Frankie Rizzoli ain’t no slouch.
He tells himself this every day when he wakes up, because when one sibling is Jane Rizzoli and the other is Tommy Rizzoli, being the “middle of the road” middle child becomes less about stability and more about indolence.
So. Frankie Rizzoli ain’t no slouch.
He knows he’s got what it takes to make detective. He’s a good cop; he’s always been a good cop. He pays attention. That’s his special gift. Jane’s got a gift in another way—she feels things, feels a case in her muscles and in her bones, and that’s how she gets her collars, that’s how she makes her way. That’s what gets her into danger and out of it and drained and exhilarated by a case. Frankie’s not like that. He doesn’t want to be like that; he sees how his sister lives, how every day is a war for her. He’s not strong like that. But he pays attention to what people say, what they do, how they hold themselves. He listens and he watches and it makes him a damn good cop and it will make him a damn good detective.
See, Jane tells him tips on police work and he listens, applies what she says, finds the loopholes. He stays in the car but he knocks out the perp. He goes back to the scene, sees who keeps coming around. And he listens to Korsak, because Jane told him once that Korsak is the BPD, the whole goddamn force. He didn’t get it for months, just looking at the guy with his stray animals and his endless string of divorces and not getting it. And then when they had the Marathon shooter, it clicked. Korsak is the BPD because he’s the history of the BPD. He’s Cavanaugh and Joey Grant and the Commissioner and Frost. He’s the transition from the old way—nightsticks, radios, revolvers and that hard, unrefinable edge—to the new way: iPads and tech ops and Glocks and cell phones, the thin blue line. Korsak could run interference for Jane and keep his job and his position because even if he’s got too many puppy videos queued up on YouTube, he’s got a time map of Boston at his fingertips. Frost doesn’t quite get that, yet, but he’s learning, caught on around the time Korsak made sergeant. Frankie keeps reminding him.
Frankie’s a good cop. He takes care of his own—the guys on his beat, Jane’s whole team, his CIs and his old boys. He knows he’ll make detective. He’s just gotta stop being the goddamn middle child.
He knows he takes after Ma too much. He does. He’s all family, all the time, and he can’t help but be too involved—with Ma, with Jane, with Tommy. He knew something was up with Ma and Pop long before either of them ever did. And now Jane thinks Ma’s moving on because she’s dressing up every now and again, but he knows better. He pays attention; Ma kisses Cavanaugh’s ass for the sake of his promotion but she doesn’t really give a damn. She just wants good people in her life, in good capacities. Her heart’s still tied up with Frank Sr. Don’t ask her, though, because she’ll deny it with her dying breath, doesn’t ever want her kids to see that she could still love a man who would deny them.
For that he hates Pop, and it drives him insane. Pop was his hero: self-made man who gave his kids a good home, safe harbor, easy laughs. He loved his father. Loved. And then…
Sometimes he hates that he didn’t see it coming. That he kept focusing on Ma, who really was just being who she’d always been: a social butterfly, neighborhood mom. Ma wasn’t the danger. Ma was the light. Pop was the idiot walking around in a blindfold.
He gets why Tommy was always Ma’s darling, her baby boy. And he gets that Pop chose Janie because she was first. Frankie wasn’t anybody’s favorite, but he was their rock. Both of them. All of them. Pop needed help on a job, he brought Frankie. Ma needed something done at home, she called Frankie. Jane needed family but no drama, she came to him. And Tommy? Tommy wouldn’t be anywhere without Frankie. Frankie always calls Tommy on his shit, always expects more from Tommy. Tommy fucks up, he gets disappointed, but he lets him try again. He makes Tommy accountable, and that’s one of the things keeping Tommy in line.
But there are things he won’t tolerate from Tommy, and there are things he won’t let Jane get away with. And Maura is all of those things.
First time Jane brought Maura around, Frankie knew. Jane was always friendly but she wasn’t inviting, and after Hoyt—after her hands, she wasn’t anything but stoic. She never said anything and he never brought it up, but she locked away all her music, brought Pop’s old record player back to the house, turned all her radio stations to sportscasts and spent her free time at the shooting range instead of the coffee shops she’d always loved.
Sometimes he thinks of their family as the Fantastic Four and Hoyt was their radiation exposure. Jane turned into the Thing, solid rock all the way through but vulnerable and stuck and desperate for love. Ma became Mr. Fantastic, trying to be more than instead of just enough—stretching out to Jane and to Tommy and to Frankie and in all the wrong directions. Tommy, Human Torch. And Frankie? Frankie’s invisible. And protecting them all.
Pop as Dr. Doom doesn’t seem so far off, either.
Anyway. Jane, stoic, Thing, solid rock. And then this Maura chick blows in from Europe and all of a sudden Janie’s got a friend. Not that Jane doesn’t have friends; Jane’s always had friends. But Maura’s not Jane’s friend, not like Jane’s other friends. Maura came into Jane’s life and suddenly she was a part of all of their lives, and making these small changes that no one noticed. Frankie barely even noticed, until one day Jane started humming again when they were doing the dishes after Sunday dinner. It was always the two of them; Jane washed, Frankie dried, Ma and Pop sat and relaxed, or more likely argued about who’s watching what on the television. Sometimes he and Jane talked, sometimes they just did the job, but one day Jane hummed and Frankie almost dropped Ma’s favorite casserole dish.
And then he paid attention, really paid attention. Jane smiles for Maura. Jane laughs for Maura. Jane drinks wine for Maura, goes shopping, buys an iPod for herself. She wears a dress again. She dates again—usually sabotages them, of course, but she dates. Jane brings Maura around and Maura keeps Jane close. Then all of a sudden Jane’s got a dog and a baby turtle—fuck, tortoise, Jane’s always on him about the goddamn tortoise—and the dog’s got a pink collar and leash and baggies because Maura’s bought them. Jane wears colors again, shakes hands again, gives hugs again.
The biggest thing is the one thing he knows he’s not supposed to know: Jane can sleep again. Even more importantly, Jane can sleep with someone else in the room with her. With someone else in the bed with her. He knows he’s not supposed to know because he came by one night to drop off some leftovers from Ma, and he was just gonna pop in and out and be gone, but something about the living room—see, he’s a good cop—made him pause. Jane’s not the neatest person in the world but she’s got her certain things, and she never leaves plates out. Cups, sure. Beer bottles, soda cans, wine glasses—all over the apartment. But plates get rinsed and left in the sink if not immediately washed.
There was a plate with crumbs on the coffee table when he came in. So he just took a look around, right? Like a good brother would do. Because either his sister got laid and he needed to embarrass the shit out of her, or she was not okay. It never even entered his mind that he’d peek into her room and see her curled up in her old St. Dominic sweats, sound asleep with her head in Maura’s lap and one hand clutching Maura’s. It never entered his mind that he’d see Maura in his sister’s bed, propped up on all the pillows with an arm draped over Jane like a last line of defense.
Jane hasn’t slept in years. Jane hasn’t slept through Frankie entering her space in years. Jane hasn’t slept with someone in the same room as her in years.
Maura is not Jane’s friend.
Tommy doesn’t seem to get that and it’s bad enough that Pop left, and then Lydia—and goddamnit, Tommy, godfuckingdamnit—but Tommy will not, will not, fuck the rest of this family up. The first time, when Tommy was just getting settled, Frankie let it go, because he already knew that Maura would handle her business. And Tommy was a fresh-paroled ex-con and Maura—well, she’s Maura. She could’ve been a Fairfield, is actually a hell of a lot more than that. And Jane was there, and there in full, and when Jane is around, Maura never really looks away from her.
Tommy was harmless then. But after Doyle got shot, Tommy thought he could try again, and then Jane wasn’t around and Maura kept looking for her in every room she entered and if you squint hard enough, Tommy and Jane are the same person. Hot-headed and quick-witted and sharp and sarcastic and deadly charming.
And it’s not like he could talk to Jane and say, “Tommy’s trying to make a move on Maura again,” because his sister is an idiot when it comes to Maura, and was being an even bigger idiot then. And he couldn’t talk to Maura, because that wasn’t his place. So he took Tommy aside and said, plainly, that Maura was Jane’s girl, and he needed to cut the shit.
Tommy and Jane are also both idiots at every possible turn. Tommy played dumb. So Frankie laid it out: he didn’t mean homegirl, he didn’t mean best friend, he meant girl the way Ma was Pop’s girl way before they were ever engaged or married or had children, the way Ma is still Pop’s girl even though Pop’s a fucking idiot. And Tommy played dumb again, because Jane dated guys, and Maura dated guys, and Frankie was imagining things, and then he thought, and Frankie waited.
And then Tommy said, “Well, all right, but look, they’re through now, right? And I think she could really like me.”
And Frankie laid him out with a right hook. Tommy took the hint.
Now Frankie’s just gotta get Jane to do the same, and he’s thinking it might take a black eye for her, too. Because Jane didn’t take the hint after she and Maura made up. He’ll give her leeway on that, because then Casey came around—or didn’t—and she got a little confused again. But then everything with Hope Martin went down and it was Jane+Maura again and Jane still didn’t take the hint. Not after Dominick. Not after the Serbian prostitution ring, when Jane told him, told him explicitly, that she’d looked at that girl up on the auction block and seen a younger, weaker Maura and taken the kill shot. Not after the baby shower debacle when, if Jane was worried about what Ma was gonna say—well, shit, Ma basically said that Maura was the perfect daughter-in-law. Maura’s been coming to Sunday dinner for years now. Maura hosts Sunday dinner now.
But now—Maura could have died yesterday, and Jane isn’t saying anything, and now there is a baby and Jane isn’t saying anything and Jesus Christ, Jane, grow a pair.
So Frankie Rizzoli does what needs to be done. And in between Jane’s frantic calls to Cavanaugh and Korsak about shit, shit, what do we have to do to keep this baby and Maura’s frantic calls to that Colburn lawyer guy about what do we have to do and know and have to keep this baby, he goes to the storage unit he and Jane share and gets the old crib and bassinet, the set Ma specifically asked him to keep, and he brings it to Maura’s.
The whole crew’s already there. Korsak and Frost and Cavanaugh are set up at the dining table, the old guard making phone call after phone call, Frost doing all the research. Colburn is there, looking more like St. Luke’s Parish today than the Fairfield lawyer, with his jeans and plain tee and open overshirt. He and Jane and Maura are parked at the kitchen island, with stacks of paper and highlighters and forms. Ma’s on the couch with the baby in her arms and Jo Friday at her feet. Tommy is sitting in the red chair, looking between the baby and Ma’s face and Jane and he’s terrified.
So Frankie gets Tommy to bring the rest of the parts upstairs to the guest room with him, and then Tommy gets pulled into the discussion with Colburn, and Korsak takes the baby to give Ma a break, and Frankie’s solo in the guest room putting the crib together when Jane comes in and closes the door and grabs a screwdriver to help.
Frankie lays it out for her, quick and easy, just like he did with Tommy. That he loves her and it’s her life and she should absolutely take it at the pace that feels right for her, but if she thinks that she can keep pretending like this when they’re taking this huge leap to keep this baby, she’s a bigger idiot than Tommy.
At least she doesn’t play dumb. Jane’s never been one to play dumb. But she thinks dumb, sometimes, and comes at him with, “What if she doesn’t—what if it’s just me, Frankie?”
Dumb. Dumb. Both of his siblings are dumb. “Janie,” he says, and he thinks he should just punch her instead, “she’s talking about raising a baby with you. Are you really that dumb?”
Ma’s making gnocchi for dinner, so no one has plans to go anywhere, but Jane and Maura look at each other and then go somewhere in Maura’s car without much of an explanation to anyone. That’s another thing Jane does: sits in the passenger seat for Maura. His sister is an idiot.
But not as big of one as he thought, because when they come back an hour later, Maura leads Jane into the house with their fingers intertwined and Jane hums as she helps Frankie set the table. Dinner doesn’t feel as frantic as the afternoon did; Maura cracks open a couple of bottles of good wine and there’s laughter and sports talk—Colburn has access to a box at Fenway and Tommy’s a kiss ass when he wants to be—and Jane smiles at everyone. The smile she has for Maura who is, as always, sitting on her right, is blatantly different.
And when the baby cries halfway through dinner, Jane gets up to get him, but not before a “No, I’ll get him,” exchange with Maura which she hesitatingly ends with a quick kiss. On the lips. Nobody says anything about it—he’s not even sure half of them saw it, what with Colburn and Tommy throwing Big Papi’s stats back and forth with way too many hand gestures—but as Jane’s leaving the table, she throws him a smile and a wink.
Frankie Rizzoli, he tells himself, and leans back in his chair, you ain’t no slouch.