Maura hated going to these things; well, not really hate. She thought they were a waste her of time. Maura's studio agent convinced her that going to scout out dancers from the slums of Boston was a way to a quick humanitarian success story. He guilt tripped her into going to these low budget musicals put on by high school students by saying that it would speak volumes about her studio. As much as Maura wanted to believe that anyone could be a part of her company solely based on their talent, it just wasn't true. Her lessons were expensive, but parents came from around the world just to have the chance at getting their child into her dance company.
"I should be teaching them right now," she mumbled to herself as she swung her legs to the side for yet another person to pass by her and take their seat.
"Excuse me. Is this seat taken?" asked a woman standing in front of the chair beside her. When Maura didn't reply, just sat staring at her, the woman shrugged her shoulders and moved to sit down.
Maura was instantly enthralled by the woman. She had dark hair that fell in ringlets past her shoulders and down her back. What little she had seen of the woman's eyes intrigued her. She asked you something. Maura tried to think of what to say, but she couldn't even remember the question.
She sat staring until the woman finally stopped pretending to read the program and lifted her head to meet Maura's gaze. Not knowing why the mute woman was staring at her, and Maura not knowing what to say had both of them uneasily looking at each other. Finally, Maura couldn't hold it in anymore and her brain suddenly kick started. She blurted the first thing that came to her mind.
"I don't have any children here. Or at all. I mean not that I don't want children. I don't hate children either. I just don't have any. Right now." After a beat of silence the woman squinted her eyes at Maura. She looked completely bewildered for a long moment before she released a shaky chuckle that made Maura blush.
"Um, okay…I uh…Honestly, I have no idea how to respond to that."
"I'm sorry, that's not what I meant to say." The brunette slowly nodded her head; her eyes curiously taking in this woman, trying to figure out what her deal was.
"Yeah, I figured."
"I meant to ask…what it was that you just asked me," the dancer said slowly trying to let her mind catch up to the sentence she was trying to put together.
"Oh, I was asking if anyone was sitting here." She gestured to her own seat.
Silence. Then, "I'm Maura." She internally cursed herself for not being able to form an actual coherent answer to this total stranger's question. What the hell is wrong with me? The brunette woman let a grin slowly spread across her face as she resettled herself more into her seat turning almost completely to face Maura.
"Hi Maura. I'm Jane."
"I'm-sorry. What I meant was, no. There wasn't anyone sitting there." Jane chuckled again, but before she could respond the lights in the auditorium started to dim and the woman turned forward. Maura reluctantly turned around as well when the show began.
Through the first half of the musical, Maura's thoughts continued to drift back to the woman sitting beside her and she started to appreciate how close the seats were. Maura could feel every breath and every chuckle the brunette took and whenever Jane would move to scratch her nose or run her long fingers through her hair, she would brush arms with Maura. The last time it happened she gasped and Jane turned to her and apologized, moving her arm from the armrest and both of her hands to her lap. She inwardly chastised herself for reacting that way.
Maura had been around really attractive woman in her profession: dancers, dance moms, fans, and had even dated a few. She was especially used to them being completely taken with her whether it be because of her status in the dance world, her looks, or her wealth. However, none of them had had quite the effect on her that this women sitting next to her had. In the midst of her thoughts she saw out of the corner of her eye Jane break into a beaming smile at something and when Maura glanced at the stage she saw the reason for the woman's sudden joy.
Oh my God. There he was. Her diamond in the rough. He glided from one side of the stage to the other. Legs, long. Knees, strong. Wrists, flowing. Feet, pointed. He was solely enraptured in the music. His movement's more than just steps. The boy moved to his first arabesque tucking his chin down slowly into his chest to suddenly fall into a front roll coming to stand in a "V" position and sliding into a split. Maura leapt to the edge of her seat with her attention focused on the boy throughout his solo. Legs, long. Knees, strong. Wrists, flowing. Feet, pointed.
"He's perfect." She whispered more to herself, but was shocked out of her concentration when she heard a low voice from behind her.
"He sure is." Maura turned to see that Jane was still staring at the boy on stage and slowly sat back in her seat. Taking her program, she began riffling through it for the boy's name. She searched and searched through all of the previous dancers, but Maura didn't really see their names. All she saw was, flexed toes. Weak arms. Disconnected. Heavy feet. But then she found him. Perfection in the form of one dark haired boy with the most beautiful lines she'd ever seen. One name. Leonardo Rizzoli.
Jane waited for her son at the back stage exit with a few other parents. She was so ready to see him and tell him that he did all of his worrying for nothing. Leo had been working non-stop in the makeshift dance studio she had built him in her mother's basement. When he first came home from school with the news that he had been casted as a dancer in one of the musicals, she knew he would be locked away in there for hours every day. He was nervous that he would miss something or forget a step in the routine while performing and Jane hopelessly tried to remind him that he was the one who choreographed the routine, but he was still petrified. Mother knows best. Just then the doors opened and the performers began to pour out. She looked around until she finally caught sight of his dark hair.
"Leo! Over here!" The boy spotted her and ran over surprising her with a bear hug.
"Did you see me? Everyone said it was really good and they were all super shocked when I told them I was the one who made it up!"
"I bet they were," she mumbled with her lips pressed to his hair. "I can't tell you how many parents have come up to me and complimented you. I told you that you'd do an amazing job. You always do." She was stunned when they began to walk to the car and he held onto her. Despite their relationship being so close he was in his weird teenage, stop hugging me phase.
"Hey, listen bug. You know Nona wanted to come, but she had to work."
"That's okay. You came." She pulled him tighter in a side hug and kissed the top of his head as they continued toward their car.
"I wouldn't miss it."
Maura had been looking everywhere for her perfect boy. She looked in the lobby, in the banquet hall, and even went behind stage. She had gone to the dressing room where one of the performers had only gawked at her upon immediately recognizing who she was.
"Listen, I'm really in a hurry. So if you could just tell me if you've seen him."
"Um, yes sir…uh ma'am…Dr. Isles. Ah, he…"
The girl, red-faced and shaky form, pointed toward the exit that the boy left out of. Damn it! She had missed him. He was gone. She left out of the exit and started to walk toward the parking lot, feeling entirely defeated. Then her head perked up when she remembered that she still had the boy's name. She wouldn't let this one slip through the cracks. Just then she heard the unforgettably deep laugh of the woman who sat next to her. She looked around the parking lot to find Jane with a boy curled into her side.
"Leonardo Rizzoli?" she called across the parking lot already rushing over to them. The boy and his mother both turned toward her and the latter looked at the woman in wonderment. Maura slowed her pace stopping only a few feet in front of the pair. "Are you Leonardo Rizzoli?"
When the boy didn't say anything Jane looked down at him. He had dropped his gym bag on the ground and stood rooted to his spot with his mouth was gapped open and his wide eyes mimicked a deer stuck in headlights. Jane shook her head before she looked back to Maura.
"Uh, yeah. He is." Maura looked to Jane and tilted her head in confusion.
"Are you his mother?"
"Yes I am. Now is there something I can help you with or are you just going to keep on saying and asking me random things?" Jane asked only half joking. Before Maura could respond, Leo grabbed Jane's arm in a death grip.
"Ma! Do you have any idea who she is?" He hissed, with a look of urgency on his face.
"No," Jane admitted slowly. "I mean her name's Maura."
"Yeah, ma. Dr. Maura Isles. You know of the IDC!"
"IDC…The Isles Dance Company!" Jane's eyebrows shot up and her face turned beat red as her son's words sank in. Leo had always talked about joining a dance studio. When Leo got to high school he stated struggling with his academia. So, instead of joining a dance studio, his mother had to spend that money on a tutor.
"Oh, Ms. Isles. I'm sorry. I didn't realize."
"It's Dr. Isles actually and really, it's okay." Jane smiled and wiped her hand on her jeans before she stuck it out for Maura to shake which she took a little too eagerly.
"I'm Jane Rizzoli. We sat next to each other inside."
"Yes. I remember," Maura smiled shyly.
"It makes sense now. Why you were staring so hard at my kid. You're a dance teacher. That's-"
"Ma, she's not just a dance teacher. She owns the studio. She graduated from Bolshoi Ballet Academy when she was only seventeen years old. Then she was recruited to the Kirov Company for five years and when she was with them she won the national award for Best Female Dancer and Best Female Performance her last four years there. And she even won some awards for her partner work in contemporary and Russian ballet.
"Then she taught classical ballet at Julliard for three years. Oh, Ma! T-Then, she started her own dance company right here in Boston and don't even get me started on how many awards they've won…" He trailed off overly excited and slightly out of breath. He looked at his mother as she looked at him with an amused smile, before turning back to Maura.
"So, you're like perfection, huh?"
"Yup, she is," the boy said through his grin.
Maura smiled nervously and started fiddling with her purse. She didn't hate it when people talked about her accomplishments. It just made her uncomfortable. It reminded her of all of those monotonous dinners she had to sit through with her mother's friends as she listened to her go on and on about how Maura turned out so much better than their children.
"Well…I am certainly far from perfect. I can assure you of that."
"And she's modest too. That's cute."
By this point the heat radiating from both of their cheeks was palpable. Jane looked away pursing her lips as if trying to keep other potentially awkward things from coming out of her mouth and Maura cleared her throat taking her purse off of her shoulder and tucking it under her arm.
"Um, so Dr. Isles. Did you enjoy my performance?" He started not to ask for fear that she would shoot him down. Maura set her shoulders and stared into the boys eyes.
"You, Leonardo Rizzoli are…I-When you dance…" Maura took a deep breath. "I have never seen someone so young with such an amazingly easy dance technique like yours in my entire life. How old are you?" The boy stared up at his mother with a smile that spread across his entire mouth.
"Yes ma'am." Maura looked up into Jane's face for confirmation to see her gazing at her son lovingly.
"That's, well that's astonishing. Who do you dance with? I can't think of anyone who would be able to train such a vessel. Anyone in the States anyway."
"No one. I kind of taught myself." Maura laughed. He has to be joking, she thought as she closed her eyes to catch her bearings. She couldn't understand how this boy could have taught his own self to dance so technically, unless…
"He's a prodigy." She breathed out.
"What did you say?" Jane suddenly asked suddenly brining herself back into the conversation.
"You're son. He's a prodigy, Ms. Rizzoli." The boy's mother looked back at Leo who was positively buzzing with joy. She put her hand on his shoulder and pulled him closer.
"You really think so?"
"I know so. Leonardo your lines are marvelous and your fingers are so articulate…and…I am in love with your feet."
"Thank you so much, Dr. Isles. That sounds amazing coming from you."
"I'm not saying this just to be nice." The boy curiously looked at her. "Leonardo, I want you." When they both only looked at her incredulously, she realized what she said.
"No, that's not what I meant to say." Jane let out a loud laughed.
"Yeah, that seems to be a common occurrence with you." Maura blushed remembering their previous interaction and tucked a piece of her hair behind her ear.
"What I meant was, I want you to be a part of my dance studio." The boy clasped his hand over his mouth and turned to his mother jumping up and down.
"Ma, can I!? Please! Can I please!?" Jane looked from her son to the woman and back to her son. She really did want to say yes. Of course she wanted this beyond amazing opportunity for him. By the way that Leo described her accomplishments, Maura seemed like she could get him into some pretty amazing doors. She looked into his face hating herself for what she was about to do.
"Bug, I'm…you know I would say yes in a heartbeat. Especially with how prestigious this all seems to be but…you can't." The boy's face fell immediately and his shoulders sank. Arguing would be useless, because deep down he knew what the answer would be before he asked it. He turned back to face Maura who could tell he was willing himself not to cry.
"I'm sorry, Dr. Isles. I can't." Maura began to panic. She couldn't let this amazing talent go untamed, unseen from the rest of the world.
"Ms. Rizzoli, if I may ask. Why not?"
"Look, Dr. Isles I really appreciate the time you're trying to give my kid. We're both really grateful, but honestly…I wouldn't be able to afford you. I'm sorry." Jane reached down and grabbed her son's duffle bag and his hand and they started once again toward the car. Maura was in full 'Oh Shit' mode with the fact that he was slipping away echoing in her head.
"Wait!" They both stopped without turning around and the blonde rushed to stand in front of them again. "Maybe we could work something out. I just can't stand to see such a talent go unappreciated. He needs to be in a studio…he needs to be in my studio-"
"No please, just…just here me out. You bring him for an audition. He will go through a process with other boys his age. Then he will come in for a private audition." At the word audition the boy's ears perked up.
"Wait I have to audition. Hundreds of dancer try out for this every year. How many open spots do you have?" The blonde looked down and swallowed thickly.
"…thirty, but most of them will not be in your age group. And Leonardo, rest assured. You will make it through. Trust me. And once you're in the company, then we can talk about how much you can afford."
Jane contemplated this for a while. Chewing on her lip, she looked at Maura's pleading eyes. She started to shake her head, but before she could say anything Maura spoke again. "Please, Ms. Rizzoli. Just an audition."
With a sigh Jane finally relented. "Fine, just an audition." The boy immediately leapt into his mother's arms and squeezed her tightly.
"Thanks, Ma, you're the best. And you too, Dr. Isles!"
Willing herself not to run to the woman and throw her arms around her neck, Dr. Isles settled for a curt nod and a smile. "Thank you, Ms. Rizzoli," she said lowely.
"Uh huh." Jane said mockingly as she smirked at the blonde woman. Maura reached into her bag and handed Jane her business card.
"Here. You can email me personally and I will send you the audition information and itinerary." Jane took the card and smiled. Without another word she wrapped her arm around her son's shoulders and walked to their car.
My diamond. I found them…That's not what I meant. Him. I found him.
"Lee?" Jane called from the bathroom. She was sitting on the toilet seat after she had repeatedly offered him her help only to be shut down.
I'm fine. I can do it, Ma.
She'd simply rolled her eyes and waited for him to slip into his swimming trunks. You're my son. I've seen you naked before. He'd looked at her with terror on his face, claiming that there were a few things that had changed since he was in diapers.
When Leo was younger he was practically her shadow. Her son followed her around, fiercely independent and a tad bit nosey. But of course he got that second part from his Nona. He was always doing everything she did and wanted for a long time to be a police officer. That is until he discovered dance, from some television show none the less. She encouraged his dream to be a dancer in any way she could; right now though she wasn't so sure that dancing was safer than being a cop.
"You don't have to stay with me. I'm just gonna sit here," he grumbled. She looked up to him in his blue trunks, arms folded over his skinny chest covered by a thick thermal jacket. Bruises appeared on the pale skin of his feet already a throbbing shade of purple and yellow.
Sighing Jane reached out to him. "I was gonna see if you needed help getting in the tub. I don't want you to hurt yourself…more." She grimaced as he rolled his shoulders and winced slightly in pain.
"I got it," she couldn't help but smile at his determined little waddle up to the tub. He slowly raised his leg struggling and her hands automatically went up to wrap around his shoulders. He didn't push her away this time, but grabbed her wrist to hoist his other leg over the edge and it was only then did she notice the calluses on the palms of his soft hands, no doubt put there by the ballet barre. She let him go so he could hold on to the wall slowly sitting down into the freezing tub.
Settled in with his head resting on the wall behind him, he exhaled a long breath before looking up at her. "Thanks, Ma." He looked pitiful really. Jane had taken one look at the itinerary that Dr. Isles had emailed her and she could feel her nerves begin to build. The woman had said Leo was a prodigy and wouldn't have any trouble with the auditions, but she knew her son. He'd never had any formal training because she couldn't afford it on a beat cop's salary. He'd get there and kill himself just to be good enough.
They were separated the moment they got to the studio, which looked more like a gutted mansion with cream colored walls and chandleries hanging from the high ceilings. Once the dancers were inside the main studio, the parents were taken to an auditorium across a large green space for a meeting. 405. The most students to audition there at the same time in the IDC history and only thirty spots. Jane sat alone while all the parents talked around her. She'd hoped to see Maura again and get a chance to talk to her about some kind of payment plan, but she was not in the meeting or in the studio when Jane snooped around unattended.
"I'm sorry, bug."
"For what?" he said scrunching up his face.
"Letting you do this. You don't have to go back tomorrow. I'll just email Maura and tell her-"
"What!" he yelped sitting up quickly then slowly sinking back into the tub with a hiss. "Don't do that. It was fun and the instructors weren't as scary as I thought they would be. Some of the kids were kinda stuck up but I made a few friends."
"No," he said teasingly rolling his eyes, "I'm sore. There's a difference." The smirk on his face diminished the moment she crossed her arms and raised her eyebrows. "Ma, really I want to do this…no pain, no gain, right?"
She looked down at him and his goofy grin and shook her head smiling. "On or off?" she said gesturing to the light switch.
"Off. Can you?" She nodded her head as she reached for his speakers turning up the volume of the song he would possibly be auditioning to tomorrow. "Thanks, Ma," he whispered bringing his arms into the tub and sinking down until the water reached the bottom of his rib cage.
"Let me know if you need more ice. I bought six bags."
"I think I got enough," he laughed wiggling himself around like a snake in the ice cubes, his teeth chattering. Chucking, Jane turned off the light and closed the door. She stood for a moment as the sound of O Fortuna bellowed from inside. The woman wasn't sure how that was supposed to help him relax because just the muffled music through the door was making her heart beat faster.
She made her way to the kitchen putting away the takeout containers that her son had hastily eaten. It was nearing midnight when they finally got home from the group auditions, and her poor, gangly, exhausted child couldn't think of anything other than an ice bath. So, she'd ordered from the car arriving at the same time as the delivery driver.
Jane tied the draw strings of the trash bag to take it out to the dumpster when her phone buzzed, sliding across the counter. She looked at the time on the wall and then to her phone that displayed a number, not already saved in her phone.
"Hello?" Jane answered. There was a slight pause before the voice on the other side responded hesitantly.
"You're not sleeping?" Jane's eyebrows shot up at the surprised voice. "Ms. Rizzoli, are you still there?" finally familiarity of the voice hit her and she sat down on the stool next to her dropping the garbage bag to the floor.
"Dr. Isles? I wasn't expecting…um I thought the callbacks would be announced at the meeting tomorrow."
"They will be, but I just wanted to call to…" she trailed off wondering exactly why she had chosen to call this woman at nearly one in the morning. All she knew is that her thoughts kept circling back to Leo and by default back to Jane herself. When they first met the attraction was instant; for Maura at least. It'd been a while since she felt something more than physical for someone and she just could not contain her curiosity. She'd looked at Leo's group audition eyes solely on him. For the better part of an hour she analyzed his movements and pined over what she wanted to start working on in his private lessons. The boy was remarkable. She supposed that's what she'd meant to say when her hands dialed the number in Leo's file. Truly she hadn't expected for anyone to answer, and when Jane's exhausted voice crackled through the line she lost her train of thought.
"I get it." Jane said sighing.
"You get what?"
"Look, I appreciate you calling. I mean it would be better for me to tell him, I guess. It just sucks because he had so much fun and made a few friends which is sometimes hard for him and…anyway I'll tell him he didn't make it so you-"
Maura gasped on the other end of the line. "No! Oh, God no! The opposite actually."
"So, wait. He got in?" Jane picked up her trash bag making her way to the front door.
"Essentially. He passed the general auditions. Now he just has the private audition with me and I'm sure that's going to go well." She smiled to herself. Honestly, watching the boy dance wouldn't be hard at all and she couldn't help but wonder how far she could take him in the future. "I wasn't there today, but a lot of the instructors were telling me how well he was doing. They said he was the best boy in his age group and one of the top in the overall."
"Yeah, well," Jane grinned as she came back in the apartment locking the door and slowly turning to lean her shoulder against it. "I don't think he was expecting it to be that tough. He's in an ice bath right now."
"Hm." The dancer on the other line nodded her head and readjusted herself in her office chair. "I remember those," Maura laughed. "Just make sure he doesn't stay in too long."
Head snapping up, Jane paused before turning slowly toward the bathroom. "How long is too long?"
"Well…really no more than ten minutes but more experienced-"
"Dr. Isles, could you hold on for just a second?" Without waiting for a reply Jane cursed throwing her phone on the counter and sprinted to the bathroom.
Skidding to a stop in front of the door she knocked for half a second before jerking it open so hard that the hinges squeaked. Leo's head popped up just as he was wiping water off of his lower back. The jacket he was wearing lay across the tub and water was already draining out. He stood frozen as his mother ran her hand through her hair then placed it over her heart.
"Good," she said breathlessly, "you got out already."
"Yeah," the boy smirked as he continued drying himself off. "I'm not supposed to stay in more than ten minutes unless I'm more experienced."
"Yeah, I mean I knew that."
"Sure, Ma." Leo grinned up knowingly at his mother and shook his head as he wrapped the towel around his waist. The boy stood wringing his hands and twitching his body awkwardly against the cold. "I'm having a little trouble walking. Could you help me get to my room?"
Her son with his big brown eyes, looking like every bit of her, made her heart melt. "Yeah," Hooking her arms under his, she bent her knees and picked him up, his legs awkwardly wrapping around her waist. "You're getting too tall, bug." She could feel his feet brushing her calves and was grateful that his room was close by. By the time she had let him change into his sleeping clothes-with her eyes covered and her back turned-and got him in to bed and said goodnight, she was beginning to feel the exhaustion seep into her bones as well.
"You're sure you won't get too hot?" She asked through the crack in the door. The boy gave a lopsided grin as he shook his head no pulling at the four pair of sleeping pants he was wearing, snapping the waist band against his stomach.
Jane made her way to the kitchen turning off all the lights in her apartment on the way there. She reached for the handle on the fridge door planning to grab a beer and retire for the night. Beer in hand she turned back to the kitchen counter stopping abruptly. All the blood drained from her fingers and she scrambled over to grab her cell phone. When she glanced at the screen she scrunched her face with a silent fuck…a few silent fucks as she tapped her phone against her head trying to prepare herself.
Taking a deep breath, the brunette brought the phone to her ear. "Dr. Isles?"
"Jane! Is everything okay?"
"Y-Yeah. I just uh forgot you were on the phone," she said slapping her palm against her forehead and rolling her eyes at herself.
"I wouldn't have been for much longer. I wasn't sure if something was wrong Leonardo and you wanted me to call the police."
"The only person that calls him that is his grandmother," Jane chuckled as she turned out the kitchen light. "…and I am the police," she mumbled as an afterthought.
"I don't understand."
"Which part?" Jane inquired jokingly as she pulling down the covers of her comforter and slipped underneath them.
"You're a police officer?"
"Yeah, I am." The brunette injected as much pride as she could in her voice. She loved her job. Even though it kept her up late hours and she had to deal with assholes on a daily bases, she truly couldn't see herself doing anything else. "Hence why I can't pay for your lessons. I wanted to talk to you about that by the way. Got any bright ideas?"
"A few," Maura said smiling as she closed her laptop, putting Jane on speaker phone to put the computer into her bag and fish her keys out of her purse. "Don't worry so much."
"Yeah, well that's kind of my job. Speaking of," glancing at her clock, Jane reached over to turn off her lamp light, "I traded with a buddy for an early shift since your auditions are tomorrow evening. I have to be up in like four hours."
"Oh! I'm sorry, I didn't realize." Maura thought about how it was almost euphoric how easy it was to talk to this woman. They'd only spoken once before, but now it seemed like they'd been knowing each other for a very long time. So easy. So completely easy. Maura groaned at how cliché she sounded. "I'm actually about to head home now myself."
"Where are you?" Jane asked before she even thought about it, but recovered quickly, "Cause it's kind of two in the morning."
"1:45 to be exact," Maura commented softly. "I'm leaving the office. There's a lot of paper work that goes into spring auditions for 400 dancers."
"405…to be exact," Jane sassed back making Maura laugh freely. "But seriously. It's dangerous, especially being there by your lonesome."
"Who says I'm alone?" The teasing tone was absolutely unmistakable and Jane couldn't help but reply back in the like.
"So, what? You got a boyfriend there or something?" Jane held he breathe, unsure of why the hell she decided of all the things in the world to say that.
The dancer was quiet for a moment, contemplating how she wanted to play this. The chemistry was immediate but she wasn't sure if Jane knew what she was actually getting herself into. Finally, she settled on the same tone. "No." she whispered. Jane swallowed audibly, curling and stretching her toes underneath the covers.
"Hm…" she said into the silence. Clearing her throat she croaked, "Well, Doctor. I should probably go."
"Yes, me too."
"Okay. Goodnight?" She said skeptically. Was it weird to say that to her child's possible dance teacher?
Letting out a half Goodnight and half laughing sigh, Maura disconnected the call. Breathing out slowly she locked the door to her office, turned off the main lights in the studio and made her way to her car for a long drive to Beacon Hill.