, “Sweetheart, maybe you should wait inside the car.” She gave a pointed look to Maura’s outfit, a perfectly respectable shopping dress, but Maura supposed it was billowing a little around her thighs in the wind, so she took Angela’s advice and sat in the car with her until the truck arrived to pick them up.

The man that stepped out of the battered tow truck was a tall, chiseled, lean Italian man with a very good shoulder to hip ratio, the aforementioned Giovanni, covered in grease and sweat, his white tank top sticking to his muscled frame, and if Maura wasn’t a happily married woman she might have climbed that man like a tree. He gave them a goofy grin, holding his arms out to Angela with a delighted, “Mrs. Rizz!”

“Giovanni!” Angela responded with equal enthusiasm, hugging him despite the grime.

Once they had greeted one another, they turned to Maura and Angela introduced her, “This is Maura.”

“Hey,” Giovanni greeted, jerking his head up in greeting and looking Maura up and down. “You’re hot.”

“Oh,” Maura said in surprise, chuckling briefly. “Thank you.”

“You got car troubles?” Giovanni asked, stepping over to inspect Angela’s car.

“I think it might be a blown radiator hose,” Maura told him.

“Look at you, all ‘My Cousin Vinny,’” Giovanni snorted appreciatively. “Love it. Let’s get this thing hooked up, huh?”

Giovanni drove them and the car up the road to his shop, telling Maura how Angela was one of the greatest moms in the neighborhood, that she made the best chocolate chip cookies. The air conditioning didn’t work in the tow truck so the windows were down, the wind blowing Maura’s hair around and forcing Giovanni to raise his voice to a shout to be heard over the cacophony. By the time they made it to the auto shop, Maura’s dress was sticking uncomfortably to her back and she was dabbing sweat from her hairline.

While Giovanni was looking over Angela’s car, Maura called Jane, who answered after two rings with a teasing, “I knew it. You didn’t last a whole two hours. My mother is already driving you crazy.”

Maura chuckled. “No, we were having a lovely time.”

“Were? Am I about to get a call from dispatch?

“Oh, darling, if I was going to kill your mother, even a detective as renowned as you would not find her.”

Jane snickered. “That’s comforting. So, what’s up? Did something happen?”

“Just some car troubles,” Maura informed. “We’re at an auto repair shop now, but we may need a ride home. I’m sorry to cut your day short –”

Oh, god, no,” Jane insisted, “you’d be doing all three of us a favor. Turns out Jamie is not a fan of Chuck E. Cheese, and Frankie and I are running out of ways to hype it up.”

“Oh no,” Maura commiserated. “I want to be sorry but I’m feeling a little relieved that I won’t have to take him.”

I would never bring you here,” Jane promised. “You’d have an aneurysm if you even stepped foot in this place. It’s like you can see the germs. I watched a kid sneeze right on the –”

“Stop,” Maura cut her off with a grimace. “It's better that I don’t know. I don’t want to have to greet my son in a hazmat suit.”

I’ll get him one on the way over,” Jane snorted. “Which place are you guys at?”

“Gilberti’s,” Maura answered. “Your mom said –”

Oh, God,” Jane groaned. “Is Giovanni there?

“Yes, actually, he picked us up. You never told me about him, or his lengthy metacarpals –”

“I’ll be right there,” Jane abruptly interrupted. “Keep your pants on in the meantime.”

“Keep my – I’m wearing a dress,” Maura said in bewilderment, looking down at her lower half.

But Jane was already hanging up the phone, could be heard calling, “Jamie! C’mon, baby, we gotta go rescue Mommy,” just before the line went dead.

Maura shook her head and walked back into the auto shop to join Angela, who was reconnecting with Giovanni’s father.

By the time Jane, Frankie, and James arrived, Giovanni had diagnosed the problems with Angela’s car and came over to inform them, but he paused when he saw Jane. Maura paused too, looking her up and down appreciatively, dark hair pulled up to expose her neck, small trail of sweat disappearing beneath the v of her shirt, and a pair of dark jeans that fit very well.

“Hey,” Jane said to Giovanni through a not-so-subtle cringe, “how ya doin’?”

Giovanni responded, “You look hot as ever.”

“Doesn’t she?” Angela agreed while Jane was rolling her eyes.

“I am very hot,” Jane said literally, tugging on her shirt to let some air in, grasping Maura’s elbow with her other hand. “Why don’t we go get in the air conditioning?”

“You two friends?” Giovanni asked, grinning at Maura.

Jane snorted, sliding halfway in front of Maura, blocking Giovanni’s view of her, and Maura smirked at her wife’s often unconscious jealousy. “Yeah, we’re real good friends.”

But Giovanni was already distracted elsewhere, looking over at Frankie, noticing Jamie in his arms. “Hey, Frankie. You got a kid now?”

Frankie snorted and shook his head. “Nah, he’s Jane’s. This is Jamie. Say hi, Jamie.”

Jamie did not say hi, but buried his face in his uncle’s neck, smiling shyly at Giovanni.

“Woah, you’re a mom?” Giovanni said to Jane in surprise. “Who’s the husband? Anybody I know?”

Jane looked over at Maura with a sly grin, slinging her arm over Maura’s shoulders, gleefully informing, “You’ve met Maura. She’s my wife.”

Giovanni blinked, looking between Jane and Maura blankly, once then twice, then three times, and Maura watched the recognition dawn, one quiet, “Oh…” and then an even more aware, “Oh! You two battin' for the other team?”

“We are,” Jane confirmed, holding Maura possessively in that way that made Maura’s toes curl.

“Shoot,” Giovanni said with some disappointment. “And here I was gonna ask you to dinner.”

“Oh,” Maura said in surprise, “well you should come over – for dinner. Ow!” She swung her head indignantly towards her wife she had just been admiring a second ago, because said wife had just pinched her arm really hard.

Jane was still grinning tightly at Giovanni, but she was side-eyeing Maura as she gritted out, “I don’t know, babe. We’re very busy, remember?”

“Not tomorrow night we aren’t,” Maura disagreed, squirming away from Jane’s pinching fingers. “Giovanni is only charging your mother for parts. Wouldn’t it be nice of us to make him dinner?”

“Oh, well in that case,” Jane reconsidered, smiling a little more genuinely at Giovanni. “Maybe you’re right. Dinner at our place, tomorrow, what do you say, Gi?”

“Sounds awesome,” Giovanni agreed, looking a little stunned, like he didn’t quite know what to do with the invite. “Should I bring anything?”

“Nah, just yourself,” Jane answered.

“It’s a date!” Maura said cheerfully.

“Great, fantastic,” Jane said, pulling on her shirt again. “Can we get in the car now? It’s hot as hell in here.”

Yes,” Angela said with an exasperated eye roll. “We can go. Giovanni, you’ll call me about my car?”

“’Course, Mrs. Rizz,” Giovanni confirmed, adding to Jane and Maura, “And I’ll see you two tomorrow?”

“Yes, you will,” Jane said with haste, ushering her family towards the exit of the auto shop.

When Maura began to move in that direction, Jamie leaned out of his uncle’s hold, stretching his arms out towards her with an eager, “Mommy, Mommy.”

Maura grinned and took James into her arms, kissing his cheeks and hugging him to her side as she followed the others to the car. “Come here, darling. Tell me all about your day. Did you have fun with Mama and Uncle Frankie at Chuck E. Cheese?”

James shook his head and pursed his little lips, scrunching up his face in that way Jane had taught him to when they thought something was yucky. “Chucky no good.”

“He is so your kid,” Frankie snorted. “Are you sure you used Jane’s egg and not yours?”

“I’ve taught him very well,” Maura said proudly, nodding at her son, who nodded back at her in solidarity, or perhaps just mimicking her, but she’d take it.

They dropped Angela off at her house before they went home, and Frankie went back to his apartment after giving Jamie a parting piggy-back ride around and around the couch so many times that it made Maura dizzy.

Then it was just the three of them again, and with James upstairs taking his afternoon nap, Jane cornered Maura in the kitchen.

She was just turning around from the refrigerator when she found herself face to face with Jane, who had her arms crossed over her chest and was looking at Maura with those all too knowing detective eyes.

Maura huffed out a laugh in surprise and asked, “What are you doing?”

Jane raised an eyebrow. “Did someone forget that she’s married today?”

“What on earth are you talking about?” Maura responded, perplexed.

“Giovanni? And his lengthy metacarpals?” Jane mocked.

Maura weakly sputtered, “Well that was – I didn’t mean – I was only admiring his physique. From a – scientific standpoint.”

Jane scoffed, taking a step closer into Maura’s space. “Scientific? Yeah right, Miss I love Italians.

“I said that one time,” Maura defended through a breathless chuckle, looking Jane up and down for probably the third or fourth time that day because she really did look damn good in those jeans. She gave in to the impulse to hook her fingers through the front belt loops of those jeans and tugged Jane closer.

With one hand braced over the front of the refrigerator next to Maura’s head, Jane gripped Maura’s hip with the other, tilting her head down as Maura tilted hers up, and if Maura had been wearing her heels it would have been easy for her to press their lips together, but their height difference kept a frustrating distance between them. Maura strained her neck to try and close it, but Jane pulled her head back just a little, smirking as she mildly scolded, “Uh, uh. Not if you’re gonna be thinkin' about Giovanni.”

“Why would I need to think about Giovanni when I have the sexiest Italian in the world?” Maura said with a purposefully sweet smile.

Jane rolled her eyes with a snort, but Maura knew she couldn’t resist. “Okay, kiss ass. You win.”

“Mmm, I always do,” Maura murmured just as Jane’s lips were descending onto hers, and she could feel Jane’s grin against her mouth, Jane’s quiet chuckle vibrating against Maura’s chest.

Maura’s palms flattened against Jane’s waist, sliding them over her rough jeans, around the back and then up, underneath Jane’s shirt and onto soft, warm skin, still a little sticky with sweat, pulling against the back of Jane’s ribs until they were flush against each other. Jane’s hand was sneaking up Maura’s skirt, fingertips trailing along her inner thigh, and Maura had to detach their lips just enough to suck in a sharp breath, impatiently lifting one of her legs and hooking it around Jane’s waist. Jane’s other hand came down to grab onto Maura’s other thigh, but without that leverage they both went falling against the refrigerator, cold against Maura’s back even as her skin was bursting into flames, and the back of her head thunked against the door but she hardly noticed. Her hands scrabbled across Jane’s bra, deftly unhooking it so she could slide her hands underneath.

Jane’s lips traced a path across Maura’s jaw and down her neck, and then she grunted, hand spasming on Maura’s thigh. “The couch. I can’t hold you up like this.”

“Did you just call me heavy?” Maura huffed, trying to resist as her leg dropped back down to the floor and Jane began to drag her across the kitchen.

Jane stopped when Maura dug her heels in and whirled on her, whole body slumping dramatically as she groaned, “Maura. Don’t make me beg.”

“But you do it so well,” Maura teased.

Jane surged forward and grabbed Maura around the waist and under the knees, sweeping her up off her feet, and Maura scrambled to get a grip on Jane’s shoulders, trying not to screech as she laughed and exclaimed, “You’re going to drop me!”

“No I’m not,” Jane said through gritted teeth, all but tossing Maura onto the couch. Then she winced and grabbed at her back. “Damn, maybe you are heavy.”

Maura back handed her in the belly and Jane snickered, climbing on top of Maura, purposely crushing her a little just to make her squirm, and who was Maura to complain when she was ensnared by Jane?

Maura tugged at Jane’s shirt to get it off, and Jane sat up just enough to help and throw it aside, and as her abdomen stretched and flexed, Maura skimmed her hands over that tight expanse of skin and, in her best impression of Giovanni – which was a really terrible impression – she said, “You look hot as ever.”

Jane grabbed onto Maura’s wrists and mildly warned, “If you ever want me to touch you again I suggest you don’t bring Giovanni to mind.”

“Who are you kidding?” Maura goaded, easily pulling out of Jane’s hold to begin unbuttoning her own blouse, slowly and confidently, smirking as Jane’s eyes immediately dropped to watch the movement with rapt attention. “Even mention of Giovanni won't dissuade you, will it?”

“Mmm, don’t push it,” Jane murmured, surging forward to silence Maura with her lips, and there was no further talk of Giovanni for the rest of the day.

The next evening, however, Giovanni was in their house, smelling of strong cologne, shirt half unbuttoned, and Jane gave Maura a warning look from behind Giovanni’s shoulders, like she thought Maura would pounce on him, and Maura had to suppress an eye roll.

“I hope you’re hungry,” Maura told him as he came over to the kitchen, clambering up onto the stool next to where James was stacking his blocks up on the counter. “I think I made too many noodles.”

“I love hot women that can cook,” Giovanni responded, but he frowned a little when he saw what Maura was making.

“Spaghetti and meatballs,” Maura told him. “You don’t like it?”

“I don’t like little tomatoes,” he admitted.

Maura had to make a concerted effort not to look directly at the faces Jane was making behind Giovanni’s head.

“Well, you can pick them out,” Jane offered as she came around the island to finish up with the garlic bread she had been in the middle of making when Giovanni arrived. “Sorry, Maura puts tomatoes in everything, doesn’t she, Jamie?”

Jamie nodded emphatically without taking his gaze off of his blocks while Maura rolled her eyes at her wife and protested, “I do not.”

But Giovanni still didn’t look all that appeased, telling them, “My Ma makes the best plain spaghetti with butter.”

“Oh,” Maura stammered, “um, well, I do have some extra noodles. Maybe I could make, um, that.” Even though it was an offense to her noodles. “Would you like a glass of wine?”

“You got any beer?”

“Yeah,” Jane answered, striding over to the fridge and grabbing two bottles, keeping one for herself and holding the other out to Giovanni, who chugged the whole thing in one long, impressive gulp.

Maura blinked, mouth half agape in astonishment. Jane just snorted and muttered quietly next to Maura’s ear, “You did this.”

Once he had finished with his beer, he asked, “Hey, you see the new shortstop hit for the cycle?”

And then he and Jane were talking baseball, and Maura set about trying to figure out how to make plain spaghetti with butter.

By the time Maura finished making dinner, Giovanni was building Jamie’s blocks up into a tall tower, Jamie looking up at it with wide-eyed excitement, clapping his hands every time Giovanni made it taller, until, inevitably, the block tower wobbled and fell with a loud clatter, and James shrieked and Giovanni and Jane cried out in dismay, and then they all dissolved into laughter.

Jamie clapped and kicked his feet and said, “Again! Again!”

“Maybe later, buddy,” Jane told him as she was carrying dishes over to the dining room table. “It’s time for dinner.”

“C’mon, little dude,” Giovanni coaxed, picking Jamie up from his chair and hefting the boy up onto his shoulders, and Jamie squealed in delight being up so high, but Maura called an urgent, “Careful!”

“Don’t worry,” Giovanni waved off, and Maura nearly fainted when he took a hand off of Jamie’s leg. “I do this with my nephew all the time.”

“Yeah, well, we’re pretty fond of him, so just make sure you don’t drop him,” Jane requested.

Giovanni sat James down in his high chair, and then asked Jane and Maura in a conspiratorial whisper, “How’d you have him anyways? Since, y’know, you two can’t…”

He made a gesture bordering on lewd, and Maura would have been happy to explain the whole scientific journey, but Jane cut in before she could, snorting and telling Giovanni, “We had an arrangement with a nice doctor. He helped us out.”

Giovanni looked mildly confused, but nodded like he got it and sat down at the table.

Dinner with Giovanni was interesting to say the least, and he found Maura’s plain spaghetti acceptable even if it wasn’t quite on par with his mother’s. Giovanni was sweet and nice to look at, but his off the wall commentary and airheaded thoughts were almost alarming. Still, he knew all about cars and James found him to be entertaining, so the dinner was not as intolerable as Jane seemed to think it would be. Right up until the end, Maura was fairly satisfied with the evening and her idea to invite Giovanni over, and fully intended to tell Jane as much, but it seemed she had miscalculated.

“Sorry to rush you outta here,” Jane was saying to Giovanni after dinner was cleaned up, her and Maura walking him to the door as Jamie was putting away his toys across the room. “It’s almost Jamie’s bed time and he’ll need a bath and story time and it’s a whole thing.”

“Oh, yeah, ‘course,” Giovanni understood.

“But it was good having you,” Maura added. “We’ll have to do this again sometime.”

“Absolutely,” Giovanni agreed as he stepped halfway out the door, but he paused, leaning in closer to Jane and Maura and lowering his voice. “So, uh, how’s this work? We do this at my place next time?” Maura furrowed her brow in confusion, but before she could ask, Giovanni was grinning saying, “I’ve always wanted to try it with two girls.”

“Excuse me?” Jane exclaimed as Maura’s eyes widened in realization.

“But I’ve never done anything like this before,” Giovanni went on, without noticing. “I don’t know all the rules –”

“And you aren’t going to!” Jane interrupted. “I don’t know what the hell you think is going on here, but it ain’t that.

Giovanni quirked his head. “Did I get it wrong? I thought, when you invited me, and then you said…”

“I’m sorry,” Maura cut in. “We didn’t mean to mislead you. We’re actually in a monogamous marriage.”

Giovanni frowned in confusion. “You’re Mormon?”

Jane groaned in exasperation, eyes rolling so far back into her head Maura actually worried they’d get stuck there.

“It means we aren’t looking for a third,” Maura patiently explained, “but it’s very nice of you to offer.”

“Oh, ‘course,” Giovanni shrugged, mostly unperturbed, if a little disappointed. “But if you change your mind?”

“Yeah, we’ll let you know,” Jane scoffed, voice dripping with sarcasm, grabbing Giovanni’s upper arm and giving him a push the rest of the way out the door, Giovanni grinning and waving all the while. “Goodbye!” Jane swung the door closed, and then whipped her head around to look at Maura incredulously. “Did he really just say that?”

Maura bit down hard on her bottom lip, but her laughter spilled out anyways, hand coming up to cover her mouth as her shoulders shook, and Jane was fighting a smile of her own but she huffed out, “Maura. It’s not funny! What did you say to him?”

“Me?!” Maura choked. “You were the one flirting with all that baseball talk.”

Flirting? With Giovanni? May I remind you that you were the one that thought he was hot? And invited him to dinner?”

Maura couldn’t stop laughing long enough to defend herself, just shook her head breathlessly, until eventually she managed to say, “So I guess a threesome with Giovanni wasn’t a good idea for a birthday gift?”

Jane gave Maura a warning look and said, “Don’t even joke about that,” and then Jane finally started laughing too.

That’s when James came toddling over, tugging on Jane’s pants and asking, “What’s funny, Mama?”

“Nothing, baby,” Jane chuckled, bending down to pick him up. “You ready for your bath?”

“Bath time!” Jamie cheered, and Jane shot Maura another teasingly accusatory look.

“This is your fault too.”

Still laughing, Maura accepted, “I’ll take the blame for that one.”

December 2009

Maura and Jane had to work all through the week of Christmas, barely getting enough time free to exchange gifts and sit down to dinner with their family, but they managed to have New Year’s Eve off, and threw a small party at their house with Korsak, Angela, Frank, and Jamie. Frankie was stuck at work and Maura’s mother had only been in town long enough to see them briefly on Christmas Eve. But even their small group could barely make it to midnight. By eleven o’clock, Frank was passed out on the couch with Jamie sleeping on top of his chest. Jane’s father had kept to his word over the last two years since Jamie was born and didn’t drink in front of his grandson, which meant he had gotten bored with New Years, and fell asleep with Jamie after the two of them had grown tired of building Lincoln Logs. Said Lincoln Logs were still strewn across the coffee table, along with Jamie’s sippy cup of juice, a plate of chips and cheese dip he and his grandpa had been sharing, and Frank’s one empty glass of champagne.

Angela, Korsak, and Maura were at the dining room table, still noisily playing cards after they had accused Jane of cheating after her tenth win. Satisfied with her number of wins and feeling the pain in her ass from sitting at the table for so long, Jane had moved to an armchair in the living room to slowly drink the rest of her beer and watch the TV, which was turned to ABC to wait for the Times Square ball drop. The three at the table had drank the most that night, finishing off one bottle of wine and two bottles of champagne between them, and they laughed boisterously and carefree, noisy but clearly having fun, and Jane was happy to watch from a safe distance. It had been a tough week at work, a tough few months if Jane was being honest, and it was good to see Maura relax and enjoy herself. It was good to see Maura happy just a little over a year since the abduction. For a long time, it was back and forth, between the nightmares and the anxiety and PTSD, recovering from injuries mental and physical. But since the trial had ended, things had been better, good, and Jane was ready to put the whole year behind them, to continue on to better and brighter days.

She was content and tired and warm, and her eyelids began to droop as she was lulled by the cacophony of the television and the noisy card players behind her. She might have even dozed off for a second, before she felt a hand on her shoulder, and then a warm body settling on her lap, and she lazily opened her eyes with a smirk to see Maura right in front of her.

“Hey, hon,” Jane murmured, wrapping both arms around Maura’s waist and back as she wobbled on Jane’s legs.

“You’re tired,” Maura deduced, her own eyes looking sleepy and hooded, but Jane knew it was from the alcohol more than exhaustion, though Maura had been up just as early as Jane that morning so it could have been both.

“Yeah, not sure I’ll make it to midnight. I’m officially an old lady.”

“You have to stay awake,” Maura pouted, “so I can kiss you at the start of the new year.”

She leaned in to punctuate her words with a kiss, and Jane snorted. “You’re kissing me right now.”

“But you have to be the first person I kiss in 2010,” Maura tried to reason.

“Uh, I’m no prophet, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be the only person you kiss all year,” Jane teased.

Maura rolled her eyes and her whole body nearly toppled over, probably would have knocked her right on the floor if Jane wasn’t holding on tight. “You know what I mean.”

Jane grinned. “You feelin' good?”

Maura grinned back. “I feel great.

“At least until tomorrow morning,” Jane muttered.

“Come back and play with us again,” Maura coaxed, clumsily tucking Jane’s hair behind her ear.

“So you can accuse me of cheating again?”

“I won’t,” Maura promised, “as long as you’re on my team.”

“I’m always on your team.”

Maura beamed, leaning in to kiss Jane again, but she missed a little and they bumped noses and Jane laughed.

“You’re drunk.”

“I would prefer adequately intoxicated,” Maura countered, eyes sparkling.

“Whatever you say,” Jane sleepily rasped, leaning her head back in the chair and closing her eyes, clenching her fingers tighter on Maura’s thigh, tugging her closer against Jane’s chest. “I still love you even though you’re a hot mess.”

“Mmm, I love you too, pretty,” Maura murmured, snuggling against Jane, kissing her neck, burrowing her face there.

Jane would have been happy to go to sleep right there, comfortable and warm even if her neck would hate her in the morning and her legs were already going numb with Maura on her lap, but Maura was only still for a moment.

“Okay, come on,” Maura grunted, struggling to get back up, sliding out of Jane’s lap, smacking her shoulder, grabbing onto her hand and pulling insistently. “Get up. Let’s play.”

Jane groaned in protest, but let Maura pull her up onto her feet, eyes still half closed, stumbling over to the table and flopping down in the chair next to Maura. Korsak and Angela were fighting over who had won the last round, but agreed to stop their bickering when Maura offered them both more of the cheese dip she and Angela had made that afternoon. With their mouths stuffed full of chips, they were happy to play the next game, and Jane grabbed a handful for herself because her wife and her mother were damn good cooks, even with something seemingly as simple as a cheese dip.

With the chips and the beer Jane managed to stay awake the last half hour before the ball drop, while her dad and Jamie slept on unperturbed. And just before midnight, Jane, Angela, Korsak, and Maura gathered in the living room to watch the ball drop and finish the last dribble of champagne. Korsak, Angela, and Maura counted down and cheered along with the people of New York City as the clock struck midnight, which was finally enough to wake Jamie and Frank, who sat up dazedly just in time for Angela to kiss them both on the forehead.

Jane and Maura turned to one another at the same time, arms sliding around waists, eyes locked and smiles bright, and they moved as one, pressing their lips together as the TV blared in the background, as fireworks popped outside down the street and the neighborhood dogs howled. Maura tasted like sweet champagne and salty chips, smelled like her favorite perfume and the food scents that clung to her hair from the hours she had spent cooking. When she pulled back to look at Jane, her eye makeup was smudged and her hair was frizzy, but she had never looked more beautiful.

“Happy New Year, Jane,” she murmured sweetly.

And as Jane echoed, “Happy New Year, Maura,” she decided that the sleep deprivation had been worth it, to see another new year like this, with Maura and their family, and she would do her best to remember this moment for the next twelve months to come.

Chapter Text

November 2010

Going home was not as quick of a process as Jane had hoped. With Hoyt apprehended once again, his apprentice John Stark dead, and Jane and Maura’s car in a ditch, there was a lot of explaining they had to get through first. The EMTs had to check Jane and Maura out, Maura for wrecking her car and Jane for holding a hot flare against her chest. But aside from some scrapes and bruises, Maura was fine, and Jane had second degree burns but only in a small area, one that would hurt like a bitch later, but she’d gladly take that in exchange for her life and Maura’s.

Then came all the questioning, giving their statements to one person and then another, and Korsak scolding Maura for going off on her own, and Frankie despairing over the wrecked Mercedes, and god, Jane didn’t even want to think about how her mother was going to badger her when they got home. She was tired of talking, tired of thinking and worrying and being afraid. She wanted to hold Maura and Jamie close and forget about Hoyt, forget about the last few days, about all of it.

Agent Dean came around while Jane was sitting on the back of the ambulance, and Jane hadn’t thought much about him through this whole experience, hadn’t paid him hardly any mind, but he had been helpful despite her total resistance to his presence.

“Hey,” Dean said, stuffing his hands in his pockets, looking at Jane with those dark eyes, “heard you got second degree burns.”

“Yeah,” Jane huffed out on a brief laugh, “flares are.. hot.”

Dean chuckled a little awkwardly, dipping his head, looking across the road, to where the coroner’s van still sat, the real coroner’s van, not the one Hoyt and his apprentice had used. “Stark was a decorated soldier. Makes me sick.”

“Hoyt kills four people so Stark can waltz in and hide him in a body bag.” Jane shook her head and Dean hummed in agreement. “Listen… I might have been a bit of a hard ass –”

“You think?” Dean snorted.

“Yeah, well, in my defense…”

“You were being hunted by a psychopath?” Dean guessed. “I – I get it.”

“But what I’m trying to say is thank you,” Jane rasped. “We probably wouldn’t have figured out who Stark was so quickly without your help.”

“Not that it did much good,” Dean pointed out.

“No, but – still, I appreciate it. Me and Maura both do.” Jane looked in that direction, where her wife stood with Frost and several other officers and detectives, blanket around her shoulders, explaining her high speed chase once again to the impressed group, but it was like she sensed Jane’s eyes on her, because she turned her head then and the pair of them locked eyes, and Maura smiled tiredly Jane’s way.

Dean was shrugging and responding, “You’re a good cop.”

Jane smirked, turning her attention back to him. “Thanks. You’re not bad yourself.” And their eyes met in the flashing lights surrounding them, and there was a beat, where Dean was looking at Jane a little too closely, and maybe it was nothing but it reminded her of what Maura had said a few days ago. “Y’know, my wife thinks you’ve got the hots for me.”

Dean dropped his gaze again, shifting his feet, exhaling a short laugh, and then he looked over at where Maura stood too, but instead of outright denying it like Jane had hoped, he replied, “You’ve got a damn good wife. Who could compete with that?”

But Jane couldn’t really argue with that either. “Yeah, yeah I do.”

Dean held his hand out to Jane, smiling good-naturedly, and Jane accepted the handshake. “It was good meeting you, Detective Rizzoli.”

“Yeah, you too.”

“I’ll see you,” Dean said, backing up, turning his head as Maura was approaching, giving her a short wave, and Maura inclined her head to him in silent farewell.

“Yeah, see you,” Jane idly said to Dean, watching her wife draw nearer, and then Maura was hopping up onto the back of the ambulance next to Jane, sidling right up against her, and Jane slipped an arm out from underneath her own blanket to put it around Maura’s shoulders.

Maura placed a kiss on Jane’s neck and then laid her head on Jane’s shoulder, and Jane nuzzled her nose in Maura’s hair and just breathed for a moment.

“I think you were right,” Jane eventually murmured against Maura’s head.

“Mmm, I often am,” Maura murmured, and Jane grinned. “But what was I right about this time?”

“Agent Dean. He thinks I’m hot.”

“Well, he’s not wrong, but I do hope he wasn’t coming onto you. I already lost one pair of heels this evening. I’d hate to have to use another.”

Jane snickered just imagining it, Maura chasing after FBI Agent Gabriel Dean with a pair of pink pumps. “Don’t worry. He bowed out gracefully.”

“Good,” Maura sighed, and Maura’s eyelashes fluttered against Jane’s neck.

“C’mon,” Jane gently urged, nudging Maura forward. “We should be allowed to leave now.”

“Okay,” Maura yawned, lazily dragging herself up, both of them leaning heavily on one another.

Korsak saw them on the move, and hesitantly approached, Frost right behind him, and Korsak asked, “You want a ride?”

Jane nodded. “Yeah. Kinda don’t have a choice.”

So Korsak and Frost drove Jane and Maura back home, offered to come in with them, but they insisted both men go home, and pretended not to notice when they lingered in the driveway.

As soon as she stepped into her home, Jane felt the exhaustion wash over her all at once, taking in the destruction of their living room, the senseless mess Hoyt and Stark had left behind, overturned furniture and shredded papers and pillows. It was an annoyingly literal example of how their life had been upturned, and Jane balked at the sight of it. She slumped against the front door and just stood there, staring at the living room with no idea where to start. The sun was coming up, leaking through the windows and casting a hazy glow on the mess. Maura was carefully picking up a shattered picture frame, mournfully stroking the damaged picture of her and Jane and Jamie.

“Hey,” Jane rasped, fishing in her pocket for the keys to her unmarked. “Why don’t we hire somebody to clean this up and go get a Bloody Mary?”

Maura looked up, brows furrowing. “What?”

“We’ve been saying we need to do more together outside of a crime scene,” Jane reasoned. “This is a crime scene. Let’s go.”

“What about James?” Maura pointed out.

“He’s probably still sleeping. We’ll pick him up after this is cleaned up.”

“Oh… okay,” Maura agreed, setting the picture frame back down, but she looked down at her outfit, smeared with just a little bit of blood, her dirt spattered legs and a pair of sneakers that did not go with her dress, and then at Jane, with her burnt shirt and her bandaged chest, and Jane could see they’d never make it out of the house if Maura decided they needed to change.

“Nope, come on,” Jane said, striding over quickly to grab Maura by the elbow, hauling her back towards the door.

Maura began to protest, “But if I could just –”

“Nope,” Jane cut her off as they stepped back outside into the cool morning air.

“But people will –”

“Don’t care,” Jane interjected, opening the passenger door and guiding Maura into the car. Maura rambled on and on while Jane was going around the front of the car and climbing in the driver’s seat and starting the car. But after they had backed out of the driveway, Jane argued, “Let ‘em look. We’ve been through hell and we deserve a drink.”

“Who even sells Bloody Mary’s this early in the morning?” Maura questioned.

“I know a place,” Jane promised, and Maura didn’t question her any further. Instead, she called for a cleaning service to come to the house while they were out, paid extra to have someone come by as soon as possible.

The place Jane took them wasn’t exactly a classy joint, and the three patrons that were there looked like they had been there all night, and Maura raised an eyebrow at her wife as they seated themselves at the bar. “How exactly do you know of this place?”

Jane shrugged. “Tracked a suspect here once.”

“That’s not encouraging,” Maura muttered, swiping at the bar with a napkin as if it was too dirty to put her elbows on.

Jane snorted and swatted at Maura’s hand. “Stop. It’s not that bad.”

Maura just lifted both brows in disbelief, but didn’t argue to the contrary.

The bartender came by to get their order, and then for several minutes they sat in silence, staring blankly at the TV screen overhead, playing the morning news on mute. The captions scrolled by, but Jane couldn’t focus long enough to read them. There were images and sounds flashing through her mind, Hoyt’s burned face, his apprentice dead on the ground, Maura with glass in her hair and blood on her knees.

After they had their drinks in front of them, Jane blinked and shook her head, turned to Maura and asked, “Hey, are you doing okay?”

Maura seemed to consider it, sucking in a cleansing breath, taking a long drink of her Bloody Mary. “Yes. Yes, I am. I can’t say for certain that there won’t be any setbacks, but I am currently feeling okay. How are you?”

“Fine – yeah, fine,” Jane said with a shake of her head, but Maura was looking at her with those soft, hazel eyes, and Jane relented, “Okay, I’ll be fine.” And she would be, really, because she had Maura and their son and everything was gonna be okay.

She smiled reassuringly, and Maura’s lips quirked up a little too. Then Maura laid her hand over Jane’s wrist and suggested, “Why don’t we go get Jamie?”

Jane didn’t even glance at the Bloody Marys they had barely touched, just slipped her hand into Maura’s and agreed, “Okay.”

They drove to Jane’s parents' house, pulled into the drive and then walked right through the front door, found Jamie already running down the hall towards them. Jane crouched down at once, caught him as he flung himself into her arms, and straightened back up with him tucked into her side, his little arms and legs wrapping around her. He was still dressed in his pajamas, dark green pants and long sleeves with dinosaurs printed on the cloth, and Jane had to smooth down his dark curly hair where it was sticking up in disarray.

“Mama, you came in time!” Jamie said with delight. “Nonna is makin' bunny pancakes.”

“My favorite!” Jane exclaimed, smiling for Jamie.

“Mommy, you too?” Jamie asked Maura as she was leaning in to kiss his cheek in greeting.

“Oh, absolutely,” Maura agreed, because who didn’t like bunny pancakes?

“Let’s go get ‘em,” Jane said, bouncing Jamie on her hip, carrying him down the hall, Maura keeping pace beside her.

As they entered the kitchen, Angela looked at Jane silently, and Jane could see the dark shadows under her mother’s eyes, could see that she hadn’t slept all night either.

“Hey, Ma,” Jane quietly greeted, sitting Jamie up on the counter and holding him there. “Can we get some of those?”

“Help Jamie set the table,” Angela said in response, waving her spatula in that direction.

“Is Pop joining us?” Jane asked, looking around, half expecting him to appear, but Angela was shaking her head, attention focused on the sizzling pan in front of her.

“No, he’s out.”

Jane started to frown, but looked at Jamie and decided not to question her mother, hefting Jamie back up off the counter and setting him down on the floor. “Come on, buddy. You get the silverware.”

“Can I help you here, Angela?” Maura offered.

Angela nodded then. “You can mix up some more batter for me.”

Jane gathered up the plates and napkins and helped Jamie get the silverware, and they shuffled into the dining room to set the table. And while they were in there, Jane paused to look at that table, that room, to remember all of it, the good and the bad, some faint childhood memories with her brothers and her parents, but mostly the recent ones. When she had first brought Maura to Christmas, before they started dating, before Jane pulled her head out of her ass and realized what was right in front of her. When Jane told her parents that she and Maura were in a relationship. Disastrous dinners and good dinners, the first time they brought Jamie to his grandparents' house for their Sunday get together, when Jamie first called his grandmother Nonna and she burst into tears. That table had seen so many things, so many moments, and Jane was struck with it all of a sudden, of how close she had been to losing it all, how if Hoyt had succeeded in finishing his plans for her she would have never gotten another moment at that table, another moment with her family, and it was like an avalanche of emotions was threatening to spill out of her, tears stinging her eyes.

“Mama?” Jamie whispered anxiously, tugging on her pant leg, looking up at her with big, confused eyes, and Jane must have looked a sight and she must not have reacted quickly enough, because he turned his head and worriedly called for Maura, “Mommy!”

“Oh, I’m sorry, baby,” Jane rushed to say, bending to pick Jamie up again, holding him against her burnt chest even as it protested the weight, breathlessly telling him, “I’m okay, I’m sorry.”

“You is sad?” Jamie murmured, touching his little hand to Jane’s face, to the tears she couldn’t really stop. She wondered if she had ever cried after the first time, if she had ever let herself feel the weight of the fear Hoyt had instilled in her after abducting Maura, and luring Jane into that basement to destroy her hands, and the whole sordid trial. She had spent so much time thinking about Maura, worrying about Maura, and Jamie and her parents, she hadn’t let herself dwell on it beyond that. But now, with the adrenaline wearing off, and the exhaustion of the evening and turmoil of the last few days settling on her shoulders, she just felt so drained.

Maura came rushing into the room. “Jamie? What is it? What’s wrong?” And then she saw Jane, and some of her panic abated but her shoulders slumped with devastated understanding.

“Mama is sad,” Jamie fretted.

Jane tried to reassure, “No, baby, I’m just – I’m just tired. I’m okay.”

Jamie was frowning, laid his head on one of Jane’s shoulders and patted the other, telling her, “It’s okay, Mama.”

Maura stepped into Jane’s side, wrapped her arms around Jane’s waist, and Jane’s voice cracked even as she tried to say, “I’m okay.”

Maura saw right through her, shook her head and whispered, “No, but you will be.”

Jane nodded, squeezed her arm around Maura’s shoulders and pressed her cheek to the top of Jamie’s head, and that was all she really needed. She would be fine – she would so long as she had them.

March 2011

It was a county holiday and Jane and Maura had the day off of work, along with much of the rest of the office, which seemed the perfect opportunity for the baseball game between homicide and narcotics.

As per usual, Maura was mostly riding the bench, waiting for the team to give in and let her take a few swings. She had bought a new athletic outfit for the occasion, hoping it would help her with her agility. Maura had impeccable dexterity, but her sports abilities were lacking because she couldn’t quite get the necessary timing down.

James was there with his mothers, but he couldn’t be less interested in the game taking place in front of him. He had abandoned Maura to sit with one of the other detective’s six-year-old daughter, Katie, and the pair of them were bent over their coloring books.

It was an unseasonably warm day, the sun shining and the sky clear, by all measures a perfect afternoon, but homicide wasn’t doing particularly well, and Jane was taking it personally. One of her old grade school nemeses, narcotics sergeant Joey Grant, was pitching, and every strike he got against homicide made Jane more and more terse. When she wasn’t in the outfield or up to bat, she was pacing in front of the fence, but Maura knew how much her wife hated to lose so she was not perturbed. She kept her spot on the bench and shouted encouragements from the stands.

When Jane next went up to bat in the bottom of the second inning, Maura cheered her on, “Come on, Jane!” And even when Jane missed the first pitch, Maura persisted, “Stroke up! That's how Crystal Bustos won the gold!” She clapped and continued to shout, “Come on! Upstroke!”

That’s when a voice from behind caught Maura’s attention, a question of, “How long you been playing?”

Maura turned to find a man in a suit on the other side of the fence behind her, leaning against it and smiling up at Maura with interest. “Me?” Maura responded, wondering who he might be. He wasn’t dressed to play and she hadn’t seen him around homicide. He must have been a friend of one of the players come to watch the game, a lawyer maybe. She remembered Jane complaining that the district attorney’s office was thinking of making a team of their own.

“Yeah,” the man answered, waiting patiently for Maura’s reply.

“Oh, I wouldn’t say I’ve played much, but I’ve been coming to the games for a few years.”

“Love the uniform,” he said, and Maura was starting to think his interest wasn’t purely friendly, but she smiled anyways, delighted to have someone mention it.

“Water-resistant,” she told him. “One-layer skin made with Dyneema. It's light and comfortable, actually, due to intrinsic cooling properties.”

The man in the suit looked her up and down appreciatively. “It fits nice too.”

Maura smiled politely, thought maybe she should let the poor man down gently before he got any further ideas, but Jane was about to bat again and Maura stood up to watch. “Upstroke!” She licked her thumb and held it up in the air. “Wind at 10 knots!”

Jane only sounded slightly exasperated as she idly called back, “Thank you, Maura!”

“Come on, Jane!”

Grant threw his pitch, and this time Jane didn’t miss. Maura admired the way her wife’s muscles flexed as she swung, as the bat smacked into the ball and sent it flying up across center field. Maura hopped in place in excitement, clapping and whooping as she watched Jane begin her run to first base. “Yes! Good hit, Jane!”

Someone in the outfield caught Jane’s hit, and Jane shouted across the field, “Maura!”

“Oh, she’s letting me play,” Maura realized, preparing herself at once, tucking her hair into her Dyneema suit.

The man in the regular suit told her, “Get a hit, I’ll buy you dinner.”

Maura glanced at him over her shoulder with a mischievous smirk as she agreed, “Okay, as long as my wife can come.”

“Your…” the man’s smile flickered, confusion marring his brow. “You have a wife?”

But Maura was already hopping down off of the stands, snatching up her bat on her way over to home plate.

Jane was coming back to the sidelines, and she looked at Maura and shook her head, feebly protesting, “No, Maura, wait –”

“Don’t worry,” Maura teased, lightly swatting Jane on the behind as she passed her, “I’ve got this.”

Jane looked about as bewildered as the man in the suit.

Maura, meanwhile, was exhilarated, jogging over to the plate, squatting down low and then back up to stretch out her legs in preparation, lining up her swing, telling the pitcher, “Give me a fast one. Right down the middle.”

Eventually, Grant obliged, and Maura swung at the fast moving ball with all her strength, felt the vibration ring through her arms and heard the satisfying ping as her bat struck its target. For a second she was stunned, crying out in surprise, watching the ball fly high into the air, and then she was on the move, tossing the bat aside and running to first base. But she never made it the whole way either. She noticed, in the midst of her excitement, that the players on the field were no longer paying attention to her or the game, but were looking off into the distance, and Maura followed their troubled gazes to where a body now lay on the ground on the far side of the baseball pitch, just below the bridge.

Frowning, Maura turned back for the stands, where Jane was already rushing over to Jamie, who was still engrossed in his coloring book, but he would notice the commotion around him any minute.

By the time Maura reached them, Jamie and the young girl he was coloring with were being shuffled away by Katie’s mother, Michelle, who was taking the kids in the opposite direction of the body. Then Maura and Jane went with the others to investigate, found that the person was a woman, one that was dressed in a bath robe and her pajamas. She had no I.D. on her, and whoever had tossed her over the bridge was long gone.

“Was she dead before she was tossed?” Jane asked as Maura was knelt down examining the body.

“I’d be guessing,” Maura sighed as she looked up at her wife.

“I won’t tell,” Jane promised.

Maura shook her head with slight exasperation. “Ballpark? Two hours.”

A different voice from above snorted, and Maura turned her head to see the man in the suit standing across from her. He smiled sheepishly at her, stammering, “Hey, uh, sorry about – you know. I didn’t know that you were a – you know.”

Maura put him out of his misery before he went any further. “That’s all right.”

“Yeah? Okay,” he said, relieved, giving her a thumbs up, already backing away. His cellphone was ringing in his pocket and he turned and retreated as he brought it up to his ear.

“What the hell was that?” Jane asked in bewilderment.

“He asked me to dinner,” Maura answered.

Korsak snorted. “Oh boy.”

Jane scoffed, “Why?” and Maura looked up at her with an insulted expression, and Jane spluttered, “I just mean –”

“He was admiring my outfit,” Maura interjected. “He didn’t think it was ridiculous.”

“Yeah, ‘cause what he was really admirin' was your ass,” Jane muttered.

“I seem to recall you admiring the same thing just this morning,” Maura pointed out.

Oh boy,” Korsak repeated under his breath, hastily moving away from them so he wasn’t quite so perfectly in the middle.

“Yeah,” Jane admitted, “but I’m allowed to.”

“Mmm, true,” Maura agreed, letting her own eyes trail down Jane’s form. “Have I told you yet today how good you look in those shorts?”

Jane smirked, looking pleased, but then she was wrinkling her nose saying, “Oh my god. Are you flirting with me over a dead body?”

“When else am I gonna do it?” Maura reasoned.

“Oh, I don’t know, at home,” Jane suggested.

Grant stepped in then, telling Jane, “I’ll call it in.”

But Jane immediately balked, her teasing attitude turned irritated. “Okay, you’re drugs, we’re homicide. We got it.”

Grant smirked, not all that pleasantly. “Okay. It’s your day off. I was just trying to help.”

“Thank you,” Jane did not say gratefully.

Maura and Korsak exchanged a glance, eyebrows raised high, looking away from Jane and Grant so they wouldn’t get caught in the crossfire.

Maura tried to change the subject, “Perfect enamel layer. No deterioration of abutting gingiva.”

English,” Jane begged.

“She's a flosser,” Maura explained, and Jane looked at her in exasperation.

Frost and Frankie arrived before Jane could complain, and Frost said regretfully, “No witnesses. Not that many cars use this overpass. But Frankie found this.”

He held out a brown paper bag, which Jane took and pulled out a steel wheel, one that Maura recognized. “1960s Chrysler 300F. Wedge engine. It's distinctive and pleasing.”

“It's from the suspect's car,” Frankie added.

“You'll never make homicide if you keep jumping to conclusions. You don't know where this came from,” Jane scolded. She handed the wheel back to Frost. “Get me everything you can, all right?”

Frankie looked chastened as he turned away, and Maura chastised Jane, “He looks up to you.”

“You're an only child. Get yourself a brother, we'll talk,” Jane said defensively, and Maura looked at Korsak again, and he just shook his head. Jane asked one of the nearby homicide detectives, “Hey, can I borrow your radio? Thanks a lot.” Then she seemed to reconsider her previous words, shooting her wife an apologetic look. “I mean, yes, all right, I would like to help him make homicide detective, he's just... He's not ready.

“You are deceptively complex,” Maura said. “Sometimes I do not understand you.”

“Well, you would if I was a dead body.”

Maura considered it. “Do you think so?”

Jane didn’t answer that, just stared at Maura from underneath her ball cap as she brought the radio up to her mouth. “Victor 825. I got a full notification. I got one Ocean Franks down here at Revere Park.”

Maura stepped up next to Jane, looking up at the overpass from where the woman had been thrown, squinting in the sunlight. “You think it was deliberate?”

“Well, somebody knew we were here,” Jane answered. “I'd say they wanna play ball.”

An apt metaphor, with peculiar and chilling implications, another puzzle to be unraveled. But first…

“We should check on James,” Maura decided. “Do you think your mother is free to take him this afternoon?” They had already been planning to have dinner with Angela and Frank that evening, but those plans might be slightly delayed now.

“I’ll call her,” Jane said, hand landing on Maura’s lower back as they began to step away from the crime scene. She told Korsak, “I’ll see you back at the station.”

James was still with his new friend and her mother, who was doing her best to distract the two children, but it was apparent that Jamie was fussing, and when he caught sight of his own mothers approaching he went running to them in relief. Maura frowned at the sight of his face, scrunched up and pink, tears glistening in his eyes, and she bent down to pick him up as soon as he reached her.

“My darling,” she soothed, rubbing his back, “what is it?”

Jamie sniffled and rubbed his eyes, and buried his face in Maura’s neck without an explanation.

“I’m sorry,” Michelle said, looking flustered. “I think he overheard some of the other detectives talking and something upset him.”

“That’s all right,” Jane assured. “Thanks for watching him, Michelle.”

“No problem,” she said, taking her daughter’s hand and beginning to shuffle away. “Come on, Katie. We should get home.”

Jane stood close to Maura, running her hand through Jamie’s dark hair, softly coaxing, “Hey, buddy, are you okay?”

Jamie turned his head so he was only half hiding against Maura, looking at Jane with red-rimmed eyes. “Is that lady hurt?” he mumbled.

Jane was slow to respond, nodding as she seemed to consider the best thing to say. At three years old, James didn’t know much about his mothers' jobs, only that Jane was a cop and Maura was a doctor and they helped people that were hurt. “Yeah, she is, but I don’t want you to worry about that, okay? This is what me and Mommy do. We’re gonna find who hurt her.”

“You gotta go to work?”

“Uh huh,” Jane answered a little regretfully, “but we’re gonna take you to see Nonna and Pop-Pop. That’ll be fun, right?”

Jamie shrugged, and Maura kissed the top of his head. “Come on, sweetheart. Nonna is making gnocchi tonight, remember? You love gnocchi, don’t you?”

“Mmhmm,” he murmured.

Jane curled her arm around Maura’s waist as they began the walk back to the car, telling Jamie, “Nonna is gonna show me how to make gnocchi, so one day I can teach you. Does that sound fun?”

James did perk up a little then with interest. He liked helping out in the kitchen, with his mothers or Angela, which normally slowed the whole process down, but it was never too early to learn a useful skill, and if he enjoyed it then Maura didn’t usually mind the extra work. Although, Maura was all about teaching him the proper habits and cleanliness. When Jane cooked with him, it was like a bomb had gone off in their kitchen.

On their trek back to the car, Jane called her mother, and when she hung up informed Maura, “All right, she’s gonna meet us at the station.” And because James was still looking a little glum, she grabbed him under the arms and swung him up onto her shoulders, holding him with one hand on his left leg and the other on his right arm “C’mon, kid, let’s race Mommy back to the car, see if she’s any faster in that silly outfit.”

Jamie snickered and Jane bounced out of reach of Maura’s pinching fingers, already taking long, quick strides away.

“Go, Mama, go!” Jamie cheered.

Maura laughed and shook her head and said, “Oh, it’s on,” and then she raced after them.

Chapter Text

Joey Grant was the new homicide lieutenant and Jane was beyond annoyed.

So she had gone down to the morgue to rant to her wife and to hopefully get an update on their recent victim. Jane did get a cause of death, that their victim had been strangled with some type of cloth, but Maura's perspective on Jane’s troubles with Grant were not so welcome.

Frost had just gone running from the room trying not to hurl, Korsak on his heels mocking him all the way, when Maura looked up at Jane and asked, “You wanna know what I'm thinking?”

“It's so weird, I do,” Jane responded, initially smiling good-naturedly.

Until Maura said, “I think I know why you're making such a big deal that Grant's your new boss.”

Jane immediately changed her mind. “On second thought, I don't wanna know what you’re thinking.”

But Maura powered on, “He likes you.”

“No,” Jane refuted at once.

“And you used to like him too, didn’t you?” Maura pressed.

“No!” Jane said even more vehemently. “Do you know what that ass used to call me? Frog face.” Maura seemed to make a valiant effort to fight it, but Jane could see the smile curling her lips. “It's not funny, Maura! It... No!”

Maura shook her head, forcing her lips down through her obvious amusement. “It's not funny,” she agreed, but there was still laughter in her voice.

“I'm not a frog face!”

Maura did frown then, was a little more serious as she told Jane, “No. Of course you’re not.”

“He cheated off my catechism test, called me frog face, and he put a mallard duck in my locker in the seventh grade,” Jane ticked off on each finger. “If that was his way of trying to flirt, it didn’t work on me.”

“In my experience, not much does,” Maura quipped.

“Hey, I let you marry me, didn’t I?”

“Yes, I am very lucky,” Maura said, only a little sarcastically.

“And don’t you forget it,” Jane huffed.

“Speaking of forgetting,” Maura started to say.

But she didn’t have to finish because Jane took one look at her watch with wide eyes and exclaimed, “Oh, my God. Gnocchi night.” She went hastily around the autopsy table, pulling at the scrubs covering her clothes, skidding to a stop next to Maura. “Did you want me to wait for you?”

“No, go ahead,” Maura waved her off. “I’ll be another hour finishing up here. I’ll meet you at home.”

“Okay, call me if you need me,” Jane was saying as she was rushing towards the door, but she stopped halfway there and spun back around, jogging back to Maura and kissing her sloppily on the cheek. “Love you!”

When Jane arrived home, she found her brother and her father on the sofa watching the baseball game, and Frankie’s feet were propped up on the coffee table, shoes still on, and Maura would have scolded him mercilessly if she’d seen it, so Jane went straight to him first and knocked his feet off the table saying, “Who invited you?”

“Nice to see you too,” Frankie scoffed.

“Hi, Daddy,” Jane said to her father next, kissing him on the cheek.

“Hi, honey,” he greeted, barely taking his eyes off the game.

Jamie and Angela were in the kitchen, Jamie propped up in one of the chairs at the island, flipping through one of his picture books. Jane went over to kiss him on top of his head, rubbing his back and saying, “Hey, buddy, did you have a good day with Nonna?”

Jamie nodded without looking up. “Uh huh.”

“You wanna come watch the game with me?” Jane offered, but she knew what he would say before he even spoke.

Jamie shook his head and simply answered, “No.”

“You give that boy too much freedom,” her father chimed in from the couch. “How can he not like baseball?”

“’Cause he’s a very smart boy,” Angela praised, and she and Jamie shared a conspiratorial smile, and Jane should have been more worried by how much her son agreed with her mother lately, but it was also kind of sweet.

“What are you reading, buddy?” Jane asked him, and Jamie brightly began talking about all the pretty animals in his book, asked Jane what some of them were called and tried to form the words himself. Until they came upon some kind of bird with an absurd name, and Jane snorted. “We’ll have to ask Mommy how to say that one when she gets home.”

“Is Mommy workin’?” Jamie asked.

“Yeah, but she’ll be home soon,” Jane told him, kissing the top of his head again, his thick messy curls tickling her cheeks.

Frank swiveled on the couch to say to Jane, “I heard you got a pinch hitter tossed into your game.”

“Did Maura find anything?” Frankie eagerly questioned his sister.

“That’s not dinner talk,” Angela admonished, looking pointedly at Jamie, but Frank was already looking back at the TV. Frankie rolled his eyes but turned back around too.

Angela pointed at Jane with the knife in her hand. “And you're the one who wanted to learn how to make grandma's gnocchi.”

“Okay, okay. I'm coming,” Jane huffed, hastening around the counter. With Jamie distracted by his book, and the pan on the stove sizzling noisily, Jane followed her mother to the sink and turned the water on, leaning in close to quietly ask Angela, “How is he?”

“He’s fine,” Angela insisted, waving her hand like she was swatting at a fly. “He cheered right up with some ice cream. But your daddy needs help.”

Jane frowned and shut off the sink, turning towards her father, shouting across the room, “Dad, what do you need?”

“What did you say?” Frank called back.

“Nothing!” Angela interjected, squeezing Jane’s arm and forcefully turning her back towards the sink. “Everything’s okay!” She looked sharply at Jane, turning the sink back on and lowering her voice. “He needs Frankie Jr. to take over the business. I mean, Frankie belongs at Rizzoli and Sons, not out on the streets.”

“He's not homeless, he's a cop, Ma.”

“Just point out to him all the things he could miss, okay? He listens to you.”

“The things he... What is he gonna miss?” Jane looked around her house, searching for what her mother thought Frankie was going to lose by being a cop.

Angela rolled her eyes at once. “Let’s be honest. You finding Maura was a fluke. There aren’t going to be anymore beautiful, smart medical examiners coming along for Frankie to marry. He needs a wife.

“Why? He has you,” Jane quipped, just as her phone began ringing somewhere behind her.

Jane whirled, even as her mother was telling her, “No – no you’re not!”

But Jane grabbed up her phone from the kitchen island, holding out her other arm to stop her mother from coming closer and probably yanking it out of her hands, answering, “Rizzoli. Yeah. All right. I’ll be right there.”

Frankie perked up from the couch. “You catch another homicide?”

“None of your business,” Jane told him as she was gathering up her things. “Keep your feet off my table.”

“Okay, Princess,” Frankie scoffed.

“I’m sorry, baby, but I gotta go help Mommy,” Jane said to Jamie, kissing the top of his head again, and he puckered his bottom lip in a pout but nodded his understanding. “I love you.”

“Love you, Mama,” Jamie echoed.

And then Jane was out the door, driving back across town.

She met Maura at the next victim’s home, and as they walked in together, Maura asked, “How was Jamie?”

“He’s good,” Jane assured. “Ma’s spoiling him.”

“I’m not sure if that’s reassuring,” Maura joked.

“Well, she’s not trying to find him a wife yet so that’s something. Before I left, she was trying to convince me to talk Frankie out of being a cop again. Says there isn’t gonna be another gorgeous medical examiner coming along anytime soon, and he’s gonna miss out on having a family.”

“Oh, I don’t think that’s true,” Maura exclaimed. “Frankie has plenty of time to have a family. Male fertility doesn’t generally begin to reduce until age forty –”

Yuck,” Jane interrupted with a shiver and a grimace. “Please don’t talk about my brother’s fertility, okay?”

 Maura rolled her eyes and pinched Jane’s shoulder, but they had reached their latest victim’s bedroom, so they did not continue their conversation. Jane went first to speak with the responding officers, while Maura went to the bed where the woman laid, tucked into bed with a bow tied around her throat.

It was another strangling victim, the second in one day, and for all the cases they had seen, this was a rarity. It was the same M.O., another young woman dead, and Jane knew then that it was going to be a long night.

Barry Frost remembered the day that he met Jane and Dr. Isles. He also remembered the day that he learned who they were, barely three weeks into working at BPD, when his whole life seemed to be beginning and theirs was in a spiral. He had gone through the academy down in Plymouth, had served in uniform there for several years, but Plymouth had a tenth of the population of Boston, and Frost was looking for more, wanted to stretch his skills in a place where it was more often needed. And maybe, some small part of him wanted to make the short trip upstate to return home, even though his mother had long moved to Virginia. Boston was where he had done the most of his growing up, and it would feel good to be back on those familiar streets.

BPD had taken him on as a floating detective, uncertain of where best to put him, but in need of his technological skills. He had been eager to prove himself, eager to take whatever opportunities he might find. He hadn’t really heard the name Rizzoli before, or if he had he hadn’t known the significance. There were a lot of detectives that used BRIC, in a variety of units, and Frost hadn’t had time yet to keep them straight. But he knew the Chief Medical Examiner was Dr. Isles, had caught brief glimpses of her when she was gliding through the upstairs halls, her footsteps giving her away almost every time because she was usually the only person walking around in high heels.

On the day that Dr. Isles was taken, Frost learned that she wasn’t just the Queen of the Dead with a surprisingly high class fashion sense, that she was actually Dr. Isles-Rizzoli, that her wife was Homicide Detective Jane Isles-Rizzoli, both of them stars of their field, much like Frost was in his own. The whole Boston Police Department had been turned on its head for those sixteen hours while Dr. Isles had been missing. Regardless of whether anyone closely knew Jane or Maura, whether they admired them or were perplexed by them, a cop’s wife had been taken, by a real life boogeyman, and everyone at headquarters took that personally. They were all of them searching the city for clues, and Frost was no exception. It had turned his stomach to hear about it, had half expected that Dr. Isles was done for, that they’d never get her back alive from Charles Hoyt, and even if they did, what brutalized state would she be in? But he had searched frantically anyways. He had wanted to help.

That was the first time he met Frankie too, a young, green faced rookie that came barreling into BRIC, desperate and halfway to tears, and he was asking for help, for someone to just listen to him and help him. Frost’s brows had furrowed at the name Rizzoli, hadn’t realized there was another one, could tell that it wasn’t just a coincidence, and when he offered to help Frankie he half worried about what he was getting himself into. Desperate family members never wanted to give up on their loved ones, never wanted to face hard truths, and Frost didn’t want to have to be the one to break it to him if that was the case. But Frankie had found something, however minute, and Frost had followed that seemingly impossible thread as far as it would go. By the time he found anything, Frankie was back out helping with the search, had grown impatient with Frost’s speed. But when Frost narrowed down the search, he was almost afraid to give it to anyone, thought about going to the location himself. If he found Dr. Isles dead, at least it would be him, at least it would be a stranger and not the people that loved her. But Frankie had been so certain, had said Maura’s a fighter, Maura’s gonna make it, Jane’s gonna find her, and frankly, if it were him, he would have wanted the chance to save his wife, would be furious if some outsider took it into their own hands.

So, Frost had called Jane Rizzoli, had heard the suffering in her voice, but her strength too, her wit and her resolve, and even though she had thrown herself headfirst into that basement, had suffered long lasting damage of her own because of it, she had come out victorious, with her wife in tact and her family still whole, if a little battered. He had looked them both up after that, not so much as to be invasive, but enough to be impressed, to be relieved they had survived, especially for that curly-haired little boy who’s photo sat prominently on Rizzoli’s desk.

Jane and Maura both were out of work for several weeks after that, but Dr. Isles returned first. Frost had heard that she was back, had thought he heard her heels clicking through the halls again, but he hadn’t expected her to approach him one day, when he was downstairs in the division one café waiting in an annoyingly long line just to get a coffee.

He had heard a soft, feminine voice just behind his right shoulder saying, “Detective Frost?” and when he turned and saw the polished woman standing before him, he had known at once that it was her, even though he had never really seen her in person, not up close. There was no mistaking that pretty smile, the same one she wore in the picture of her and that little boy on Rizzoli’s desk.

“Dr. Isles,” Frost had said at once, reaching out a hand to shake hers. “It’s nice to finally meet you.”

“And you,” Dr. Isles had responded. “I hear that I owe you a debt of gratitude. I wanted to thank you – we both do.” She had gestured behind her then, to where Frost could see Detective Rizzoli a few paces away. She still wasn’t cleared for duty, was dressed in jeans and a T-shirt, and she had a baby on her hip, that little boy of theirs, and he was shyly hiding in her thick hair as she talked to some of the other detectives and unis that had stopped her. Without a word being said, she looked up when her wife’s gaze fell on her, and made her excuses to shuffle away from the group that had come to greet her.

Rizzoli walked right up to Frost, hand outstretched, smile on her face that was more like a smirk but just as warm as her wife’s had been, and her hands weren’t bandaged anymore but Frost could see that the skin still looked swollen and enflamed, and he did his best not to look for long, shook Rizzoli’s hand and met her eye.

“Jane Rizzoli,” she’d said, and it was nice, he thought, to see her seemingly happy, without the desperation and fear in her voice.

“Barry,” he’d responded.

“You like beer, Barry? ‘Cause I owe you a lot of it.”

He snorted. “Yeah, I like beer, but you guys don’t owe me anything. I was happy to help.”

“Yeah but what you did helped me find my wife quicker than I could have alone. So thank you.”

They hadn’t talked for long that day, but it had been interesting to see Jane and Maura up close, to see the way they moved as one, spoke in tandem, seemed to read each other’s minds. He had never seen two people so in sync, and that kid of theirs was too cute.

And when Rizzoli finally came back to work, and the Homicide lieutenant asked Frost to join them, to be Jane’s new partner, Frost had accepted. He had been eager to work with Jane, to be a part of the homicide unit.

He hadn’t accounted for how his body would react to dead bodies. He had rarely seen them in Plymouth, and only on screens during his time in BRIC, and all the up close and personal necessities of Homicide were getting to him, were getting to his stomach. It was making work near impossible, and the heckling from the other detectives didn’t help. Frost needed to overcome this, but he didn’t know how.

Their latest victims were young women, strangled in their homes, with the same names as two women that had been killed by the Boston Strangler over forty years ago. Korsak thought it was the real Strangler, that the man that was arrested for the crimes was not the right man. He thought the Strangler was back, and Frost didn’t know if he believed it himself, but the coincidences were strong.

Their new Lieutenant Grant didn’t want to believe it was the Boston Strangler, that there was any connection between the cases, and Jane came out of his office pissed off and on a mission. Frost had seen that look in her eyes before, and he knew better than to get in her way. He kept to his computers while Jane and Korsak went down to the basement, where the cold case files were stored, and when they came back up, they were gathering up their keys and coats. Jane told Frost she’d be back soon, that they were going to track down an old detective that worked on the first strangling cases forty years ago.

While they were gone, Frost called it quits on his own fruitless searches and decided to go down to the morgue, thought that maybe without Korsak there ribbing him, he might be able to look death in the face without having to run for the nearest toilet.

He found Dr. Isles there, seated at her own computer, and when he poked his head in the door she hardly noticed until he asked, “Find anything?”

Maura looked up in surprise, shutting her laptop like she was trying to hide something, and he might have thought it was suspect if it was anyone else, but it was Dr. Isles so he didn’t. “Oh,” she said, rising up onto her feet, belatedly smiling at him, “hello, Detective Frost.” She began striding back over to where the second victim still lay on the autopsy table, and Frost hesitantly followed. “Very sophisticated killer. No forensic evidence so far on either victim.”

Frost made it the whole way up to the autopsy table before he really got a good look at the dead body there, as Maura was pulling back the sheet, and then his stomach lurched. He heaved, clenching his jaw, trying to suppress it, to keep it down, but he could feel it crawling up his throat, and Maura was looking at him with wide eyes saying, “Uh-oh, uh-oh - sink! Sink, sink, sink!”

Frost went rushing over, and made it just in time, and when he was finished retching, he groaned miserably. “Korsak's calling me BBK,” he admitted to Maura. “Barf bag kid. Crowe's leaving plastic puke everywhere.

“You're not the first detective to be sickened by death,” Maura tried to reassure him. “You just have to find your morgue legs.”

Frost carefully walked back towards her, keeping an extra autopsy table between them, between him and the dead body. “I read a study that said people can conquer this kind of thing with repeated exposure. Like when you're afraid of dogs or flying.”

“Oh, immersion therapy. Very effective. It worked for me.”

“What were you afraid of?” Frost asked, because as far as he knew, Jane and Maura weren’t afraid of much of anything.

“People. Live ones,” Maura answered rather nonchalantly, but there was a touch of embarrassment in her grimace as she turned her back on Frost, looked down at the dead woman in front of her. “She'll never judge me. Tease me. And I can help her. I can speak for the dead.”

Frost didn’t know what to say; he wasn’t really surprised, not when he considered how odd the doctor could be, but she seemed so at ease most of the time Frost saw her. In fact, her presence often put him at ease. “Was this before you met Jane?”

Maura turned back around to face Frost, smiling, and it was like he knew what she was gonna say before she did. “Meeting Jane helped the most. It’s impossible to be antisocial around the Rizzolis.”

Frost chuckled and nodded. He hadn’t been around the Rizzolis as long as Maura had, but he was beginning to see what she meant.

“Come here,” Maura decided, beckoning him over. “Come here.” Frost was hesitant, but eager to get over this, and if anyone was going to help him through it, he figured it would probably be Dr. Isles.

So, he took the plunge and carefully went to her side, and he tried not to look too closely at the body, let Maura position him in front of her. She placed a scalpel in his hand and guided his arm, her other hand against the middle of his spine, and he could tell she was trying to be soothing but he was too strongly focused on not losing his dinner again. “Now we're just gonna open her up. We're gonna take a little look inside.” He looked over his shoulder at her incredulously, and she looked adequately chastised, nudging him back into place. “Okay, now. Breathe deep.” Frost started to clear his throat and take a steadying breath, but Maura hastily changed her mind. “Actually, don't inhale.”

Frost was trying very hard not to be a wimp, not to run screaming from the room, not to come crawling out of his skin. Everything in him was revolting, but he let Maura move his hand over the body, up until the moment that the door to the morgue swung open.

“Whoa!” Jane’s raspy voice filled the room. “Look at you!”

“Hey, Jane, um” Barry said breathlessly, almost glad for the interruption, immediately turning away from the corpse, handing Maura back her scalpel. “Thank you,” he told her sincerely. “Um… I’ll be upstairs.”

“No, no, I don’t wanna interrupt,” Jane insisted.

“No, it’s okay,” Frost said as he was hastening out of the room. “I don’t wanna get in your guys' way.”

The two of them together made his head spin anyways, and he was still fairly nauseous. He raced out of the room and took the stairs back up to BRIC, where it was safe and free of dead bodies. Fears weren’t overcome in a single day, after all. Maybe he’d work on it later, when there weren’t any witnesses around.

Jane was chuckling as Frost hustled out of the morgue, looking over at her wife with a grin, wanting to ask Maura how she’d talked Frost into getting that close to a dead body, but Maura was frowning as she walked towards Jane, snapping her gloves off and clearly thinking about something else.

“What is it?” Jane coaxed, brows furrowing in concern.

“I think Jamie is mad at me,” Maura pouted, slumping down into her chair in front of her laptop, opening it to a shopping page filled with shoes, Maura’s go to when she was upset. And now that Jane and Maura had a shared bank account, Jane knew all too well how pricey Maura’s emotions could be. Maura’s eyes lit up as she clicked on one of the images, and Jane’s eyes widened at the price displayed below. “Ooh, cobalt blue sling back –”

“What are you talking about?” Jane pressed, gently but firmly pushing the top of Maura’s laptop closed, even as Maura looked up at her in discontent. “Jamie isn’t mad at you.”

“You should have heard him,” Maura argued. “I called Angela so that I could tell him goodnight, and he didn’t even want to talk to me.”

“Well maybe he was tired,” Jane reasoned. “What did he say exactly?”

“He hardly said anything,” Maura stressed.

Jane squeezed Maura’s shoulder, stroked her thumb soothingly over Maura’s collarbone, carefully telling her, “Well, hon, we did expect him to be upset with our work schedules at some point. But he loves you. If he even is upset, it won’t last.”

Maura nodded but she was still frowning, looking longingly at her laptop, and Jane nudged her. “All right, look – come here.” She strode over to where Maura’s baseball bat rested against the wall and picked it up. “Take a few cuts off of this. It'll make you feel better.”

That made Maura perk up a little. “Okay,” she agreed, rising up and going to take the bat from Jane.

“All right?”


“All right. Let's see it,” Jane encouraged.

Maura immediately held the bat parallel with her body, bent her knees and bounced back up, looking ridiculous, and it was cute, truly it was – Jane wouldn’t have married Maura if she didn’t love how ridiculous she was – but Jane still shook her head in horror.

“What?” Maura demanded. “This is an optimum batting stance.”

“Really, says who?” Jane disagreed. “Pee-wee Herman?

“It's a classic rigid-body collision theory, not Pee-wee Herman,” Maura said on a laugh, and that was really all Jane was looking for so she considered it a win.

“You're ruining a national pastime,” Jane chastised, reaching for the baseball bat in her wife’s hands.

“Don't take my bat,” Maura protested, tugging back when Jane tried to retrieve it.

Jane insisted, “Let go.”

“Make me,” Maura challenged, puckering her lips up in a smirk, and really, what else was Jane supposed to do?

She leaned in and kissed Maura, applying just enough pressure to make Maura sink into it, to let her grip slacken on the baseball bat, and then Jane pulled back and took the bat with her in one smooth motion.

Maura immediately complained, eyes still half closed, “No fair.”

“But look,” Jane tried to distract her as she was putting the bat away, pointing to the bundle she had brought with her to the morgue, “I brought you presents. From the evidence warehouse.”

“I like presents,” Maura conceded, going over to inspect the bundle, and with any luck, she would find something in there to tie the old strangling cases to the new, no matter what Grant had to say about it, and together, Jane and Maura and Korsak and Frost would piece together the clues, and they’d solve this case, prevent further women from harm, and then they’d go home, and Jane and Maura would make it up to Jamie, and all would be well. Jane was sure of it.

Chapter Text

After Jane first met Detective Leahy, she hadn’t much expected to see him again. He had been reticent to help when Jane and Korsak had approached him at the Dirty Robber. He had said that working the first Strangler case had ruined his life and he wanted no parts of this one. So she was understandably surprised when she ran into him in the front lobby of BPD the following afternoon.

She had just been chewed out by Grant when Crowe looked out the window and told her that her car was being towed, and she had gone running to the elevator, burst out of it the second it hit the main floor. She nearly ran straight past Big Mo and Leahy by the front doors, but she doubled back, pointing accusatorily at Mo. “Oh! Did you tow my car?”

“Only reason I didn’t was because of this guy,” Mo said, gesturing to Leahy.

The old man chuckled. “Thanks, Big Mo. I owe ya one.”

“Hey, it’s good seeing you again,” Mo said earnestly. “Long time, right?” Then he turned a sharp look on Jane. “Next time, I’m taking it, Rizzoli.”

Jane made a face at him with a mocking, “Okay,” like she hadn’t heard that threat before. She turned back to study Leahy, giving him a sincere, “Thank you.”

Leahy shrugged. “Us detectives gotta stick together, ‘cause the bosses are all idiots, right?”

“Yes, they are,” Jane ruefully agreed, thinking of Grant upstairs on his new throne, looking down on her like he thought he knew it all. “What are you doing here?”

“I, uh, asked around after I read about the stranglings,” he admitted, leading Jane across the lobby to a less bustling corner, “and, uh, well, the word is that you're a good cop. I thought maybe you could use this.”

He was holding a heavy bound file in his hands, and he passed it over to her. “This is your personal file,” Jane deduced.

“Yeah, can you believe I kept it all these years? It was always eating at me too. You know we all have that one case, you know, you never really close. Well, this one is mine.”

There was one case still niggling at the back of her head, always, one that she carried around in the scars on her palms, in the raised scar she could feel on the side of Maura’s head when she ran her fingers through her wife’s hair, but she was trying to put that case behind her for good. “Thank you for trusting me with it.”

“Sure. Look, uh... it ain't easy for an old fart like me to see a woman doing this job. You are a good cop.”

 Jane smirked. “How did you know?”

Leahy snorted. “Well, I spent 30 years working with a lot of bad ones.” He was already turning away from her, preparing to leave, but he paused mid-step, turned back around to scrutinize her, eyes lingering on her left hand. “You married?”

Jane smiled a little, idly ran her thumb over her wedding band, and thought of the woman downstairs that she never would have expected to marry. “Yeah,” she answered. “Over four years now.”

“Ah, still practically newlyweds,” Leahy said with a smirk. “He good enough for ya? Or is he a cop too?”

And Jane could have just said yeah, could have just vaguely answered I’ve got a good one, but she knew it’d make his head spin so she told him, “She’s actually the chief medical examiner.”

As expected, Leahy’s eyebrows shot up into his hairline, and he shook his head in bewilderment. “A lady cop with a wife. Times really have changed. She doesn’t mind you workin' this job?”

Jane shook her head. “She knows I love this job. We make it work.”

Leahy nodded slowly, looking pensive. “Yeah, maybe… but a word of advice? This job can break your heart too. Good luck, Detective.”

He left her to mull on that then, but it wasn’t as if Jane hadn’t heard cryptic warnings like that in the past, from old detectives that had given everything to the job, and Jane didn’t let those things get to her. Maybe one day she might have to choose, might have to decide it was best for her family that she leave BPD, but for now, she had a job to do.

After searching through Leahy’s files, they found Redmond Jones, a career criminal, locked up for aggravated assault, arson, rape, and manslaughter, and he was paroled two days before their first victim was strangled. Jane invited Leahy to come along when she and Frost went to pay Redmond a visit, where he was staying at his mother’s house, and what a fiasco that was, between Redmond’s mother being one of the rudest people Jane had ever met and Leahy losing his cool. Redmond and Leahy exchanged blows and visceral insults, and Jane and Frost had to come between them, had to send Leahy back to the car. But once in the backyard, Jane noticed an open garage, and inside was a hubcap that she was pretty positive would match the one that Frankie had found at the site of the overpass, where their first victim had been thrown into their laps.

They couldn’t arrest Redmond yet, not just on that, and Redmond claimed his car had been stolen, but Frost put an APB out on the car, and the pair of them returned to headquarters. While they waited to see if anything came back about the car, they went over some of their other evidence, including a set of photos from the crime scenes that Frankie had taken. It was in those photos that Jane discovered a reoccurring face, someone milling around in the crowds at both crime scenes, and Frost ran the pictures through facial recognition.

That’s how they found a man called Sandy Grotty, who had a blog full of images of various murders, including details of their recent stranglings. Frost and Jane went to pick him up, but they had barely gotten through interrogating the “death enthusiast” when Korsak interrupted to tell them that they had a third victim.

Joann Graff had been killed within an hour from when she had been found, so it wasn't Sandy that killed her, but there was one good thing, despite it all. This time, there was forensic evidence found on the scarf tied around the victim's throat. There was blood, or a reddish-brown stain, as Maura described it, but it could be just the thing they needed to finally catch their killer. And even better, Redmond Jones’s car had been located, and Jane went to inspect it while Maura was testing the stain for DNA.

Jane did end up getting her car towed while she was searching through Redmond’s car, and she was pissed at first, but when she got the call from Maura, and went down to the morgue and heard that the blood had come back as a match to Redmond Jones, she was in higher spirits.

For all of five minutes.

By the time Jane and Frost reached the lobby, prepared to go and arrest their strangler, Grant was there with his task force, and he told Jane, “The task force will take it from here.”

“You can’t do that!” Jane immediately protested. “It’s my case.”

“Well, you're part of the task force. Come along if you like,” Grant said dismissively, already walking away from her, leading the charge.

“Yeah, come along,” Crowe added as he passed, with that stupid smirk on his face. “It'll be fun.”

And when Frankie tried to pass her by, Jane stepped in, blocked his way with an assertive, “Huh-uh. No.”

“He asked me, Janie,” Frankie tried to defend, tried to explain, like that made it better, but Jane felt betrayed.

“Squeezing the orange, Frankie?” she accused. “You get some juice? It's a fast way to make detective.”

Grant put me on the task force. What do you want me to do? Say no?”

“Yeah, Frankie!” Jane exclaimed, but her brother wasn’t listening to her either, raising his hands and shaking his head like he wasn’t just trampling right over her, shimmying past her to join the others. The other men, Grant’s stupid task force that had hardly done a damn thing to contribute to the case. Jane and Frost and even Korsak had put in the foot work, had questioned suspects, had stayed up all night reading through files and tracking down leads. Maura and the lab techs downstairs had run a hundred tests and examined every bit of evidence for a clue. Any one of them would have been more deserving of making the arrest than Grant and his task force.

So Jane was beyond pissed, wanted to punch her fist through the drywall, wanted to punch Grant in his smug face. But since she couldn’t really do either, she sat at her desk and sulked with Frost for a little while.

It wasn’t long before Jane was snapped out of it though, when Maura came walking into the room, Jamie toddling along next to her, his little hand in hers, and they both smiled at Jane, Maura’s more subdued, more understanding, but Jamie was all teeth, moving quickly with enthusiasm.

Jane couldn’t help but smile back, dropping her feet off of her desk and leaning forward, opening her arms as Jamie surged in to hug her. “Hi, baby,” she murmured into his thick hair, squeezing him gratefully. “I’m so glad to see you.”

“We have dinner now, Mama?” Jamie asked, bouncing on his toes in anticipation. “Mommy says we can go ta Dirty Robba.”

Jane chuckled. “Yeah, kid, we’ll go to the Robber. Why don’t you ask Frosty if he wants to come with us?”

Jamie nodded and went to Frost at once. “Mr. Frosty, you wanna come ta the Robba?”

Frost bent down, elbows braced on his knees, smiling at Jamie too, if a little tiredly, asking, “Are you gonna be there?”

Jamie nodded emphatically. “Uh-huh.”

“And we’re gonna get milkshakes?”

Jamie was vibrating with excitement. “Uh-huh!”

“Then you bet I’ll be there!”

“Can we do the race first?” Jamie pleaded, clasping both hands in front of him.

Frost snorted. “Only if your moms say it’s okay.”

Jamie turned those dark, pleading eyes on his mothers, and really, how could they refuse him?

“Okay,” Maura conceded, “but only a few laps.”

With permission granted, Frost stood up from his desk chair, picked Jamie up and settled him in the chair, told him, “Hang on tight!” and Jamie grabbed on tightly to the arm rests. “Gentlemen, start your engines!”

Jamie made vroom, vroom noises, breaking out into giggles in between, and Frost made commentary like they were at a race track, put his hands on the back of his chair, and began to push Jamie around the office space, slow enough not to be too dangerous, but fast enough to make the three year old cheer with glee, making a few sudden turns now and then for added effect.

Jane watched them for a few seconds before she felt Maura’s hand squeezing her shoulder, and she looked up to meet Maura’s sympathetic gaze.

“I’m sorry, my love,” Maura murmured.

“You should have seen them,” Jane muttered, shaking her head. “Grant and his task force. Everyone celebrating. It was a joke.”

“But you brought closure to those women’s families,” Maura soothed, gently massaging Jane’s neck. “You found the evidence needed to arrest him.”

Jane nodded, chewing on her bottom lip. Maybe Maura was right, but something was bothering her, something she couldn’t quite put her finger on. She looked at Jamie though, and thought of him, and how Maura had thought he was upset with her the night before. She asked Maura, “Did you guys talk it out? Or do you still think he’s mad at you?”

“I did talk to him,” Maura said slowly, watching their son, smiling a little. “He said he missed me. Missed us both. But I think he’s okay.”

“Well, that’s good,” Jane said, rubbing Maura’s back, and she wasn’t worried. She knew Jamie would be okay. She knew they’d make sure that he was. But what she wasn’t sure about was the case she thought they had solved.

“Hey,” Korsak’s voice interjected Jane’s thoughts as he came shuffling into the room. “I heard. I’m sorry.”

Jane tipped her head at him with a tight grimace, a silent acknowledgement and thanks.

Then Jamie noticed Korsak, and kicked his feet out like he was slamming on the breaks, making a screech sound, and Frost dramatically brought them to a stop. Jamie hopped down off of the chair and crouched down, making a face and roaring at Korsak like a lion. And Korsak’s attention snapped to him at once, a playful glint in his eye as he bent down and twisted his lips, affected a rather terrible Australian accent, and shouted, “There’s a wild beast on the loose!”

Jamie could barely contain his squeal of laughter as he spun on his heels and took off across the empty office, Korsak chasing after him.

Frost rejoined Jane and Maura, hardly out of breath, smoothing down his tie that had gone askew. He sat back against the front of his desk, folding his arms across his chest and looking at Jane’s still displeased expression, telling her, “Cheer up. At least we don’t have to see Redmond’s mother again.”

Jane snorted, leaning back in her chair, letting her hand fall to rest on Maura’s hip. Maura was looking at the pair of them curiously, and Jane shook her head. “She was a real treat.”

“Oh?” Maura inquired.

“She called me a skinny, grease ball dyke,” Jane told Maura with absolute offense.

“Oh!” Maura repeated with shock, furrowing her brows in indignation.

“I know,” Jane agreed, without Maura having to voice her discontent. “My hair isn’t greasy!”

“And she called me an affirmative action cop,” Frost added with a scoff, smirking at Jane as he teased, “Clearly you’re the pity hire. A woman and a lesbian? That’s a two for one.”

Jane pursed her lips, and swatted him in the belly with the back of her hand as he snickered and tried to hop out of her reach.

“Well she sounds terrible,” Maura huffed.

“I don’t know, she mighta liked you,” Jane joked. “You look pure Irish enough.”

“Are you?” Frost asked Maura with interest. “Irish, I mean?”

“My Uncle Jack thinks so,” Jane responded first.

“I don’t actually know much about my biological heritage,” Maura answered next. “Or anything, really. Have I not told you that I’m adopted before?”

They started talking then, Maura and Frost, about how Maura was adopted and knew nothing of her birth parents, but Jane’s mind wandered again, to the file sitting on her desk, to the seemingly abrupt end to this case.

“Uh oh,” Maura said from above her. “I know that look. What is it?”

Jane shook her head, thought maybe she was crazy. “You know what? Just... We get one body dropped in our laps. We have two stranglings in one day. We have no forensic evidence and then bam, we find blood.”

“Mama, Mama,” Jamie breathlessly interrupted as he rushed over to her, clinging onto her leg. “Protect me!”

Korsak was bustling over, panting for breath, still playing the game but with a little less gusto.

Jane rubbed Jamie’s back but her thoughts were already someplace else, only half noticing Korsak dripping sweat onto her desk. Maura always said that forensic evidence doesn't waver, doesn't lie, doesn't change its mind, but there was something off about the forensic evidence they had found.

Jane noticed Maura was tugging Jamie away, telling him, “Let’s go get Mama a coffee downstairs, all right?”

Meanwhile, Frost and Korsak were looking at her in anticipation, and she lifted her head from the file now in her lap to ask, “Hey, Frost, did Redmond Jones have any blood work done recently? Any doctor visits?”

“No, not that I could find,” Frost answered.

Jane tapped her finger against her lip and mulled it over for a second, and then she stood up out of her chair decisively. “I'm gonna check something.”

Downstairs in the café, Maura and Jamie were gathering up coffees for Jane, Korsak, and Frost. But Maura noticed Detective Leahy, seated nearby regaling a couple of rookies with his story of searching for the Boston Strangler forty years ago, and she noticed that he did not look well. He was pale and perspiring, and he coughed wetly when he tried to laugh.

Maura approached him, one hand on Jamie’s shoulder and the other holding the cup carrier full of coffees. “Excuse me, Detective Leahy?”

“Oh, hey, you're, uh, Dr. Isles,” he said in recognition. “Or is it Dr. Rizzoli? Heh, not sure how that works with two women.”

“Either is fine. It's nice to meet you.”

Leahy nodded, but was unable to respond, devolving into another coughing fit.

“Do you have a minute?” Maura requested.

“Why? What's up, doc?”

“You appear to be experiencing some concerning symptoms. I’d like to give you a short exam, if you don’t mind.”

“Ah, I’m fine,” Leahy dismissed, but his breathing was a little ragged as he wiped some of the sweat from his brow. “But if it’ll make you feel better.” He pushed himself slowly up out of his chair, and followed Maura and Jamie to the elevator. As they descended, Leahy asked Maura, “This your kid?”

“Yes, this is James,” Maura introduced, but Jamie was hiding behind his mother’s leg, peering hesitantly up at Leahy with one eye, the other half of his face obscured by Maura’s long coat. “Can you say hello to the detective, Jamie?”

“Hi,” he whispered, and then burrowed further into Maura’s side.

“Quiet kid,” Leahy observed.

“He’s shy,” Maura agreed, and she wasn’t sure who was more to blame for Jamie’s total distrust of strangers, his socially awkward mother, or his paranoid cop mother.

When they reached the bottom floor, Maura led Leahy into the morgue, but then took James and the coffee into her office, set Jamie up at her desk with a coloring book and told him to sit tight until she was finished.

After checking Leahy’s vitals, Maura’s suspicions were confirmed, and she questioned him, “How many dialysis appointments have you missed?”

“None,” he lied “Every other day I'm in dialysis – for hours.”

“I don't think that's possible. You're exhibiting signs of renal failure. I'm going to call your doctor.” He would only deteriorate the longer they waited, and Maura was already walking towards the phone.

She turned when Leahy called to her, “Hey, doc,” and found him approaching her with a pistol in his hand, pointed right at her.

“What are you doing?” she demanded, with maybe more than a hint of fear, thinking of Jamie in the other room, her mind and heart racing, because what was she going to do?

“Can't stop talking, can you?” he accused her.

When Jane found evidence of Detective Leahy leaving his dialysis appointment five minutes after going inside, she knew that her instincts had been right, and she went straight down to the crime lab. Maura and Jamie hadn’t come back from getting coffee, so Jane figured Maura had taken the toddler downstairs, but if they were still in the café, Jane could at least get a crime tech started on her request.

As she was coming down the hall, Jane heard voices coming from the morgue, and went inside, calling out, “Hey, Maura? You in here? I need you to test this –”

She trailed off at once when she came around the corner and saw Leahy holding a gun to her wife’s head, sliding to an abrupt stop.

“Hey,” Leahy greeted casually, looking a little impressed and a little delirious. “You are a good cop.”

Jane shrugged, muttering, “For a girl,” all while analyzing every angle of the situation, trying to figure out how she was going to get Maura safe, wondering where Jamie was. Leahy looked sweaty, looked sick, but he had a firm hold on that gun.

“All right. Your gun,” he said, gesturing with his own pistol. “Put it down. Kick it over there.”

“Don't do it, Jane,” Maura stressed, eyes flickering over Jane’s right shoulder, to the closed office door somewhere behind her, where Jamie just have been, just a room away.

“Shut the hell up!” Leahy growled, tightening his arm around Maura’s waist, pointing the gun at her temple, making Maura gasp and causing Jane’s heart to lurch into her throat. “Put the gun down,” he ordered. “Put it down – slow.” Jane did it, pulled her gun out of her holster and bent slowly to place it on the floor, took note of the baseball bat still resting against the cabinets just behind her. “All right, now kick it over there.”

Jane kicked the gun aside, saw Maura’s eyes dropping to the plate of instruments right next to her, where all manner of sharp objects lay. “You planted Redmond Jones's blood, didn't you?” Jane questioned Leahy.

“I still got some,” Leahy began to boast, distracted for just a moment, just long enough for Maura to grab a scalpel and stab it into his leg.

Leahy screamed, and Jane moved on instinct, lunging for the baseball bat and then at Leahy, bringing the bat up over her head and slamming it down on Leahy’s back twice, until he dropped to the floor, crying out in pain. Jane was pissed, was tense with adrenaline, but she stopped herself from swinging the bat a third time as Leahy stilled, groaning, on the floor.

 Jane looked over at Maura, who was breathless as she quipped, “Home run.”

“That was just a base hit,” Jane huffed out, and Maura released a strangled chuckle. Jane bent quickly to cuff Leahy’s hands behind his back, and then she reached out for Maura’s hand, squeezed it tightly in relief. “You okay?”

“Yeah,” Maura assured, still catching her breath but otherwise looking all right. “Yeah, I’m okay.”

“Mommy?” Jamie’s voice faintly filtered in from the closed office door, since he was too short to reach the door knob and open it.

“I’ll be right there,” Maura called to him, looking down at Jane.

“I’m good here,” Jane insisted. “Go ahead. I’ll come back down when I’m finished.”

Maura nodded, squeezed Jane’s shoulder comfortingly and then hastened over to her office and to Jamie.

Jane dragged Leahy back upstairs, passed him off to some uniforms to lock him away for the night, and told Korsak and Frost what had happened. Korsak agreed to contact Grant and fill him in, and Frost went back downstairs to Maura’s office with Jane.

They found Maura sitting at her desk, with Jamie on her lap, watching videos on Maura’s computer. At the sight of Jane and Frost, Jamie crawled down from the chair and reminded the adults that he was hungry, that they were supposed to get dinner at the Dirty Robber together, and Jane decided to leave all the paperwork on Leahy for tomorrow.

“You’re right, bud,” Jane told Jamie, hefting him up into her arms, settling him on her hip. “Let’s go eat.”

When they arrived at the Dirty Robber, Jane collapsed into a booth in relief. After the last few days and the way the evening had ended, she was drained. Jamie wanted to sit next to Frost, so Jane reclined against the wall and stretched her legs out to the side part way, leaving enough room for Maura to sit at the end of their side of the booth, and was grateful when Maura idly massaged her thighs.

Only after Jamie had finished half of his plate of dinner did he look at his mothers with a pouty bottom lip and pleading eyes. “Mama, Mommy, can I please have a milkshake?”

Jane’s eyes slid immediately to Maura, who was making a face, eyeing her watch and slowly saying, “I don’t know, Jamie. It’s very late. You won’t be able to go to sleep.”

“I promise!” Jamie insisted. “I’ll go bed time. I promise. Please, Mommy, please.

Maura looked over at Jane, deferring to her this time, and Jane compromised, “You can have a milkshake, but not the whole thing, a’right?” The boy deserved a treat, but maybe not one that would keep him up all night. Jane was pretty sure they all needed a good night’s rest.

“I’ll split it with you, buddy,” Frost offered. “C’mon. You want chocolate or vanilla?”

“’Nilla!” Jamie said excitedly while clambering down out of the booth, waiting for Frost to take his hand and walk with him across the room to order their milkshake.

Jane smiled, laid her head back and took a long pull of her beer, feeling content, until the front door opened behind them and she saw Joey Grant out of the corner of her eye. She immediately groaned, peaceful moment ruined, sarcastically grumbling, “Oh, yay.”

Maura swiveled in her seat to look at what Jane was grimacing at, and Grant came right up to them with a grimace of his own. “Good job, Rizzoli,” he said, like it physically pained him.

“Yeah, uh, while Kenny was trying to kill my wife over here, I was lookin' for you so you'd have that arrest too,” Jane quipped.

Joey nodded but he was clenching his jaw. “Yeah. I owe you a massive apology. I'm sorry.”

“Yeah, I can tell from the nasty face you're making.”

“Oh, that's not because of you, Jane,” Maura informed. “He has bullous lesions.”

“I have what?” Grant asked, brow stamped with confusion.

“Blisters,” Maura supplied.

“How'd you know that?”

“You were limping.”

“Right. I was limping. Can I sit down?” he requested.

“Yes,” Maura answered, gesturing to the empty seat across from them, at the same time Jane asserted, “No.”

Grant ignored Jane and slumped into the booth with a heavy sigh. “Didn't have to wear these big-boy shoes in the Drug Unit,” he grumbled, bending down and fiddling with the shoestrings.

“You're not gonna take those off in here?” Jane scoffed.

 He definitely had been planning too, but he eased away at Jane’s tone. “No, I'm not.”

“I can take a look at your bullous lesions if you –” Maura started to offer.

“Maura!” Jane chastised. “Come on.”

“I'm just saying!” Maura defended, but Jane sure as hell wasn’t letting her wife touch Joey’s feet.

“Thank you,” Grant said to Maura, before turning his focus back onto Jane. “Anyway, I just wanted to say I'm sorry we got off to such a bad start on our first case. And… I wasn't cheating off you on the catechism test.”

“I saw you looking at it,” Jane argued.

“You saw me looking, but I wasn't looking at your paper.” He said it outright, like he had nothing to hide, tipped his head at Maura and added, “No disrespect to you, Dr. Isles. You got a nice family here, Rizzoli.” He glanced over at where Jamie and Frost were on their way back to the table with a milkshake, and began to slide out of the booth. “See you soon.”

Jane pursed her lips, just watched him go half in shock. Maybe part of her had suspected Maura’s assumption that Grant had a crush on Jane in grade school was half right, but she had never expected him to admit it.

And when she looked back over at Maura, she saw her wife smirking at her with an all too satisfied look, a look that just screamed I told you so.

Jane rolled her eyes and said, “Oh, shut up,” but she couldn’t help the smile pulling at her lips faced with Maura’s pleased grin.

“You know,” Maura said thoughtfully, “I don’t think he would have said that to you if you had been sitting here with a husband. Perhaps I should assert my dominance more often, so that other male suitors know that you’re off the market.” She puffed out her chest and lowered her voice for affect, as if she was gonna act like some big, macho man to keep men away from her wife.

Jane wanted to laugh, but instead she leaned in, clasped her hand high on Maura’s thigh, and while Jamie and Frost were distracted clambering back into the booth, whispered against Maura’s ear, “You can assert your dominance over me anytime, baby.”

When Jane pulled back, Maura’s cheeks were turning red and Frost was squinting at them with suspicion. He started to ask, “What are you –?” and then abruptly shook his head. “Y’know what? I don’t wanna know.”

“Drink your milkshake,” Jane rasped with a smug little smile, slinging her arm over Maura’s shoulders and pressing her cheek to Maura’s cheek.

Frost looked down at Jamie and inquired, “Are they like this all the time?”

Jamie just grinned, and probably barely understood what Frost was talking about, but he nodded.

Frost shook his head in dismay as he was portioning out the milkshake for Jamie. “Man, you deserve this whole milkshake, little dude.”

Jamie nodded even more brightly. “Uh-huh!”

“Watch it,” Jane warned, “or he’ll be having a slumber party at your place tonight.”

Jamie began slurping down his milkshake, and Frost just smirked. “Bring it on, Rizzoli. Bring it on.”

Chapter Text

April 2011

On a warm spring morning, with the sun shining and the skies clear, Jane and Maura thought that they had finally found time in their busy schedules for a run. They went to the park down the street with Jamie, and brought the toddler carrier they rarely used, so that Jane could strap Jamie to her back while they ran. He was still light enough that Jane could handle his weight, even if it did tire her quicker carrying thirty pounds on her shoulders. It was a good workout anyways, and after the first half of the run, she’d let Jamie down, and she and Maura would slow their jog to follow along at Jamie’s pace. Jane had a feeling she’d miss the days of carrying her son on her back, but she also looked forward to when Jamie would be able to keep up with his mothers. She just hoped Jamie wouldn’t decide he hated running by then.

Maura was showing Jamie how to do stretches, both of them laughing when he nearly fell over trying to hold up one of his legs, but Maura caught him under the arms and steadied him. Jane, meanwhile, caught sight of another pair that had clearly come to the park to run, separately, but perhaps not for long. The man was stretching when the woman came up to him, smiling at him, clearly flirting even from a distance, and a thought occurred to Jane that she hadn’t asked her wife before.

“Do you believe in love at first sight?”

Maura looked over at Jane in mild confusion, then followed Jane’s gaze to the pair of runners across from them. But Maura clearly didn’t see a future for the attractive strangers. “Immediate attraction is pure narcissism.”

Jane smirked. “I was attracted to you the first time we met. Does that make me a narcissist?”

Maura gave Jane a disbelieving look. “You were not.”

“I was!” Jane insisted. “I just didn’t know it yet.”

Maura snorted. “Exactly.”

“You tellin' me you weren’t attracted to me when we first met?” Jane accused with a smile.

Maura raised one brow. “You mean when you were dressed like a –” she paused, glancing down at Jamie, who was watching them intently, and adjusted what she was about to say to “– lady of the night?”

“You didn’t like my outfit?” Jane teased.

Maura seemed to consider, tilting her head as she looked Jane up and down, like she was trying to imagine it. “I don’t remember. Do you still have it?”

Jane rolled her eyes and shoved Maura’s shoulder. Of course she didn’t still have that awful outfit, but maybe she should go out and get a similar one…

Maura just laughed, looking back over at the runners they had been scrutinizing. “It takes quite a lot of effort to attract a mate.”

“That right there is the beginning of true love,” Jane decided.

“People are attracted to people who are attracted to them,” Maura asserted, and Jane could have rolled her eyes again.

“Jamie, tell Mommy to quit being such a Debby Downer.”

“Mommy, quit bein' a Debby,” Jamie ordered.

“Yes, darling,” Maura chuckled, while adjusting the little sunglasses on his face so that they more adequately covered his eyes.

But when Maura and Jane looked back over at the pair of strangers, they saw another man come running over, and he placed himself between the man and the woman, and kissed the man straight on the mouth.

Jane pursed her lips as Maura laughed, and conceded, “Well, there goes that theory.”

Jamie looked up at Jane and asked, “Mama, what’s a night lady?”

Jane shot Maura an accusatory look, but was saved from responding when her phone began to ring. “Oh, saved by the bell!”

Maura’s phone began to ring in tandem, and she lamented, “Something tells me we’re not getting in much of a run.”



Jamie sighed, and pulled a little toy cellphone out of his pocket. “I’ll call Nonna.”

Their most recent body to turn up was found floating in the bay, and the responding officer told Jane and Maura as they crossed the dock, “Pulled him out about an hour ago. Couldn’t find an I.D.”

Maura knelt down before the body bag and unzipped it, pulled it open to reveal a middle-aged man with a head wound but no other visible harm at first glance. But Maura took one look at him and said solemnly, “We don’t need an I.D.”

Jane frowned when she heard, dropping down next to her wife at once, hand settling on Maura’s thigh. “Maura, you know him?” Maura nodded, still looking grimly down at the man. “Oh, honey, I’m so sorry.”

“It’s Adam Fairfield,” Maura explained, looking tentatively over at Jane. “I was, uh, I was involved with his brother, Garrett.”

“Of the Fairfields?” Jane said in surprise. Maura had talked about a Garrett before, an old college flame, but she hadn’t mentioned that he was a Fairfield.

“Yes,” Maura answered, dropping her gaze to the body, examining it like she would any other, but there was a crease in her brow.

“Look at the back of his head,” Jane murmured, wanting Maura’s opinion on the wound there.

“Yeah, happens with drowning victims,” Maura replied. “Most likely from getting struck against the rocks.”

“You wanna go with me when I notify the family?” Jane offered.

“No,” Maura admitted, “but I will. I owe him that.”

Jane nodded, and moved out of the way so Maura could complete her preliminary examination, staying close but trying not to hover. She didn’t know what it would feel like, to find the body of an old boyfriend’s family member, how much that man might have meant to Maura, if anything. Jane couldn’t even remember meeting the family of any of the guys she had dated save for one. He’d had an older sister that Jane had liked, but they’d only seen each other a handful of times, and Jane wasn’t even sure she remembered the girl’s name. Maura had mentioned Garrett before, only briefly, but maybe she had spent a lot of time with his family. It was bizarre to even consider, Maura and the Fairfields, but maybe not so bizarre, not when Jane considered Maura’s upbringing. The Isles family wasn’t as well known in Boston as the Fairfields, but they were the type of people that might have been invited to dinner, some fancy dinner with fourteen courses and cutlery that probably cost more than Jane’s first apartment.

When Maura was finished, the two of them joined up with Frost to make the drive to the Fairfields’ home. Jane drove, and with Frost in the backseat, she turned to glance at Maura. She didn’t want to pry too much, but she was curious. “So, Garrett Fairfield, huh? Was it serious?”

Maura turned her gaze away from where it had been focused out the passenger window, shrugging a little at Jane’s question. “I was twenty. Everything felt serious.”

“You coulda been a Fairfield.”

“Hardly,” Maura quietly snorted. “Garrett and I had a connection, but we were always going in opposite directions.”

“Lucky for me then,” Jane said with a smile, reaching across the console to rub Maura’s knee, and Maura wrapped her fingers around Jane’s. “Did you know Adam very well?”

“Not well,” Maura admitted, “but he was kind, on the occasions that we crossed paths. It’s a little odd, isn’t it?” she said, looking out the window pensively again. “I spent so much time with Garrett’s family that year, but after he and I split up, I hardly saw them again. It was as if I never knew them.”

“You certainly never mentioned that you were almost part of the richest family in Boston,” Jane softly teased.

Maura leveled Jane with a look, and swatted Jane’s hand on her knee. “Stop saying that.”

“I’m just surprised, that’s all,” Jane said as they were pulling up the long drive of the Fairfields' massive estate. “You went from this to a plumber's family in South Boston.”

“It’s not as if it was a competition,” Maura said idly, and Jane was glad that it wasn’t, because on first impression alone she would have lost big time.

Arriving at the Fairfield mansion was practically otherworldly, a great big house that didn’t look much like a home to Jane, looked more like it should be a museum. And in the driveway was a stunning car that she couldn’t have afforded on a year’s salary, or several for that matter.

Frost was stunned by it, exclaiming, “Ooh-hoo! This is a Spyker! C8 Laviolette. There's 400 horses up under there.” He bent to peer inside, like a kid in a candy shop, his eyes alight. “I only seen these in magazines.”

“Garrett's here,” Maura deduced. “He's always liked the finer things in life.”

“Yeah, he liked you,” Jane quipped. But he’d also given her up, so he couldn’t have been too smart.

That’s what Jane was telling herself as she entered that house, and at first she was feeling confident, was feeling like it was just another case that she would work with her wife and Frost and Korsak. But things started to feel off shortly after Jane began to question the Fairfield family. They hadn’t discussed it on the way in, but Jane had expected Maura to have her back, and instead she felt like Maura had suddenly switched sides, and Jane hadn’t even realized that there were sides until she started to see the lines being drawn.

Jane didn’t usually bring Maura along when she had to speak with a victim’s friends and family members, so maybe that was where the issue lay, but it rubbed Jane the wrong way, to have her wife not in her corner for once. For so long it had seemed that they were on the same page, even if they didn’t necessarily agree on something. They talked it out, they understood each other, but in the Fairfield mansion, Jane felt like she and Maura were miles apart.

At even the simplest inquiry, Maura was looking at Jane saying, “Can this wait?” and even after Jane had insisted that it could not, that it was critical they get statements as quickly as possible, Maura had stood there next to Garrett Fairfield and countered, “I'm sure the family will answer all of your questions as soon as they're ready. I don't even have a cause of death. We should just give them their space.”

That made Jane’s left eye twitch, but she wasn’t gonna make a scene there. Even when Maura suggested that Frost and Jane go ahead back to headquarters without her, even when Garrett offered to give her a ride, Jane kept her cool. ‘Cause she really wanted to lose it then. Wanted to get territorial and demand Maura come back with her, that she wasn’t gonna just let her wife catch a ride with her ex-boyfriend, who may or may not be a suspect if it turned out that Adam Fairfield was murdered. But Jane didn’t want to be that person, the kind of person that was jealous and irrational, the kind of person that didn’t trust her wife, even when her wife was acting in a way that felt wrong, in a way that Jane didn’t like.

So Jane left with Frost, kept her mouth shut, and thought that with time she might cool off, that Maura would go back to her normal self once she left that mansion, and they could work it out. Except Jane didn’t really cool off. Even after an hour or two apart, Jane’s stomach was still twisted. So she wasn’t exactly calm when she finally went down to the morgue to confront Maura, but she tried… sort of.

“Why are you doing the autopsy on a Sunday?” Jane asked the moment she walked through the doors. “Did they cancel your kundalini-pilau-riku yoga class?” Not that Maura had been to many yoga classes since they’d had Jamie. They were so busy at work most of the time, Maura and Jane didn’t do a whole lot of extra-curricular activities that they couldn’t include him in. It was easier to do yoga at home.

“Kundalini is sacred energy work, pilau is a savory rice dish, and I'm pretty sure that you made up that last word,” Maura responded without looking up.

“Yeah, well, I'm not as educated as you and your deluxe friends,” Jane muttered bitterly. “Thanks for the support with them, by the way.”

Maura did look up at Jane then, like she didn’t understand. “Their brother just died. I couldn't stand there and just let you badger his family.”

Badger?” Jane echoed incredulously, and it felt a lot like a punch to the gut coming from her wife. “Wh –? Is that how you describe how I do my job?”

Maura seemed to reconsider, shaking her head. “No, but…”

“But what?” Jane goaded. “These people mean more to you than the truth? Since when do you rush the science?”

“I'm not rushing anything,” Maura denied.

“You're scrambling to finish the autopsy,” Jane argued.

“The governor called,” Maura tried to defend. “He would like the reports right away.”

“Oh, of course,” Jane scoffed. “The governor called. Did you have a nice chat? Maybe tonight, instead of coming home with me and our son, you could attend the opera with some senators. Afterwards you can go out on the veranda and smoke big, rolled-up wads of hundreds.”

Maura furrowed her brows together, looking at Jane as if she didn’t recognize her, which Jane thought was rich considering that Maura had never looked less familiar to her in all the years she had known her. “What are we arguing about here? Just because I’m friends with these people, I’m somehow the enemy now? You think that I would just abandon my principles?”

“This is about work, okay?” Jane lied, but it was a lie she had convinced herself of fully. It wasn’t that she felt like her whole marriage had just had a wrench thrown into it, it was about work. “I've just never seen you hugging suspects before.”

“We don't even know what happened here. If this was an accidental drowning, there are no suspects.”

“So you're hoping it's an accident,” Jane accused.

“Are you hoping it was a murder?” Maura countered.

“I'm doing my job like I always do. Why don't you do yours?”

Maura bristled at once; Jane could see her straightening her spine, they way her eyes sharpened, and her tone was deeper when she spoke next. “I am. And as the medical examiner, it is my job to determine the cause and the manner of death. So I'll tell you whether there's a case here or not.”

“Maybe I'll just figure it out for myself,” Jane decided, and she stalked out of the morgue before Maura could say anything else.

Ever since her fight with Jane earlier that afternoon, Maura had been feeling decidedly unwell, but she was powering through it. She had a job to do, whether Jane thought she was doing it properly or not. And what did Jane know, after all, about the proper timing to conduct an autopsy? Well, a lot, maybe, but Jane’s part of the job was mostly conducted elsewhere, and for her to question Maura’s professional judgement seemed wholly unfair, not least because they had been colleagues for several years, let alone the fact that they were married. And it wasn’t like they hadn’t fought or disagreed before, but Maura had never felt so misjudged, so untrusted, and she couldn’t really fathom why.

Money had been a touchy subject in their relationship before. The two of them came from two different worlds and there was no way to alter the differences in their upbringing, but they had come together in this world, at BPD, made their own world together, a seemingly perfect blend of both of them, and up until they found Adam Fairfield’s body, everything was working. Maura had compromised by being more frugal, not throwing around her cash too much because Jane didn’t want Jamie being spoiled, and Jane had conceded to not getting so worked up about trying to go half with Maura on everything, like the house and all their bills, to not obsess over their spending. The majority of their money was in a joint account, the rest of it tied up in charitable endowments or a college fund for Jamie.

Jane had always been a little perplexed by Maura’s finances, by the way Maura’s mother acted around them and how Maura sometimes was the same, but it had never been a major issue before now, and Maura didn’t understand what had changed. It felt like Jane didn’t know her at all. It felt like she didn’t want to know, and Maura didn’t know where that left them.

She decided that she needed an outside opinion, one that might understand whatever was going on in Jane’s head, so she invited Korsak down to the morgue under the pretense of discussing the case.

Korsak was onto her though. He hadn’t been in the morgue for much more than five minutes when he inquired, “Hey, doc, you wanna tell me why I'm really here on Jane's case?”

“Oh, well, I thought I could get the benefit of your sailing experience,” Maura deflected.

Korsak waved that off. “Ah, I got a Sunfish I throw in the back of the truck and take to the cape.”

“Well, you know, it seems like the victim hit his head on the boat,” Maura slowly theorized. “Maybe slipped and fell overboard. What's your take?”

“My take is that you are the chief medical examiner, and this is not your first floater.”

“It is my, uh, 43rd,” Maura supplied. “Yes, my 43rd.”

“I've been a cop a long time. I know when people aren't telling me the whole story.” And he was looking at her with those all too knowing eyes, this man who had been almost as much a part of her life as the Rizzolis the last few years, Jane’s partner up until Hoyt, the man that had technically saved her and Jane’s life that night, her life and more. So often she felt as if she owed him so much, that she ought not burden him with more, but of the people in her life she would feel comfortable discussing this with, he was probably the only one.

“Jane's mad at me,” she confessed, shoulders slumping, and maybe she was pouting just a little because she really didn't like it.

“Oh, boy,” Korsak groaned.

“She thinks I'm being biased because I'm acquainted with the family.”

Acquainted?” Korsak said with a lifted eyebrow. “I heard it was a little more than that.”

“It was,” Maura conceded, “but that was a lifetime ago.” It wasn’t as if she was thinking of going back, of being with Garrett again. She had some fond memories of their time together, but she had married Jane.

“That's not it, though,” Korsak explained. “When you grew up like Jane, you're gonna have an attitude about people who, uh, who are entitled.”

“That's a form of prejudice,” Maura protested.

“Where people like me and Jane come from, we didn't have a lot, but we had each other's backs. Sounds to me like all Jane wants to know is, do you have hers, or not?”

After her fight with Maura, Jane really did try to cool down that time. She called her mother and asked to talk to Jamie, listened to her son ramble about the differences between turtles and tortoises, and felt herself relaxing. She closed her eyes while he talked, and even though he was all Rizzoli in features, she could hear so much of Maura in him, but she never felt like he wasn’t just as much hers, like he’d grow up one day and she wouldn’t understand where he had come from. He wasn’t being raised the same way Jane had been, but he wasn’t being raised like Maura either. They had found some middle ground, and thinking of Jamie reminded Jane that it was still possible, that maybe the distance between her and Maura that she was feeling right now didn’t have to be insurmountable.

But then the Fairfields' legal counsel, Robert Colburn, came into BPD and pissed her off all over again. Colburn had been getting in the way of Jane’s investigation from the start, and after refusing to hand over the records Jane had subpoenaed from the Fairfield estate, he had threatened Jane straight to her face.

“You seem like a bright young woman with a promising future. I'd hate to see your career path cut short.”

Jane was still reeling from that, so she went out, left headquarters and thought about going to see Jamie, but she didn’t want him to see her when she was mad so she just walked. She let the warm day and the fresh air calm her down, stepped into a few stores to look around aimlessly, tried to clear her head and focus on the facts of the case without all the emotions tied to it, and when the sun began to sink below the horizon, she returned to BPD.

She checked in with Frost and Korsak, who updated her on the case. While Jane had been out, the two of them had gone with Maura to some expensive restaurant, where Adam Fairfield had had lunch before he died. Turns out that he hadn’t gone alone, and the three of them suspected that he had gone with a woman. Jane thought Maura might be able to find out who the woman was, by using her old relationship with Garrett to get the information, but after their last conversation she wasn’t really sure how to ask.

She went down to the morgue though, half-assed peace offering in hand, and stepped up to the autopsy table that stood between her and her wife, held the block of chocolate out to Maura. “It's got 24-karat gold flakes in it.”

Maura didn’t take the chocolate bar from Jane, looked at it and pressed her lips together. “Are you making fun of me?”

“No,” Jane asserted, “I thought it'd be fun to try.” And she had, at first, when she saw it in the store, thought it was a good metaphor of her and Maura, the way Maura had shaken up Jane’s life, brought in a completely unexpected way of living that sounded wrong but also really worked, but now that she was standing there with it, she was kind of thinking it was a stupid metaphor. Maura took the chocolate, but she sat it down without much interest, so Jane moved on to the other thing in her hands. “Will you run some tests on this please?” Frankie had come to Jane earlier with a bottle of some kind of juice, worried about their mother trying to sell it to people as an anti-aging drink, and what might actually be in it. He had been more worried about their mother trying to strike out on her own, thought she was gearing up to leave their father, but Jane thought Frankie was just being paranoid. Still, Jane would humor him.

“What case?” Maura asked, taking the bottle in her hands and examining it.

“Is Jane's mother poisoning the neighborhood?” Jane answered.

Maura’s eyebrows lifted in interest. “Uh-oh.”

“So you gonna try the chocolate?” Jane prompted, but Korsak joined them then, and they were both distracted by his arrival for a moment.

Just a moment though, before Maura held up the chocolate bar and asked, “Is this an apology?”

Jane’s attention snapped back to her, muscles tightening. “For what?”

“Oh, boy,” Korsak muttered before doing an about face, attempting to escape, but Jane stopped him.

“Uh-uh!” she called to him. “Uh-uh. You ask her.”

Korsak grimaced, positioned perfectly in the middle of the two women and clearly hating every minute of it. But he looked at Maura and quickly said, “Jane thought Garrett would tell you the name of the woman his brother had lunch with before he died.”

“So this is a bribe,” Maura deduced, looking incensed as she turned on Korsak. “Tell Jane that if she thinks that chocolate will induce me to use my relationship with Garrett Fairfield, she doesn't know me very well.”

“Tell Maura I didn't realize I needed to bribe her with the Hope diamond –!” Jane was saying, only to be cut off by Korsak’s phone buzzing, and he eagerly took the excuse to escape.

“My phone –” he halted her, pulling it out of his pocket and barely glancing at it. “Oh, I gotta take this.”

He rushed out then, and Jane had no choice but to look Maura in the eye, and if there was anything they had in common it was that stubborn refusal to back down, both of them looking at each other with palpable frustration.

Finally Jane voiced what was really bothering her. “You looked really at home in that world.” In that world that Jane could never hope to be a part of, that she could never hope to understand.

“It's where I'm from. It's not where I chose to stay,” Maura reasoned.

“Well, what are you doing down here slummin’ with us?”

Maura’s lips pulled down, looking hurt. “The same as you. I'm catching bad guys.”

“I need the job. You don't.” And that was the scary part, wasn’t it? Maura could just up and leave at any time, could take Jamie with her, could decide that she wanted to do something else, somewhere that Jane didn’t factor in.

“I want my life to have meaning and purpose, the same as you.”

“Sounds good, Maura, but I don't know what to believe anymore.”

Maura took a step back, looking upset, and it was the last thing that Jane wanted, but it was how she felt. “How can you say that to me? After all that we’ve been through together?”

“Because up until today, I didn’t think I had a reason to doubt us,” Jane answered in frustration, at herself and Maura and all of it. “But now I’m not even sure whose side you're on.”

“I’m on your side,” Maura asserted, voice rising. “Always. Why would you question that now?”

Because Maura had never questioned Jane’s judgement in front of suspects before, because Jane had never felt so strongly like she was on the outside of Maura’s life looking in. And what if one day Maura wanted to go back to that life? Not even Garrett or the Fairfields but just… just something Jane could never give her.

“Maybe,” Jane murmured. “Maybe. Y’know what, forget it, a’right? I’m gonna… I’m gonna head home.” That home that had finally started to feel like theirs, that even had Jane’s name on it now, but the truth was that Maura had bought it for herself before she had even met Jane.

“Jane,” Maura called, but she didn’t come chasing after her and Jane just kept going, the whole way out of BPD and straight home.

She found her mother there, sleeping on the couch, and ushered her into the guest room to sleep in a bed. She offered to call her father to let him know that Angela was staying over, but Angela mumbled that Frank wasn’t home as her head hit the pillow, and she immediately fell back to sleep, and Jane’s head was spinning too much from her own marital problems to ask.

She went to Jamie’s room, and found her little boy sleeping peacefully in his big boy bed, and that he did like Jane, arms and legs spread apart, mouth open and leaking drool, blankets all askew. Jane smiled and went over to him, knelt at his bed and detangled the blankets from around his legs, tucked him in again and ran her fingers through his unruly hair. He shifted and breathed in deep and settled in, but didn’t wake, and Jane just watched him, watched his steady breaths. He had a stuffed giraffe tucked into the crook of his arm, a gift from Maura, and Jane too, but Maura had picked it out when she was pregnant, for their little boy, and they had mostly kept it up on a shelf in his room when he was a baby, but one day he had reached for it and he’d been holding onto it ever since.

Jane still felt like there was a weight on her chest, but she was better there with Jamie, so she climbed into the tiny toddler bed with him, watched him sleep for just a bit longer, decided to wait for Maura to come home, but she must have been exhausted because she fell asleep and didn’t budge till morning.

She woke to the sensation of someone touching her arm, and years ago she might have jolted up, swatted it away, but she knew that hand, that smell of vanilla perfume. Her eyes fluttered open and she noticed that it wasn’t as dark as when she had first entered the room, but Jamie was still sleeping soundly next to her. She turned her head, rubbing at her eyes, and through the blur she could see Maura’s face. “Maura?” she rasped in a whisper. “What time is it?”

“Early,” Maura whispered back. “I have something I need to do before I go into the office, but I didn’t want to leave without telling you.”

Jane blinked several times and noticed that Maura was dressed and ready to go, realized that she must have slept the whole night in Jamie’s bed, could feel it in the way her back was kind of starting to hurt. Jamie had a nice mattress but it wasn’t as good as his mothers’, not to mention a quarter of the size.

“I didn’t want to wake you when I got home last night,” Maura explained, stroking Jane’s messy hair back from her forehead. “But I want you to know that I have your back, and I love you.” She leaned down and kissed Jane on the cheek, and then moved as if to leave.

But Jane reached out and grabbed onto Maura’s wrist, pulling her back before she could go. She was half asleep still but it was all coming back to her, how upset she had been yesterday, but in the light of a new day, she didn’t feel it all so strongly. And she believed Maura when she said she had her back, she believed in them. “Maur, I’m sorry.”

Maura kissed Jane on the mouth that time, short but sweet, tasting like lip gloss and toothpaste. “I’ll come find you later.”

And when Maura moved to leave that time, Jane let her go, and with that weight lifted from her chest, she rolled over and fell calmly back to sleep.

Chapter Text

Maura knew where she would find Garret that morning, the same place he was almost every morning around 6 a.m., even now, fourteen years later. He was in the pool, at the Fairfield estate, doing laps from one end to the other, and he didn’t miss a beat. He was as good as she remembered.

When he noticed her there by the pool, he surfaced, pulling back his goggles and smiling up at her, and she told him, “Your form still looks good.”

“So does yours,” he quipped, looking her up and down appreciatively. “You still running marathons?”

“Once a year,” she answered. “I don't really have time for more. Work's pretty busy.” As was having a wife and a son and the whole Rizzoli clan. When she had been with Garrett, she had been almost entirely alone. She rarely saw her parents and she didn’t have a lot of friends. Now she rarely had a moment alone, was surrounded by people that were her people, and sometimes it was exhausting, but she wouldn’t have gone back to her old life for anything.

“Is that why you're here?” he asked. “Please tell me you didn't learn how to lie. That was one of your most endearing traits.”

Maura stepped out of her shoes and sat down on the edge of the pool to be more level with him, let her feet sink into the water. It wasn’t quite warm enough outside for swimming, but the pool was heated, just enough for it to feel comfortable on her toes. “The investigators think that your brother had lunch with a woman before he died,” Maura admitted. “They were hoping you might know who.”

Garrett began to pull himself up out of the pool, sat down next to Maura, close to her, water dripping off of him. “There was a reason I based my clothing company out of Milan.”

“I think I know why,” Maura said, taking note of how he hadn’t really answered her question. “We used to talk a lot, remember?”

He reached for a towel and dried his face, threw the towel over his shoulders before he responded, “Might've just been talk if it wasn't for you. You inspired me to take a risk, go out on my own, get away from the clutches of my family.”

“And you did it. You got out.”

“Sumner and Adam, they fought a lot.”

“So, what, Sumner had something to do with Adam's death?” Maura questioned, not wanting to believe it of the young man she had once known, but she had never known any of the Fairfields half as well as she knew Jane’s family.

“No,” Garrett asserted. “Fairfields will do a lot of things to each other, but brothers don't kill brothers.” Maura tucked a strand of hair behind her ear as she listened to him, and when she slowly began to drop her hand, Garrett caught it, holding it in both of his own, examining the ring on her finger. He might have noticed it the first time she came to the house, but they hadn’t discussed it. Jane had been Detective Rizzoli then, and Maura hadn’t wanted to undermine that, even if she had ended up undermining Jane in a different way, a way she had never intended. “You got married.”


“Is it a good marriage?” he asked, and she would normally have said anything emphatic yes, because it was, because she loved Jane, more than anything, but he was still holding her hand and he still hadn’t answered her about Adam’s mistress.

“Sometimes,” Maura said instead, which wasn’t a total lie either but it still felt a little like a lie to her. Being married wasn’t always easy, though, and she would let Garrett believe whatever he wanted to about her vague answer.

“I have to come back to Boston to run the business,” Garrett told her, looking at her closely, holding her gaze. “I can't leave it to Sumner. He's a mess.”

“Do you know who Adam was seeing?” Maura tried again, and Garrett looked away from her then, let her hand go as he nodded. “Would you tell me if I promise to be discreet?”

Instead, he looked at her again, lips quirked up. “There hasn't been anyone serious for a long time.”

Maura humored him. “How long?”

“College,” he predictably answered, and she could see the want still in his gaze, the flirtatious smile on his face, and ten years ago maybe she would have let him kiss her again, to see what it was like, but there wasn’t an ounce of her that wondered now. She couldn’t remember, really, what it had been like between them. She remembered moments, remembered him, remembered feeling at the time like she might have loved him. But she knew what real love was now, knew how it felt and what she would do for it, for Jane.

“We had some good times together,” Maura permitted.

“Who is he?” he asked, looking down at her ring again.

“Her name is Jane,” Maura responded.

It took him a second, brow furrowed, and then he questioned, “The detective? From yesterday?” Maura nodded, and he sat back from her, a little guarded. “Did she ask you to come here?”

“No,” Maura denied. Technically, Korsak had. “She doesn’t know that I’m here. Will you tell me?”

“I should have never let you convince me we should separate,” Garrett deflected once more, that smile on his face that had charmed all the girls in college, but then he looked across the estate, and his expression turned thoughtful, and finally he told her, “Her name is Vanessa DeWald. Adam’s been seeing her for about a year.”

“Thank you for telling me,” Maura said sincerely.

“Now maybe you’ll do something for me,” Garrett requested, and he said it softly, like it was friendly and not a demand. “Let me take you for coffee. I want to hear about what you’ve been up to these past few years.”

And maybe it was innocent, maybe Maura was reading too much into it, but he was trailing his fingers down her spine and she shifted away, forced a tight smile and said apologetically, “I actually have to get back. Rain check?”

“I’m going to hold you to that,” Garrett promised, and for some reason Maura didn’t doubt it. “I’ll make sure you get an invitation to the memorial. Bring your wife,” he offered, taking her hand once more and holding her gaze as he lifted it up to his lips, kissing the back of it. “Or don’t.”

Maura entered BPD a little while later, took the elevator up to the third floor, and found Jane at her desk, focused intently on something on her computer screen. Maura paused for a moment in the entryway, observing her wife, Jane’s hunched shoulders and the furrow in her brow, her lips pressed into a thin line. To an outsider she might look angry, but Maura could see the gears turning, the way Jane’s brain moved at impressive speed, over all the facts and implications. Maura was often the one noted for her intelligence, but she had learned so much from Jane, was still learning everyday, and she was always impressed by Jane’s natural abilities.

Maura moved into the room, began walking over to Jane’s desk, and as her heels struck an even tone that joined the cacophony of ringing phones and clicking keyboards, Jane looked up abruptly, seeking out Maura’s gaze. She was on her feet by the time Maura reached her, rasping a quiet, “Hey, there you are,” grasping Maura’s elbow.

“Did you and James sleep in this morning?” Maura teased, having seen Jane roll right back over in bed when Maura was leaving them that morning, and there was a travel mug of coffee on Jane’s desk, meaning she hadn’t had time to stop for anything.

Jane’s lips quirked up in the corner in a smirk. “Just a little. Did you take care of what you needed to do?”

Maura nodded. “Adam had a mistress. Her name is Vanessa DeWald.”

Jane’s eyebrows lifted with interest. “You went to see Garrett?” she surmised. “Maura, you didn’t have to, I shouldn’t have asked –”

“I did have to,” Maura interjected. “I want to prove to you that I trust your instincts, and that I will follow your lead on your case.”

“Well, thank you,” Jane murmured. “But y’know, I like it when you argue with me.” She smiled warmly and jostled Maura’s arm, and her gaze dipped for a second, like she wanted to move into Maura’s space and hug her or kiss her or both, but they refrained from that at work, for the most part, especially in the middle of the day with an office full of people.

“I certainly won’t refrain from voicing my differing opinions, but perhaps I could be more mindful of who is around when I do,” Maura permitted.

“I was just feeling kind of territorial, I think,” Jane quietly admitted, sliding her hand down Maura’s arm to intertwine their fingers. “I forget sometimes that we come from two totally different worlds.”

“You have nothing to worry about,” Maura asserted. “That world, that part of my life… There’s nothing there to go back to.”

“Not even for the Spyker?” Jane joked. “I’m pretty sure Frost would shoot me in the leg to get that car.”

Maura chuckled. “He definitely would.”

Jane sat back against her desk, but kept a hold on Maura’s hand. “Hey, you wanna get outta here early today? Maybe take Jamie to see Bass?”

Maura smiled. She did miss Bass. When she and Jane had decided to have a baby, they had also decided that perhaps it wouldn’t be the best idea to have a tortoise crawling around on the floor with said baby. Bass was perfectly docile, but they would have their hands full with a baby as it was, and Maura had made the difficult decision to take Bass to live at the local zoo. It would have been a necessary action at some point anyways, since Bass needed more room to roam than Maura’s tiny yard could offer, but she had been sad to see him go. She didn’t get to visit him as often as she’d like, but she had been sure to take James to meet Bass a handful of times, enough that Jamie liked to tell people about his brother Bass that lived at the zoo, which was extremely confusing to people outside the family, and a great source of amusement to Jane.

“That sounds good,” Maura decided, “but are you sure you can get away?”

Jane shrugged. “Aside from this mistress, I haven’t got any other leads here. Once I track her down, I’m free.”

“How’s 2 o’clock sound?” Maura suggested.

“I’ll meet you downstairs,” Jane promised.

They took Jamie to the zoo for the afternoon, spent some time with Bass and the other animals, Maura’s usual commentary leading Jane and Jamie through the park. Afterward, they went to get pizza and ice cream, and when they got home, Jamie ran his energy off in the backyard as the sun went down. By the time Jane and Maura gave Jamie his bath, he was struggling to keep his eyes open, and he was in bed asleep by nine o’clock.

Somewhere in between all that excitement, Vanessa DeWald finally called Jane back, and agreed to come down to BPD the following morning to talk about Adam Fairfield. With that settled, Jane pulled a bottle of wine out of the fridge and turned to Maura. “You want a drink?”

“Will it have gold flecks in it?” Maura quipped.

Jane snorted. “No, unless you want me to go out and get you some.”

“Not this time,” Maura permitted, smiling prettily as she reached for the wine glasses.

Jane poured their drinks and then they went to sit on opposite ends of the couch, blanket draped over their legs, Maura’s cold toes tucked under Jane’s thigh. Jane sighed as she sank into the cushions, rubbing her eyes with the heel of her hand. She took a drink of her wine, and then leveled Maura with an inquisitive look and asked, “So, what happened with you and Garrett?”

“There’s not much to tell,” Maura started to say, but Jane’s look didn’t waver, and she elaborated, “I remember thinking I loved him.”

“Turns out it was just narcissism?” Jane teased.

Maura chuckled. “Might have been.”

“How was it? Talking to him this morning?”

Maura thought about it, wrinkling her nose and answering, “It was strange. He didn’t feel… familiar. I suppose both of us has changed since we last saw each other.”

Jane nodded, humming in acknowledgement, laying her hand on Maura’s ankle over the blankets. “I won’t pretend I’m not glad there’s no spark there.”

Maura’s gaze locked with Jane’s as she took a sip of her wine, and then she was moving, stretching her arm to sit her wine glass on the coffee table, sitting forward into Jane’s space. She had that look on her face, the one that made Jane lick her lips, made her heart pick up speed. Maura braced one hand on the couch next to Jane’s hip, used the other hand to take Jane’s glass out of her hand and sit it on the table too. Then she settled against Jane, lips close but not touching yet, and she murmured, “You, my darling, have nothing to worry about.” She kissed Jane’s cheek, the corner of her mouth, and leaned back an inch before Jane could kiss her back. “You are gorgeous, and fierce,” she kissed behind Jane’s ear, her neck, “and I am wildly attracted to you, and you only.”

Jane was already breathless as she rasped, “Even when I’m being territorial?”

“Oh, I find it very sexy when you’re territorial,” Maura assured with a coy smile, before she finally pressed her lips firmly to Jane's. And Jane was overtaken by her, surrounded by that vanilla perfume, by Maura’s heat, the pressure of her against Jane’s chest. She tangled her fingers in Maura’s hair, hanging on for dear life as Maura’s hands began to move against Jane’s skin, up underneath Jane’s shirt, grasping at the waistband of Jane’s shorts.

And then a sudden sound from upstairs broke through Jane’s hazy mind, belatedly, only as Maura was dragging her lips away from hers, the loss abruptly displeasing. But Jamie’s voice was coming down the stairs, an urgent, “Mama? Mommy? Mama, I’m thirsty. Mommy, you down there?”

“I’ll be right there,” Maura called back to him, but Jane groaned as she tried to move away from her, hands gripping tight to Maura’s hips. Maura laughed lightly, bent down and kissed Jane briefly. “I’ll get him back to sleep. Why don’t you meet me in the bedroom?”

Jane nodded eagerly, but she needed a minute to catch her breath so she laid there on the couch, while Maura went and gathered a glass of water for Jamie. But with the promise of more waiting for her upstairs, Jane hopped up off the couch, grabbed her wine glass and Maura’s, along with the remaining bottle, and rushed into the bedroom to prepare.

The next morning, Jane spoke to Vanessa DeWald. The woman appeared genuinely distraught by Adam’s death, and claimed that Adam was planning to divorce his wife to be with her, taking his fortune with him. Since Vanessa’s alibi checked out, Jane thought she ought to be looking at Adam’s wife, Jocelyn, who stood to lose quite a lot from a divorce.

Shortly after meeting with Vanessa, Korsak called to tell Jane that Harbor Patrol had found Adam’s boat, so Jane, Maura, Korsak, and Frost went down to the docks. Colburn was there, trying to impede them as per usual, but eventually Harbor Patrol moved aside to let them through. After an examination of the boat, it seemed like Adam had struck his head on the boom and fallen, that maybe his death really was an accident, but Maura asserted otherwise.

She was certain even before they got back to headquarters, that nothing on that boat matched the impression of the object that struck Adam Fairfield’s head, and it was confirmed by the lab.

“So somebody planted the blood on the boom,” Jane guessed.

“That's the only explanation I can come up with,” Maura confirmed.

“So, the killer hides on Adam's boat, he waits until Adam is out to sea, he hits him over the head with a weapon, and then throws the weapon and the body overboard.”

“Yeah, but how does he or she get back to shore?” Maura reasoned.

“Maybe a boat, or a dinghy,” Jane theorized.

“Korsak said nothing docked against the boat,” Maura pointed out.

“Then, uh, there's an accomplice on another boat nearby.” And Jane considered that maybe Jocelyn was having an affair of her own, or maybe that asshole Colburn had helped her. “It's a pretty perfect murder.”

“Except that the imprints on the skull would match the weapon.”

“Which is 20,000 leagues under the sea.”

“Oh, that's actually a reference to unit of distance,” Maura explained. “Leagues across the ocean, not depth.”

“It's at the bottom of the ocean,” Jane interrupted her, more amused than impatient. “Do you have a plan of finding it?”

Maura shook her head. “Not a good one.” She went back to looking into her microscope, and Jane could see her frowning. “Hmm.”

“What?” Jane inquired.

“Well, there's just something about these fibers on Adam's cashmere sweater,” Maura muttered. The sweater that was from Garrett’s company, thousands of dollars but apparently not up to the standard Maura thought it should be. It was bothering her, even if she wouldn’t say directly why. “I'm gonna have the lab take another look at it.”

“After that you wanna call it a night?” Jane suggested.

“Um… yes,” Maura decided, sighing. “Oh, by the way,” she looked up from her microscope, “I ran some tests on your mother’s miracle juice.” Jane tensed in anticipation as Maura paused. “It's 98 percent water. The rest is sodium citrate, mono-potassium phosphate –”

“Anything harmful?” Jane asked.


Jane’s shoulders relaxed. “But there's nothing helpful, either. I should tell Frankie.”

“Why was he so worried anyway?” Maura questioned.

“He thinks ‘cause Ma’s wearing lipstick and buying new clothes that she’s gonna divorce Pop.”

Maura’s brow furrowed. “Do you think she wants to?”

Jane shrugged. It wasn’t like she hadn’t noticed the issues between her parents, but so many of those issues had been there for as long as she could remember, and her parents had stuck together so far. Nevertheless, she had felt a distance with her father herself in recent months, recent years even. Not exactly since she had married Maura, but it had certainly been on a decline since then. But they didn’t talk about it. When her father was angry or worried or whatever it was he was feeling, he disappeared, and when he came back, he acted like he had never been gone, like everything was normal. When Hoyt had taken Maura, after Hoyt had taken Jane, her father had not come around much, and Jane had figured he was drinking, figured he was trying to keep to his promise to stay away from his grandson if he was drinking too much, but maybe there was more to it. Just a few weeks prior, Jane and Maura had to go pick up Angela because her car had broken down and she claimed that Frank had abandoned her. Jane had thought her mother was being dramatic, that her father was just busy working, but there were a lot of signs that she was thinking now that maybe she had ignored.

“I don’t know,” Jane admitted.

“Well, I’m sure they’ll be fine,” Maura said gently.

“Yeah,” Jane agreed, “maybe.”

“One other thing,” Maura said, reaching for an envelope sitting on the table nearby. “I have a present for you.”

“Is this an apology or bribe?” Jane joked as she accepted the envelope from Maura, pulling out the card inside and reading over it. “The Fairfield family invite you and a guest to a memorial. This is tomorrow.”

“Yeah, I wasn't gonna go,” Maura replied, “but you wanted access to my deluxe friends, Sumner and Jocelyn. I want you to be my guest.”

“Won't I embarrass you?”

“Probably,” Maura teased with a smile. “But haven't I embarrassed you?”

“No... more than half a dozen times,” Jane parried, and they both laughed. At least, until Jane read the rest of the card, and she pouted. “Cocktail dress required. Can't I just go like this?”

Maura looked down at Jane’s detective clothes, and from anyone else it might have been condescending, but Maura just looked fond. “If you're going to embarrass me, at least do it in the proper clothes.”

Walking back into the Fairfield mansion for Adam’s memorial, Jane left any residual bitterness aside, and treated the event as she would one of Constance’s elaborate affairs. Jane had been to plenty of those with Maura over the years, and she had long ago learned to simply enjoy the fancy drinks and marvel at the absurdity, to watch rich people acting unnatural. Jane didn’t have half the material things that the people in that mansion did, but she had Maura on her arm so who was the real winner there?

Garrett looked her up and down when Maura introduced Jane as her wife this time, and he smiled and said they both looked gorgeous, but Jane didn’t trust his arrogant little smile, the way his hand lingered on Maura’s arm while he was looking at Jane. But Jane just smiled back at him, confidently, unperturbed this time. Garrett might have thought a lot of himself, probably still wanted Maura, maybe even thought he had a chance, but Jane was the one who had slept next to Maura last night, who would go home with her after the memorial, their home with their son, and Jane wasn’t worried. Garrett might be used to getting whatever he wanted, but not this time.

The memorial ended up being revealing and unhelpful all at once. On the one hand, Jane and Maura discovered that Adam’s wife Jocelyn and his brother Sumner were having an affair, but they also had an alibi, had been together at the Ritz when Adam had been murdered, according to Colburn. Jane would be double checking that, of course, but she seemed to have hit another dead end in the case.

That is, until she and Maura returned to headquarters the following morning. While they were at the memorial, Maura had sent the results of her further tests on Adam’s cashmere sweater to Frost, and he had discovered a lot in BRIC in the meantime.

“I looked into that fiber for you,” he told Maura, handing her a file, and Jane watched as Maura’s eyes moved over it, her brows steadily drawing closer and closer together.

“Good cashmere is 14 microns thick,” Maura murmured to herself, voice rising with her confusion. “This is 24. Subpar materials. Wha –? Why would Garrett be using cheap cashmere?”

“Because he's broke,” Frost informed, and Jane’s gaze immediately landed on her wife, already putting the pieces together on what Frost was saying, on what it meant about Garrett, about why someone would want to kill Adam. “I called his suppliers. He's behind on everything. Materials, warehousing, manufacturing, packaging. Guy hasn't paid a bill in months.”

“Wait, that makes no sense,” Maura said heatedly, throwing the file down onto the desk where Frost sat. “He inherited a fortune.”

“Looks like he burned through it all. And then some.”

Maura looked around incredulously, at Jane, at Korsak, and back to Frost, all of them looking back at her with the same grim understanding, but Maura still shook her head and scoffed. “Okay, just because his company's in trouble doesn't mean that he's a killer,” she denied.

“I don't know,” Jane said gently, regretfully. “Maybe killing off your brother and inheriting the family empire, paying off your debt… turns you into one.”

“But he flew in after the murder.”

“Flew in from Milan?” Jane clarified, and Maura nodded. “Frost, we can't get into that private jet manifest, can we?”

“No, we can only track the plane,” Frost responded, pulling it up on the computer in front of him, reading it over, and while he did Jane looked at Maura, and Jane could see it dawning there in her eyes, the awful recognition. “Looks like it stopped in L.A. to refuel. Got stuck there for three days. Engine trouble. He and the plane arrived in Boston after the murder.”

“Can we prove he was on that plane?” Jane questioned. “Takes, what, three days to drive from L.A. to Boston?”

Korsak nodded silently in confirmation, glancing at Maura too, but Frost was a little less mindful, wasn’t quite as aware of the tumultuous feelings stirring in Maura’s gut, and he exclaimed in distress, “Oh. You think he did it in the Spyker?”

Jane cleared her throat noisily and shook her head at him. He looked over his shoulder at Maura and caught on, but Maura wasn’t looking at him or any of them, was hurrying out of the room, and Jane called to her but let her go. She left Maura have her space to come to terms with the news, but not for long.

Soon, Jane was making the trek down to the morgue, where she knew Maura would be, throwing herself into her work, as she did when she was upset about something, as they both were prone to do.

“Hey,” Jane said softly as she stepped into the morgue, saw Maura there looking intently into her microscope again, and she settled her hand on Maura’s shoulder, squeezing lightly. “How are you?”

“I should have seen it,” Maura lamented, sitting back in her seat, shaking her head mournfully.

“You did,” Jane asserted, because she wasn’t gonna let Maura blame herself for any of it. “There is a reason you didn't commit to him after college. There is a reason that he didn’t feel familiar to you now. It's called gut instinct.” Maura might not believe in trusting her gut, but Jane did, and she knew that Maura had sensed something in Garrett, even if she hadn’t known what it was.

“There were clues,” Maura said in distress. “I couldn't put them together.”

“You did,” Jane insisted. “You did it subconsciously. Honey, you are the smartest person I know, but you are not clairvoyant. You couldn’t have predicted all of this, but you knew there was something off about him.”

Maura still shook her head, rubbed the tension in her forehead, and Jane gently kneaded the back of Maura’s neck. “The oysters,” Maura stressed. “That's how I missed it. The oysters, and it was right in front of me the whole time!”

“Okay, come on,” Jane decided, before Maura could spiral out. “I'll take it from here, okay? You don’t have to –”

“Look,” Maura pressed. “I – I thought that Adam had asthma. But he was taking a drug to treat pan lobular emphysema, which is why he couldn't digest food.” Jane nodded, but she didn’t understand. “He wasn't a smoker.”

Still, Jane was confused. “That is great for him?”

“The damage was caused by a disorder called Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency.”

“Sweetie, I'm sorry. I don't know why you're telling me this,” Jane confessed.

“It's inherited. The illness that Adam had, all of the Fairfield children should have, but they don't. Because Adam had a different father. And that's who carried the fatal gene. Adam was a half brother.”

And suddenly it was all making sense. “That's why he didn't inherit the business.”

“He wasn't part of the bloodline,” Maura confirmed. “He wasn't a Brahmin.”

“Wait, why didn't the father give it to Garrett?” Jane wondered. “He was next in line.”

“Because they had a terrible relationship,” Maura said unequivocally, sadly, like it was all clicking into place for her too. “Garrett always used to say he wanted to make his own way in the world. And I'm not sure that he had a choice.”

“And then that didn't work because he was going bankrupt,” Jane deduced.

“Garrett said brothers don't kill brothers. I think he justified what he did because in his mind, Adam wasn't his brother.”

“It's motive, but it's not proof,” Jane reasoned, and part of her almost didn’t want it to be true, didn’t want all the evidence that was piling up to actually mean that Garrett was the killer. Not because she gave a damn about Garrett Fairfield, but because she cared so much about Maura and how this was gonna affect her. “Maybe Garrett didn't do it.”

“Jane, he did it.” She was so sure now, resigned to it, and Jane wanted to ease that grief in her soft, pretty eyes, wanted to protect Maura from all things. She may not have been with Garrett for a decade now, but it still couldn’t be a good feeling, to know she had been with someone that was a killer now. “And I think I know where the proof is. It's how he got from L.A. to Boston.”

By that afternoon, they had enough evidence and a warrant for Garrett’s arrest.

They found him exactly where Maura had found him a few days prior, doing laps in the pool on the Fairfield estate, and it was sickening to her, how he could just go about his regular life, that he could be so calm and collected, to flirt with her like they were still in college, to keep to his daily regimen of swimming, to throw a memorial for the man he had killed. Maura still couldn’t really wrap her head around it, couldn’t reconcile this Garrett with the Garrett she had known, thought she had known. She might not have loved him as deeply and truly as she did Jane, but she had cared for him, she had given parts of herself to him. To know that he could so casually murder a man, a man he had grown up with, a man that was his brother, made her regret every minute she ever spent with him, made her sick to her stomach.

Jane kept telling her that she couldn’t put that on herself, that there was nothing wrong with her for not expecting him to be a murderer, that he wasn’t always that, but for now, Maura felt only disgust.

Striding across the grass, she felt like she needed to be there when he was arrested, needed to have this closure, even though there was nothing Garrett could say to her to justify any of this. She still needed to see it done.

“There’s only one person I know that could've committed a murder one mile out at sea and still gotten back without a boat,” Maura said as Garrett surfaced in the water.

“A triathlete,” Jane finished.

“Maura,” he said beseechingly, looking only at her, flippantly disregarding Jane.

“You know, you said brothers don't kill brothers, but you knew that Adam had a different father, and that meant he wasn't really your brother.”

Garrett scoffed. “Maura, come on. You know me.”

But he was wrong about that. She didn’t know him at all. “The murder weapon left a unique impression in Adam's skull.”

“Like this one,” Jane supplied, holding out the object they had retrieved from Garrett’s car. “It’s the same pattern, isn't it, Maura? We found it in your trunk.”

“Run tests, Maura,” Garrett challenged. “You won't find anything on that.”

“Because this one is new,” Jane countered, even though he was still refusing to look at her. “The one you used to kill your half brother is at the bottom of the ocean.”

Garrett’s face was pinched in anger, and Maura wondered if that was what he had looked like when he had killed his brother, or if he had been emotionless, disconnected entirely from what he had set out and planned to do.

Colburn stepped up next to Jane, and Garrett’s eyes latched onto him, assertively ordering him, “Have security escort the ladies out.”

Jane’s voice was even more commanding when she told Garrett, “Step out of the pool.”

“Colburn,” Garrett pressed in frustration.

“I think you should step out of the pool, Mr. Fairfield,” Colburn said plainly.

Garrett looked shocked, looked insulted, like he couldn’t understand how this was happening to him. “Colburn, what are you doing? You work for me.” It made Maura flinch, after the years she had spent at BPD, away from this world, the years she had been with Jane and the Rizzolis. She didn’t remember if Garrett had said such a thing before, when they had been together, but she feared that he had, that she had missed that too, let it slide, and she hated that she probably had.

“I work for the Fairfields,” Colburn said firmly.

Garrett continued to tread water, jaw clenched, glaring at Colburn as the rest of the police came across the lawn to join them, Korsak and Frost and a few unis, and then that dark look turned on Maura, scathing as Garrett told her, “It’s a shame to see you like this, Maura. You’ve fallen a long way to wade in the gutter with these people.”

Maura wouldn’t even dignify that with a response. “Goodbye, Garrett.” She turned away from him, away from the estate, went back to her car and only then sucked in a deep breath of air, shuddering as she let it back out.

But she could not remain distressed, not for long, not when she went home with Jane, went home to their son and all that she had there. And later that night, settled on the couch in Jane’s arms, with Jamie sleeping on her chest, Maura was at peace, and decided not to spare another thought for Garrett Fairfield. No matter how much she agonized over it, she would never understand why he had done it, or how she hadn’t seen that darkness in him years ago. What she could maybe understand, though, was that desperation to hold onto something, to protect it no matter the cost, because Maura felt that, lying there with her whole world in her grasp, Jane and James the most important things in her life, and she would have done an awful lot to keep them safe and sound. For them, she would give up all the money in the world.

Chapter Text

Jane was not having the best morning.

It was the first day that she and Maura had taken Jamie to his new daycare, and the boy had not been thrilled when they left him there, had looked up at his mothers with pleading eyes, and Jane was still wracked with guilt over it forty-three minutes and counting later. She and Maura had argued in the car about it, and several other times in the days leading up to the moment they would drop him off with a bunch of strangers. Maura was insistent that Jamie needed socialization outside of the family, that he should know children his own age, and that it would help prepare him for starting preschool in a few months. But Jane wasn’t ready to admit that their baby was growing up, and she didn’t want Jamie to be upset with her, and they already lost time with him as it was, with the way work kept them from home.

Granted, they were only taking him two days a week, for only a few hours, and he’d be with his mothers or with Angela for the rest of the time, but still, Jane was worried that he’d hate it in daycare. She had, of course, run extensive background checks on every employee at the ungodly expensive daycare Maura had chosen, and Maura had shown Jane stacks of brochures about all the great things the place had to offer, but none of those things accounted for mean kids or accidents. And Jane knew Jamie, knew that he was shy and sensitive and what if he didn’t make any friends? What if he was scared? How was she supposed to protect him?

Maura had to drag Jane away when Jamie was being led into the building by a bright, smiling woman that couldn’t be older than twenty-five. He and Jane had both looked over their shoulders at each other, and she’d had to smile at him encouragingly even as her heart was being torn in half. He hadn’t looked scared, exactly, but he was uncertain, and Jane couldn’t help worrying.

With their morning free, and in an effort to take their minds off of Jamie, Maura decided it’d be a good idea to go to a yoga class, but that wasn’t improving Jane’s mood either.

“And heels down,” the instructor said, as Jane was bent completely at the waist, balancing precariously on her palms and toes, and trying to press her heels down into the mat did not help.

She turned her head to look accusingly at her wife and harshly whisper, “This hurts!

“Pain is only in the mind,” Maura calmly whispered back.

“Right leg up, and flip your dog,” the instructor – the instructor named Brock of all things, and who named their kid Brock? – said.

Maura flipped over gracefully, like it was easy, balancing on one arm. Jane only flailed, still trying to turn herself over and wobbling when Brock stepped into Maura’s space, putting his hands on her, lifting up her back to straighten out her pose, and Jane paused to glare at him.

“And back to downward dog,” he said, already walking away, before Jane could tell him to get his grimy hands off her wife.

“You brought me here to torture me,” Jane hissed.

“I did not!” Maura denied in a shrill whisper.

“That instructor is giving you way too much attention,” Jane muttered, narrowed eyes following Brock around the room.

Maura snorted quietly. “Oh yeah? What about the man that’s been smiling at you?”

“Huh?” Jane said, eyes turning back on her wife, and she followed Maura’s gaze to where a dark haired, muscular man two rows ahead was peering at her upside down, smiling at her with interest. She hadn’t even noticed him.

“I could invite him to dinner,” Maura offered, teasingly, smirking at Jane like she thought she had made a good joke, and it was cute and all, but Jane sometimes couldn’t actually tell if Maura was really joking or not.

“No!” Jane exclaimed, voice a little too high above a whisper, eliciting a round of ‘Shhh!’ from the people all around her. “Sorry!” she added in a hushed tone.

Jane looked over at the man still staring her down, and she grinned back at him, all cheerful and sweet, and then she lifted her left hand off of her yoga mat and waved at him. He caught sight of the wedding rings there, and his smile and his attention dropped at once. She heard Maura stifling a laugh next to her.

Jane’s phone began to ring then, and there was another disgruntled chorus of ‘Shhh!’ and Jane made a face at them. “Oh, all right!” She reached under her mat for her cellphone, dropping down to her knees in relief. “Rizzoli.” She was worried, at first, that it would be the daycare calling about Jamie, but it was just dispatch with another murder. “Okay –”

Suddenly Brock was there in front of her, squatting down to look at her directly with clear disapproval. “Mindful awareness is what can subdue the primitive consciousness, and bring the physical body under control of the will.”

“I… totally agree,” Jane told him, hanging up her phone and rocking back on her heels. “I have to go.”

“Yeah, you can't leave before Savasana,” Brock disagreed.

“Corpse pose!” Maura whispered to Jane with an entreating look.

“Maura, let's go,” Jane ushered. She smiled with gritted teeth at Brock. “Thank you.”

Maura hastily gathered her things, pausing before Brock with her hands clasped in front of her and giving him a small bow. “Namaste.”

Namaste,” Brock responded.

“Come on!” Jane said impatiently.

Maura came rushing across the room, following Jane out of the class and back to the car. She huffed as she settled into the passenger seat, asking Jane, “Did you even get a call from dispatch, or did you just want an excuse to get out of that class?”

“Check your phone!” Jane challenged. “I don’t lie.

Maura snorted. “Really? How about the time I got us tickets to the opera and you suddenly had to interrogate a suspect?”

“I did have to interrogate a suspect,” Jane asserted.

“You had all day to interrogate them,” Maura argued, “but you waited until it would be too late to make it to the opera.”

“I did not!” Jane denied, pressing her tongue to the roof of her mouth to suppress a grin.

Maura laughed and shook her head. “You are such a liar.

“Hey, you married me,” Jane pointed out.

“And I’ve been paying for that decision ever since,” Maura joked; she couldn’t even say it with a straight face, and Jane was proud of her for a good comeback, but she looked at Maura with her mouth dropped open as if she was shocked and insulted, and then reached over to squeeze Maura’s knee in retaliation. Maura flailed and squealed in surprise, clamping her hand down on Jane’s wrist to pull Jane’s fingers away. “Jane, stop!”

“Keep it up,” Jane warned. “I’ll go back and get that guy’s number. Maybe he’ll appreciate me.”

“He was contracting his orbicularis oculi and pars orbitalis every time he looked at you,” Maura agreed.

Jane wrinkled her nose. “Gross.”

“It’s facial muscles.”

“Well he can keep his facial muscles to himself,” Jane grumbled.

“Are you still mad at me for making you leave Jamie at daycare?” Maura asked.

“Yes,” Jane immediately answered, but she softened as she glanced over at Maura. “I’m just worried that he’ll be scared.”

“He might be, at first,” Maura admitted, “but he’s very brave, like you. And he’s been learning how to socialize from your mother.”

Jane’s eyes widened in realization. “Oh no. I didn’t even think of that. He’s gonna drive the other kids nuts.”

Maura chuckled. “No. I’m sure he’ll make plenty of friends.”

They had arrived at the crime scene, and with the car in park, Jane turned to look at Maura fully. “Fine, maybe it’s a good thing that he spends a little more time with someone other than Ma everyday, but can we go and pick him up when we’re done here?”

Maura checked her watch and raised an eyebrow. “An hour early?”

“Just this once,” Jane promised, with her fingers crossed behind her back.

“I thought you didn’t want to make him a Mama’s boy,” Maura quipped, swinging her car door open and stepping out onto the pavement.

Jane scoffed as she climbed out of the driver's side. “He has two mothers and spends most days with his grandmother. He’s beyond a Mama’s boy.” They ducked underneath the crime scene tape together, and found Frost standing next to their recent victim. “Hey,” Jane greeted him, eyes roving over the scene now.

“Hey,” Frost said to Jane, taking in her outfit and then looking over at Maura in surprise. “You got her to do yoga?”

“No, it was my idea,” Jane lied. “I love yoga.”

“We had to leave before Ardha Chandrasana, I feel very unbalanced,” Maura complained, tilting her head from side to side before kneeling over the woman lying dead in the alleyway.

“She was dragged here,” Jane observed, squatting down across from Maura. The victim’s wallet was lying open next to her, and Jane looked through it. “Gaynor-Randle, 32. ATM, $100, so scratch robbery. You find what was used to beat her?”

“Not yet,” Frost answered, as he was looking through the nearby trash bins.

Maura opened the victim’s coat. “Vintage. She had a flair for clothes.”

“She was sexually assaulted,” Jane noticed.

“Reddish-brown stains on the inner thighs and external genitalia,” Maura confirmed.

“I hear an echo,” Jane teased. She took note of the ring on the woman’s finger and the pager around her waist. “And she was married. Pager's totaled.”

“It's not a pager. It's a glucose-management system,” Maura corrected. “Insulin pump. She was diabetic.” She lifted the victim’s hand to more closely observe her fingers. “Hmm, yep, needle sticks. She probably had to check her glucose level about five to ten times a day. Maybe there's...” She reached for a small notebook that lay next to the victim’s wallet. “Yeah, she kept careful records. Her last glucose-level reading was over 400.”

“Is that good or bad?” Jane questioned.

“It's extremely high.”

“Is that good or bad?” Jane repeated.

“Bad. She wasn't getting any insulin. She probably had slurred speech, trouble walking.”

“That explains why there’s no defensive wounds. She couldn't fight back.” Jane called to Frost, “Murder weapon has a rectangular edge on it.”

“I can't confirm that,” Maura protested.

Jane was undeterred. “Hey, Frost, we're looking for a 2-by-4...” But by the time Jane had turned in Frost’s direction, he was holding up a wooden plank with blood splattered on the end of it. “Frost, we're looking for an idiot.”

“That your way of saying you wanna talk to the husband?” Frost guessed as he strode back over to Jane’s side, handing off the 2-by-4 to a crime tech.

“What's it say about relationships that the husband or boyfriend’s our first suspect?” Jane mused. She was pretty positive her own wife wouldn’t kill her, but she’d seen so many relationships turn downright nasty in this job.

“Are you getting ready for an I-hate-men speech?” Frost ribbed.

“Why? ‘Cause I’m married to a woman I hate men?” Jane countered, smirking when Frost raised his hands in surrender, already shaking his head with an apology on his tongue, but Jane spoke over him. “I like men. Just not the ones that kill.”

“Jane,” Maura interjected, gaze fixed on the tablet in her hands, one she must have pulled out of the victim’s purse. She handed it up to Jane for her to see. “It may not be the husband.”

And there on the screen was the evidence, the victim’s background a picture of her on her wedding day, but standing next to her in a cream colored suit was not a man, but another woman. “Because she didn't have a husband,” Jane said softly, and it shouldn’t have felt personal, not really, but it did, in a way. Immediately she felt a deep sympathy for the wife of their victim, who would receive the news Jane could not bear to receive, the news that her wife had been killed.

But this was a case just like any other, and Jane had to keep her focus, to find out who had done this. “Frost, can you take care of the notification? Have the wife come down to headquarters. I’ll meet you there in thirty.”

He nodded as Jane handed the tablet over to him. “Got it.”

Maura was finishing up her preliminary examination, and Jane said to her, “C’mon, let’s go get Jamie.”

Maura rose up onto her feet and went first to speak with one of the crime techs, told them what she wanted done before the body was moved to the morgue, and then she was following Jane back to the car, settling into the passenger seat. They were halfway down the road before Maura asked, “Are you all right?”

“Huh?” Jane startled. “Yeah, why?”

“Well, it hits a little close to home, doesn’t it?”

Jane shrugged. “No different than any other case, really.” This wasn’t the work of Hoyt, after all, and she was purposefully not letting her mind wander back down that road. It had been over six months since his escape from prison, since he had last terrorized them, and it was high time Jane stopped letting him rule her thoughts.

Maura hummed and let the subject drop, and Jane was happy to leave it at that.

When they arrived at Bright Horizons daycare center, they found Jamie in a classroom with a dozen other kids around his age, all of them painting on canvases about as big as they were. Some of the kids were just flinging paint every which way, but some of them were more methodical, focused on painting the best tree a three year old could paint. Jamie, of course, was one of the methodical ones, dark brows drawn together in concentration as he moved his paint brush across the canvas, and Jane had to stop for a minute to watch him, smiling at the way his little lips pursed. He was so cute when he tried to be serious, tried to mimic the adults around him. He had seen the way Maura sat at her desk or at the kitchen island to read a book, so he always went to a table to look through his picture books. He didn’t like baseball, but he had observed the way Jane sat on the couch when she watched it, legs spread and a beer resting on her left knee, and now Jamie sat like that when he watched his cartoons, sippy cup perched on his thigh.

His current impression was of his grandmother Constance, who had last visited around Christmas, and in an effort to bond with her grandson, she had bought some supplies for them to paint together one afternoon. Jamie had loved it, had watched with rapt attention as Constance showed him how to paint a flower, and though his painting was more of a blob than a flower, he had done his very best to imitate her, the way she sat, the faces she made. He was doing that now, laser focused on his drawing, while most of the other kids were just flinging paint and having fun, and Jane was torn, thinking maybe Maura was right and he needed more friends his age, and thinking maybe it didn’t matter if Jamie wanted to act like the adults in his life. One day he’d be a teenager and rebel against all of them anyways, wouldn’t he?

Despite his focus, Jamie still noticed the telltale sign of his mother’s heels – Jane and Maura had both changed out of their yoga clothes in the car – and he looked up when he heard Maura approaching. He caught sight of his mothers and beamed, hastily putting down his paint brush and clambering down off his chair, rushing over to greet them. “Mama! Mommy!”

Jane stepped forward to catch him before he could get his paint colored hands on Maura’s skirt, swinging him up into her arms. “Hey, baby.” She kissed him on the cheek and settled him on her hip. “How are you? You havin' fun?”

She had been so worried, leaving him in this strange new place, worried that he’d hate it, that he’d be scared, that he’d resent her for leaving him, but he was just grinning broadly, like she had nothing to worry about, and nodded rapidly at her question. “Uh huh. Come look.” He was wriggling out of her hold, so she set him back down on his feet, and followed him across the room to where he had left his canvas.

Before they reached Jamie’s seat, his teacher and caregiver, Amira Davis, approached Jane and Maura with a knowing smile, asking, “Picking him up early today?” Jane and Maura had met Miss Davis when they were enrolling Jamie, and Jane had liked her, but it was hard handing her baby over to a stranger.

“My wife was anxious to see how he was doing,” Maura replied, giving Jane a not so subtle side eye.

“The first day is always difficult,” Miss Davis said. “Often even more for the parents.”

Jane wanted to protest that she was fine, that she absolutely hadn’t been worrying for the last two hours, but Jamie was calling for her again. “Mama, look!”

Jane went to his side. “What is it, buddy?”

He pointed to his picture, another flower like the one Constance showed him, and he had improved a little; it actually looked closer to a flower than a blob. “I painted. Like Mimi showed me.” Constance had tried to get him to call her something French for grandmother – or at least, Jane thought it had sounded French –, but Jamie hadn’t been able to pronounce it so far, so she had settled for Mimi.

“Yeah you did,” Jane praised. “You’re gettin' better.”

“Can we show Mimi?” Jamie requested.

“Of course,” Maura answered him. “We’ll send her a picture.”

“Okay,” Jamie said brightly, attention swiftly turning to the next thing, which was a little boy sitting at the table next to him. “Meet my new friend! He’s R.J.”

R.J. looked up from his own painting and waved with a toothy grin, paint smeared all over his face and hands.

“R.J., this is my Mama and my Mommy.”

R.J. suddenly seemed to notice that there were, indeed, two mommies standing there, and he did a double take. “You have two?!

“Yeah! You don’t?” Jamie said incredulously.

R.J. shook his head. “Nu uh. Just one. You must get lots of juice boxes.”

“Mommy says juice boxes are a gateway drug –”

Ohhkay,” Jane interjected, tugging on Jamie’s shoulders. She shot Maura a terse look. “I told you he listens to you.”

Miss Davis was looking at them with raised eyebrows and Maura defended, “Well, juice boxes are full of sugar, and sugar ingestion can actually cause a release of natural opiates, which stimulates the desire for other sweets and junk food.”

Miss Davis nodded, with that same look on her face that Jane often wore when she was pretending to take Maura very seriously. “Well, Jamie has been doing very well. I hope you’ll bring him back soon.”

“What do you think, buddy?” Jane asked him. “You wanna come back here sometimes?”

Jamie shrugged. “Sometimes.”

“Mama and I have to go back to work,” Maura told him. “Would you like to stay here a little longer, or would you like us to take you to Nonna?”

Jamie considered, looking over at his painting and his new friend, but he decided, “Nonna.”

Jane offered her hand to him and he took it while saying goodbye to R.J. and Miss Davis. Maura gathered up Jamie’s painting in one hand and took Jamie’s hand in the other, and the three of them went out to the car together, Jamie chattering away about what he had done that morning. That was really all Jane needed, was the reassurance that he was doing fine, that he hadn’t felt abandoned there. Maybe Maura had been right, that he was braver than Jane had realized. Their brave, beautiful boy.

“Hey,” Jane suggested as she was pulling out of the daycare center, “before we drop you with Nonna, why don’t we go get ice cream cones?”

“Yeah!” Jamie cheered.

But Maura was looking at Jane in astonishment. “Jane! It’s not even noon yet.”

“Just a small one!”

“Justa small one, Mommy!” Jamie echoed.

Maura was still frowning, but she looked at Jane’s pleading face and Jamie’s matching one, and she never could resist. She sighed and relented, and Jane stretched one arm to the back seat to give Jamie a high five.

While they were getting their ice cream cones, they called Angela and asked her to meet them at BPD. Maura wouldn’t let Jane and Jamie have their ice cream in the car, so they sat at a bench outside and finished their cones. Then Maura wiped down both their hands and mouths with wet wipes before they drove back to headquarters.

While they were saying goodbye to Jamie out on the front sidewalk, Jane got a text from Frost, and she pressed her hand to Maura’s back, murmuring to her, “Vic’s wife is here. I gotta head up. I’ll come down to check on the autopsy after.”

Maura nodded, and turned her head to catch Jane’s brief kiss.

Jane gave one last goodbye to Jamie, kissing his cheeks and quickly telling him, “Bye, baby, be good for Nonna, I love you. Bye, Ma, we’ll call later.”

“Bye, Mama!”

“Bye, Jane.”

Jane hurried up the front stairs and took the elevator to the third floor, smile on her face, thinking of her family, of Jamie’s cheeks messy with ice cream and Maura's laugh as she held his wild hair back from his face so he could dive into his cone. But when the elevator doors opened, she had to drop that smile, to carry them with her in the back of her mind as she snapped back into work mode. She stepped into interview 1, where Frost had just sat down with their victim’s wife, and outstretched her hand, tone sympathetic as she said, “Mrs. Randle. I’m Detective Rizzoli. I’m so sorry for your loss.”

Chapter Text

“Sons and daughters of Adam. That's your catch phrase, isn't it?”

John McKinley looked at the flyer Jane held before him, a photo of two women in a mildly intimate embrace in the center, slashed out in red, with the words ‘You will be punished for your sins' along the bottom. McKinley was one of the leaders of the organization that Jane and Frost had come across while looking into their victim’s final hours, and Jane had the misfortune of having to interview the man.

Maura had found a club stamp on the back of their victim’s hand, Merch, a lesbian bar that Katie Gaynor-Randle had apparently frequented. The bartender there had said that Katie came in every Monday night, without her wife, but spoke of her marriage positively. The bartender had also given Jane and Frost the flyer that had been left at the club to chastise and threaten the women who went there. The Sons and Daughters of Adam believed that homosexuality was an unforgivable sin, were frequently seen heckling outside Merch, and their threats had escalated in recent weeks. Along with the desecration of Katie’s body, it was looking like her murder was a hate crime.

McKinley took a close look at the flyer and balked. “I'm offended to see sacred words associated with pornography.”

“How about associated with murder?” Frost countered.

McKinley shook his head with a short laugh under his breath. “I think it's interesting that they sent a female and an African American to interview me about a homosexual murder.”

“You don't like women or African Americans either?” Frost surmised.

“Well, I have a right to my opinion.”

“Only if you don't enforce it with a 2-by-4.” Jane asserted, which was one of the main reasons she couldn’t slug the guy right there in the middle of the office.

“We need to see a list of your members.” Frost told McKinley.

“Oh, surely,” McKinley agreed at once, snapping open his briefcase. “I came prepared.”

He slapped a hefty book down on Jane’s desk, one filled with thousands of pages, and she looked at it with thinly veiled disgust and disbelief.

“Those are all members?” Frost asked.

“We're national,” McKinley said proudly. “Satan is using homosexuals to destroy the kingdom of God.”

He was serious, and out of his mind, in Jane’s opinion, but there were so many like him, so many that would look at her and her wife and scowl, wrinkle their nose like they smelled something foul. Jane didn’t care what any of those people thought of her, but it rankled a little anyways. She looked at Frost and told him dubiously, “Be on the lookout for a man in a red cape with a tail and pointy ears.”

“I will pray for you.” McKinley said sorrowfully.

“No, thank you. I'll do it myself.”

She was already turning back to her computer, dismissing him, and McKinley rose up onto his feet. He lingered though, even as Frost rose too and motioned towards the entryway, intent on leading him away. Jane looked up, and saw McKinley’s eyes on her desk, on the photo there of her and Maura and Jamie. Frowning, Jane turned the picture frame so that it was out of his line of sight, but the damage had been done.

“Now it’s all making sense,” McKinley said, lips curled halfway into a smirk. “This is personal. Did you know the dead girl?”

Jane scoffed. “Yeah, ‘cause we all know each other. We’re done. You can go.”

“Come on,” Frost ordered him.

“If you and that woman seek to repent, God might forgive that boy –”

Now,” Frost snapped, grabbing McKinley by the elbow and pivoting him away from Jane, leading him across the room until he was in the elevator and gone from view. Frost returned to Jane’s side with a sigh, picking up the heavy book McKinley had left. “I’ll start going through this.”

“Yeah, have Frankie help you,” Jane advised, rising up out of her chair. “I’m gonna head down to the morgue. I’ll be back in a few.”

Frost nodded, and he was looking at her searchingly, but he knew better than to ask.

Maura, on the other hand, took one look at Jane as she stepped into her office, and furrowed her brow. “What is it?”

“What? I can’t just come down to see my wife?” Jane huffed.

“You can,” Maura permitted, “but not usually with that look on your face. Did something happen?”

“No, just some guy,” Jane muttered, perching on the edge of Maura’s desk. “The Sons and Daughters of Adam lunatic.”

“It’s not like you to be affected by someone like him.”

“I’m not, it’s just…” She couldn’t even quite put her finger on what it was, so she shook her head, folded her arms over her chest and shrugged. “It’s nothing. Hey, why don’t we take Jamie to dinner tonight? That weird French place you both like.”

“Actually, Jamie’s friend R.J. called. He wants to set up a play date this evening."

“Already?” Jane said in surprise. “They just met yesterday.”

“Apparently they really hit it off. I spoke with his mother. They actually live only two blocks away from us. She’s a professor at BCU.”

Jane wrinkled her nose. “What’s her full name? I’ll look her up.”

Maura snorted. “You are such a hoverer.”

Jane gasped. “You take that back.”

Maura sat back in her chair, unwavering, hands settled on her belly, and Jane cringed in realization.

“Oh my God. I’ve become my mother.”

Maura nodded grimly in agreement, and now Jane did take offense, and though she was generally against spousal abuse, she smacked Maura in the shoulder with the back of her hand.

“Ow!” Maura laughed, swatting back at Jane’s thigh.

“I ought to divorce you for that,” Jane threatened.

Maura was undeterred, placing her hands on Jane's knees and urging, “Let me take you to dinner tonight. Maybe, if we have time before Jamie comes home, we could…” She smiled coyly, running her hands up Jane’s thighs suggestively.

Jane folded her arms across her chest again in refusal, lifting her chin. “I’m not sure I want to sleep with you ever again.”

“I promise I'll make it up to you,” Maura murmured, leaning forward until her chest was pressed to Jane's knees, and Jane was purposefully not looking down her wife's shirt, or thinking too much about the heat radiating off of her.

“No,” Jane resisted, but her voice cracked, “not tonight.”

“But did you know that sex releases immunoglobulin A?” Maura whispered seductively, and Jane’s eyes finally dropped to her lips, enticed more by her voice than whatever ridiculous thing she had just said. “It wards off colds."

“I didn't shave my legs,” Jane protested weakly.

“What else is new?” Maura murmured, tilting her head up like she thought Jane might kiss her.

But Jane pushed off Maura’s desk, slid Maura's hands off of her, though it took a concerted effort because her body didn't quite agree with the decision. “You’re gonna need to come up with some better come ons before our date tonight.”

“Oh, I've got a few,” Maura promised.

As it turned out, it didn't take much convincing to get Jane to take her pants off, or Maura's pants for that matter. By the time Jamie was due to be picked up from his play date at R.J.’s, Maura was still too breathless to get out of bed, so Jane pulled herself together and hastily put on some clothes, and hoped she didn't look too flustered when she arrived at the Kings' house. She might have rushed Jamie out a little too quickly, but R.J.’s mom was eyeing her closely with an all too knowing smirk on her face and Jane had to get outta there.

The next morning, Jane and Maura took Jamie to Angela and then went to work. They separated at the elevators, with Jane going straight to the third floor, where Frost and Korsak were already waiting for her.

“Hey, anything come up on those background checks?” Jane asked Frost as she approached her desk.

“Still waiting on that bouncer from the club, but no red flags on anybody here,” Frost answered, holding up the thick book McKinley had left them.

Korsak came over holding a bouquet of flowers and a box of chocolates, wearing a cheerful grin. “Somebody's got a girlfriend,” he sang teasingly as he settled them down on Jane's desk.

Jane sang back, “Someone should mind his own business.

Korsak snatched the small card off of the flowers in retaliation, and Jane reached out for it, but Korsak held it away from her. “Hey, give it –" Jane protested.

“Jane, your eyes are like pools of midnight!” Korsak dramatically declared, back of his hand to his forehead as if he was feeling faint.

Jane chased him as he took two long steps backwards. “No – come on –”

Korsak passed the card to Frost, who stretched his arm behind his head to hold it out of Jane's reach, rolling his tongue as he recited, “Your lips are like – like – Tempur-Pedic pillows.”

The boys snickered and Jane suppressed a snort. “Really? Just give – just give it back.” Frost finally let Jane snatch the card back out of his hand, and she retreated at once, holding it close to her chest, giving them both a narrow eyed glare.

“Does Maura know you've got a secret admirer?” Korsak teased, “’Cause I'm takin’ her side in the divorce."

Jane rolled her eyes, tearing open the little envelope to retrieve the card inside. “Maura's the only person that likes me enough to send me flowers.”

“What’s she sending you all that for anyways?” Korsak questioned. “It’s a little late for Valentine’s Day.”

Frost scoffed. “That’s why you've been divorced three times.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Korsak exclaimed indignantly.

Jane was only half listening to them, grinning as she read the cheesy message on the card.

“Well?” Korsak prompted. “What’s it say?”

“Why are you so nosey?” Frost accused.

“Hey, you see anybody sendin’ me flowers?”

“So, what? You're tryin’ to live vicariously through two gay women?”

“I have a lot in common with lesbians. We both find women attractive.”

“That’s one thing –”

“All right, all right,” Jane cut through their incessant bickering, otherwise it'd never end. “You really wanna read it?” She handed the card back over to Korsak, and then crossed her arms in front of her chest.

Korsak read it aloud, “You make me hotter than sulfur hydroxide mixed with ethyl acetate. Love, M.” He frowned, and looked up at Jane. “What the hell is that supposed to mean?”

“It means that she thinks Jane is hot,” Frost impatiently explained, and then he shot Jane a look. “Did you buy her that book of science pick up lines?”

Jane smirked. “What can I say? I like when she talks science to me.”

Frost shivered and shook his head

Korsak flicked the card back at Jane. “You two are sickening.”

“It's a match,” Frost said.

Jane snorted. “I’d hope so –” She stopped when she noticed Frost was looking intently at his computer screen and not at her. “What is it?”

“The bouncer from Merch,” Frost supplied. “Robert Thatcher, that's an alias. Real name is Roy Tompkins.”

Jane came around to look at the information on the screen for herself. “So that's why he lied. Look at that. Outstanding warrant, New York City, for criminal sexual assault. Come on.”

They picked up Roy and brought him back to headquarters, but Jane's phone was going off all through the interrogation, text messages from Maura wanting to talk. Jane knew if it was something serious, like something had happened to Jamie, then Maura would have just interrupted, so Jane ignored the messages, at first. But Roy was maintaining that he knew nothing about Katie's death, and eventually Jane was exasperated enough to step out of the interrogation room.

What is so important?” she asked.

Maura held up a bag of takeout and smiled. “I brought you lunch.”

“Uh, thanks, I’ll get it later.”

Jane swung back around, prepared to go back at Roy, but Maura interjected, “Wait. That’s not why I interrupted you.” Jane spun on her heel again. “I extracted the killer's DNA from the murder weapon.”

“Who is he?” Jane asked eagerly.

“Well, there was no match in CODIS, but it's not a he. It's a she.”

“The killer is a woman?”

“The deerskin fibers I lifted from the murder weapon –”

“Were off the killer's glove,” Jane finished.

Maura nodded. “Seams were breached, and DNA tests confirmed that the sweat was from a female.”

“Well we already know that,” Jane pointed out, “and a male accomplice raped her.”

“No,” Maura refuted. “Injuries are consistent with a non-biological, phallus-shaped object.”

Jane looked around to make sure nobody was close enough to hear them, and then lowered her voice for good measure. “You mean a dildo?”

Maura was clearly amused. “Yes, darling, that is the popular term for it. But did you know a 28,000-year-old stone phallus was recently found in a German cave? The Ice Age men were using it for knapping flints.”

“Yeah, Ice Age women were using it for makin’ sparks too,” Jane muttered with eyebrows raised pointedly, and Maura looked at her with a coy little smile, one that dropped Jane's mind right into the gutter along with memories of the night before, so she hastily shook her head and got back on track, focusing on the murder they were supposed to be solving. “Okay. So if she wasn't raped, it was probably not a hate crime. It wasn't a robbery. I'm beginning to think this was personal.”

Maura wouldn't let Jane continue working until she ate something, so by the time she scarfed down lunch and rejoined Korsak and Frost, the guys were in BRIC.

“Katie was deleting her search history,” Frost informed Jane as he was recovering it, pulling up the websites on the screens for Jane and Korsak to see.

“Spent a lot of time on,” Jane observed. “”

“Online hookup services,” Frost confirmed.

“Huh,” Jane murmured. “So Katie was cheating on her wife.”

“Somebody posted a message for her the day she was killed,” Korsak noticed.

“‘Liked our time at the Merch. Wanna play again?’" Jane read aloud.

Frost said, “Our vic was having more than a drink after work.”

“Can you trace the IP addresses?” Jane asked.

Frost shook his head. “They set up the website to hide IP addresses. Protects their customers."

“Yeah and hides the cheaters,” Jane added.

“Hey, Korsak,” Frost said, suddenly rising from his seat looking like he'd had an epiphany. “They kind of resemble each other. Jane and the victim.”

Korsak looked at Jane, and then at the screen where Katie’s picture was featured on one of the dating sites, and then back to Jane. “You're right. It'd be a shame to waste an opportunity like that.”

Jane immediately balked. “No. No way.”

“We could try and bait a trap!” Frost insisted.

“Post the same kind of message Katie did, attract the same kind of woman,” Korsak agreed.

“Arrange dates, get DNA, see if we get a match.”

“How?” Jane scoffed. “We stick a fork in ‘em?”

“Buy her a drink and take the glass,” Korsak corrected.

“Club owner seemed like she'd cooperate. Jane could possibly wear a wire.”

“No,” Jane refused even as the both of them were looking at her imploringly. “No. I haven't been on a date in like, seven years. I'm hardly the best choice for this.”

“What are you talkin’ about?” Korsak scoffed. “You’re gay , they're gay, you’re practically the same.”

Jane rolled her eyes. “Forget it. I'm not gonna go undercover to troll for dates on the random chance that we catch a killer. No.”

When Jane left work to go and pick up Jamie, Korsak and Frost went down to the morgue, where Maura was at her desk finishing up the last of her paperwork for the evening. The two detectives told Maura about their idea for Jane going undercover, and Maura wasn't surprised that Jane had initially refused them, but she was fairly certain her wife would concede eventually, so she was happy to help them set up a profile for Jane on

When she was finished with that, Maura went home to find Jane and James making dinner, and a rather sizable mess along with it. But they both smiled at her with those identical smiles, gravy on their cheeks like they had stuck their faces in it, and she tamped down on her instinctually horrified reaction. At first she had thought she’d never be used to it, to Jane's shirts thrown over the back of chairs and her socks tucked into the corner of the couch. Especially after Jamie was born, the bottles and toys on every surface, the baby clothes and diapers and spit up towels. Some days she had been on the verge of a vasovagal episode, looking at her house, at the unbridled chaos that seemed to have taken root over night, but all she had to do was look at Jane, look at their son, and maybe a little bit of a mess wasn’t so bad, was worth it for their house to be so full of life and love.

It didn't stop her from mildly scolding Jane, though, because the potato peels on the floor were a slipping hazard, and she made Jamie put his toys away in his toy box. Only then did she help Jane finish up dinner, and resisted the urge to clean the kitchen before she ate, joined Jane and Jamie at the table with her back to the mess to pretend it wasn't there.

After dinner, Jane and James watched thirty minutes of television while Maura cleaned the dinner mess, and then it was bath time for Jamie and then to bed, where he curled up between his mothers as they read him a story. He was out before they even reached the final page, and Jane and Maura crept out on tiptoe, shutting off the bedside lamp and turning on his dinosaur nightlight, lingering, for a moment, in the doorway, watching him sleep.

It was only after they'd slipped on their own night clothes that Maura remembered to tell Jane, “Frost and Korsak wanted to fill out your dating profile. You'll be relieved to know that I typed.”

Jane paused halfway into climbing into bed, one knee up and arms braced on the mattress, looking at Maura in bewilderment. “You… what?”

“If it wasn't for me, you'd be butch,” Maura informed, settling into her side of the bed and prying open her laptop. It was late for screen time, but she wanted to see if Jane's profile had gotten any hits yet. “It’s hardly a dynamic enough word to explain you.”

Jane finished getting into bed, but her brows were still furrowed together. “You... You put my photo and profile on a gay-dating website? Is this your way of breaking up with me? ‘Cause you didn't make me sign a prenup.”

“It's your best shot at getting DNA and breaking this case,” Maura reasoned.

“No, it's our best shot,” Jane corrected. “You're going with me.”

Now Maura was confused. “Why would I go?”

Because, Dr. Isles. I don't have time to train a female detective how to collect and preserve DNA. You're going.”

Maura considered it, and then smiled. “Oh, well I suppose that could be fun. We’ll be a crime fighting duo, like Cagney and Lacey.”

Jane snorted. “Let me guess. You're Lacey and I'm Cagney.”

Maura shrugged, pretending to be noncommittal as she logged into Jane's dating profile. “If you'd like.”

“Except we’re already a crime fighting duo,” Jane muttered as she was massaging the arch of her left foot with her thumbs.

“There,” Maura interjected, turning the laptop so Jane could see. “Look. All these women think you're hot.”

Suddenly Jane was interested, leaning into Maura’s space so she could get a better look. “Wow.”

“Mm-hm,” Maura hummed with some satisfaction. She wasn’t surprised. Her wife was hot.

Of course, Jane’s mind wasn’t really that focused on her popularity. “One of these women could be Katie's killer.”

“Not this one,” Maura decided as she read through one of the profiles at the top. “Look. She likes to hike, and has season tickets to the Celtics. Front row.”

“Oh, well I might leave you for that,” Jane joked, snickering when Maura shoved her left shoulder.

“What kind of women do you think you would like if you liked women?” Maura asked.

Jane reclined back against her pillow and looked at Maura in amusement. “Uh, hon, you do know that I’m married to a woman, right? And that woman is… you?”

“Yes, but you never dated women before me. You never had a chance to look around.”

Jane snorted. “Um, I don’t know. I guess I would like women that are like you. Either way, I’m the guy.”

Maura made a face, closing her laptop and sitting it on the bedside table. “That's a cliché. I think the point of being a lesbian is that there is no guy.”

“Yeah, but I’m still the guy.”

“Why are you the guy?”


“Because you're bossy?”

Jane looked aghast. “I’m not bossy!” she exclaimed.

“Yes you are,” Maura asserted.

“Well, so are you,” Jane countered.

“No I'm not,” Maura denied.

Yes, you are. You're just soft and polite when you’re bossing people around.”

Maura smirked as she slid down in bed, getting comfortable against her pillows, turning to face Jane.

“So what was your type then?” Jane asked.

“Well, you definitely weren't my type,” Maura answered.

“What do you mean I'm not your type?” Jane scoffed, lightly smacking Maura's arm with the back of her hand. “That is so rude.”

“Well, you don't know how to relax. And it took me far too long to get you to stop wearing your shoes and your clothes to bed, and you just admitted that you're bossy.” Maura rolled over onto her back, completely failing at hiding her smirk, closing her eyes and sucking in a cleansing breath.

She could hear Jane shaking her head against her pillow. “Okay, yeah. I'm bossy. Right. You put my picture and profile on a dating website and I'm bossy. Right, okay. After I said no, by the way.” She tapped Maura’s arm again, and then again when Maura didn’t turn her attention back onto her.  “What are you doing?”

“Meditating,” Maura murmured, insistently keeping her eyes closed. “It's too stressful to argue with you.”

“Well, just think, because of you, by tomorrow I could be on a date with a killer.”

Maura turned her head then, peeking one eye open to give Jane a disgruntled look. Jane was grinning, pleased, like she’d had the last word. Maura inhaled deeply and closed her eyes again, calmly murmuring, “Perhaps I won’t need that prenup after all.”

Jane moved at once, making Maura gasp in surprise as Jane rolled on top of her, pinching her sides, and Maura squirmed and laughed unbidden as Jane tickled her mercilessly, holding Maura down with her own weight. “Maybe one of these dates will appreciate me,” Jane grumbled.

“Stop,” Maura gasped between laughter, and Jane let up on the torturous tickling, but she remained straddling Maura, holding her wrists down on the bed. “I am very appreciative.”

“Really?” Jane said, disbelieving.

Maura nodded ardently, bit down on her lip as she admired the view above her, the slope of Jane’s neck, the dip in her camisole that gave Maura an almost perfect line of sight down her shirt. “Uh, huh,” Maura said breathlessly. “Why don’t you let me show you how much I appreciate you?”

Jane licked her lips, looking interested, but she shook her head with a smile. “Don’t start.” She kissed Maura once, and then flopped back onto her side. “I need my rest. I got a lotta women to flirt with tomorrow.”

“Should I be jealous?” Maura worried, snuggling up against Jane’s side, throwing her arm over Jane’s waist and kissing Jane’s shoulder.

“Nah,” Jane mumbled, eyes closed, looking half asleep already. “I bet none of them have as much money as you.”

Maura smacked Jane’s belly, but she let Jane have the last word this time, letting her own burning eyes slide closed and settling against her wife’s side, and they were both out in minutes.

The following afternoon, they prepared for going undercover at Merch to try and draw out Katie’s killer. Maura griped about Jane not wanting to wear one of the dresses Maura had picked for her, and Jane complained when Maura shot down her idea to wear her fanny pack.

“When else will I have a more perfect opportunity to wear it?” Jane reasoned.

Maura rolled her eyes. “There is no appropriate situation for that thing.”

“Is it because you're worried none of the women at the bar will be able to keep their hands off of me?”

“I should have burned that thing when you bought it.”

Jane gasped dramatically, and spun around to where she knew Frost and Korsak were trying to pretend they weren't listening in. “Can you believe this? My own wife.”

“She’s right,” Frost sided with Maura. “That thing makes you look like you forgot what decade it is.”

“My wife and my partner! You can't trust anyone these days.”

“They’re just jealous that they don't have your style,” Korsak defended Jane.

Thank you,” Jane said to him, folding her arms across her chest and looking at Maura pointedly.

Maura was undeterred, saying succinctly, “I’ll lock you out of the house if you wear that thing tonight,” and she strutted back out of the room without another word on the matter.

Jane called to her, “Maura! Come on! Admit you love it!” And when Maura was gone, presumably to go back downstairs, Jane turned back to Frost and Korsak with a mischievous smile. “Oh, I'm definitely wearing the fanny pack to bed tonight.”

Frost snorted, shaking his head and looking back down at his computer. “It’s your funeral.”

“I’ve got a real good divorce lawyer,” Korsak told her. “I’ll get you his number.”

Jane waved them both off. She was certain Maura wouldn't mind it so long as Jane wasn't wearing anything underneath.

Except, as it turned out, Jane was the one being taken by surprise that night, when she walked into Merch and found herself face to face with her wife's breasts.

They'd had to go in separately, since Jane was supposed to be single, and Maura was undercover as part of the wait staff so she'd have an excuse to take the drinks from Jane's dates, so Jane hadn’t seen what Maura changed into. It was the same outfit as all the other women walking through the club serving drinks, short skirt, thigh high stockings, and a corset, but on Maura it was practically indecent. And it wasn’t like Jane didn’t like the view, but they were in public – in a lesbian bar at that – and her instinctive reaction was to balk and start to take off her jacket.

“Oh my – put this on!

“No!” Maura refused. “I’m undercover. Follow me.”

Maura began to strut across the crowded club, and several eyes followed her. “Oh my God,” Jane said under her breath, trying to look casual as she walked along behind Maura and not like she had a stomach ulcer.

As Jane sat down at the table Maura had led her to, Maura said, “I’ll be right back with your drink,” and then winked before she sashayed away.

Jane had a hard time focusing on her dates for the rest of the evening and not on her wife, who must have been purposefully leaning into Jane's space every time she came to collect empty glasses and ask for drink orders. And Maura was clearly enjoying herself, working the room, lapping up the attention, delivering drinks like she was born to it. Jane had to make a concerted effort to listen to the women trying to woo her, to focus on looking for Katie's killer, but for most of the night, she felt like the whole plan was a bust. None of the women really seemed like killers, and at times Jane was just plain bored.

At least, until the last date Jane had, with a woman named Claire, who admitted to being Katie’s last date before she was murdered, and even said, “She shouldn't have lied about being married. If she hadn't, she might still be alive.”

When Jane managed to slip away from Claire, she thought it was a good time to end the night. They had several samples of DNA to test, a new suspect for Jane to look into, and the bar was starting to clear out.

Jane left out the main entrance and went around the building to the back room, where Frost and Korsak had been listening to her conversations with her dates. “There,” she told them, “are you happy now that we spent five hours listening to women hit on me?”

Korsak shrugged. “I enjoyed it.”

“That last woman gave me the creeps,” Frost said. “She might be our new suspect.”

“Yeah,” Jane agreed, “let’s look into her, see if we can dig up anything.”

Frost was nodding as the door swung open, and Maura came in with a bright smile, toting a box full of glasses in evidence bags.

“Well?” she asked as Jane came over to help her with the box. “How did it go?”

“Mostly a bust on my end, but maybe we'll get a hit off some of this,” Jane hoped, looking down at all the glasses she was holding, and her eyes inadvertently got caught on Maura’s chest again.

When Jane's gaze lingered a second too long, Maura innocently inquired, “Is there something else you need, Detective?”

Jane looked up and saw Maura smirking at her, and Jane wanted to tell her to go put a sweater on, but Korsak and Frost were across the room, and they seemed to be focused on putting away the equipment, so Jane lowered her voice to say instead, “So, uh, do you think they'll make you give that outfit back?”

“No one's asked for it so far,” Maura quietly responded, eyes twinkling with mirth. “Why? Do you like it now?”

Jane nodded. “Oh, I really do –”

“Hey, you know we can still hear you?” Frost interjected.

Jane whirled on him. “Then stop listening!”

Frost raised his hands in surrender and turned away without argument. Korsak didn't bother to pretend that he wasn't listening with great amusement.

“I’m gonna take this out to the van,” Jane said of the box of evidence she was holding, backing away from Maura in that direction, so the guys wouldn’t see her as she mouthed, “You should definitely keep it.”

The DNA on the murder weapon didn't match any of Jane's dates, not even Claire's, but they found a new bit of evidence. Katie had inherited half a million dollars before she married Melanie. Katie would keep all of it in the event of a divorce, but if she were to die it went to her widow. Mel had an airtight alibi, but she must have had an accomplice, and another visit to Merch helped Jane find the break they needed in the case.

Liz, the bartender at the club, had been hitting on Jane a little since the beginning of the investigation, and luckily, Jane had never revealed that she was already married to a woman, had alluded to Liz that she might be feeling adventurous, which got her a kiss on the neck from a killer, but also the DNA she needed to tie the bartender to Katie's murder. In an effort to save herself from the worst sentence, Liz agreed to wear a wire and help bring down Mel. They had all the evidence they needed to arrest both women then, and Katie's murder was solved.

At home that night, Jane told Maura, “Listen, if you decide to divorce me, just keep the money, yeah? You definitely don't have to murder me.”

“Duly noted.” Maura sighed as she settled into the corner of the couch, passing her glass of wine to Jane so she could have a drink. Jamie was sleeping half sprawled over Jane’s lap so she couldn’t move much, nor did she want to, slumped into the cushions as she was. “But I'm pretty certain you have nothing to worry about. I don't think I'll ever want a –”

“Nuh, uh,” Jane cut her off, hastily swallowing the wine in her mouth with a wince. “Don’t jinx it.”

Maura looked bemused, but conceded. “All right, all right. I won’t say it.” Instead, she leaned across the small distance between them and kissed Jane on the cheek. “I love you.”

“Yeah, you're not so bad,” Jane teased, lifting the wine glass up to her lips, but Maura snatched it away before she could get another drink and finished the whole glass. “Maura!”

Chapter Text

April 18, 2011

The first year after Tommy went to prison for running down Father Crawley in a crosswalk, the Rizzolis had not gone to see the Sox play on Patriots' Day. In part because it wasn't much of a tradition with one of them missing, and in part because Jamie was only a few months old, and Jane and Maura didn't want to have him out in the crowds and the unpredictable weather. The second year, they still hadn't gone, because Jane and Maura were in the thick of a string of homicides, working overtime to try and track down the killer, and they couldn't get away for a ball game. The third year, they had finally gotten nearly all of them together, Frank and Angela, Frankie and Jane, and Maura and Jamie. But Jamie was just a little over two and he only made it to the third inning before he was ready to leave.

This year, Maura had begged Jane to run in the Boston Marathon with her, and Jane had resisted, griping about her achy knee and about how ridiculous it was to run for a hobby, that it was a form of masochism. But eventually she gave in to Maura's pouty face, and agreed to run this time, made no promises that she'd ever do it again. Except Maura had gotten them matching outfits too, and Jane’s eyebrows nearly fled into her hairline when they arrived. Again she had complained, had told Maura she was crazy if she thought Jane was gonna wear that thing, but she had gotten one for Jamie too, so he could support his mothers from the crowd, and he had looked so thrilled, had enthused over the three of them wearing the matching outfits so much that Jane couldn't possibly disappoint him.

Even so, when the day of the marathon came, Jane tried to cover the outfit up with a t-shirt and a real pair of shorts. It seemed like it was working at first, like Maura wasn't gonna say anything about it, but after they dropped Jamie with Jane’s parents, and made their way through the thick crowds of people to where they were meeting Frankie at the Dirty Robber, Maura finally questioned it.

“Aren’t you going to take off that baggy tee?”

“Huh? Oh,” Jane snorted, “no, I'd really rather not.”

“But we're a team,” Maura insisted, and she was looking at Jane with those pleading eyes, and Jane could feel it, that imposing feeling that she was gonna give in, even as she dug her heels in and continued to protest.

“Team Puke?” Jane huffed. “Of all the things, Maura.”

“Yes, that is an unfortunate acronym,” Maura admitted.

“What’s that supposed to stand for?” Frankie asked from the sidelines of their argument. He was on the job today, wearing a reflective yellow shirt and runners shorts, his gun and radio attached to the elastic waistband, and even he looked less ridiculous than Jane would in her Puke onesie.

“We’re running for a charity,” Maura explained. “Professionals for Underprivileged Kids of Excellence."

“And they're still gettin’ our money whether anyone sees me in this outfit or not,” Jane grumbled.

“Hey, at least you’re not a hot dog,” Frankie snickered, glancing across the room at the pair of runners hanging by the doorway. “Or mustard."

“Stay out of this,” Jane ordered him, scowling at his apparent glee before turning her finger on Maura. “Look, I said that I would do this with you, but I am not running like Lady Puke Gaga. No.”

“Oh,” Maura said in a soft, heartbroken little voice that didn't fool Jane one bit, not at all, no sir, except holy shit, were those tears welling in her eyes? “I'm sorry. I should've realized. I didn't... I'm sorry.” Maura turned away, dabbing at her eyes like a grieving widow at a funeral, and Jane circled around her to look at her incredulously.

“Holy crap, you're not gonna cry on me?’

“No, I'm trying not to,” Maura said weepily. “It’s just that my amygdala and my lacrimal gland have a connection that I can't control.”

“Honey, I love you, but there is no way in hell I am taking this off,” Jane refused. “I'm already running 26 miles with a camel toe.”

“Oh!” Frankie exclaimed, hastily turning his head away as Jane was tugging on the bottom of her onesie that was already riding up in unsavory places.

“Come on,” Maura persisted, her tears having magically dissipated. “I'll let you walk up Heartbreak Hill.”

“Oh, I'm walking Heartbreak. You have to do better than that.”

“Okay, fine,” Maura relented. “Name it.”

And Jane had a list of things just waiting for a moment like this. “Next reddish-brown stain, you call blood, before the labs come in.”

Maura gasped. “You want me to lie?”

No, I want you to state the obvious.”

Maura sighed as if it physically pained her. “Hypothetically, based on the crime scene... I will determine whether it is possible to hypothesize that a stain is blood.”

“I'll take that,” Jane agreed, grabbing the bottom hem of her shirt and tugging it up over her head.

“Twenty bucks says you crap out by mile 10,” Frankie challenged.

“You're on, bet,” Jane said without hesitation. “And, double or nothing,” she shimmied out of her running shorts too, so that she was left in that ridiculous spandex suit, “I run like this.”

Maura smiled, all bright and pretty, and Jesus Christ, Jane really would do anything for that smile, wouldn't she?

Hello, Vanilla!” an exuberant voice rang through the crowd, and then there was a man pushing through the crowd to get to her, one Jane had met on the streets a few weeks ago, while investigation a case that involved prostitution. He was grinning at her from ear to ear, but pulled up short at the sight of Frankie next to her. “Oh, hey, 5-0 bro.”

“What up, Rondo?” Frankie replied.

“You two know each other?” Jane asked.

“Yeah, I arrested him.”

“Bogus,” Rondo muttered under his breath as he was pulling out a handful of scribbled on note paper, presenting them to Jane. “Look, got me some tips for you. I heard you need a good CI.”

Jane looked at the illegible writing in her hands and said to Rondo, “Go away.”

Damn!” Rondo dramatically declared, looking Jane up and down. “You looking fine today. Oh, and who have we here?”

Maura smiled pleasantly and held out her hand. “Dr. Maura Isles-Rizzoli.”

“My wife,” Jane interjected, slapping Rondo's hand away as he eagerly reached for Maura's.

Rondo was undeterred, eyes wide in apparent wonder. “Oh! A Doctor Vanilla. It's a pleasure to meet you. Y’know, you two ladies don't wanna go running, you wanna cut out with Rondo. Got something in my pocket to make you feel good.”

“Oh, yeah?” Frankie cut in half threateningly, muscling his way between Jane and Maura and Rondo. Jane grabbed onto his shoulder to forestall him, trying to hold back a laugh as Rondo pulled a bottle of blue liquor out of his pants pocket.

“Yeah. The ladies love this flavor.” He cackled as Frankie waved him off.

“Okay, get out of here, Rondo.”

“All right,” Rondo conceded good naturedly, backing a step away.

“Go ahead, go ahead.”

“All right, but hey, Vanilla? You need any help, you come find Rondo.” He bowed to her like she was the freakin queen of England, and Jane just nodded in amusement.

“Okay, Casanova,” Frankie pressed, ushering Rondo to get moving. “All right, go ahead, Rondo. Keep walking.”

Rondo did leave with a grin and a wave, but Maura was wincing next to Jane, shifting on her feet.

“My feet are hurting me. I think I’m gonna change into my sneakers.”

“I told you not to wear those things!” Jane chastised as Maura was squeaking out of the bar in her ridiculous footskins. Jane shook her head at Frankie, who was just laughing at them both. She smacked his shoulder with the back of her fingers. “I’ll see ya later.”

“Yeah,” he said. “Good luck!”

On the morning of the marathon, Angela rose before dawn, the same as she had done nearly every Patriot's Day in years past. It was quieter, this year, with the kids all grown up, Tommy still in prison and Jane with her own family, and Frankie probably already on his way to work. Frank slept in while she got ready and gathered up everything they would need to take with them, and she let herself enjoy the peace as she sipped her coffee and watched the sun rise, feeling a little wistful. But only a little, because today would be a good day. She would get to spend it with her grandson, and she'd get to cheer on Jane and Maura and all the other runners. She'd get to immerse herself in a crowd of people and have some fun. It was so rare that she got to really go out and be the social butterfly she wanted to be. Frank didn't like crowds or people much, preferred to stay in on a Saturday night, if he wasn't working that is, and Angela didn't get a lot of opportunities to do things the way she wanted to do them. It had always been about the kids or Frank, and she didn't regret that, loved being a mother, but lately she was thinking about how she wanted to spend her time these days. Jamie would be starting school soon, and Frankie and Jane didn't need her so much anymore, and she and Frank… Well, she didn't know what she and Frank were anymore.

She couldn't pinpoint a moment when her marriage felt like it was beginning to fall apart, but the longer she thought about it, the more she realized that she and Frank had been trying to get back that spark since before Tommy was born. But they’d had two kids and a mortgage and a catholic marriage that wasn't meant to be broken, and it wasn't like either of them were quitters. They both knew that marriage was hard work, were too stubborn to see it fail, and so they had done what they could to make it work. And it hadn't all been bad, or forced. They'd had a lot of good times together, had raised their family together, but now that the kids were grown it was becoming more and more apparent how little they had in common.

Lately, it was like all they did was fight or ignore each other. They didn't agree on anything and Frank was always working to avoid her, and Tommy's problems had only compounded their own. Both of them had been devastated to see their son go to prison, but rather than bring them together, it had just given them something else to blame each other for. Frank said Angela had coddled him too much and Angela said Frank hadn't been home enough, and then Frank would throw it in her face that he had to make the money because she didn't work, as if it was her fault that he had convinced her to drop out of high school and marry him instead. And yeah, she had made her choices, but Frank had told her he wanted her to stay home and take care of the kids, and maybe it was just because he didn't want to do chores around the house or pay for daycare, but he had insisted and Angela had agreed, and he could hardly blame her for something he was just as much a part of.

There were a lot of reasons that Angela's marriage was failing, why Frank slept on the couch most nights, if he even came home at all, but she still tried to hide it from the kids, maybe on reflex, maybe because she was embarrassed. They were good kids, grown kids, and surely they could handle it if she decided to tell them she and their father were splitting up, but there was still a part of her that didn't want to give up, that didn't want to admit that it might be over, but sometimes she looked at Jane and Maura, and she saw how comfortable they were together, how happy, even though there were a lot of differences between them too. They were so different and so similar all at once, and fit together just right, and Angela couldn't say the same for her own marriage.

Angela and Frank had disagreed about Jane marrying Maura too. Angela was the only one that had seen firsthand how Frank had struggled with their daughter being gay, she had made sure of it. She never wanted Jane to know, even though Jane must have suspected, must have clearly noticed how the close relationship she'd once had with her father had fractured. Frank just couldn't get it out of his head, all his mother’s talk of gays being damned, and he thought it was fine for other people to be gay if they really wanted to, as long as they weren’t really showing it around him, but his own daughter? It was a step too far, one he had hoped would be a phase Jane might move out of, but Jane and Maura had stayed together, had married and had a baby and there appeared to be no end in sight.

Frank blamed Maura, and honestly, Angela didn't think Jane would have ever married a woman if it hadn't been for Maura either, but that's because she didn't think there was another woman out there that would fit Jane so well. But Frank thought Maura had somehow warped Jane's mind, made her something she wasn't, and for a long time he was upset, could hardly even face the two of them, and Angela had done a lot to convince him, had put up with his yelling and his whining and his snide remarks, knew that if he'd only get it out of his system then maybe he'd never say any of what he was thinking to Jane or Maura, that maybe he'd never taint what they thought of him in such a deep, unforgivable way.

It had worked, for the most part, and by the time Jane and Maura married, Frank had suppressed that part of him that hated everything about their relationship. He was still uncomfortable at times, still had his moments of doubt, but Angela had warned him he would lose Jane completely if he didn't accept that this is who she was. And Frank had made an effort for a while, had even cut back his drinking so that he could be around his grandson, and he was good with Jamie, for the most part.

Things had been shifting in recent years though, and Angela feared when it might burst. When that awful man had taken Maura and hurt Jane, Frank had not been able to handle it, had been drinking too much and avoiding the whole thing, wouldn't even go and visit the girls when they were out of the hospital. He had helped Angela clean up the house before Jane and Maura got home, and God she didn't think she'd ever forget the sight of it, all that blood and broken glass, and how did the two of them look at those kinds of scenes everyday? But after that, Frank wouldn't come back to the girls' house for weeks. Angela didn't even know where he was half the time. And after the second time, when Jane was taken by that monster, it had been even worse. Frank thought that if Jane had been married to a man, that it never would have happened, even though Hoyt had killed plenty of men.

So Angela and Frank had fought over that for weeks, among a number of other things, and Angela really wasn’t sure where to go from here, wasn’t sure her marriage was worth fighting for anymore, wasn’t sure how much longer she could stand making excuses for her husband. But today she didn’t want to think about any of that. She just wanted to enjoy a warm day outside with Jamie, and hope that Frank was in a good enough mood to join them. When they had made the plans to go to the marathon, he had seemed to be onboard, but she should have known it wouldn’t take long for things to turn sour.

Frank was grumbling from the moment they started shouldering through the thick crowd of onlookers. Angela was used to ignoring his fussing, so she focused on Jamie, holding on to his little hand as they navigated the congested sidewalk, and then getting him set up in a nice, partially shaded spot. Maura had packed a ton of things for him, extra sunscreen and hats and even a change of clothes, plus a few picture and coloring books and a couple of toys. But Jamie didn't want any of that just yet, was feeding off of the energy around him, buzzing with excitement and chattering on. Frank focused on setting up the little grill they had brought.

As more and more people filed in around them, Angela began to introduce herself and Frank and Jamie. There were several other nice families around, with children or siblings or parents in the race too, and Angela told them, “My daughter and her wife are running too. We’re the Rizzolis. I’m Angela and that’s Frank. And this is our grandson Jamie.”

A group of frat boys covered in blue paint gave Jamie high fives, and offered to paint his face blue. While the toddler was distractedly giggling as the older boys painted his face, Frank dragged Angela to the side. “Watch what you’re saying to people,” he hissed.

“Watch what?” Angela scoffed, shrugging out of his insistent hold. “I’m just being friendly!”

“You’re tellin’ them all our personal business,” Frank grumbled.

“What business? Our names?

“You’re tellin’ everyone about Jane being… you know.

“What? Married?” Angela whispered back.

Frank rolled his eyes. “You know what I mean.”

“No, I really don’t,” Angela snapped, or maybe she just didn’t want to acknowledge it.

“You don’t know what these people will say.”

“All right, lighten up, Frank. Come on. Janie's running, Frankie's working. Everybody's having fun. I mean, we're all families out here.”

“I'd rather hang out with your mother,” Frank muttered, and Angela could have smacked him in the mouth, because God bless her soul Angela's mother had been a deeply opinionated woman, but she was dead and gone and Angela hardly needed her husband insulting her dead mother’s memory.

“Okay, that's not nice. It's not a good way to start the day, okay?” Angela told him sharply, turning away from him, and it occurred to her then that her mother had never liked Frank, and maybe Angela should have listened to her a long time ago.

The afternoon didn't improve much after that.

Angela and Jamie were having a good time, but Frank seemed intent on being miserable. He asked Jamie to help him with grilling the sausages, but Jamie responded with, “Mommy says fire is dangerous.” And when Frank asked Jamie if the boy wanted to toss a ball around, Jamie asked if he could read his books instead.

Angela could see Frank was getting frustrated, so she told Jamie, “Of course you can, baby. Why don’t you pick which book you want and I’ll come read it to you?”

Jamie nodded and went to rifle through the bag his mothers had packed for him.

Frank threw his hands up in exasperation and flopped back down in his lawn chair.

Angela bent over to demand of him, “What is your problem?”

“That boy needs a man in his life,” Frank declared, too loudly. Angela shushed him, smacking his shoulder with the back of her hand, but Frank persisted. “He’s too soft, got too many mothers, and you. You babied Tommy and now you're babying him.”

“What? Because he wants to read a book?” Angela said incredulously, breathless with her anger. “You know what Frank? If you want to bond with your grandson, maybe you should try doing what he likes to do, and not what you think he should like.”

“I’m here, ain't I? On one of the biggest toilet days of the year. All the money I could be making. Instead I'm sitting out here in the hot sun and there isn’t even a ball game to watch –

“I don't wanna hear it,” Angela cut him off. “If you don’t wanna be here, then go. I’m not gonna let you take it out on Jamie.”

He looked up at her in astonishment, like he couldn’t believe what she’d said, his own brow twisted in anger too, but he stood up abruptly and said, “Fine,” and started gathering up his things.

Angela didn’t spare him another glance, went over to where Jamie was sitting with his book clutched against his chest, watching her and Frank with a little bit of concern. Angela smiled at him, rushing to assure him, “Pop-Pop has to go to work, sweetheart, but we're gonna stay, okay?”

“Oh, okay,” Jamie said quietly, but he seemed to be relaxing a little, so used to his mothers going to work that he probably wasn't even surprised that Frank would do the same. “Bye, bye, Pop-Pop. Love you.”

Frank stilled, turning back for a moment, looking down at Jamie, and there might have been something sad there, on his face, but he took his things and he left with only a brief, “Bye, kid,” and hardly a glance for Angela.

It wasn’t thirty minutes later when Jane called.

“Jane, where are you two? Are you close?”

Uh, no, Ma, we’re not,” Jane answered. “I got a bad cramp, okay? So you and Pop and Jamie should just go home.

“We've been here for hours,” Angela exclaimed. “Jamie is gonna be so upset.”

“Yeah, I know. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to disappoint you guys.”

“Yeah, well, that's disappointing.”

Just tell Jamie we’ll make it up to him, okay? Take him to get ice cream or something. I’ll call you soon, okay?”

“Jamie and I will have plenty of fun,” Angela asserted. She hung up her phone and then turned to the expectant looking toddler. “Well, sweetheart, sounds like your silly Mama got some cramps and isn’t running. Do you wanna leave? Or do you wanna stay?”

Jamie slipped his hand into Angela's and smiled up at her, with his Mama's smile. “We can stay.”

After a hell of a long day; of arguing with her wife about doing an autopsy in a medical tent with a box cutter and a magnifying glass; of hours of stressfully worrying about a shooter loose in a crowd of hundreds of thousands, a crowd that included her son, her parents, and her brother; of tracking the victims back to a brutal rape of a fifteen year old girl, one that the men involved in were never charged for; of chasing down Courtney Brown just in the nick of time, before she could kill the last man that had raped her sister; after all of that, the last thing Jane wanted to do was finish the marathon. But she had promised Maura, and challenged Frankie, and Jamie was still waiting to cheer his mothers on, and so Jane went back to Heartbreak Hill.

She was still counting the first third of the marathon they had run, plus the two blocks they ran to the home of Courtney and Samantha Brown's mother, but even with that there was a lot of marathon left to run, and everyone else had already finished or given up, and the race officials started cleaning up, and the onlookers and runners started filling out, and by the time Jane and Maura finally finished, it was officially dark outside. They had Frankie following them on a bike to light their way, and Jane thought she might finally be experiencing that runner’s high that Maura had mentioned, either that or she was three seconds away from collapsing.

Once it was finally in sight, Jane and Maura raced the last several yards across the makeshift finish line, a roll of yellow police tape that Angela and Jamie held stretched out between them, Jamie holding it high up over his head. Angela and Jamie cheered and clapped as Jane and Maura breathlessly thundered to a stop. Then there were hugs all around, and Jamie was jumping up and down, blue paint melting down his sun-warmed face. Jane felt ready to collapse, but lifted Jamie up onto her hip and opened her other arm to let Maura sink into her hold, all of them reeking of sweat and adrenaline and radiating heat, but laughing, joyous, even though they’d been up since dawn and they couldn’t feel their feet.

They were all five of them raucous the whole way back to the cars. Jamie had a lot to say about his day, about all the people he’d met and the runners he'd seen. But by the time Jane settled him into his car seat, his babble was beginning to slur, and his eyelids were drooping, and his head seemed too heavy to hold upright as he smiled up at her.

“Did you have a good day, baby?” Jane asked him as she was buckling him in, her own voice raspy with exhaustion.

“Yes, Mama,” he mumbled, his head bobbing up and down. “Good day.”

Jane kissed the side of his head as his chin slumped against his chest, his eyes fluttering shut, and ran her fingers carefully over his tangled hair. She grabbed his blanket out of the bag Maura had put together for him and tucked it around him.

When Jane stood up out of the backseat and closed the door, she saw Maura and Angela saying goodbye to Frankie. Jane went to say goodnight to her brother, and then when Frankie was going to his own car and Maura was going to the passenger side of theirs, Jane cornered her mother before Angela could get into the backseat.

“Where's Pop?” Jane demanded.

Angela spluttered, “I already told you. He had work –”

“Yeah, I’m not buyin’ it,” Jane cut her off. “Where’s he really at?

Angela huffed in frustration, throwing out her arms. “Well how should I know? I’ve been here all day.”

“Why'd he leave then?” Jane pressed, folding her arms across her chest impatiently. “Did you two have a fight?”

“Oh, sure, blame it on me. It's always my fault when your father runs off!”

“What? Ma! That's not what I'm saying!” God her mother could be so maddening some times – or all the time. “I just wanna know why I've barely seen him in the last six months.” He was always conveniently busy somewhere else, or made his excuses to run off, and Jane could sense the tension, even when he was around, like he didn't want to be involved in whatever the rest of them were doing, and her parents were sniping at each other all the time, which wasn't all that unusual, but it was different now. Their jabs had a sharper edge to them.

“Well you’re both working all the time,” Angela deflected, and Jane spun away.

“Fine. I'll just ask him myself.”

But before Jane could get back into the car, her mother's hand slapped down over the driver's side door handle. “Can’t you just leave it alone?” Angela implored.

“Tell me why,” Jane asserted. “What are you trying to protect him from?”

“I’m not protecting him from anything,” Angela denied.

“So you're trying to protect me,” Jane deduced, and Angela was a terrible liar, so she floundered then, mouth opening and closing, head shaking even though Jane could read it all on her face. “I'm not a kid anymore, Ma. If Pop's got a problem, I need to know what it is.”

“Your father loves you,” Angela tried to deflect.

“Is this about Maura again?” Jane harshly whispered, even though Maura could probably still hear them through the car window.

Angela sighed heavily and that was answer enough. “Janie –”

Jane wrenched open the car door and climbed inside, told her mother it was time to go and started up the car. She felt something hot building up in her chest the longer she stewed on it, couldn't look at any of them, hands clenched tight around the steering wheel the whole way to her parents' house, the whole car silent, and not simply because Jamie was sleeping.

When Jane parked the car in the driveway of her childhood home, and saw her father's car sitting there, she jumped right out of the front seat, ignoring her mother's weak protests. She stormed through the front door and into the living room, where her father sat in front of the TV, with one bottle of beer in his hand and several empty bottles on the coffee table in front of him. He looked up at her in surprise, but didn't budge from his seat, and Jane snatched up the remote and turned off the television.

“You gonna tell me what the hell your problem is?” And maybe she should have been more diplomatic, but she was tired of tiptoeing around it, tired of pretending like she didn't see it.

“I had some work to do,” Frank waved her off. “Sorry I missed you jogging by.”

“Is this really still about me marrying a woman? When are you gonna accept that this is who I am?”

Frank wouldn’t take the bait, just frowned at her and took a long pull from his beer.

“Come on!” Jane goaded. “Just say it. What’s this really about, huh? You worried about my immortal soul? You think I’m ruinin’ the world with my gayness? ‘Cause I hate to tell you this, Pop, but you ain't exactly the picture of a perfect Catholic yourself.”

Her father rose up onto his feet all of a sudden, towering just slightly over her, slamming his beer down on the coffee table. “Fine. I think it’s time for you to give up this fantasy.”

Fantasy?” Jane exclaimed.

“I let it go on too long, but your mother kept saying that we'd lose you, and I thought eventually you'd come to your senses,” Frank ranted, pacing away from her and then back. “Instead, you've let this girl change you, take over your whole life.”

“What the hell are you even talking about? I’m still me  –”

“We always watched the Sox play on Patriot’s Day, but we haven’t so much as watched the game on TV in the last three years, and now you – you’re running marathons? You hate running races. And you’re spending Christmases in London?”

“That was one time!”

Frank was undeterred, and he was just catching his stride, pointing his finger accusatorially, his face turning red. “You’re all high and mighty now up on your Beacon Hill, applying to rich prep schools for Jamie and taking me and your mother to fancy restaurants like – like we’re too pathetic to go there on our own, and I can’t even have a barbecue at my own home with – without catering to her. She won’t eat hot dogs and we have to make a vegetable and I can’t feed my own grandson chips without gettin’ a lecture on heart health.”

Jane was baffled, and if it wasn’t so disheartening she might have found it funny that he was saying she had changed, when he had never looked so unfamiliar to her in all her life. “Are you seriously upset that she makes us eat vegetables?”

Then he dealt his low blow. “That psychopath would have never gotten to you if it weren't for her. She's nearly gotten you killed twice now!”

Jane took a step back, squeezing her hands on her hips and gritting her teeth because it was better than throwing something or kicking something, as was her first instinct. She wanted to scream at him, for even bringing that up, for trying to use it against her, against Maura. But she kept a level head, even tried to keep her tone from shaking, though she might have failed her. “Hoyt had it out for me. He would have come for me no matter who I was or wasn't married to.”

“No,” Frank refuted, shaking his head. “No, if he hadn't kidnapped her, you wouldn't have gone looking, and he wouldn't have done that to your hands. If you had been married to – to a man, someone that could protect you, someone that could fight back –”

“Hoyt killed a lot of men!” Jane shouted. “You cannot seriously stand there and – and say this bullshit. I don't need a man.

“Well Jamie needs a man,” Frank insisted. “He needs a father. He's not a girl, you know? But he'd rather sit and braid hair than throw a ball around. Did you ever think about that when you decided to cook him up in a lab?”

Jane dropped her head, felt her chin trembling, felt a cavernous ache in the pit of her stomach, and her eyes were burning. Maybe it was just the adrenaline finally wearing off, that runner’s high disintegrating, ‘cause now her whole body hurt, felt like she would just collapse under the force of her father’s glaring rage. But she forced herself to lift her head, looked him straight in the eye, and made the decision she knew she had to make. “Pop… I don’t want you around my family anymore.”

Frank scoffed, pointing aggressively at his chest. “I am your family.”

“No,” Jane said quietly, sorrowfully. “Not anymore.”

He shouted after her as she turned to leave, but she had nothing left to say to him, and he didn't follow her. She silently passed her mother looking on sadly in the entryway, held her breath and her tongue the whole way out to the porch, and only once she had rushed down off the stairs and onto the concrete drive did she gasp in a desperate, shuddering breath of air, stopping there with one hand over her stomach and her head tipped back to try to hold the tears at bay. She shook it off a second later, roughly rubbed her eyes with the palms of her hands, cleared her throat and kept going the rest of the way to the car. Both passenger side doors were open, and with the car light illuminating them, Jane could see Maura sitting in the backseat next to Jamie, gently using a wet wipe to clean the blue paint from his face. Jamie was only partially awake, his eyes half closed, smiling sleepily and lazily wriggling away from his mother's hold, and Maura was chuckling softly at his antics, telling him to hold still. Jane stopped and just watched them for a moment, only solidifying her decision to possibly never speak to her father again, at least not for a long while, and screw him, screw him for not being able to see what she saw, for not loving Maura and Jamie as they were, for not loving her enough to accept them. Jamie didn't need a father, and maybe she didn't either.

When Maura was finished cleaning Jamie's face, she kissed his forehead and placed the used wipes in a baggy, and then she began to clamber out of the backseat. Jane lurched forward then, closing the distance between them, and Maura looked up at her approach with a worried wrinkle in her brow, reaching her hand out to Jane.

“Are you okay?” Maura asked, and Jane shook her head, felt the tears threatening to spill over again.

“No,” she whispered truthfully, voice cracking, and she fell into Maura's open arms, clung to her with a fair amount of desperation, fingers pressing into the backs of Maura's shoulders, sticky from the sweat that had dried there.

“Oh, Jane,” Maura murmured breathily, hands warm against Jane's spine. “I’m so sorry. Is there… is there something I can do? Would it help? If I tried to talk to him?”

Jane leaned back to look at Maura, appreciative but resigned. “No. No, and you shouldn't have to –”

“But I would,” Maura insisted.

“I know, but he wouldn't listen.” And she wasn't gonna let him say any of those awful things to Maura, wasn’t gonna let him sow doubt in her mind, as if the whole Hoyt nightmare hadn't destroyed her enough, Jane wasn't gonna let Maura think that any part of it was her fault. “He made his choice, and now I've gotta make mine.”

“I never wanted you to have to choose.”

“It's on him.” ‘Cause for Jane there was no other choice. It was always gonna be Maura and Jamie, no matter what her father said to her. She breathed in deep, exhaled and let the tension flood out of her. “Let’s go home.”

Maura nodded, lifted her hands to frame Jane's face, looking at her reverently, in that way that always made Jane weak in the knees, or maybe it was just the result of running twenty-six miles in one day. “You were incredible today, have I told you that?”

“Pft, you always say that,” Jane mumbled.

“Well, it's always true,” Maura defended.

Jane rolled her eyes, but a smirk was pulling at her lips. “Okay, suck up. Y'know, you were the one doing a field autopsy in a tent.”

“You’re right, I was incredible too.”

Jane snorted and nudged Maura towards the car. “Okay, Mrs. Incredible, get in the car.”

“Oh, I get that reference!” Maura said cheerfully, as Jane reached the driver's side. They slid into the car, Maura smiling and Jane struggling not to. It figured, even when part of her was sinking into despair, she couldn't even wallow without Maura trying to drag her back up.

From the backseat, Jamie drowsily lifted his head to slur an excited, “We gonna watch Incredibles when we g'home?”

“We’re going to sleep when we get home,” Maura corrected.

Jamie pleaded, “But Mommy, ‘m not tired.”

“Tell ya what, buddy,” Jane said to him as she was backing out onto the street, “if you can stay up, we'll watch The Incredibles before bed.”

Maura looked at her wife incredulously as Jamie cheered, but Jane waved her off, certain that Jamie would be too exhausted to keep his eyes open, especially once he fell back to sleep two minutes into the drive home.

But it turned out that Jane had to eat her words, because Jamie’s power nap seemed to rejuvenate him, and by the time they all had a quick bath to clean the sweat of the day off, he was bouncing in his pajamas begging to watch the movie. Maura had that I told you so look, and Jane was dead on her feet, and maybe she should have just told the boy no, that it was bed time and they'd watch the movie another time, but how many more moments would they have with him like this? He'd start school soon and he was growing every day, and there'd come a time when he maybe didn't think his moms were cool, maybe didn't want to cuddle up and watch a movie with them in the middle of the night. So Jane convinced Maura to let them drag a TV into their bedroom, and the three of them got settled onto the bed, Jamie snuggled between his mothers as the movie began to play.

They were all asleep in the first ten minutes.

Chapter Text

June 2011


A heavy feeling of anxious dread pressed against Jane's sternum, made it difficult to breathe, difficult to move, every step hindered by it, like she was trying to walk under water, her head just barely above the surface, every muscle in her body constricted. It was dark, so dark, and cold, but there was a burning in her chest, light sparking, light burning, yellow and orange flickering, like Maura's hair in the sunlight, and she tried to lunge, feeling heavy and sluggish and awkward, tried to throw that burning light out of her chest.

Her hands and knees scrambled across soft gravel, and she hefted herself up onto shaky legs, pointed her gun out in front of her, blinked to try and clear her vision, blurry as she fumbled down the stairs, down, down, into the dark, a tiny pin prick of light.

She blinked and there was Maura, screaming, soaked in blood, screaming, the light was all around her, burning her, screaming.

Jane tried to call to Maura, but the name got stuck in her throat, and a forceful pressure on the back of Jane's head knocked her forward, turned everything black. When she opened her eyes again, she sought the burning light, and there was Maura, silent and still, eyes locked onto Jane's, but not moving, a line of blood across her throat, lips pale white.

Jane flailed, but she was pinned down, barely moved an inch, and her hands, her hands exploded in white hot agony, red fire blossoming on her palms, pooling on the floor, and a heavy weight landed on her chest. There was someone over her, someone caressing her cheek, too close, reeking of fire and death, and then she saw him, saw Hoyt, looming over her, smiling with bloody, pointed teeth, and he dragged a scalpel along her cheek, and she tried to scream but still no sound came out.

“Jane,” he whispered to her, delightfully, reverently. She tried to sink into the floor, to retreat from his touch, but she was in bed now, her bed, at home, with Maura, with Hoyt. “Oh, it's okay, baby.” Maura. Where was Maura? “I'm here, baby,” he soothed. Jane tried to move, but she was paralyzed. “Yeah. I'm here.”

Jane blinked sluggishly, everything around her blurred, and Maura was there behind Hoyt, still with her throat cut open, but she was speaking, voice garbled, like she was talking through a wall. “Jane.”

Hoyt said, “Jane.”

Maura said, “Jane.”




Jane jolted awake, breathing in sharply through her nose, looking all around, moving her legs, her arms, turning her head and finding Maura hovering over her, eyes bleary and frowning worriedly. “Jane,” she rasped, clearly only half awake, hand still slowly shaking Jane’s shoulder. “Were you having another nightmare?” Another one of several that week, and Jane had managed not to wake Maura most nights, but Maura was becoming more sensitive to Jane's irregular movements.

“’M fine, Maur,” Jane murmured, still trying to catch her breath, still trying to burn the image of her nightmare Maura from her mind.

Something didn’t feel right though, and there was a noise, distant, outside maybe, but distinct. Jane turned her head in that direction, straining to hear, and maybe she was imagining it, but she felt herself sitting up, throwing the covers away from where they had tangled around her legs, swiveling to place her feet on the floor, looking around for her pants.

“Jane?” Maura repeated, sounding more awake, scrambling to sit up too. “Where are you going?”

Jane shimmied into a set of pajama pants and told Maura, “Stay here.” Jane had woken from these nightmares disoriented and anxious before, but this time felt different, and she wouldn’t be able to go back to sleep until she checked. Hoyt was in prison, she knew that, but still… she had to check.

She went to Jamie’s room first, quietly and swiftly looked over the whole room, and then reassured herself that the boy was still sleeping peacefully and was in no danger. Then she hastened down the stairs, checking around corners, removing her weapon from where it was locked up, looking over her shoulder, that phantom pain throbbing in the back of her head. The noise that had unsettled her was louder from here, sounded like it was right outside her front door, and she stepped out into the night with her gun in hand, down at her side but prepared to use at any moment.

She saw it almost immediately, out in the street, a burning red light, a flare.

Jane’s heart leapt into her throat, and her head was on a swivel, half expecting Hoyt to appear, her grip on her weapon tightening, eyes scrutinizing every shadow in the neighborhood. But whoever had left the flare was gone. Jane saw no sign of them as she stepped out onto the pavement in her bare feet. It was a little warm after baking in the hot summer sun all day, but she still shivered.

“Jane?” Maura's voice called from the front door, emerging from the house with her silky robe on, hands tugging it closed as a gust of wind tried to pry it open. “Jane, what is it?”

And Jane wished that she could shield Maura from it, kick the flare down the hill so she'd never see it, but Maura had already noticed it. She came rushing out into the street, sidling up next to Jane, fearfully asking, “Is that…?”

“Probably just a prank,” Jane tried to deflect, tried to convince herself and Maura both. Maybe it was just a coincidence, maybe it was just some kids running around the neighborhood, maybe it was just a flare.

Maura had no such delusions. “I’m calling CSRU, and Korsak.”

“What? No,” Jane argued, grabbing Maura’s arm before she could retreat back into the house. “You’ll just freak everybody out.”

“This doesn't freak you out?” Maura demanded.

“Of course it does, but –”

“This could be a threat, Jane.”

And it could be nothing. Look, let's just wait until morning, okay? We’ll keep the flare and take it into work with us.” Not that there'd be anything on it that would tell them anything.

“How many people know that detail?” Maura pressed, the wind blowing her hair and her robe askew, and she looked up and down the road, fruitlessly trying to hold her hair out of her eyes. “I don't like this.”

“C'mon,” Jane coaxed, gripping Maura's elbow and steering her back towards the house. She felt exposed out there, like she was being watched.

Maura was no less flustered once they were back inside, and she and Jane bickered for the next fifteen minutes over whether or not they should call somebody, while the flare fizzled out in the street. Eventually, Jane conceded to calling into headquarters, just to get Maura off her back. Her hands were throbbing and her heart was still racing and she really couldn't stand to have an argument just then.

Jane went out to retrieve the flare once it had burnt out, wore gloves and placed it carefully in a plastic baggy. Then she made two phone calls, one to confirm that Hoyt was still detained in a maximum security prison where he belonged, calling in a favor with a guy she'd gone to the academy with to have him personally confirm that Hoyt had not escaped somehow. The second call was to ask headquarters to have some unis do a few sweeps of the neighborhood, just to make sure there was no one lingering.

Maura, meanwhile, was going around checking all the doors and windows, resetting the alarm, making sure everything was locked up tight. When she came back to the living room, Jane was on the couch, her gun and the flare on the coffee table in front of her, rubbing the ache in the center of her palms. Wordlessly, Maura perched on the edge of the couch and took one of Jane's hands into both of her own, gently massaging the scarred flesh. She always had been better at soothing Jane’s pain, and Jane sighed and sank back into the cushions, closed her eyes and tried to relax.

But five seconds later she was sitting up with an exasperated groan, rubbing her eyes with her free hand, and then turning her head, cheek resting on her knuckles and elbow on her knee. “What are we gonna do?”

Maura looked up from Jane’s palm without halting her motions, troubled look on her face. “I don’t know.”

“We’re probably being paranoid,” Jane decided, but Maura didn’t look convinced either.

“Mommy? Mommy?” Jamie’s voice called from upstairs. Likely he had been woken from his mothers moving around in the middle of the night, and they had been too rattled to be mindful of how noisy they were.

“Go,” Jane told Maura, squeezing Maura’s hand and sliding her own free. “It’s gonna be fine. Hoyt's in prison, there’s patrol cars in the area, and I’ll keep an eye out, okay?”

“You can’t stay up all night,” Maura protested.

“It wouldn’t be the first time. Listen, baby, don't worry, okay?”

Maura made a face, clearly wanted to argue, but Jamie was calling for her again, and she went upstairs to usher him back to bed. Jane paced the downstairs, checking the windows and doors like Maura had, peeking out of the curtains now and then. It took Maura a while to get Jamie settled back to sleep, after a trip to the bathroom, a glass of water, and a story, and when Jane went to check in on them, Maura had fallen asleep in Jamie’s bed, their boy sprawled across her lap. Jane watched them for a moment, her whole world right there in that tiny toddler bed, and she settled down in the rocking chair by the window, where she could keep an eye on the street below and her family on the other side of the room, and she remained there for the rest of the night, ever vigilant.

Maura slept fitfully and woke maybe two hours later, but by then it was around 5 o'clock in the morning, late enough that she could justify getting up to prepare for the day. And this time, Jane didn't go into work on her own, even when they got a call for a dead body on a park bench. She waited until Maura and Jamie were ready, and then they went to drop Jamie at daycare. Jane stopped by the security office before she left, asked them to keep an eye out and told them she'd probably have a patrol officer come by. Maybe she was overreacting, but she wasn’t gonna risk it, wasn’t gonna risk Jamie.

At the crime scene, Maura insisted on telling Frost about the flare, and he wanted to make it a whole thing, thought they should tell Lieutenant Cavanaugh and get a detail to follow Jane and Maura around, but Jane put her foot down. “Look, let’s not make a big deal until we know what’s going on.” She could see Frankie approaching, and gave Maura and Frost a sharp look. “I don't want everyone making this a whole… thing. So keep this between just the three of us.”

Frost relented with a nod and Maura sighed but said, “Okay.”

Then Frankie was upon them, looking so concerned that Jane thought he had somehow heard something already. “Hey, Janie? You busy later?”

“What, you mean after my relaxing day in the park?” Jane joked. “No. What do you got?”

“I need to talk to you about Mom and Dad,” Frankie told her, and Jane was reluctant, but she knew this day would come, and frankly she was lucky she'd gotten off the hook for as long as she had. She hadn't told Frankie about what had happened between her and their father, that she hadn't spoken to him in over a month, that Angela was only watching Jamie at Jane and Maura’s house, and that Jane was fairly certain her parents were planning to separate, if they hadn't already. Jane was a little surprised Frankie hadn't caught on sooner, but Sunday dinners had been sporadic as it was in recent months, and he and Jane both were busy with work at different times, and then Jamie had the flu for a week and then Maura too, so he must have only just sensed that something deeper was amiss.

“Okay, yeah,” Jane agreed, because better to get it over with now. “Sure, Frankie.” She looked at Frost and told him, “I'll see you later.” She squeezed Maura’s arm and searched her wife's eyes just to make sure she was all right. “Maura, I'll see you at the autopsy.” And Maura nodded without any visible or audible dissent, so Jane went with her brother to the Dirty Robber.

Almost as soon as they had slid into a booth and ordered some coffee, Frankie said, “I think Mom is saving up to leave Dad.”

And Jane didn't doubt it, but she also hadn't asked her mother if she actually intended to leave Frank, was just pretending her father didn't exist, and Frankie didn't know what had transpired after the marathon, and Jane wasn't sure she wanted to tell him. She knew he'd take her side, probably stop talking to their father too, and she didn't want that, didn't want to be the reason the family fell apart. So she covered with a disbelieving, “Because she's selling anti-aging lychee potion?”

Frankie persisted. “She's got a job. Have you ever seen her work?”

“Frankie, come on. She works all the time.” Especially with as much as Jane and Maura asked her to watch Jamie.

“Out of the home?” Frankie countered with a raised eyebrow. “Janie, she got her hair highlighted. This is serious.”

Jane couldn't help but huff out a laugh. “She's a person. She's allowed to have her life.”

“Without dad?”

Jane shrugged, looked down at her coffee and wished it was something stronger. God she was tired. “I don't know, Frankie, maybe that wouldn't be so bad. It's up to her anyway."

Frankie frowned at once, dark brows drawn together, scrutinizing his sister now. “What's that supposed to mean? Do you know somethin’ I don't?”

“All I'm sayin’ is that if Pop isn't bein’ good to her then it's not for us to decide,” Jane deflected.

Frankie leaned over the table, pointing at her accusatorially. “You do know something. Spill it.”

Jane shook her head and waved him off. “I don't know anything about what's goin’ on between them. I mean, come on. Why don't you focus on your own life for a while? Maybe it's time you learn how to cook.”

“Hey, I can cook,” Frankie protested.

“Burnt toast and boiled water doesn't count.”

“I do more than toast and boiled water.”

“Can I get you guys anything else?” their waitress suddenly asked, appearing next to their table with a perky smile and a pot of coffee in her hands.

Jane sighed, rubbing her weary eyes. “Oh, so many things. I would love a long vacation, for starters.”

The waitress chuckled and looked to Frankie. “How 'bout you? New car, maybe?”

Frankie smiled. “How did you guess? Uh, American. Mustang would be good.”

“I love that. I grew up in Detroit, and my dad worked an assembly line.”

“Really? Well, our dad's a plumber.”

“Go figure,” the waitress said, and she and Frankie were both smiling at each other, looking at each other with interest, and Jane didn't know whether to be amused or horrified. They were terrible at flirting.

“Um...I'm... I'm Frankie. Uh, this is my sister, Janie,” Frankie introduced.

“I'm Lola.”

“Nice to meet you, Lola.”

And then they were just staring at each other, and Jane felt distinctly uncomfortable so she interrupted their moment. “Yes, I would love some more coffee.”

“Oh!” Lola said, hastily refilling Jane's cup.

“Thank you.”

Lola smiled one last time and dipped her head at Frankie before hurrying away to tend to her other tables, and Frankie watched her go, made an appreciative sound in the back of his throat, and Jane resisted the urge to kick him in the shin underneath the table.

When Frankie turned forward again and noticed Jane giving him a look, he cleared his throat and demanded, “What?”

“Nothing,” Jane murmured, lifting her coffee up to her lips, taking a careful sip and still eyeing him over the rim of her cup.

“Hey, don't distract me,” Frankie spluttered, like she had been the one telling him to ogle their waitress. “What’s going on with Mom and Dad?”

Jane exhaled through her nose, setting her coffee cup back down on the table, staring into the dark liquid instead of her little brother’s dark gaze, searching her mind for one last ditch effort to get out of telling him. But he'd have to find out eventually. She wouldn't be able to hide the fact that she wanted nothing to do with their father. “I honestly don't know what Ma's feeling, but Pop and me…” She looked up at Frankie, locked eyes with him and admitted, “I’m done with him, Frankie. I can't fight him anymore. If he can't accept Maura, my life with Maura, then he can't accept me, and I'm done.”

“What the hell happened?” Frankie harshly whispered, and she could see it already, that fierce protectiveness he had for her. Growing up she had been the one protecting him, but maybe, somewhere down the line, things had flipped.

“Pop thinks that Jamie needs a father, that I need a man to protect me, thinks if it weren’t for Maura I wouldn’t have had to deal with Hoyt, but he’s wrong. About all of it. And if it was just me? I don’t know, maybe I’d let it go, but I can’t have him say any of that to Maura or Jamie one day.”

Frankie seemed to stew on it for a moment, working his jaw, voice tight with barely suppressed anger as he asked, “He said all that?”

Jane just nodded in confirmation.

Frankie scoffed, hand slapping the table and shaking his head. “And Ma knows about this?”

“Yeah, she does.”

“Well no wonder she's probably leavin' him. When did all this happen?”

“I confronted him the night of the marathon, but it's been going on a while. I don't know how long, but I had a feeling there was something he wasn’t saying, to me anyways.”

“He’s an idiot,” Frankie asserted. “You know that, right? Maura’s the best thing that ever happened to you, and Jamie doesn't need a dad . He's got me if he wants some kinda male influence. Pop can just get lost.”

Jane couldn't help but smile at her brother. “Thank you, Frankie, really, but you don't gotta take sides here. Don't stop talking to Pop on my account.”

“Oh I'm gonna talk to him,” Frankie swore, looking like he was gearing up for a fight.

“Don’t do that either,” Jane advised. “Listen, just take some time to – to cool off.”

“Yeah well you’ve had plenty of time,” Frankie accused. “How come you didn't tell me this a month ago?!”

“All right, don’t get mad at me! I’ve had a lot going on you know?”

“Don’t use that I got a kid excuse. Jamie is easy.”

Jane scoffed. “You mean the kid that woke me up at two o'clock in the morning the other night to tell me some babble about chipmunks?”

“You tellin’ me you don't love it when he does that?” Frankie asked skeptically, one eyebrow lifted.

Jane thought about it, smirked, and conceded, “Yeah, I do.” Then she looked down at her wrist watch and noticed the time. “Listen, I should probably get going. You all right?”

“Yeah, yeah, I'm fine,” Frankie insisted. “Go on. That is, if you're not hiding any other life changing news from me?”

He leveled her with a look, and Jane thought about the flare outside her house and its possible connection to Hoyt, but she shook her head and told her brother, “No. That's it.”

The body from the park was one of Hoyt's.

Maura hadn't noticed at first, despite some of the signs, despite the burning red flare that had haunted her all morning. The victim was James Stern, disappeared two years prior, his body still half frozen from being kept in cold storage, and there was evidence that his wrists and mouth had been duct taped. When Jane had come down to see how the autopsy was going, Maura hadn’t made it very far, was still doing preliminary checks, and Jane had decided to go and get Jamie from daycare early, to take him to the park and to get ice cream. It wasn’t until later that evening, when Frost came down to check in on the autopsy, and asked if Stern's throat had been cut with a scalpel, that Maura put the pieces together. And then she had immediately taken a step back from the body, as if Hoyt himself were about to leap out of it. ‘I have to find Jane,’ she’d said, and then struggled not to panic for the next thirty minutes until she was standing face to face with her wife.

Jane and Jamie were back home making dinner, and Maura rushed to be with them. She was having trouble remembering the techniques her therapist had given her to relax her anxiety over Hoyt, or trouble focusing on them perhaps, so her heart was caught in her throat as she listened to Jamie talk through the dinner she didn’t touch, tried to focus on what he was saying, on how happy he was to see her. But her mind was elsewhere the entire time, and she could see Jane watching her with plain concern, and it was all she could do not to tell Jamie to go and play with his toys, to talk to him later when she wasn’t feeling so off-kilter.

But eventually the boy went off on his own, to dig through his toy box looking for his dinosaurs. Jane and Maura retreated to the kitchen, watching him from behind the island and lowering their voices to speak. Only then could Maura explain how their recent victim was killed, and its apparent ties to Hoyt's work.

“The body was frozen within hours of the murder, left undisturbed for two years, then thawed enough to be able to move his limbs, to redress him in a suit, and pose him on that park bench.”

Jane didn't need to hear anymore to know what Maura wasn't saying. “It's Hoyt. He's – he's doing this from behind bars. He killed James Stern and Emily. And then somebody stored the body for him and then just, you know... dumped it right in front of our faces.” Jane rubbed at her weary eyes with her thumb and forefinger, and Maura could see the exhaustion in her, the droop of her shoulders, the dark shadows under her eyes. Jane had been struggling to sleep all week, and it wouldn't get any better now.

“I haven't had enough time to confirm that this is Hoyt's work,” Maura tried to assuage, both Jane and herself, but they both knew better.

“It's him,” Jane asserted, apparently convinced now. “It's him, Maura. First the flare, now this?” She sniffed back the moisture in her eyes, but whether it was because she was upset or just tired, Maura couldn't say for sure, but she had a feeling it was probably both.

“Frost is gonna get some patrol officers out here, okay?” Maura tried to reassure Jane, settling a hand on Jane's shoulder and squeezing firmly. “In the meantime, you are gonna get some sleep. Let me take watch this time."

Jane shook her head, stubbornly refusing. “You don't – you don't gotta be strong for me. I mean I appreciate it, but –”

“But what?” Maura questioned, and she couldn't help feeling a little defensive, a little offended. Jane still wouldn't tell Maura everything that had been said to lead to her and her father having a falling out, but Maura knew that some of it was this, that Frank didn't think Maura could properly take care of Jane. “You don't think I'm strong enough?”

“No!” Jane exclaimed, glancing over to check that Jamie hadn’t heard, and lowering her voice to repeat, “No. But it's not about what I'm feeling. You're the one that…” she trailed off with a frown, but her hand moved up to follow the line of her eyes, fingers softly trailing over the raised skin on the side of Maura's head, where Hoyt had struck her with a baseball bat before he'd dragged her out of her own home. Her hair had never grown back right in that spot, a source of immense frustration to Maura for a multitude of reasons.

“The one who was kidnapped,” Maura supplied. She stepped closer into Jane's space, placed her hands on Jane's sides. “It happened to us both. You're allowed to rest. No one will think less of you for it. Certainly not me.”

Jane's bottom lip quivered, just once, before she scrubbed her hands over her face and exhaled slowly. “I know, I know, I just… when I let my guard down…”

“You can’t keep your guard up forever.”

“I’ll just wait until the cavalry gets here, okay?”

But Jane was liable to collapse before then. So Maura stepped back and held her hand out, looking directly at the gun still attached to Jane’s hip. “Give me that.”

Jane put her own hand over the weapon and turned her hip slightly away. “No, it's loaded.”

“I'll stay up,” Maura insisted.

“It's loaded. No,” Jane refused.

Maura began to recite, “Magazine capacity, 15. Trigger pull, 2.5 kilograms. Line of sight, 153 millimeters –”

“Right,” Jane cut her off. “When was the last time you shot one?”

“Um...” Maura faltered. “That time you took me to the gun range? I shot several weapons there.”

Jane snorted. “Yeah, and how long ago was that? What was that? Like, our fourth date?”

“You said I was a natural,” Maura pointed out.

“Yeah, well, that’s what you say when you want a girl to like you,” Jane teased, squirming when Maura tried to pinch her arm.

“I'm a fast learner,” Maura persisted. “I can handle it.”

Jane still wavered, but Maura didn't back down, and Jamie had his back to them watching his cartoons on the television, and eventually Jane relented with a sigh. “Okay, um…” She pulled her weapon out of its holster, removing the bullets from it before handing it over to Maura. “It's empty. Point it. Wrap your left hand like this.”

Maura took the gun and turned to aim it at the refrigerator, focused on the weight of it in her hands, the position of the trigger, the safety, familiarized herself with this weapon her wife wore on her hip nearly every day, tried to hold it the way Jane had instructed. She felt Jane's hands on her arms, adjusting her form.

“Okay, now, push and pull. Loosen up. There you go. Push and pull with the same amount of force. Okay?”

“Okay,” Maura murmured.



Jane stepped back, leaning against the counter with her hands braced against it, and she smiled wearily at Maura. “You look good.”

Maura smirked, tried to affect a serious look and hold the gun like she was some movie star in an action film and not a medical examiner that had only held a gun maybe twice in her life. “Oh yeah? Do I look badass?”

Jane chuckled, slid her arm around Maura’s waist and kissed her cheek. “Yeah, you look like a badass."

Maura lowered the weapon to her side and slid one arm around Jane’s waist too, looked up at her and said firmly, “Good, now reload it and go to bed.”

Jane rolled her eyes affectionately. “Yeah, yeah.” She gave Maura a quick kiss, and warned in turn, “Don’t shoot our neighbors.”

Chapter Text

Korsak had been a cop for a long time, and in that time he'd had a lot of partners. Most of them were good, solid cops, some of them not so much. But of all his partners, Jane was inexplicably his favorite, and not just because she was better looking and didn't stink up the car on stakeouts. He had connected with her almost instantly, had recognized in her that same drive, that same stubbornness that had once made him center his whole life around the job, around chasing down every lead until he found the bad guys, maybe brought a family some peace, made the city a little safer.

After three divorces and a lot of bad cases where he had seen the absolute worst in people, and interdepartmental politics that made him wanna throw his whole desk out the window, Korsak's drive had been waning, but when Jane started working her way up through the department, it had sparked something in him, and he had been grateful to have her as his partner. Having her around was good for him, even when she was getting them into trouble, and he had thought that he was good for her too, that he was teaching her how to do it all better than he had the first time around, reminding her to go home to her wife and her kid instead of being consumed by the work. And, apart from all that, they had become friends. He was having dinner at Jane and Maura's place or meeting them at the Robber most weeks, had driven them to the hospital when Maura went into labor with Jamie, was the only one that even knew the two of them were trying for a baby at first.

But then Hoyt happened.

Hoyt happened and everything fell to pieces. That whole agonizing day and night were burned into Korsak's brain, Maura's blood on the walls of her bedroom, sixteen hours of scouring the city for her, of thinking they'd find her raped and dead, if they ever found her at all, and then that basement… Korsak never shoulda let Jane convince him that they split up. He knew it was to cover more ground, to maybe find Maura faster when it felt like the clock was running out, and he'd only been a block away, but if he'd stayed with her, if he hadn't let her go into that house alone, maybe things would have been different. It wouldn't have changed what Maura had already suffered, but at least it would have ended better. At least it wouldn't have ended with Jane's hands being destroyed, with her having to lie there, pinned to the floor and unable to do anything as Hoyt took a scalpel to her wife. Korsak had arrived just in time, to protect Maura from the worst of whatever that monster had planned, but he wasn't fast enough to protect his own partner, the person that had always trusted him to have her back.

He thought maybe that was why Jane wouldn't take his phone calls after, why she was being so cagey anytime they spoke in the weeks following that dreadful night. He thought maybe part of her blamed him, and he was blaming himself too. He had to hear from their Lieutenant that she had requested a new partner, and that had nearly been enough for him to confront her, to demand she explain herself, but how could he? After all she'd been through, he couldn't push. When Maura returned to work, he thought of asking her, but that seemed like an even worse idea, and it wasn't like he was looking for some touchy feely conversation, knew Jane would balk at the mere suggestion, so he didn't press for answers even though he wanted to.

Instead he had to watch them transfer some green detective – literally, with the way Frost was always puking up his guts at crime scenes – from BRIC. Had to let someone else watch his partner's back, even though it still felt like his responsibility, even though he hated every minute of it. And Maura had forced Korsak and Jane to reconcile eventually, and he started being invited back to their house, but they never talked about it, and it was never the same.

So when Korsak found out that the victim in the park had a connection to Hoyt, that a flare had been left outside Jane and Maura's house that very same night that the body had been dropped, he went rushing over to Jane and Maura’s house. And when he saw Frost already there in the living room, with a tired Maura that clearly hadn’t slept all night, and crime scene photos and investigation files scattered on the coffee table, he might have snapped, just a little.

“What, are you having a private little strategy meeting here?” he accused. “Did you think I wouldn't find out about Hoyt?”

“Whoa,” Frost immediately rankled, “don't come on in here, crack of dawn, yelling at me. I was gonna call you.”

“Oh, like hell you were!” Korsak scoffed.

Maura furiously whispered, “Inside voices!”

But Korsak had more to say, finger wagging at Frost. “Hoyt's my case. Jane was my partner.”

“She was your partner!”


“Who the hell do you think you are?!”

I'm her partner now!”

“Oh, yeah?!”

Maura's raised her voice just long enough to cut through Frost and Korsak’s voices and snap, “Shut up!

Korsak stopped at once, looking guiltily over at Maura, and really, he should have been more mindful, considering all she had been through, but it was because he knew so intimately what she had been through that he was so pissed off about all this. He had seen the state she was in when he found her in that cellar, so pale and bloody and distraught, so unlike the brilliant, smiling woman he knew, the woman who was always unwaveringly put-together. And Jane, his formidable partner… He hated it. He hated that Hoyt had ever happened, and that even in prison he was tormenting these two women.

“Her life,” Maura began to say, voice quivering, pointing up the stairs where Jane must still be sleeping, “my life – is in danger. Again. From a deranged, serial-killer, sociopath who's – who's calling the shots from inside of a prison, and the two of you are comparing the size of your penises?!”

“Hey, hey!” Korsak protested.

At the same time Frost exclaimed, “Whoa! Doc, hey.”

Frost and Korsak both took a step back from each other, looking away, properly chastised, but Maura wasn’t finished. “Okay. Shake on it.”

Frost chuckled.

Maura looked at him incredulously. “What? You heard me. Shake!” And she had that look on her face that Korsak had seen her use on Jamie when the boy tried to refuse eating his vegetables – or when Jane refused to eat her vegetables.

Korsak and Frost looked at one another with chagrin and reluctance, but for Maura, they outstretched their arms and shook hands.

Maura inhaled with a satisfied. “That's better,” adjusted her wrinkled shirt and nodded to them both. “Now we can all go back to work.” She smiled tightly, and began moving across the room to the kitchen. “Vince, would you like some coffee?”

“Uh, sure,” he agreed. And then he sat at the kitchen island and grumpily drank his coffee, while Maura went upstairs to get ready. She came back down with Jamie, and Korsak stayed long enough to greet the boy, bowing out before Jane came downstairs. But he waited in the car, watched the house from the other side of the street until he saw Angela arrive to stay with Jamie, until he saw Jane and Maura and Frost leave to go to headquarters. Korsak hesitated to follow, but there were two patrol cars sitting out front, so eventually he left.

Back at BPD, he was surprised to see Federal Agent Dean walk through the doors later that morning. Apparently, so was Jane, because she stood to greet him with a confused, “What are you doing here?”

“I called him,” Maura answered, from where she stood next to Jane’s desk.

And Jane looked at her wife in bewilderment. “You what?”

“I can’t continue with the autopsy,” Maura explained. “So I called the FBI for assistance.”

Korsak wanted to get testy again, about it being his case and he didn’t need the feds interfering, but he couldn’t do an autopsy himself, and he wasn’t about to call in Pike, so he left it go. Jane was already heated enough, between her wife calling in Dean and Lieutenant Cavanaugh ordering her off of the case shortly thereafter. Korsak wanted to say something to her, reassurance, maybe, but what could he say? He knew how he’d be feeling, after all, so Jane must be feeling much the same.

She approached him anyways, trying to peer over his shoulder at his case files, which he promptly shut, even as she looked at him with plain frustration.

“I can't,” he told her, firmly if a little regretfully. “Cavanaugh ordered me to keep you out of it.”

“Come on!” Jane testily implored him. “This is torture not being able to help, Vince. I won't do anything. I promise, okay? Please. I need to protect my family.”

And that almost got him, ‘cause he wanted that too, but it also wouldn't help to have her digging back through all the old memories like he was. He couldn't tell her that, though, didn't know how to explain, so he just averted his gaze.

But she saw a photo sticking out of one of the files, and snatched it up before he could stop her, and Korsak sighed. There on the photograph was a stark reminder of that night – Maura on a stretcher, wrapped in a blanket, nearly unidentifiable with the EMTs around her, and Jane refusing to leave her side as another EMT bandaged her hands, Korsak gently holding one of those hands and looking on gravely.

“It was my fault,” Korsak admitted as Jane slumped into the chair next to his desk. “I should've been there.” They should have never split up. And what’s more, he had even known how reckless it was for Jane to publicly goad a serial killer. He should have been more worried about Maura, should have had a patrol car on their house back then, before any of it could have even happened.

Jane shook her head. “I shouldn't have gone in alone.”

“You went alone because I wasn’t where you needed me to be,” Korsak insisted, “because I didn’t catch Hoyt when I should have. It's on me.”

“Don't you dare say that, all right?” Jane said forcefully, throwing the photograph down on his desk and looking at Korsak seriously. “You saved my life. You saved Maura.

“So, why aren't we partners anymore?” Korsak exclaimed, because if she didn't blame him, why had she been so desperate to get away from him?

“Because you saw me like that!” Jane stressed, pointing at the photo.

Korsak looked at her incredulously. “So what?! It didn't change anything!”

“Yes, it does! How could you possibly think that I have your back? How could you go into a dangerous situation with me as your partner after seeing me like this – this – this broken? It's –”

Korsak moved at once, sliding his chair around the desk so he could face Jane directly and grab both of her hands. “Now, you – you listen to me. He didn't break you. No one can break Jane Rizzoli unless you let 'em. It's a choice.”

Jane looked down at their joined hands, at the scars in the center of each of hers, looking conflicted, as if she couldn't quite believe him. Eventually, she quietly told him, “You saw me at the lowest point of my life. I couldn't face you.”

“You shoulda just said that to me then,” Korsak gently chastised. “I would've told you how stupid you were being.”

Jane snorted, pulling her hands out of his so she could swat at his arm. “Maura tried, though she was a little nicer about it.”

Korsak shook his head in mild disappointment. “What have I always told you?”

“I know, I know. The wife is always right.”

“Especially when she’s takin' my side.”

“She always takes your side over mine,” Jane complained.

“Well, we do have a lot in common,” Korsak said haughtily.

Jane snickered. “Yeah? Like what?”

“Having to deal with you for starters,” Korsak teased.

Jane smiled softly, serious again as she murmured. “I’m lucky to have you both.”

Korsak wasn't gonna get emotional, but he was feeling better, knowing now that Jane had just been too bullheaded to come to him, and maybe some of that was still his fault, maybe he had made it hard for her to talk to him, maybe he still should have protected her better, but he wouldn't make the same mistakes this time. “Yeah,” he said, and his voice only cracked a little, “and don't you forget it.”

Maura knew that Jane would tell her no.

She knew that Jane would never let her go through with what she had planned, and so, for one of the first times since they had married, Maura kept something from Jane.

It was difficult convincing Agent Dean, but eventually he caved. Perhaps because of Maura's scientific explanation of how she thought her plan might be of some benefit to understanding Hoyt and what he had planned. Perhaps because he just wanted her to stop pestering him. He had worried, too, about what Jane might do when she found out he had taken her wife to see the monster that had once kidnapped her, but Maura had promised to protect him from any harm.

She was aware, of course, that it was probably crazy, that it was dangerous, that it likely wouldn't produce the results she hoped for, but she had to do it. She had to face him. She had to face down the man that had tormented her one way or the other for nearly two years. She had to put it behind her, somehow. It was difficult to do when he was still trying to get to her, trying to get to Jane, so she hoped he might tell her too much, that maybe she could get something out of him that would give them a lead on who his current cohort was. If she could finally stop him, finally isolate him so that he had no more apprentices in the outside world, she might finally be able to rest. Hoyt wanted to create the most extreme level of fear a human being could feel, and Maura wanted to prove that he could no longer have that control over her, to herself most of all.

So she had Dean take her to the prison where Hoyt was being held.

Four guards brought him into the room where she waited, with Dean standing just next to her, and she carefully inhaled and relaxed her shoulders as Hoyt was thrust into the seat across from her.

There was a black hood over his head, but she could hear his awful voice as he said, “I smell lavender and fear.”

The hood was wrenched from his head, and Maura couldn't help feeling satisfied by the look of surprise that crossed his scarred features. He looked small sitting there, in chains, not like the evil entity that lived in her mind, and even though she knew he was dangerous still, would be until the day he died, she felt surprisingly at ease.

“Dr. Isles,” he said. “You must be very proud of yourself. That's a play I didn't see.”

“Yeah,” Dean said gruffly. “That was the idea.”

Hoyt did not appear pleased to hear the federal agent's voice, and ignored Dean entirely, eyes centered on Maura. “I never thought Jane would let you come and see me. Not after everything you and I shared, how… close we were. She must be very jealous.”

“She doesn’t know that I’m here,” Maura admitted, because she knew that he’d like to hear that.

“Oh?” he said with a growing, predatory smile. “You wanted me all to yourself then. Have you missed me?”

“Where is Emily Stern's body?” Dean demanded, but Hoyt didn’t so much as glance his way.

“Why now?” Maura questioned Hoyt in turn. “Why have whomever is working for you pull James Stern's body out of cold storage now?”

Hoyt didn't answer her either. “You were my favorite, you know? Of all the women I’ve touched. I don’t often let my victims live, but I knew I’d need more time with you.”

Maura struggled not to flinch, curling her toes inside her shoes instead, holding steady, hands clasped casually on the table in front of her. She wouldn’t let him see her weak ever again. “Will you tell me where Emily Stern's body is?”

“No, but it’s not far. You know, she cried when I slit her husband’s throat. What will you do, I wonder, when I kill Jane? I think that you’ll be much more violent. I think that you’ll scream. Maybe even try to kill me yourself.”

“Is that your plan? To kill Jane?”

“Oh, yes,” Hoyt answered simply. “I do plan to kill her. Psychically kill her. And keep her alive until I get out of here and finish her with my hands. I want to feel her blood covering my hands. I do. But don't worry, doctor. I'm not gonna kill you. No.” He surged forward in his seat, smacking against the table, chains rattling, the prison guards grabbing him by the shoulders to yank him back as he shouted, “Rape you! Yes. But kill? No. I want you to live with the memory of me.”

Maura’s stomach was clenched tight, her breakfast trying to work its way back up her throat, but she ignored it, looked at Hoyt and saw a man – a monster – desperate to finish what he'd started, and of course it made her sick, it made her head spin, but that clear desperation also gave her hope. Because if he was desperate it meant that he hadn’t yet figured out how to go through with his plans. He knew that trying to get out of prison a second time would be near impossible. “Why us?” she wanted to know. “Why come after Jane and I, even now? Was your ego really so bruised from Jane’s threats?”

Hoyt chuckled. “Why you? Every good boxer fights a worthy opponent, or the – the win is meaningless. And Jane… Jane is the only worthy opponent that I have ever had. I’m afraid that you were just a means to an end, at first, but I've seen the error in that. I promise that next time will be extra special.”

“You'll never get out of here,” she told him, told herself, and then looked up at Agent Dean. “Hold him down in that chair.”

Dean was frowning, clearly disturbed by Hoyt’s promises, but he did as Maura requested, strode over behind Hoyt's chair and held him by the shoulders.

“Oh, yes, I will,” Hoyt was declaring, as Maura pulled out her own scalpel and stood up from the table to approach him. Hoyt looked up at her with intrigue. “Are you going to show me your technique?”

And maybe there was some tiny part of Maura that wished somebody would, how much of a relief it would be, to remove Hoyt from the world, bring some justice to all of his victims, and peace to her own family. But standing over him was only making her braver. He had once bound and imprisoned her, but he was the one chained and locked away now. She was free, to walk away from him and go back to her wife and her son and her life. Hoyt might have someone helping him from the outside, but they'd track that person down soon enough, and then who would he have? His power had to be waning, and his hold on her grew weaker every day. She wouldn't underestimate him, but that didn't mean she had to fear him.

Maura was the one with the upper hand as she pulled open the top of Hoyt's prison jumpsuit, used her scalpel to cut through the inside lining.“50/50 cotton-polyester-blend fabric, shows every wrinkle after a lot of use.” She grasped hold of a photograph hidden inside of his jumpsuit and pulled it out to show to Dean. “I thought I saw something.” It was a photo of Jane and Maura, standing out in the middle of the street two nights ago, that flare burning in front of them. It was unsettling, to know for certain that someone had been watching them, but if someone was lingering that closely, they were increasing the likelihood of being caught, and Maura felt certain BPD could exploit that.

“Very good, Dr. Isles,” Hoyt commended. “But can you figure out who took that picture for me?”

“We will,” Maura asserted, handing the photo off to Agent Dean. They might not find any evidence from it, just like the flare, but it was worth checking.

“Now don’t be jealous,” Hoyt simpered. “I’ll discard of them as soon as you and I are reunited.”

“I'm not afraid of you,” Maura told him, with growing certainty.

Hoyt just looked up at her with that evil smirk, insisting, “I know. Because you're like me."

But he had already tried that at trial, used his lawyer to try and convince the jury that she was similar to him, intrigued by him, that she had staged her own kidnapping and gone to him because she wanted to be with him. And Maura wasn't falling for any part of it this time. She was stronger now, than she had been then, and she knew that there was no truth to his lies. And with that in mind, she was able to step away from him, with a simple, “Goodbye, Hoyt,” and she left him there with his delusions.

Then came the difficult part, when she had to return to BPD and admit to Jane that she had gone to the prison to see Hoyt.

Jane was predictably furious.

“What the hell were you thinking?” Jane demanded.

“I was thinking that our lives are being threatened and I might have a chance to put an end to this,” Maura calmly responded.

“What could you possibly gain by going there? It’s not like he's gonna be honest with you and reveal all his plans!”

“I thought the same as you,” Agent Dean chimed in, and Jane whirled on him with wide eyes, like she had forgotten he was even there, “but she actually got more from him than I expected.”

“And why the hell did you let her go there?!” Jane exclaimed, turning her hostilities onto Dean.

“I convinced him,” Maura insisted.

“We recorded the whole thing,” Dean added. “It might be useful to –”

“Y'know what?” Jane cut him off, hand raised in front of his face. “Why don't you just stay out of this, all right?”

Dean raised his hands in surrender and began to back away, telling Maura, “I’ll just get this to the lab.”

“Get what to the lab?” Jane questioned.

“Well, I would tell you if you would stop yelling at me,” Maura emphasized.

Jane pursed her lips, folded her arms across her chest and adjusted her stance. “Fine. Please explain to me why you went to see the psychopath that kidnapped you, and didn't tell me about it?”

“I didn't tell you because I knew you would try to stop me. And I went because I wanted to face him, on my terms. I feel – I feel better, actually.”

Better?” Jane said disbelievingly. “Really?”

Maura nodded. “Yes. Really. I know it may sound odd, but I really think it was therapeutic, in a way. To put all that behind me.”

Jane softened at that, shoulders relaxing slightly, and her tone was still terse but lighter. “Well, I am glad if it made you feel better, but I still don't think it was a good idea. Weren't you just yelling at me for doing this same thing less than a year ago?”

“Yes, but that was different.”

“Different how?” Jane exclaimed.

“Do you want to argue about that, or do you want to hear what I got?” Maura challenged.

Jane made a face, and Maura knew she’d gotten her. Jane was too curious to let an argument get in the way of a case, especially this one. “All right then, tell me.”

“Agent Dean is taking a photograph to the lab right now. One that we found in the lining of Hoyt's jumpsuit. It's a picture of you and I, the other night when we found the flare.”

Jane sighed wearily and slumped back against the desk behind her, rubbing the side of her forehead.

Maura could sense her frustration. “I know you’re worried –”

“Oh, no, well, why would I be worried? With the stalker photos and the dead guy pulled out of the freezer after two years?”

“But I think that this is proof that he’s running out of steam. Think about it. Last time, there was a trail of dead bodies, not one pulled out of storage after two years. Last time, he escaped, broke into our home, took you. But this time? He taunts us with a flare?”

“Yeah well I’m sure he’s working up to something worse,” Jane reasoned.

“I think that’s his goal, yes, but if he can’t get out of prison he won’t be doing any of it.”

“Sounds awfully optimistic, Maura.”

“You think I’m being unreasonable,” Maura surmised.

Jane shook her head. “No, no… I mean, I hope you’re right, but…” She shook her hand through her hair in frustration and quietly confessed, “I shoulda killed him. If I had… Why didn’t I just kill him when I had the chance?”

Maura stepped forward to grip Jane’s forearms, looking at her closely and asserting, “Because you’re not a killer. He was unarmed by then. You had overpowered him. To kill him that way wouldn’t just be self defense.”

“All those women that he tortured and killed. What he did to you. It would have been justified. I think I could have gone to my grave without regret, even if he was defenseless.”

“Maybe,” Maura conceded, “but I don’t blame you for hesitating.”

Jane nodded idly, but didn't seem to be entirely conscious of what Maura was saying, chewing on her bottom lip, staring at Maura’s shoulder, eyes unfocused.

“Come here,” Maura coaxed, tugging on Jane's arms. “Let me get you a coffee. When was the last time you ate?”

They gathered some coffee and some fruit to munch on and then went to Jane's desk, where they talked of lighter things, of Jamie and what they would have for dinner, and if Jane had ever fixed that light bulb in the guest bathroom that was flickering.

Frankie stopped by not long after, telling Jane and Maura, “We got two units assigned to your house at all times. Friends of mine have volunteered.”

“Okay, tell them I said thanks,” Jane said quietly, almost reluctantly, her instincts to deny help, to not appear weak, but in this case begrudgingly accepting it. She only glanced up at her brother and then back down at her coffee, but something caught her eye, and she looked back up at Frankie with a more scrutinizing gaze. “Maura, what's Frankie's face doing?”

“Movement of the outer orbicularis oculi pars lateralis,” Maura answered. “He's happy.”

Frankie sputtered out a laugh in bewilderment. “What?”

“We’re being hunted by a serial killer and my little brother's occipital spatula is orbiting,” Jane accused him.

“I'm sorry, Janie,” Frankie said with some amusement, squeezing Jane’s shoulder.

“Oh, don't be sorry,” Jane scoffed. She looked at Maura and said matter of factly, “Frankie's got a girlfriend.”

“Oh! We just met!” Frankie argued. “Come on.” But he was struggling not to smile again, his lips quirked up a little in the corners.

Jane pointed. “Look, there it is! His occipital spatula... Look, again!”

“Well, you'd be happy, too, if you found someone who could cook,” Frankie conceded. “She made me dinner last night.”

“Thirty-two percent of divorces are the result of inequality in domestic chores,” Maura informed.

“Mmm,” Jane grunted in the middle of swallowing a sip of her coffee. “Maura, come on. They just met. Or are you trying to tell me something? ‘Cause I was gonna fold the laundry tonight, it’s not my fault you beat me to it!”

“How many times have I told you that you cannot leave the clothes in the basket over night?” Maura admonished.

“And how many times do I have to tell you that wrinkled pajamas won't kill you?” Jane countered.

“Wow, you guys are really sellin’ the whole marriage thing,” Frankie snorted.

Jane told him seriously, “Eighty-four percent of marriage is arguing about household chores.”

Maura quirked her brow. “You just made that up.”

“I absolutely did not,” Jane denied, but Maura could read it all on her face.

Frankie just shook his head at both of them. “Hey, what if I came over and made you guys dinner tomorrow night?” he offered.

“Uh, no, thank you,” Jane immediately declined. “You can't cook.”

“What if I brought Lola?”

Jane’s eyes widened. “That's fast.”

“Oh, come on, Jane,” Maura coaxed. “I think we should let him.” If nothing else, it would give them something to focus on that wasn't Hoyt and the possibility of an apprentice trying to break into their house.

“Yeah, let me,” Frankie insisted. “Let me do something nice for you. Come on.”

“You're all hovering,” Jane complained. “Okay, I'm fine. I'm fine. No.”

“Actually, that's a common reaction to fear as the rostral anterior cingulate cortex activates,” Maura said, and both Rizzolis looked at her with the same expression, not with any particular astonishment, but clearly perplexed. “A lot of people find neurobiology fascinating.”

“Are they all neurobiologists?” Jane responded, while Maura filled her mouth with grapes. Jane smirked, and then turned her gaze back up to Frankie. “Okay, fine. You can make us grilled-cheese sandwiches with your new girlfriend, but Ma is currently refusing to leave our house so we do it at your place.”

“She's not my girlfriend,” Frankie denied, but without much conviction.

“Mm,” Jane hummed through another drink of coffee, sharing an unconvinced look with Maura. “Yet.”

“All right,” Frankie huffed with an eye roll, shuffling on his feet, and then he bent to kiss Jane's cheek in farewell, and then Maura’s too.

“All right. Bye,” Jane said to him. “I love you.”

“I love you,” he told them both, and Maura smiled warmly. She still wasn't really used to it, the way the Rizzolis so freely expressed their love, not after decades of growing up in a household where open expression was so rare, but she did cherish it.

As Frankie was turning away from Jane's desk, Maura noticed what appeared to be a picture from a photo booth in his back pocket, and once Frankie wasn’t looking, she carefully snatched it up, holding it against her chest as Frankie was striding away, unawares.

Jane teased him as he was leaving, calling, “Look, Maura, his gluteus maximus is beaming!”

“Oh, enough with that!” Frankie shouted back to her as he left the room.

Maura and Jane shared a laugh, but as soon as Frankie was gone, Jane leaned across the desk with an eager, “What'd you get?” Maura turned the photo over so she and Jane could get a good look at the snapshots there, of Frankie and a young woman smiling together and making silly faces. “Aww. Look. She's cute.”

“Mm-hmm,” Maura agreed.

“My mother's gonna hate her.”

The photo that was in Hoyt's prison jumpsuit, of Jane and Maura outside their home, had mold on the back of it, and they managed to track that mold to a set of vacant houses in Dorchester that had flooded over two years ago. It was there that they found a freezer chest where James Stern had likely spent the last two years, and a disc addressed to Jane and Maura, which contained a video of Emily Stern. From that video they were able to determine that she was still alive, that a newspaper in the recording was the same one that was left with James Stern's body.

Jane considered going to talk to Hoyt then, demanding to know where Emily was, tiring of his games, but she had watched the video from when Maura had gone to see him, and she decided to let it rest. He wasn’t going to tell her anything useful, and she didn’t want to give him the satisfaction. But it was difficult, sitting on her hands, not being able to work the case, not being able to end this, to keep her family safe.

By the next day, they had found the place where the video of Emily was taken, but no Emily, just a recording of her voice playing on a loop. Hoyt was still taunting them and Jane was tired, so tired.

“Do you want me to cancel dinner with Frankie and Lola?” Maura offered as she and Jane were standing in her office.

Jane sighed and shook her head. “No… no. We should go.”

“Well why don't you go ahead?” Maura suggested. “I’ve got a few things to finish up here, and then I'll meet you there.”

“Are you sure?” Jane hesitated, because she wanted to wait for Maura, but she also just wanted to sit down, to have dinner and relax and not think about work or Hoyt for a while.

“Yes, I'm sure,” Maura insisted. “I won't be long. And I'll have Korsak bring me.”

That made Jane feel a little better, so she relented, kissed Maura goodbye and dragged herself across town to Frankie's apartment.

Lola was in the kitchen making dinner, greeted Jane with a smile and said Frankie was out getting beer, and for a few minutes it felt normal. Jane thought maybe her little brother had found a nice girl that could finally teach him to cook. But then she went to use the bathroom, and she had to cross through Frankie's bedroom to get to it, and she found him tied up sitting in front of the bed, duct tape over his mouth and around his wrists. Jane barely had time to utter his name in utter confusion before Lola was sternly ordering her to sit down.

Lola had a gun trained on her, so Jane made the only choice she could and sat next to Frankie on the floor, put the handcuffs Lola threw at her around her wrists. But she was pissed, pissed that she hadn't seen it, pissed that Hoyt had dragged her brother into this with his sick games.

Lola was Emily Stern. All the pieces were coming together in Jane's mind now, and Hoyt must have really done a number on her, to keep her loyal to him for so long, after he'd murdered her husband in front of her. But James Stern had abused her, and Hoyt must have taken advantage of Emily's already battered mind to warp her into his pawn.

Jane's phone was ringing persistently on her hip, and when Emily snatched it up in frustration, Jane saw Maura's name flash on the screen. “She’s gonna be worried if I don’t answer.”

“Good,” Emily sneered. “Then she’ll come here and I’ll have you both.”

“Not if she brings all of BPD with her,” Jane countered, hoping that Maura would do just that, wouldn’t walk into this alone and be captured along with Jane and Frankie.

“She has no reason to suspect me,” Emily disregarded.

And that was probably true but Jane had never been stupid enough to underestimate her wife. “Why are you doing this for him, Emily? He killed your husband, didn't he?”

“It’s not the kind of relationship someone like you could understand.”

Jane shook her head with pity, for this woman that had clearly lost her mind. “He doesn't love you.”

“He did,” Emily said, smirking at Frankie. “Enough to get him to bring you here.”

“I mean Hoyt. He loves me. Or hell, maybe, Maura. But definitely not you.”

Emily shook her head, frowning, brows drawn together. “No. He wants you both dead.”

“That's not what he told you to do, is it, Emily? He told you not to kill us, didn't he?”

“Emily's dead,” she said shakily, and Jane could see the hesitation on her face. “And you will be, too.”

“Hoyt wants me alive,” Jane pushed. “And he wants that because he wants me all to himself. Don't you get it? Hoyt doesn't love you. He used you to get to me.”

But Emily had had enough, and she gritted her teeth, stepped forward with the gun right in Frankie's face. “You're gonna watch your brother die now.”

“Emily, wait!” Jane exclaimed. “Wait! Stop!” And then Frankie grabbed the gun with his bound hands and Jane's stomach leapt into her throat. “Frankie! Frankie! Stop!” If that gun went off, if his fingers slipped and Emily pulled that trigger he was dead, he was dead, and Jane reached out but she was useless, useless with her wrists cuffed together, and Frankie rolled on the floor, wrestling Emily for control, throwing her to the floor with him. He head-butted her, and her grip on the gun finally slipped, and Frankie yanked it away from her until it went clattering to the floor. They both reached for it, but Frankie got to it first, pointed it at Emily, but she kept lunging for it, for him, and Jane shouted at her brother to do the only thing she thought would keep him safe.

Two shots rang out, deafening in the cramped room, and Emily slumped to the floor.

Frankie was shaking, breathing heavy through his teeth, hands still clenched tight around the gun, still pointed at Emily, arms taut, and Jane reached for him, tried to soothe him. “Breathe… It’s all right…” She closed her hands over his outstretched arms. “Put it down. Put it down... Put it down –”

There was a thundering of footsteps from somewhere… beyond the room, below them, down the hall, and then Frankie's front door slamming inward, and shouts echoing through the apartment.

Then Frost and Korsak were bursting into Frankie's room, with several other cops behind them, sweeping the room, shoulders relaxing when they took in the scene.

But there was another voice, another set of footsteps, distinct heels hurrying across the hardwoods, and then Maura was shouldering her way into the room. Jane heard her before she saw her, straining to look over the broad shoulder of a police officer still in her way. “Jane! Frankie!”

And it was kind of an odd thought to have, right at that moment, but all Jane could think for a second was that her father was an idiot, which wasn't really a new thought, but how could anyone say that Jane needed a man to be protective of her, as if Maura wasn't already doing that job just fine? Brave, beautiful Maura, who had gone on a high speed chase to rescue Jane from being kidnapped for five seconds, who climbed out of a wrecked Mercedes and approached the evil man that had haunted her for a year with nothing but a high heeled shoe as a weapon. And now tonight, Maura had somehow put it together that Lola was Emily, that Jane and Frankie were in danger, and had brought half of BPD to rescue them, pushing her way into the room just to be sure they were okay, even as the other officers looked at her in bewilderment, even as Korsak gave her his own disgruntled look because he had probably told her to wait in the car and she hadn't listened. She must have heard the gunshots and feared the worst, audibly exhaled in relief when she saw Jane and Frankie unscathed, and she dropped next to them on the floor, reaching for them, practically strangled them both with each arm tight around their necks.

Then there was the usual questioning, giving statements, Emily Stern's body being removed. Jane insisted Maura go home to Jamie, and stayed with her brother a little longer, but once everyone else cleared out of his apartment, he was ready to be left alone.

Jane tried to suggest, “Hey, why don't you come stay with us tonight?”

“You mean where Ma is staying right now?” Frankie mumbled with a tiny snort. He was sitting at his kitchen island, picking at the label on the beer Jane had handed him, his shoulders slumped, looking tired. Jane knew the feeling. “No thanks.”

“I can kick her out,” Jane offered, only half joking.

Frankie shook his head. “That’s okay. I just want to be left alone, all right? No offense.”

“No, I get it,” Jane assured. “But you know you can talk to me, right?”

Frankie didn't look up from the beer in his hands that time, and for a long moment he was quiet, and Jane waited, until he sighed in frustration. “I shoulda known.”

Jane reached for his hand at once. “Hey, no. You can't think like that. I didn't know either. You couldn't have.”

“Except you didn't spend any time with her,” Frankie argued. “I did.”

“You'd just met her,” Jane reasoned. “You probably woulda noticed if she was around longer, but she wasn't.”

“Exactly,” Frankie snapped, looking up at Jane with his brows knotted together, “I invited you over here to have dinner with someone I barely knew. She could have killed you. She could have killed Maura.”

“But she didn't,” Jane stressed. “She didn't, Frankie. We beat her. She's gone. Hoyt lost. Again.”

Frankie shrugged, and took a long, angry pull of his beer. He smacked it down on the counter and shook his head. “I wanted it too much,” he bitterly admitted. “Sometimes I just… I look at you and Maura and Jamie and… I don't know. Maybe I'll never have that –”

Hey,” Jane softly but firmly admonished. “Don’t talk like that. You think I planned any of that? I never imagined I’d have Maura or Jamie. I wasn’t looking for a wife when I met her. And y'know someday that'll be you too. Someday you'll just find someone, the right someone.”

Frankie nodded glumly without conviction, rubbed between his eyes with his thumb and forefinger. “Yeah, maybe,” he muttered. “Look, Janie, I'm fine, okay? You should go home.”

“You sure you don't wanna come over?” Jane tried one last time. “Jamie will be happy to see you.”

“Nah, it's past his bedtime.”

“He could stay up late.”

Finally Frankie snorted, looking genuinely amused. “And risk getting an earful from Maura? No thanks.”

“Fine,” Jane relented, “but you'll come over tomorrow?”

“Sure,” Frankie agreed, and Jane went around the counter to give him a hug. “Thanks, Janie.”

By the time Jane arrived home, her mother and Jamie were both asleep. Maura was in bed, but waiting up, sitting back against her pillow with the bedside lamp on and reading a medical journal. When Jane shuffled into the room, she looked up with a tentative smile, placed the journal on the nightstand and held open her arms. Jane flopped gracelessly onto the bed and into Maura's hold, her head resting against Maura's belly, Maura's arms encircling her shoulders.

“How’s Frankie?” Maura asked, one hand moving to stroke Jane's hair.

“He'll be okay,” Jane mumbled, mostly certain of it. Frankie was tough. Sensitive, but tough.

“And how are you?”

Jane sighed and nuzzled closer, tried to burrow into Maura's chest. “’M fine.” And she was, for the most part. It had felt like Hoyt was always one step ahead of them, but maybe Maura was right, maybe he was weakening. That was three times they'd beaten him now, and she hated that he'd gotten Frankie involved, used Emily to hurt her little brother, but he had failed, again. That son of a bitch had failed and Jane would revel in that. “What about you?”

Maura kissed the top of Jane’s head, kept trailing her fingers through Jane’s hair, and said, “I’m good,” and that was all Jane needed, to finally relax and sleep through the night.

Chapter Text

June 2011


When Jane and Maura had first decided to have a child, there was a part of Maura that worried about what kind of mother she would be. She already knew that Jane would be a great mother, that the Rizzolis would be a good family to her child – even Frank was good to Jamie, even if he wasn’t to some of the rest of them – but Maura didn’t know if she would be able to say the same for herself. She had been tentatively repairing her relationship with her mother in recent years, but before that they had barely had one, and it was difficult to imagine herself being an affectionate mother when she didn’t have much experience to draw from. She had learned a lot from being with Jane, had become more comfortable with open sentiment, but there were still areas she found herself lacking in, and in her final months of pregnancy, she had fretted over how that might damage her own son. Even though she had been the one to suggest that they have a child, she was terrified that maybe she had overestimated herself, that maybe she had miscalculated.

But once James was born, it was like she had worried for nothing. Showing love to her son was easy, and the rest… the rest she was learning, day by day, but she had always enjoyed a challenge. It was frustrating, at times, trying to determine the best course of action, the best way to discipline and encourage. She had found that science could not always provide her with the correct answer, not in the heat of a moment, so she had to make decisions without always knowing the best one. It was scary and it was exhilarating all at once, but mostly it was just worth it, all the uncertainty for an even bigger reward, to see Jamie grow. He was so sweet and funny and smart, and he might have learned some of his mannerisms from Maura, but he was so much like Jane, so tenacious and witty. She didn't need the data to know that he was the best decision she'd ever made.

So when Jane looked over at her one afternoon, with a happy little smirk on her face, and asked Maura, “You wanna have another one?” the only thing Maura could do was grin.

They had just spent over an hour outside in the summer heat, running through a sprinkler with Jamie in the backyard. They were back in the house now, skin still warm and limbs heavy, hair damp and stomachs filled with the sandwiches they’d scarfed down as soon as they came inside, and Jamie had flopped onto the couch and fallen straight to sleep, one arm hanging off the edge and drool pooling on the cushion under his gaping mouth. Jane and Maura had stopped to watch him, just for a moment, and Jane had draped her arm over Maura’s shoulders and looked at her intently.

“You want to have another baby?” Maura asked, a little surprised, but she really shouldn't have been. Although there were times when the job left Jane feeling paranoid, left her wondering at how she could protect her own child from the world, protect herself from the devastation they saw, she and Jamie were also thick as thieves. Jane clearly loved being a mother, had flourished at it, had adapted to it so naturally that there was a time when Maura had even felt a little jealous. Mostly it just seemed a little surprising that Jane would want to disrupt what they already had. A new baby would change their whole routine, would affect their time with Jamie.

Jane shrugged one shoulder. “Yeah, why not?”

Maura could think of a number of reasons, but none of them were really insurmountable, nor overtly worrying. It would undoubtedly be difficult at times, but she didn’t doubt that they were up to the challenge. She slipped her arm around Jane’s waist and leaned over until their hips bumped together. “Did you want to carry this one?”

Jane made a face, all teeth and squinted eyes in a regretful cringe. “Honestly? Not really. I mean, sure, if I’m gonna have anybody’s baby it'd be yours, and it would be real cool and touching and all that, but… ugh, desk duty? And the swelling and the sweating and the – hey!” Maura pinched Jane’s side and she squirmed, laughing. “I’m just saying!”

“It wasn’t that bad,” Maura defended. Of course, it was worse towards the end, when she felt like she was bursting at the seams, too big for her clothes and struggling to get around, but before that it had been mostly incredible. She had read all the science of pregnancy, but actually feeling it for herself was an enthralling experiment.

“Well I'll take your word for it. I was thinking maybe this time we use your egg, yeah? It'll be cheaper that way, right? And we can have a little Maura Jr. that will talk my ear off about the origins of her Barbie doll.”

Maura considered that, but it made her palms a little sweaty. It wasn't that the idea was offensive, wasn't like she hadn't thought about continuing her own bloodline, but the problem was that she didn't know her bloodline. She knew herself and that was all. She didn't have any genetic relatives, didn't know anything about where she had come from. What if she had a family history she didn't know about that could be passed down to her child and cause some kind of irreparable harm? The debate on nature versus nurture still had not been decided, and it would be risky, wouldn't it? To have a child of her own blindly?

Jane noticed Maura's hesitation, but not the reason for it. “Hey, if you don't want to get pregnant again, I get it, all right? You don't gotta do it. I just thought –”

“No,” Maura interjected, “it isn't that. I didn't mind being pregnant, I just… I know nothing about my genetic history, about where I come from or what I could be passing on to a child.”

“You don't know anything about your biological parents?” Jane softly inquired. They had spoken about Maura's adoption maybe once, in the early years of their friendship, and there hadn't been much to tell.

Maura shook her head. “Nothing. My parents told me that my adoption was private with their lawyer. All they knew was my birthday.”

“Well, I'm not worried,” Jane proclaimed. “You’ve turned out perfectly fine, and it's not like my family history is spotless. What I’d really be worried about is that the kid ends up liking shoes as much as you do. We’ll be homeless by the time she's twelve.”

Jane snickered and Maura rolled her eyes. “I have a reasonable amount of shoes.”

“Sure you do,” Jane snorted. “And the queen of England has a reasonable amount of hats.”

“I actually don't know how many hats the queen of England has.”

“See, this is why we need another kid. So they can tell us how many hats the queen has. And Jamie can tell us how many horses she has.”

Maura quirked her head. “Why are our children experts on the queen of England?”

Jane smirked, and squeezed Maura's shoulders tighter. “Our children. Has a nice ring, doesn't it?”

Maura smiled and laid her head on Jane’s shoulder, looking at Jamie sleeping on the couch, imagining another little one sleeping on the other end. “Yeah. It does.”

July 1, 2011

Jane stepped up to the crime scene to a staccato of honking car horns, and disgruntled shouting from the morning drivers trapped in traffic.

“Waiting on a warrant “ Frost informed her as he walked with her over to the car where their victim still sat. “Can’t touch the car.”

“How hard is it to get a warrant signed?” Jane complained, pushing up her blazer sleeves to her elbows, the back of her neck already breaking out into a sweat under the morning sun.

“Where’s Maura?” Frost asked, looking around like he expected her to appear behind them.

“Stuck in traffic,” Jane idly answered as she was peering into the car, taking note of the ice pick in the back of their victim's head.

“Uh, oh. You drove separate? Trouble in paradise?” Frost teased.

Jane shot him a look and swatted at him even as he hopped out of reach. “No, jerk, she had an appointment this morning.”

Frost's tone changed. “Oh? Everything all right?”

“Yeah,” Jane answered, looking away from him as she struggled to fight off a smile. “Just a check up.” A check up to see if they could start trying for a baby, to make sure Maura was still healthy and good to go if they began the process of artificial insemination soon. Nothing had been decided yet. They were going to talk to Jamie about having a sibling, and Maura wanted to go through their finances, but they were talking about it, making plans, and Jane couldn't help feeling excited.

Korsak was looking at Jane skeptically. “A check up, huh?”

But a blaring car horn behind him made him turn, and as Korsak was bickering with the frustrated driver, Maura arrived on scene, and Jane tried to look casual as she sidled up next to her.

Jane lowered her voice to ask, “How’d it go?”

“It went well,” Maura said cheerfully.

Jane left it at that because it probably wasn't appropriate to look giddy at a crime scene – or ever – and walked with Maura back over to the car, where Frost said to them, “I ordered a tow. Anybody wanna bet what gets here first? Tow truck or warrant?”

“Oh, that's why,” Jane suddenly remembered. “All the judges took off early for the holiday weekend.”

“Oh, I'd like to be a judge someday,” Maura said as she was peering into the car.

“You’d hate those robes,” Jane teased her.

“Ice pick, huh?” Frost noted as Korsak was rejoining the three of them.

“Yeah, what do you think?” Jane asked Korsak.

“Haven't seen a kill like this since Whitey Bulger and the Winter Hill Gang,” Korsak replied.

“I'm always sad I missed the Irish crime wars,” Jane admitted.

“Don't be. Bloodbath from Somerville to Charlestown. I was a rookie, but I saw things,” Korsak shook his head grimly in remembrance, “I don't ever wanna see again.”

“Well, one ice pick doesn't make a crime war,” Frost reasoned.

“Yeah, let's hope not,” Jane murmured, but an ice pick was a statement nevertheless. She just wondered at what that statement was.

When they saw the tow truck driver approaching at long last, Jane went to Big Mo at once, accusing, “Oh! Took you long enough.” And then the pair of them bickered for several minutes, their usual back and forth, until Jane convinced Mo to take the car and their victim to BPD without charging the city extra.

Then Jane and the others followed it to the evidence garage, by which time they finally got their warrant and began digging through their victim's car. But they didn't find much. There was no registration, no ID, and the plates were registered to a dummy corporation. There weren't finger prints anywhere on the car because their victim had none to leave. According to Maura, he had deliberately burned his fingers with acid in an excruciating attempt to conceal his identity. The guy was a ghost.

On top of that, in his trunk they found a large collection of stolen identities, passports and ATM cards, and licenses from a number of different states. The guy must have been involved in some kind of organized crime, or had stolen the wrong identity and gotten killed for it. He sure could draw though. They found an impressive sketch book with a number of large, intricate architectural drawings inside. Their John Doe was a thief, but clearly a smart one, at least up until he got murdered.

When Jane, Frost, and Korsak took what they had recovered upstairs, they discovered over $200,000 in charges and ATM withdrawals, and they were only halfway through John Doe's stolen IDs. Half impressed, half horrified, and with her eyes burning from staring at the numbers, Jane took a break midday and called home to talk to Jamie, argued with her mother for ten minutes, and then went downstairs to see how Maura was doing with the autopsy.

Jane stepped into the morgue and immediately complained, “My mother's never leaving our house, is she?

Maura looked up with an amused smirk. “It’s highly improbable that she will.”

Jane groaned. “Why can’t she just take the house in the divorce like any reasonable woman?”

“Has she said for certain that they’re divorcing? Maura asked.

Jane shook her head. “No. Not in so many words. But it doesn’t seem like they’re trying to reconcile.” Her mother had been staying in their guest house for the last several weeks, initially under the guise of looking after them during the latest Hoyt fiasco, but even after Emily was dead, Angela didn’t leave. There was grumbling, about Frank being too stubborn to change, about their marriage being too broken to save, but she seemed reticent to say the d-word, or she just didn’t want to say it to her children. Jane knew her parents were still in contact, that Angela occasionally went home, but Jane was still angry with her father, still disappointed by all of it, so she didn’t ask much. She figured her mother would tell her when she was ready. “She hasn’t said anything else to you, has she?”

“No,” Maura answered, “but your mother is a proud woman, and she sees this as a failure. She doesn't seem eager to discuss it.”

“Yeah, well,” Jane grumbled, “it isn't her failure.” It was her father's, for being such an ass, but Jane had wasted enough time being bitter over her Pop, and she didn't want to think about it anymore, so she gestured to their John Doe. “How about this guy? Did you get anything out of him?”

“Cause of death, massive cerebral hemorrhage caused by an ice pick penetrating the brain,” Maura informed.

“Yeah I figured the ice pick had something to do with it,” Jane sarcastically replied. “I meant find anything that helps us know who he is? Did you run his dental records?”

“Yes. No match. But you can't hide your DNA. I'm waiting for the results.”

“He was clever. I'll give him that.”

Jane and Maura moved towards the body together, looking down at their mysterious victim, clearly thinking about two completely different things as Maura ruefully said, “It's a shame that they penetrated his temporal lobe. That would have been an excellent brain to study.”

Beyond accustomed to her wife's oddities, Jane hardly reacted, still considering her own thoughts on the case, murmuring a distracted. “Yeah. Bummer.” She folded her arms across her chest and took a step back, like she might be able to see something from farther away. “You know what doesn't make sense to me? Why would a big-time identity thief drive around in a crappy car?”

“Economy car,” Maura said unhelpfully, just as the phone on her desk began ringing.

She went to answer it as Jane was still ruminating. “Because he didn't wanna flash his cash?” Jane scrutinized him, picked up the clipboard next to the autopsy table and scanned through Maura's findings, looked back at the body and tried to figure out what it was her brain was trying to tell her. There was something about him… Something… familiar?

“This is Dr. Isles,” Maura answered as Jane was still thinking, but when she raised her voice sharply, Jane looked back at her. “What? That's not possible. I...” Maura listened to the person on the other end of the line while she stepped over to take a closer look at her computer. “Yes, I'm looking at it right now.”

“What's the matter?” Jane questioned, noting the frustration in Maura's tone.

“They're saying that there's a problem with the DNA samples of our John Doe,” Maura responded, before refocusing on her computer and the phone. “Yes, no, I see it, but it's not possible. I don't cross-contaminate my samples.”

“Maura, come on,” Jane gently coaxed. “You're not perfect. Send another sample.”

But Maura was looking perturbed, brows drawn inward. “Okay, I'll - I'll call you back.” She put the phone down and shook her head, said assertively, “It's not possible.”

“Maura, everybody makes mistakes,” Jane placated as she stepped over to join Maura at the desk. “Okay? Just send it again.”

“No, it's not a mistake,” Maura denied, pulling the information up on the computer for Jane to see and pointing to the screen, where two genetic profiles were pictured side by side. “This is the victim's DNA profile. This is my DNA profile. You see the autosomal markers? They're the same in both samples.”

“Yeah, well, the lab keeps all of our genetic profiles just in case we contaminate a sample. So,” she squeezed Maura's bicep, expecting her wife to see reason, expecting that Maura’s ego was not so large that she could not admit to a small mistake, “obviously, it's been contaminated.”

But Maura wasn't giving in. She stammered, “No, th – there's enough markers in the comparison of the DNA to… to make a definitive conclusion.”

Maura looked stunned, looked off-kilter, like she couldn't believe what she was seeing, but Jane didn’t understand what could be so serious about the DNA markers on the screen. “So… what are we concluding?”

“Just look,” Maura pressed, as if she thought for certain that Jane would see it if she just looked a little harder. “They match.”

“And how did that happen?” Jane carefully tried to reason with her. Usually Maura wasn't so reticent to admit to a mistake, but she also didn't make many when it came to work and maybe she couldn't quite accept it. “Maura, honey, you must have done something screwy.”

“No, I didn't,” Maura still denied. “It's a biological match.”

Jane blinked, looked at the computer screen one more time, and there was something like trepidation building up in her chest. “Maura, what are you telling me? That the guy on the table here is somehow related to you?” And wouldn't that just be a kick in the teeth? For Maura, who worried about having a baby with her DNA because she didn't know anything about her genetic history, to finally find a link to where she had come from, only for it to be that the identity thief on her autopsy table was her third cousin or something.

But Jane never expected what Maura would say next. “I'm telling you that the man laying there is my brother.”

It was a wonder that Jane didn't physically recoil, the shock slamming into her, disbelief along with it, but something like understanding too. Why Maura looked so shell-shocked herself, why their John Doe had been oddly familiar looking, his technical skills and those insane drawings that were a clear sign of intelligence, something he and Maura apparently had in common even if it had manifested in different ways, but Jane could hardly imagine it. Maura? Had a brother? One that was a criminal, apparently, and had been killed with an ice pick, which was no botched robbery or accident and was definitely on purpose.

Maura was looking past Jane, at the man just behind her, like she couldn't quite believe it either, like she was trying to piece together who he was and what it all meant, but if there was one thing Maura believed in, it was science, and if the science was telling her that he was her brother, then she wouldn't refute it.

“Your brother?” Jane echoed when she finally got her own voice back. “Are you sure?”

Maura’s gaze darted back to the computer screen, and she moved a few things around, clicked a few buttons, until eventually she nodded and looked at Jane with grim certainty. “Yes. My half brother, actually. It looks like we shared the same father but not the same mother.”

Jane looked back over at the man, Maura's brother, and it was a little unsettling, a little too much to process with him lying there pale and still. Jane knew that she would be devastated, if it was her own brother lying there, and technically Maura hadn't known this man as such, hadn't grown up with him or even met him, but still, it must have been unnerving.

“C'mon,” Jane decided, taking Maura's elbow in her hand and guiding her towards the exit. “Let’s get some air, yeah?”

Maura was silent the whole way, until they settled down together on a park bench down the street from BPD, and then she exhaled in a rush. “It’s so odd,” she ruminated, idly twisting her wedding ring around and around her finger. “I have a blood relative.

“I'm so sorry, Maura,” Jane said, because she knew what that meant to her, knew that Maura had grown up feeling all alone in the world, and now she had a brother but the knowledge had come too late, and now she would never really know him.

“I always wondered what it would be like to have a sibling,” Maura admitted, and Jane nodded because they had talked about it before, about wanting a sibling for Jamie, so he would have what Jane and her brothers had, what Maura had not had. “You know, more than what it would be like to meet my biological parents.”

“Did you ever try to find out who they were?”

“I did, before college, but all the files were useless, or sealed by a court order. I may have wanted to know them, but they didn't wanna know me.”

Which was crazy to think about, for Jane, because she could no longer even imagine her world without Maura in it, but she couldn't guess at the circumstances that had led to Maura’s biological parents giving her up. Maybe there was a good reason, maybe they were just stupid.

“Maybe he didn't know them either,” Jane thought out loud, considering what led people to crime, and if that man, Maura's biological brother, hadn't known his parents either, maybe he had grappled with his own sense of identity, and stole the identities of others as a pretty crappy way to cope.

“I don't know anything about him,” Maura said in frustration, and not knowing something was a good way to stress her out. “I don't know his name, I... All I know is that he was a thief.”

“And a – a brilliant artist,” Jane tried to be optimistic.

“It's not enough. I... How did he end up on my table? You know, why did he do what he did? What if I never know?”

Jane rubbed her hand along Maura’s back, clasped Maura's knee with her other hand and looked at her searchingly. “Okay, what can I do to help?”

“I need to know who did this to him.”

“We don't have to do this tonight,” Jane offered, voice low as she leaned against the kitchen counter, into Maura's space by the sink.

Maura finished rinsing the bowl in her hands, inhaling and then looking over at Jane with a smile, small but sure. “No.” She handed the bowl over for Jane to dry. “I still think we should. Do you still want to?”

Jane smiled a little too. “Yeah. Yeah I do. But I know it’s been a weird day.”

“It hasn’t changed my mind,” Maura assured.

It hadn't changed Jane's mind either. She took Maura's soapy, wet hand and squeezed. “So let's do it then.”

They left the few remaining dinner dishes in the sink for the moment, and went over to the living room, where Jamie was kneeling in front of the coffee table, scribbling in one of his coloring books with his crayons.

“Hey, buddy,” Jane said to him as she and Maura approached him. “Can me and Mommy talk to you for a minute?”

Jamie looked up curiously, bobbed his head in agreement, dark curls bouncing in his eyes – he'd need a haircut again soon. “Okay,” he said.

“Why don't we sit here on the couch?” Jane suggested, nudging Maura that way. Jamie set his crayon down and climbed up onto the couch next to his mothers.

“We wanted to ask you a question,” Maura told him, clasping her hands in her lap as she turned towards Jamie. Jane sat right behind her, smiling at Jamie from just over Maura's left shoulder.

Jamie looked a little stressed then, fidgeting as he blurted, “I did have a cookie before lunch but Nonna said it was okay.”

Jane chuckled and stretched her arm out to squeeze Jamie's knee. “Hey, it's okay, you're not in trouble for anything.”

Jamie relaxed at once, sinking back against the cushions and tapping his hands on his outstretched legs, waiting patiently for his mothers to continue.

“Jamie,” Jane started, sucking in a deep breath when a sudden burst of anxiety tightened her chest, “We wanted to ask you how you would feel about maybe having a little brother or sister?”

Jamie's little brows furrowed, and he quirked his head. “A – a kid? Like me?”

“That’s right,” Maura answered. “Well, they would be a baby first, well, an embryo technically, and then it would grow into –”

Jamie was looking incredibly confused and they were getting a little off topic, so Jane cut in, “What Mommy is trying to say is that we were thinking of having a baby, like when we had you, and we want to know if you would like that?”

Jamie sat in contemplative silence for a moment, Jane could tell ‘cause he had that pursed lips look on his face, the one he got when he was trying to decide which flavor of ice cream he wanted. “And the baby lives here? With us?”

Maura nodded. “Yes. The baby would be a part of our family."

“I'd be a… brother?” Jamie questioned. “Like Mama and Uncle Frankie?”

“Yes, that's right,” Jane confirmed.

Jamie perked up with apparent interest. “Would the baby be a boy or a girl?”

“Well, we wouldn't know until they were born,” Maura informed him.

“Will the baby have to sleep in my room?” Jamie wondered.

“No, buddy,” Jane assured, “they would have their own room and their own bed, but you might have to share your toys with them sometimes.”

“Can I show them my book?”

Jane assumed he meant his picture book of animals that he took with him nearly everywhere, and she smiled imagining it, a little baby with Maura's fair hair, staring up at her big brother in wide eyed bewilderment as he explained tigers to her.

“Of course you can,” Maura said, and her voice cracked a little, like she was thinking about it too and feeling emotional.

“When will the baby get here?”

“Not for a little while, sweetheart. We wanted to talk to you first.”

“Okay,” Jamie said simply, shrugging his shoulders and sitting back again, swinging his feet side to side where they hung slightly off the edge of the couch.

Maura looked over at Jane, exchanging similarly puzzled but hopeful expressions.

Jane slowly asked, “Sooo… does that mean you’re okay with us having a baby?”

Jamie nodded. “Uh huh. You can have one.”

“Are you absolutely sure?” Maura pressed. “Because it will change things around here. Mama and I will have to give the baby a lot of attention.”

“And babies cry,” Jane added. “A lot.”

“I know,” Jamie said, nonplussed. “R.J. has a baby brother. He's very loud.”

“And you're okay with that?”

Jamie shrugged again. “Yeah. Can I color now?”

“Yeah, kid, go ahead,” Jane allowed, and he hopped off of the couch at once, returning to his coloring book on the coffee table. She murmured to Maura, “Well, that was easy.”

“He might change his mind once the baby is here,” Maura pointed out.

“Probably,” Jane conceded, “but I think he'll be okay."

“Yeah,” Maura sighed, leaning back against Jane's chest as she watched Jamie move his crayons across the page, “I think you’re right.”

“You ready to do this again?” Jane asked, half anxious, half excited.

“Are you prepared to deal with me being pregnant again?” Maura teased.

Jane snorted, thought back to the days of rubbing Maura's swollen feet and sore back, of Korsak keeping notes on what he couldn’t eat at the crime scenes or in the office because it would make Maura hurl, of Maura’s emotions being on the fritz. Some days it was like being married to a ticking time bomb. Some days it really was difficult, but Jane wouldn't have given up any of it. Seeing Maura's belly grow with their baby, feeling him kick underneath her palms, seeing him the moment that he came into the world. She wanted all of that again.

Jane moved her arms around Maura's sides, settling her hands over Maura's belly, resting her chin on Maura's shoulder, and without a single doubt in her mind she murmured, “Yeah. I'm ready.”

Chapter Text

Korsak said the name Paddy Doyle and Jane just about passed out.

Their John Doe's name was Colin Doyle, Paddy Doyle’s son. Maura's brother was Colin Doyle, which meant her biological father was Paddy Doyle, infamously known in Boston to be the head of the Irish mob, known on the streets as The Enforcer. Somehow, someway, that man was Maura's father, and Jane was reeling. How was she going to tell her wife that her father was a notorious crime boss? Maura, who already wrestled with her own self-identity, with what could be lingering in her biological DNA. This would only confirm her worries, would only make her second guess herself. It sounded absolutely crazy, to Jane, who almost thought it was impossible, that a man like that could somehow be related to Maura, let alone be the man that fathered her. Maura, who wouldn’t hurt a fly, the child of a man that had probably killed at least a dozen men.

Jane wasn’t eager to tell Maura the news. She knew Maura was anxious to find out who her brother was, what had happened to him, but Jane thought it would be better to wait until the end of the day. That morning when they had gone into work, Jane had gone down to the morgue and found Maura looking at Colin. She had noticed parts of their features that were similar, and Jane had noticed too, realized that's why he had looked oddly familiar to her. The case was already affecting Maura with what was already known, and Jane didn't want to add to that, wanted to put it off for just a little bit longer.

She and Frost had an interrogation to do, of Colin's partner Beckett, who had sold Colin out for whoever had paid him $250,000. So Jane did that first, but Beckett wasn't talking, was terrified of whoever had killed Colin, and probably rightfully so. He’d rather face jail time than risk revealing who paid him, so they were back at square one. Well, square two maybe. They knew to start looking at enemies of Paddy Doyle, and for a little while that's what Jane did, dug through case files, but Paddy had never been convicted, only speculation that he had killed the men he had, and there was a lot to go through, and Jane didn't know where to start, and something Korsak had said was still bouncing around in her head – Even we knew, if anyone found Colin, they could flush out Paddy Doyle. Blood is thick with that clan.

Blood, and Maura was blood, and maybe Paddy's enemies didn't know that yet, nobody but Jane and Maura knew that Colin was her brother, but Jane's head was spinning and she told Frost she was going home for lunch.

She went downstairs, and found Maura in her office, pacing in front of her desk, and Jane should have found that odd, but she was still wrapped up in her own thoughts so she didn't notice. “Hey, we gotta talk.”

As Jane was shutting the door behind her, Maura said, “He was here.”

Jane turned back around, opened her mouth to speak, but then Maura's words sunk in, and she frowned. “Huh?” It was then that she noticed it, how Maura looked short of breath, how she looked wired with anxious energy, pacing and fidgeting, twisting the rings on her finger. “Who was here?”

“Him, my –” Maura stammered, “Colin's – Colin’s father. That’s his name. Colin.”

“He was here?” Jane exclaimed, looking around the room like she thought she'd find Paddy Doyle hiding in a corner. “Paddy Doyle was here?

Maura frowned now, brows drawn together. “Who? He said – he said his name was Selsi… Selsi,” she repeated, and something seemed to dawn on her then, some unhappy realization. “Selsi, Isles. It’s my – my adoptive name spelled backward.”

“Maura…” Jane quickly closed the space between them, grasping Maura's arms, trying not to panic about the idea of her wife face to face with a notorious crime boss. “Honey, what did he say to you?”

Maura shook her head, eyes unfocused somewhere else. “He – he came to identify his son. He wanted to know how he was killed. He said –” Maura looked up at Jane then, tilting her head in confusion. “Did you say Paddy Doyle? You know who Colin is?”

Jane nodded with a tight grimace. “Yeah, we… We were able to figure out who he was and… Listen, why don't we go home, take a long lunch, and I'll tell you what we found?”

Jane tugged on Maura's arms, but Maura resisted, pulling back. “No. Tell me. What is it?”

Jane wanted to insist, wanted to drag Maura home so they could have this conversation there as if it might somehow soften the blow, but she recognized that stubborn look on her wife's face. Jane sighed, ran her hands up Maura's arms and back down, and then looked her in the eye and admitted, “Our John Doe's name is Colin Doyle. Colin’s father is Patrick Doyle, who was the head of the Irish mob in Boston. He went into hiding twenty years ago. We think one of his enemies killed Colin to flush him out.”

Maura looked at Jane in stunned silence for several minutes, before she sat heavily back against the edge of her desk, slipping out of Jane's grip. “The Irish mob?” she echoed in a strangled voice. “And you're sure?”

Jane nodded regretfully. “Pretty sure.”

Maura inhaled shakily, pressing a hand to her belly. “He gave me his blood. Cut his hand open right in front of me. He knew… he knew who I was.”

Which meant that someone else might know, someone else that could hurt Maura like they had hurt Colin, and Jane was feeling very much unwell about the whole thing. For God’s sake, of all the men in the world that could have been Maura's father and it was Paddy Doyle? For all the reasons Jane wasn't much a fan of Arthur Isles, he was looking pretty good right now. Hell, even her own father wasn't that much of a disappointment in comparison. “Seriously, honey, let's go home, okay? This is… a lot, and there's nothing else we can do here right now.”

Maura didn't really voice agreement, but she didn't protest that time, seemed halfway numb as she let Jane nudge her towards the door. But on their way down the hall, Maura paused, and asked Jane, “You have a file on him? On Paddy Doyle? Of who he is?”

“Yeah, but Maura, you don't need to –”

“I want to see it,” Maura decided.

“Maura –”

“I want to see it,” Maura demanded, in no uncertain terms, and she'd get the information herself if Jane didn't give it to her.

“Okay,” Jane relented. “Okay. I'll get it.”

On the way home, Maura began flipping through the file, even while Jane tried to distract her, and once they were back in their house, Maura spread the photographs out on the coffee table, stared at them with her jaw clenched tight, barely sitting on the very edge of the couch.

When Jane tried to sit next to her, tried to comfort her, Maura shot up from the couch, had to go back to pacing, this time in front of their coffee table, twisting the rings on her finger again, and she picked up the photo of Paddy Doyle, looking at it miserably. “I sent his blood samples to the crime lab but… I have no doubt that this man is my father.”

“Since when do you jump to conclusions?” Jane gently admonished.

“Since I found out who I am,” Maura said bitterly, and it was exactly what Jane had been afraid of.

“Maura –”

“Look at this,” Maura stressed, pointing harshly to each of the photographs. “Stabbed, shot, shot. Shot.” She paced away and then went still all of a sudden, looking down at her hands, half horrified. “God. Oh, my God. Did you see what I did? He does that.” It took Jane a minute to realize what she was talking about, that she had been twisting her rings around her finger again, and it wasn't a new habit. Maura shook her head in distress. “He introduced himself as Mr. Selsi. It's Isles, my adoptive name, spelled backward.”

“I know,” Jane said softly. “You keep saying that.”

“He was toying with me from the start! While he was staring at his murdered son.”

“Come on. He came to say a final goodbye to Colin,” Jane reasoned, “and he knew you wanted a DNA sample so, he gave you some of his blood. That's a guy with balls!”

“Come on, you're defending a stone-cold killer.”

Jane started to deny, “No, I'm n –” and then realized, yeah okay, maybe she was, but the guy was her wife’s father. What the hell were the rules here? “Yes, I am. Uh... And I'm gonna stop now. Look, I think that whoever killed Colin knew that his murder would draw Patrick out.” Maura wasn’t listening though, had picked up another crime scene photo, one of the men Doyle had killed. “Look, if it makes you feel better, these were all bad guys.”

“He said Colin was too much like him,” Maura murmured. “What about me? Look what I do for a living. I'm around more death than he is.”

She slumped back down onto the couch, her face pinched, and Jane reached for her again, settled one hand on Maura's knee and the other on her back, leaned in to tell her firmly, “But you're not the one doing the killing. Maura, listen to me. This doesn't change you. Okay? Knowing that he fathered you doesn't mean that you’re gonna be heading up a mob anytime soon.”

Maura nodded but it didn't look like she was listening, her gaze locked on the coffee table again.

There was something more pressing than Paddy Doyle's kills on Jane's mind. “Maura, I think you are in danger.”

Maura shook her head. “No, I'm not.”

“As long as Patrick Doyle is out there, yes, you are,” Jane reiterated.

“He's not gonna kill me.” Maura seemed oddly certain of that, and Jane didn't really think Paddy would kill his own daughter either, but it wasn't him she was worried about.

“Whoever killed Colin will not hesitate to kill you if they figure out who you are,” Jane pointed out, and it twisted her gut into knots just saying it. She needed to get ahead of this. She needed to protect Maura. She needed to find Colin's killer. Jane sighed and stood up decisively. “We need some help.”

They returned to BPD and had to reveal to Frost and Korsak that Colin Doyle was Maura's biological brother, that her father was Patrick Doyle, and it filled Maura with some amount of dread, having to tell these two men, her friends, practically family, that she was the child of a mob boss. How would they look at her now? What would they think of her? She didn't worry about Jane. She knew Jane wouldn't care, that if anyone believed in her under any circumstances it would be Jane. But everyone else? Even if they wouldn't say it out loud, even if they didn't think it right away, eventually there would come a time, wouldn't there? When they would look at her and wonder, wonder if they could trust her, wonder if there was something simmering underneath, wonder if there wasn't something wrong with her. She already wondered it herself, if there was some part of this that made sense, that she shouldn't have been surprised that this is what she had come from. For a long time she had felt more comfortable around dead bodies than live ones, and what did that say about her? About a woman born to a killer.

Korsak and Frost were both shocked when Jane told them about Maura, about her connection to Doyle, and they didn't say that it made sense or that they were sorry, but they didn't say much of anything. They just looked at her, like maybe they were seeing her for the first time, like they were trying to put it together. Maybe she was being paranoid, maybe she was nothing like Patrick Doyle, but it bothered her anyways. How could this be her story? When she was a little girl and imagined what her birth parents might be like, why they might have given her up, this had never been on the list. She hadn't expected them to be perfect, but this? This was a new level of insanity, one that she didn't know how to accept.

What she did know, though, was her job, and when Korsak had finished going through a list of some of Paddy Doyle’s enemies, only to say that they couldn't speak to any of them, that they were the CEOs of Irish crime families and unapproachable, Maura knew that she needed to get back to what she knew, needed to get back to work. It would channel her focus onto something other than existential dread, and she felt like it was the least she could do for Colin. She never knew him when he was alive, never got to be a sister to him, but maybe she could do something now, maybe in death she could find him some peace.

Jane was worried about her, didn't think that she should go over Colin's body again, but Maura needed to do this, and Jane eventually left her to it, even if she was regularly checking in. Frost was busy looking through the encryption scanner that Colin and his partner Burke had built, and Korsak and Jane were going over the car again, and Maura was alone in the morgue then, focused, determined. If nothing else, perhaps she could figure out who had done this to her brother.

But she made an error, and really she should have known better, after she’d already been kidnapped once before, but how was she supposed to know that the coroner’s van backing up to the morgue wasn't there to deliver a body, but to steal her away? She tried to scream but they covered her mouth, she tried to fight but they zip-tied her wrists together. And for a moment, sitting hunched in the back of that van as it peeled off down the street, she had to make a concerted effort not to panic, not to breathe so rapidly and so inefficiently that she might pass out. She closed her eyes and counted to ten, forcing herself to take measured breaths, reminding herself that this wasn't Hoyt. But were the people that had taken her any better? It seemed a good sign that she was still alive and not just dead like Colin, but what if that meant they were just going to use her as bait? Except they hadn’t been all that rough with her, the more she thought about it. They weren't gentle, but they hadn't done more than shove her, really, hadn't beat her or threatened her or anything, which made her think that maybe this was Doyle. But then what the hell was his plan? Was he trying to keep her? Trying to scare her? Trying to distract her from the case?

It didn't make sense, and the longer she stayed crouched in the back of that van, the angrier she became. Upset and frightened too, of course, but angry the most. Angry that she had been caught up in all of this, angry that she had to worry about her life because her biological father was a damn mobster.

By the time the van finally came to a stop somewhere like an underground parking lot, and the side door slid open to reveal Patrick Doyle, Maura was fuming.

“I'm sorry,” he said, as if that could make up for all the disappointment he had caused her. “I couldn't go back to see you again. There was no other way of bringing you to me.”

“What about a phone?!” Maura heatedly responded, silently willing her heart to stop beating so quickly.

“Let me take that off.” He reached for her, knife in hand, and she recoiled.

“No! Don't touch me.” She wanted her hands free, but somehow she felt like that wouldn't make her anymore in control.

To his credit, Paddy did back off, still just looking at her intensely. “I assume you already know you're in danger.”

“Well, there's a lot I don't know,” Maura snapped, and if she was going to sit there and speak to him, she might as well take advantage, might as well ask the things she so desperately wanted to know. “Let's start with my birth mother. Who is she? Is she alive?”

“She is,” he admitted. “But it's in both of our interests to leave it at that. You need to listen, we don't have much time.”

“No, you need to listen!” Maura exclaimed in frustration. “You don't get to terrorize me!” She pushed forward then, trying to catch her breath, climbing out of the van and finding her footing so she didn't feel so closed in, putting several steps of distance between herself and her biological father. “And kidnap me and – and interrogate me. I wanna know who my mother is!”

He just looked steadily back at her with that unerving gaze. “You have her intensity and intelligence. And class. She gave you up to keep you safe. We both did. I need to keep her safe too. She has a right to lead her own life. But know she was heartbroken, and never forgave me.”

“For giving me up,” Maura thought.

“For who I am,” he corrected, and it was a lot to ingest. Was it better, she wondered, that her birth mother hadn't loved that part of him that killed, that committed all manner of crimes, or did it only mean that Maura's whole existence was a mistake? Why did she have to be given up to be protected? Why did it feel like there was more than what Doyle was telling her?

“What about Colin?” Maura questioned, seeking safer ground. “Who was his mother?”

“It's not the same thing. She was someone I saw a few times.”

“But you raised Colin.”

“Is that what you think? I gave you up and kept him?” Doyle shook his head. “No, he was raised by his mother. She told him who his father was right before she died.” He snorted softly. “FBI couldn't find me, my enemies couldn't find me... but my 15-year-old son did. You've seen what he could do with computers.” Maura nodded thinking about it, about the man that was her brother that she would never know. “Smart enough to do anything, yet not smart enough to avoid the same path I took.”

“That has nothing to do with his intelligence,” Maura felt compelled to defend Colin in a calmer tone, only slightly hesitant about talking back to a man known as The Enforcer, emboldened as he relaxed back against the side of the van, sliding his hands into his pockets. “I'm guessing you weren't much of a father.”

“I know what you've heard about me. Most of it's true,” Doyle conceded, unabashed. He studied her for a moment, and then stepped towards her slowly, reaching into his back pocket and pulling something out of it. “But you should know...” he handed her what looked to be a small stack of wallet sized photos. “I've always kept an eye on you.”

“Take these off, please,” Maura requested, letting him cut the zip ties from her wrists so she could properly examine what he had given her, while he stepped away to give her space. When she saw herself there in the first photograph, as young as ten years old, she was stunned. “This is the fifth grade.” And behind that, another graduation. “This is my high school graduation.”

She looked up at him in confusion, in a mild state of shock. Had he really been there? Somewhere in the crowd? Could she have seen him before and not even realized it?

“I was at your college and medical school graduations too.”


“You're my daughter,” He said simply, and Maura didn't like the way that it made her feel, that she almost yearned for it, but how could she, knowing who he was? They could never have a relationship.

“I have a father,” Maura murmured, even if she barely had a relationship with him anymore, even if he wasn't the man she thought he should be, he had raised her still, and he wasn't a killer, “so I can't be your daughter.” She dropped her gaze to the photos again, and nearly gasped when she saw the last one, tracing her finger over the distant image of her and Jane. “My wedding.” She looked up at him sharply. “You were there?” It seemed a pretty stupid thing to do, with a number of cops around that could have recognized him.

Doyle smirked. “I never prepared myself for that to be the kind of person you'd marry.”

Maura stiffened, lifted her chin defiantly. “A woman?”

Doyle still just looked amused as he responded, “A cop.”

It figured, that a cop would be worse to him, and it only reminded her of what kind of a person he was, that even if he cared for her, in his own twisted way, he had still done unspeakable things. “How can you do the things that you do?” she demanded of him, even though she knew she wouldn't get a good answer. “Just murder people on command.”

“I never hurt anyone who didn't deserve to be hurt,” he asserted, just like Jane had said, but did that really make it better?

“I don't understand how you live like that.”

“That's because you're different. I did what I was born to do.”

“You did what you chose to do,” she accused.

“Maybe,” he granted, striding back over to her until they were practically toe to toe, so he could look at her seriously. “You're in a great deal of danger. The police can't keep you safe. You know that. If I can get to you, so can my enemies.”

“I can take care of myself,” Maura proclaimed. “I would like to go now.” If Jane had noticed her absence, she would be worried sick by now.

Doyle reached for her, and she didn't know if it was affection he was trying to give or only an effort to control her, but she jolted away from his touch, and he retracted his hand. “Maura, I wanna protect you, but I can't do it without your help. I don't know who killed your brother, but I know they'll come after you next.” He reached into another pocket and extracted a cellphone, which he placed in her hands. “It's programmed with a number. I'll always answer it. I know you have your wife and other people close to you in Homicide. I need you to tell me who did this to Colin.”

“We don't know yet.”

“When you know, as soon as you know.”

Maura could read between the lines. “So you can kill him.”

“So I can keep you alive, by sending a message.” He tapped the underside of the photos she still held, and she furrowed her brow as she flipped it over, and saw that the last photo wasn't the last, that there was one just behind it, one of Jamie, on the playground at his daycare, and Maura’s heart lurched.

“This is recent,” she said in disbelief, looking up at him accusingly. “You were watching my son?

“If they know about you, they know about him,” Doyle claimed. “I’ll keep him safe, but there's only one way to be sure.”

He gently tugged the stack of photos from her hands, and she was too stunned to put up any resistance. She was angry, but she was also beginning to feel frightened, not for herself, but for Jamie. It wouldn't matter to Colin's killers that Jamie didn't have her DNA. He was still a weakness for her, and in turn a weakness for Paddy Doyle. Would they really use her three year old son just to get back at him? Even though she’d never known Doyle as her father? She didn’t want any part of this.

“I’ll be waiting for your call,” he said, and then he turned and strode away from her, disappearing into the shadows, leaving her there with the man that had snatched her up and thrown her in the van.

That man was standing there by the side door again, waiting for her, and she pressed her lips flat in frustration but took the hint and climbed back into the van. He slid the door closed and plunged her into darkness, and she crouched there with no seat, holding onto the inside wall to steady herself as the van drove out onto the street. When it came to a stop, parked on the side of the road, the man left the engine running and came around to let her out. As Maura clambered down onto the pavement, saw nothing but a dark, nondescript alleyway in front of her, she frowned and looked around, but the driver was already getting back into the van and driving off.

Rolling her eyes in exasperation, Maura wandered out onto the sidewalk and tried to get her bearings, found a street sign and figured out where she was. She was only a few blocks from home, an unnecessary walk, but one that she could stand to make, even if her feet wouldn't thank her. Her phone was back at BPD though, with her purse and everything else, so she used the cellphone Doyle had given her to call Jane.

She answered almost immediately, with a desperate, “Whatever you want, I can get it.

Jane must have noticed she was missing then, and Maura quickly sought to reassure her, “Jane, it's me.”

Maura?” Jane breathlessly responded, and her voice cracked with relief. “Are you okay?”

“Yes, I'm fine. It was Doyle. He didn't hurt me. But they left me to find my own way back. I'm not far from home.”

O – okay,” Jane stammered. “I’ll meet you there, okay? I'm on my way.”

“Okay, I'll see you soon,” Maura said, and then Jane was rushing off the phone to start the journey home.

Maura arrived first, and the door was locked so she had to knock, and Angela answered it with a bemused, “Maura? Sweetie, did you lose your keys?”

“I left them at work,” Maura answered vaguely.

“Where’s Jane?” Angela asked as she stepped back to let Maura through. “Didn’t you two ride to work together?”

“We did, she's on her way home. I – uh, got pulled away for a case,” which was enough of the truth that she didn't immediately break out into hives. “I had someone else drop me off.”

Angela looked a little suspicious, a little confused still, but she didn't question her further. “Well you're home just in time. Dinner’s almost ready.”

Maura smiled in thanks but she didn't feel much like eating at the moment.

“Mommy!” Jamie excitedly greeted her from the living room. “Come see what I drawed.”

“He’s been drawing all day!” Angela called as she was bustling over to the kitchen to tend to her steaming pans. “But it's time to set the table, mister,” she told James. “You can finish drawing after you eat.”

“Okay, Nonna,” Jamie acquiesced, but first he rushed over to meet Maura after she had slipped off her shoes, and she bent down to pick him up and hug him close, maybe a little tighter than usual, trying not to let her mind run away with her, trying not to think about what danger he might be in. He squirmed and giggled when she didn't let go. “Mommy, you’s squishin’ me.”

“Sorry, sweetheart,” Maura murmured, kissing the side of his head before she set him back down on his feet.

“Come see,” he urged, taking her hand and pulling her over to the coffee table, showing her the papers spread out across its surface, a number of different drawings of all sorts, some of animals, some of buildings, others looked to be various flowers and trees. And for a moment Maura wondered, if one day Jamie might grow up and still have a passion for drawing, might be able to create the sort of intricate artwork that his Uncle Colin had, the uncle he would never know, the uncle with whom he shared no DNA, but perhaps they would, in some manner, share this.

“They’re lovely,” Maura praised him, smoothing her hand over his hair, which sprang back into chaos as soon as her fingers moved over it. “You did a very good job.”

“Jamie,” Angela called to him again. “The plates?”

“Okay, okay,” James huffed in a pretty solid imitation of Jane as he hustled over to set the table.

Jane stepped through the front door a second later, and her somewhat frantic gaze met Maura's, and she barely shut the front door before she was rushing over to the living room. They came together in a tight embrace, Jane's keys digging into Maura's back. With arms still tight around her, Jane pulled back only enough to look closely at Maura, the question plain on her face.

“I’m okay,” Maura said quietly, mindful of Angela’s eyes on them across the room.

Jane nodded, but she didn’t look convinced, her dark brows still drawn close together, but she gave Maura a little smile, cupped Maura's cheek and kissed her forehead, holding there for a moment to exhale a shaky breath.

As Jane was drawing back, Angela suddenly appeared next to them, her suspicion clear now, both hands on her hips. “What’s going on with you two?”

“Nothin’, Ma, jeeze,” Jane scoffed. “Can’t I greet my wife in my own house?”

Angela narrowed her eyes at them both, but they didn’t speak, and Jamie came bouncing over with an excited, “Hi, Mama!” and Jane stooped to hug him.

Angela threw her hands up in exasperation, rolled her eyes and complained, “Always with the secrets, you two!” and she stalked back over to the kitchen, still ranting under her breath.

Jane had to grit her teeth through dinner, deal with her mother's heckling and try to pretend like she wasn't worried as hell, kept looking across the table at Maura. It could have been worse. It could have been Doyle’s enemies that snatched Maura up. And even Doyle, Jane didn't trust him. He was a killer, even if he did have some paternal care for Maura that kept him from hurting her physically, it didn't mean he couldn't hurt her in other ways. The fact that he was her father at all was already a disappointment.

Despite being the most frustrating woman in the world, Angela at least seemed to sense that Jane wanted to talk to Maura alone, and offered to take Jamie upstairs and give him his bath after they cleaned up dinner. Jane would have to remember to thank her mother later, first and foremost for not falling in love with a mob boss.

As soon as Angela and Jamie had disappeared upstairs, Jane grabbed two beers out of the fridge, passed one to Maura and leaned over the corner of the counter as Maura settled into the chair on the end.

“All right,” Jane gently prompted. “Tell me what happened.”

Maura looked down at the counter, shaking her head once then twice, running her fingers over her bottom lip. “He had a… a gentleness I wasn't expecting,” she reluctantly confessed.

“Well, he's wanted for about, oh, a dozen not-so-gentle murders. He's a charismatic killer. It's not like you haven't se