You listen to me. He didn't break you. No one can break Jane Rizzoli unless you let 'em. It's a choice.
-Korsak, "I'm Your Boogie Man"
"Being strapped down while someone hurts you. Being helpless. . . . It makes you feel filthy and small," I said, and then laughed painfully. "I'm not used to feeling small."
"And guilty," she whispered. "As if you should have been able to stop it like the hero in one of Tosten's songs."
-Dragon Blood by Patricia Briggs, pages 151-152
"I've been thinking about something Korsak said."
Maura looked up from the body of a burned 12-year-old; he'd been caught in an apartment fire and died on the way to the hospital. There was too much flesh for a forensic anthropologist, and less than she herself was accustomed to, but she would persevere. In many ways, the body itself was extremely interesting. Between this and the man who'd been left in the freezer for almost two years, Maura was considering writing a paper on the effects of extreme temperatures on human remains.
"What did Korsak say?" Maura asked, since Jane didn't seem as though she would continue without prompting. She refocused her attention on the body. Skin in this condition required a delicate touch.
"D'you think Hoyt broke me?"
Maura very deliberately continued with the autopsy. She felt a twinge of guilt; the dead should have her full attention, and this boy no longer did. Still, she would proceed with caution--in both cases. More than just the body needed careful handling.
"Anyone can be broken," she stated. "Except possibly sociopaths."
Out of the corner of her eye she saw Jane glare at her. Ah-hah! She'd learned through methodical study that an annoyed Jane was thinking, not wallowing.
"Great, sociopaths can't be broken. Am I broken?"
Relief swept through Maura. Much easier question! "No."
"You said that really fast."
"Yes, I did."
She had to put down her scalpel at that particular tone of anxious whining. Jane was no longer staring at her hands, but she was rubbing the top of her left hand with her right thumb. "I maintain my answer. You are not broken."
Maura hoped that would end it, though she knew it wouldn't. Jane tended to use her interrogation skills for evil when she was in this kind of mood.
"But did Hoyt break me?"
She hesitated, mind running through everything she could say, anything that wouldn't be a lie, that would be fast enough to not be blindingly obvious to Jane. Jane's eyebrows raised one millimeter--two, three--a centimeter--
"Possibly--probably--" Maura flailed, trying to find a socially-acceptable response. "I don't know enough of what goes on in your head to tell."
Up went Jane's eyebrows (had she not expected her to tell the truth? She always told the truth, Jane knew that) and down went her hands, clenched in fists.
"You can't have it both ways! I'm either broken or I'm not."
"That's true," Maura said. She often retreated to basic fact recitation when social situations got murky. She couldn't recall a murkier situation than this.
"So if he broke me, how come you said I'm not broken?"
"Tenses." There went Jane's eyebrow again. "Broke is past tense. Broken, without a modifier, is present tense."
"English, grammar Nazi."
Maura took her turn to raise her eyebrows, and Jane flipped a hand in acknowledgment and dismissal. At least it wasn't clenched at her side anymore.
"Things that are broken can be fixed."
Jane went quiet again. Maura took the opportunity to return her attention to the misshapen body on her autopsy table. She was considering how best to open him without damaging possibly valuable forensic evidence when Jane spoke again.
"So you think I'm fixed. But fixed things always have cracks, right?" Jane sounded . . . Maura considered her timbre with a touch of surprise. Sad. Disappointed. Ashamed. "Like, if you glue a vase back together it'll probably leak."
"Not if you use water proof--"
"The glue doesn't matter, and some of the pieces are probably shattered or out of place anyway."
"A vase is inanimate." Unexpected frustration leaked out in Maura's voice. Jane could be so dense sometimes. "Inanimate things don't heal. Animate things heal--cracks smooth over, scabs become scar tissue. Animate comes from the Latin word anima, the soul or spirit. You can move and think, decide and learn."
"Korsak said breaking's a choice."
"Anyone can be broken." Flat. Maura saw too many bodies not to believe it; had read too many forensic anthropology articles on the identification of remains in active war zones and during genocides. "Our physiology and life experiences mean that every person breaks differently but given unlimited time and resources . . ."
Maura trailed off. She didn't always like the places her brain took her. She wasn't afraid of them anymore, though, and Jane had helped her through that. She would be here for Jane, now.
"Hoyt didn't have unlimited time and resources," Jane sniped.
"And thus he could not have broken everyone in the entire world." Maura frowned. She felt sidetracked; Jane was good at that. Also good at resisting logical advice. "He didn't need to break everyone. He only wanted to break you."
"Is that supposed to make me feel better?" Jane threw her hands up. "I only broke because he came prepared? What, does that make him some kind of serial killer boy scout? Don't forget to get into your victim's head if you want that torturer merit badge!"
Maura grinned and pointed at her friend. This succeeded in confusing Jane as well as derailing her anger (mostly directed at herself, Maura thought).
"You said it."
"What did I say?"
Jane rolled her eyes, but Maura persisted. "You never want to see yourself as a victim, even though you know that if it had been anyone else, you wouldn't blame them for what Hoyt did. What he did belongs to him. The person you made, the woman who isn't broken anymore, that's all you. You have a soul and a body, and they both heal."
Jane looked down. She spread her hands in front of her. Minimal scarring, really. Whoever dealt with her hands had done a good job, though Maura knew they sometimes ached or went numb.
"Scar tissue, huh?" Jane said.
"The skin is thicker there," Maura confirmed. "I'm not saying the same injury couldn't happen again, but it's better protected, stronger."
"Actually, a number of African tribes consider scarification beautiful. In our own culture we accept a number of scars, from pierced ears to tattoos, that are considered marks of beauty."
Jane laughed, and Maura beamed. The living were so complicated, but she'd made a particular study of this one and always felt a thrill of accomplishment when she succeeded in helping her.
"Guess I'm real pretty, then, huh?" Jane teased.
"Well, objectively, you're not as pretty as me."
Jane sputtered, and Maura kept beaming.
"Name one way that you're prettier than me!"
"I have firmer rectus femoris."
Jane sputtered more, mostly in token protest and to humor Maura. Maura again returned her attention to the body on her autopsy table, pleased with herself. Still, something didn't feel quite finished.
"I'm gonna go interview the mom's boyfriend again. His story's changed twice now. Three times'll make him a suspect in my book."
Jane set off for the door with her usual long stride, a quarry in her sight even if Maura hadn't officially determined a cause of death.
"Jane," Maura called, the tip of her scalpel blade resting against the skin. Jane looked back. "We don't all have physical scars to match the mental ones."
A lonely, neglected childhood that culminated in a vocation in which she could distance herself enough from humanity to cut into the wrecked body of a child was worlds away from what Hoyt put Jane through, but Maura knew her friend recognized understanding when it was offered. Empathy had never been her problem.
Jane nodded and walked out of autopsy, her steps a little lighter than when she'd arrived.