Maura cocked her head as she arrived on the scene to find a brunette in Dior heels kneeling by the body. She regarded her for a moment before stepping closer so that her shadow fell where the woman was working. "Excuse me. This is my body."
The woman looked up, squinting in the sunlight behind Maura's back. She was silent, as if weighing the moment. "Megan Hunt, Philadelphia M. E.'s office."
Maura waited, but Dr. Hunt turned back to the body and commenced taking samples. "You're out of your jurisdiction, Dr. Hunt."
"Actually, Dr. Isles, your body was transported from my jurisdiction, and that means so was your killer. So I'm just doing my job."
She frowned deeply. "Those conclusions are deeply premature." she pulled on her gloves, snapping them harder than she meant to.
Maura walked around the body and knelt to begin her work. She didn't look at Megan, who said,
"I think you'll find them accurate. But your detective said you wouldn't like it. Guess she was right."
"Jane?" Maura furrowed her brow and looked around the scene. Jane stood with a small group, and Maura noted a man of medium stature and with sandy hair that she didn’t recognize. It would make sense that Dr. Hunt be accompanied by a detective or investigator of some kind, especially if the case warranted a trip to Boston.
"Excuse me," Maura murmured. She stopped her preparations and stood. She walked briskly to the group, but she did not raise her voice. Jane was her colleague, and Maura was not willing to foster any sense of discord there. "Detective Rizzoli, a moment?"
Jane raised her eyebrows, Maura presumed at the formality. "Yes, sure." She detached herself from the group and put her hands on her hips. "What's up, Maura?"
Maura pulled off her gloves and stepped closer. "You let another M. E. begin my crime scene?" she asked, realizing that hurt laced her voice.
"Maura, I..." Jane sighed and looked around, "look I'm sorry. I knew you wouldn't like it, but it looks like we've got a serial killer, and if Philly can help us... They’ve already got three victims."
Before furrowing her brow more deeply, Maura glanced back at the body. "You should have had her wait. It's still our case." And with that, she turned on her heel to walk away.
"Maura..." Jane said through gritted teeth. But Maura continued walking. She had work to do, work that had possibly been compromised by Jane’s haste.
When she returned, Megan stood. "I think I'm done for now. I'd like to conduct the autopsy..."
Maura knelt without looking at her. "I'll conduct the autopsy in the morning, as it will be too late here when I finish. You're welcome to observe."
"It'll be a pleasure, I'm sure." Maura thought she heard Megan chuckle as she walked away.
By the time Maura returned to her office, the body was most likely on its way to cold storage. She shrugged off her jacket, replacing it with a crisp lab coat before she began to unpack the samples she had taken and meticulously label them both for her own storage and some to be sent to the appropriate labs.
The work calmed her, centering her from the scene before. If Jane so readily gave over to a stranger, she must have either felt pressed or the details of the case from Philadelphia were shocking. The body had certainly hinted at the latter, but she did not like to guess. The case file was sitting in the center of her desk--no doubt the result of a quick call from Jane. Maura ran her fingers over the top of it before sitting. She noted the thinness and frowned.
It would have been easy to become absorbed in the details once she’d opened it, but she wanted to finish with her samples first, to have everything in order before seeing what might need to be looking for. She closed it again and went back to the bags, taking them to her microscope to prepare the slides she could do that evening. The sound of the door opening took her attention away, though.
“Don’t tell me you were planning on starting without me.” When she turned, Megan Hunt was standing just inside the glass, arms crossed.
“As I said, I will conduct the autopsy in the morning. 8am.” Maura went back to the microscope, more ruffled than usual at being disturbed.
"And I don't doubt that you'll be punctual. Now, let me buy you a drink."
As the silence settled, Maura straightened, but she didn't turn around. "Excuse me?"
"I said I'm going to buy you a drink. You're not looking at the body yet, so what do you have to loose? Let's go."
When Maura hesitated, Megan smirked. "You might as well take it, Dr. Isles. I don't have a reputation for being friendly."
Maura stood and slowly took her lab coat off. She folded it neatly over the back of her chair. "I'm not aware of your reputation at all, Dr. Hunt."
To her surprise, for a moment Megan looked stunned. But it was true that Maura had not read papers by her or heard her speak. So either she was new to forensic pathology or she hadn't had a career of note, even in the area.
"Well..." Megan put her hands on her hips. "We're going to have to change that."
As she grabbed her jacket, Maura hesitated. Megan’s tone was easy to read. It was not completely business, and it was not completely flip. She was a woman who was not used to being ignored, used to getting what wanted, needed. And this situation was no different. Maura was well aware that this might simply be another tactic in a carefully arranged arsenal.
“Of course. It’ll be good to get to know each other better professionally if we’re to work together on this case.” It was as much of a concession as Maura was willing to make at that moment. and as she walked toward the door, she caught Megan speaking under her breath.
“Professionally, of course.”
Maura sipped the last of her wine, and she did not protest as Megan split the last between the two of them. There wasn’t a full glass left for either of them, but she didn’t complain.
“So you do work for Kate Murphy. I wondered.”
While Megan seemed casual, Maura could see her shoulders tense. Throughout the dinner, she had let herself listen to Megan, get to know her. It would make the case more difficult for everyone involved if she refused to get along with Megan, and her own sense of justice and fairness would not allow her to put her personal feelings before her work and the work of her team.
“Well, it’s an experience, for what that’s worth.” Megan leaned forward, glass in hand. She was smirking again, and it was charming enough that Maura could see how she might use it liberally. “Let’s just say that we don’t always see eye to eye.”
“Kate has always been very serious about her job. We met at a conference when I was just starting. I learned quite a few things from her.” She fingered the rim of her glass, remembering, perhaps not as objectively as she should have.
“Did you?” Megan raised her eyebrows, and Maura could easily read that there was more to that question. She merely smiled. “Well, I’m sure that there are a few things we could compare...”
Maura was thoughtful as she swirled the last of the wine and finished it slowly. “I’d like to bring myself to speed on your case, so I should be getting back.” She stood, smiling again. “Thank you for the drink...and dinner.”
“Any time, Dr. Isles,” Megan said, looking comfortable as she leaned back in her seat to look up at Maura.
“I’ll see you in the morning, then. The detectives are often late. I don’t wait.”
t wasn’t unusual for Maura to arrive early even if she didn’t have an autopsy as the first thing on her schedule. What was unusual was that Jane was waiting for her, two cups of coffee in hand. She looked contrite.
“Good morning, Jane.” Maura took the coffee as the brunette offered it, and she held the door to her office open as Jane followed her. That she was surprised went without saying.
“I thought you’d be here last night...going through samples or looking over the case file...”
Maura glanced up as she was sitting behind her desk. It wasn’t unusual for Jane to drop by if they were on a case...if she was waiting, impatiently, for results. There would have been no results the nigh before, however.
“I went to dinner with Dr. Hunt, actually.” Maura took the case file out of her briefcase. It had seemed natural after one drink, after all. One had to eat.
“Oh...” Jane was half poised to perch on her desk, and there was too long a moment where she paused as if thinking better of it before doing it anyway.
“If she’s to be working with us, I’d like to get to know her better. I’d hate for the process to be difficult because of tensions.” Maura opened her laptop so as not to look at Jane’s face. She wasn’t sure she was ready to question the reaction she had seen a moment before, and neither of them had time that morning.
“Yeah, of course. I should have called you before...well, anyway, I’m sorry.” Jane was pushing off of the desk, stepping back. “I’ll see you in a little while...oh, Dunlap, Dr. Hunt’s partner, will be joining. I don’t think you met yesterday.. Enjoy the coffee.”
Maura looked up. “Thank you, Jane.” There was a moment where they both paused, and Jane stood in the doorway as if she were uncertain. But before Maura could speak to break the silence, Jane simply gave her a half smile and ducked out.
She watched as the brunette walked away, noting that Jane’s jacket was too big and one of the rolled up sleeves was falling down her forearm. There was something heavy about the way the apology hung in the air, and there was none of the satisfaction it should have brought. But Maura had work to do, so she pushed it away.
Maura did not look up from the toxicology report as Megan held the container of the victim’s stomach contents up to the light. the autopsy had been as revealing as the ones Dr. Hunt had conducted herself had proven to be--that is to say, they hadn’t learned anything new at all.
What Maura did learn was that Megan Hunt was patient only in a limited capacity, and that puzzled her.
“Stomach contents....same as the other victims.”
At this, Maura did pull the totality of her concentration away from the reading. “The lab hasn’t confirmed that yet.”
“Looks the same.” She watched as Megan lifted the lid and sniffed. “And smells the same. So I’m comfortable theorizing without the hardcopy in hard that our victim was fed the same thing as the others.
“I’m not,” Maura replied before looking at the folder again. And she wasn’t. Even if all obvious signs pointed to Megan’s conclusion--her theory--there might be something else, something they couldn’t see. Guessing was only accurate to the degree of how many variables were present. The more variables, the less of a guess it became. And Maura did not guess.
“You don’t cut corners, do you?”
“Not even when you know you’re taking the right shortcut?” Megan was smirking. Maura could hear it in her voice, and she looked up.
“It’s not my job to take shortcuts.”
Megan put the container back into the fridge before placing both hands on an empty autopsy table and resting on them. “It’s our job to find answers...sometimes before the proof is conclusive.”
“Rushing leads to mistakes,” Maura stood, closing the folder with a snap she hadn’t intended. “We don’t work in a vacuum, and mistakes can be fatal. Excuse me, I need a cup of coffee.”
“Excellent idea, Dr. Isles. My treat.”
Maura tensed. I was clear that Megan worked half on assumptions in every aspect of her life, and while Maura understood that sort of behavior from Jane, here it was different. “I’m just going upstairs.”
“Oh, no.” Megan pushed off of the table and put her hands on her hips with the grace of someone striking a pose marred by a tinge of unwieldy motherly authority. “There’s no point in drinking that when you don’t have to. And since we have to wait for your lab results anyway, it’s not going to hurt to get some air...maybe check up on what your detectives are doing in the field.”
As Megan pulled her bag onto her shoulder, Maura watched silently, her head cocked. There was a strange sort of draw in the cavalier attitude covering such a fierce drive. There was a precision to it that she could appreciate. Finally, she smoothed her skirt.
“Megan, is this all a game to you?” she asked quietly.
Megan met her eyes without blinking. “Only the part that isn’t going to tip the balance in this case when all is said and done...Maura.”
Maura considered the words as they fell and weighed their worth in what Megan hadn’t said. She should have been affronted, but she knew that choice was hers, as was the choice to do her job as efficiently as possible and move to the next case as Megan went back to her own. She wasn’t ready to make up her mind.
“There’s a coffee shop two blocks from here. I believe you’ll find it satisfactory.”
Maura stepped out of her car and grabbed her bag just before a gust of wind slammed the door shut. She tried to gather her curls into her hand, but the wind caught them, only tangling them.
“This way, Doc,” one of the uniformed patrolmen said, squinting against the irregular guests. She followed into the alleyway, which provided shelter from the wind but amplified the noise. Megan Hunt was already there, but instead of hunched over the body, Maura found her surrounded by a group of detectives, yelling over the sounds.
Maura approached, her heels hitting the uneven brick hard.
“...certain it’s him. She was killed probably an hour ago, not more than two...”
As she caught the words Maura frowned. She had come as soon as possible, not long after the detectives themselves. She knew there hadn’t been time to conduct a thorough field analysis. Instead of going directly to the group, she redirected her steps, turned to the body. The alley was not wholly a refuge from the wind, and she wondered how much of their evidence had been disturbed.
She knelt focusing on the girl’s pale face, the dark eyes that stared into nothing. Maura took out a needle, puncturing one with precision and control to withdraw fluid in order to check vitreous potassium levels. Her face was impassive as she catalogued and put the vial away. There was an eerie sort of quiet in that spot alone, and the wind seemed distant. The girl was young--well within the age range of their killer. She looked similar to the other girls--dark hair, pale eyes, small. For a moment, Maura almost felt the urge to apologize to her--for what, she wasn’t sure.
She began the task of collecting DNA, swabbing impassively, her movements methodical. She did not disturb the position of the body before taking a step back. This wasn’t like the first Boston victim. Maura could see the little details betraying carelessness. The body was not perfectly positioned, the wounds were not as precise. This alone created a sense of urgency. She knew they could have another victim before the night was through. But Maura took her time in kneeling once again.
The scene had been photographed and taped already. Maura took one of the girl’s hands, lifting it gently. She furrowed her brow but glanced up sharply when an empty Coke can clanged at the mouth of the alley before a uniformed officer crushed it underfoot. The girl’s fingernails had not been cut. Maura quickly but carefully slid a bag over one hand and then the other.
“Jane,” she called, sure that with the acoustics of the alley, her voice would carry. She did not look up when she saw the brunette’s shadow fall over her. “There seems to be organic material underneath her fingernails. The killer was not as meticulous this time.”
“Organic material like...skin...hair? I mean, what are we talkin’ here, Maura?” Jane asked. Maura could hear the tension in her voice. It was no doubt reflected in her stance, in the set of her jaw. She finally looked up.
“I won’t know if its human tissue, something yielding DNA, until we run tests. But even organic material such as soil or mold would help, Jane. There’s been nothing else...”
“I know,” Jane said, the pitch of her voice higher than usual. “It’s just that Dr. Hunt says the murder was committed an hour ago, and we’ve gotta get this guy...we’ve got a chance now.”
Finally, Maura stood. “The time of death,” she began, shifting as she glanced toward the approaching Dr. Hunt, “is likely closer to over two hours ago.”
“Damn it...just...let’s just get her back to the morgue and get everything to the lab, okay?”
Maura nodded to the morgue technicians who were waiting with a stretcher, and she stepped past Megan, their sleeves touching as she went after Jane. She pulled her gloves off before touching the brunette’s sleeve.
“I’m doing the best I can...”
When Jane turned to her, Maura could see the desperation, the frustration and lack of sleep. Two bodies in Boston with three more in Philadelphia...and the possibility of more there, perhaps elsewhere. And Jane felt it was all on her shoulders, just as she felt everything rested there. Maura did not have to guess to know that.
“I know.” She cleared her throat and put her hands on her hips for only a moment before she began to wring them, running her thumbs over the knotted scars. “I know.”
As Jane walked away, Maura made for the mouth of the alley. She could hear Megan’s measured steps behind her, and as she got to the mouth of the alley she turned. A gust of wind whipped her hair into her face, and she pulled it aside uselessly.
“This is my case,” she said firmly. “It’s my job to keep the detectives informed. It’s my job not to make mistakes.”
They’re eyes met for a moment, but as Megan took a breath, Maura turned on her heel. She wanted to get back. She had her own weight on her shoulders.
The heels pinched her feet as she slipped them back on. A full autopsy hadn’t been necessary, but Maura needed a way to pass the hours between waiting for test results and after that waiting for word from the detectives. There was no place for her on the actual manhunt, and she was glad for it.
“There’s nothing left to do tonight.” Megan was standing in the doorway, watching. Maura had been studiously ignoring her, and Megan seemed content with that until then. “Nothing left but waiting.”
Maura glanced at the clock. It was close to 3am, and while she had seen the hour before more than once since they had caught the case, she had to blink to reconcile the hour.
“You don’t apologize, do you?” Megan chuckled as she crossed her arms. She was regarding Maura thoughtfully, and Maura was irked by it almost immediately. She began to gather her things.
“Not where it isn’t necessary, no.”
“Well,” Megan pushed off of the door and sauntered toward Maura, her long arms swinging beside her. “I guess I deserve that,” she said as she ran her fingertips across the edge of one of the counters.
“I don’t like to jump to conclusions, not when things hang in the balance.” Maura closed her purse and settled it on her shoulder. She folded her coat over her arm. The brisk air on the walk to the car, she thought, would do her good. Normally, she made the walk alone.
“I like to have a working theory at all times. Nothing is so rigid that it’s immediately set in stone.”
They fell in step beside each other, heels clicking against the tile. Maura was silent in the fluorescent lighting of the hallway. She stopped, her hand on the exit door. “Lives are always hanging in the balance--the dead and the living.”
Megan touched her arm. “They’re going to get him tonight, Maura.”
“I know.” It was like something electric, and Maura neither pulled away from the touch nor took her eyes off of Megan. Neither of them vocalized the decision for Megan to follow her to her car, and Maura did not ask the directions to her hotel. She had taken her there several times during her stay. It was fatigue and it was nerves...and it was everything Maura kept so tidily inside of herself, everything she knew that sometimes she had to act upon...to stay sane, to stay grounded.
And there was more than that. The casual way Jane allowed her to be pushed aside, the way she had relied so easily on answer that Megan had given instead of the painstaking ones Maura tried to compile. Maura was still frustrated at the disruption to what normalcy they kept in their erratic routines, to the small niceties they afforded each other without much question. And she had let it build for too long.
The streetlights cast long shadows over them, one by one, as they passed, but she did not glance away from the road. She parked carefully and counted the clicks of their heels as she followed Megan past the lobby doors and into the elevator. Megan reapplied her lipstick automatically using her reflection in one of the mirrored walls. The movements were as precise as any with a scalpel, and Maura watched with vague interest, noting mentally how unnecessary the gesture was given the nature of their destination.
The sound of the bell announcing the floor was muffled by the beating of her heart, but somehow the click of the key sliding in and out of the lock seemed to echo to Maura. When the door closed and latched shut behind them she felt Megan pressing her back into it, and it seemed that when she dropped her purse it fell in slow motion. The contents spilled at her feet, and Maura tasted lipstick and gum, and heat.
She felt the heavy silk of Megan’s blouse underneath her fingertips, and she pulled at it, pulling it out of her skirt, fumbling with the buttons as they sank to the floor. She felt a tube of lipstick underneath her hips, spilled Tylenol from a container that had somehow gotten open dotting the floor underneath her back. She felt the heat of Megan’s skin underneath her palms.
Maura didn’t close her eyes, and she was not surprised when Megan met hers, when they paused, her hands on Megan’s breasts and Megan’s pushing up her skirt. But the moment was not long enough for thought, and she felt Megan’s lips on her neck, the heat of her tongue and the force of her teeth drawing a moan from Maura.
It could be so easy to get lost. Megan’s perfume smelled of citrus and verbena. It pulsed with her heartbeat, and Maura breathed it in as she nipped at her ear. She scraped her nails over Megan’s nipples, pinching them lightly, shuddering at the feel of Megan’s fingers pushing into her. Maura’s body responded as she wanted it to respond, as she needed it to, and Megan pushed, gave her exactly what she hadn’t asked for but wanted anyway.
She shifted, her skirt wrinkling underneath her as she opened her legs, pressing one between Megan’s. It was wanton; it was a release. It was precisely what Maura sought without letting herself think about it too much. But she was thinking about it too much, and as pleasantly overwhelming as it was, as temping as Megan was in her arms, she pulled away.
“We should both get some rest,” she said, shifting as Megan shifted, countering her movements. Perhaps what she had let build had become too much, and this...this wasn’t the release Maura needed. She had realized that too late. Megan blinked in surprise as she leaned back on her hands.
“Rest isn’t exactly what I had in mind.”
“I have to go.” Maura began to quickly gather the things that had spilled out of her handbag. She scooped the scattered pills into her hand and looked around for a trash to dump them in. Megan caught her wrist.
“What the hell?” She wasn’t used to watching anyone walk away, not like this at least. Maura wasn’t used to not following through. she pulled away, standing fully as she shouldered the handbag.
“I’m sorry. Goodnight.”
The night air was colder than Maura remembered it to be earlier. She wasn’t sure how much time had passed, but she didn’t look at her watch even though it rested heavily around her wrist. It seemed eerily calm after the wind earlier. She hadn’t noticed that when she and Megan left, but that short trip was a blur.
Her hands felt cold as she took out her keys, and the scent of Megan’s perfume lingered in her car when she got in. Or perhaps she imagined that. The streetlights cast their long shadows over her once again and disappeared almost entirely as she navigated narrower streets, driving as much by memory as anything else.
As she parked, the sky was still dark, and the lights at the front of the brick building had bright halo. Maura went in quietly, but with each step up the stairs inside, the sound of her heels seemed to resound decidedly. She hesitated before knocking on the door. No one had called. She wasn’t sure Jane would be home, wasn’t sure she wouldn’t still be out, or back at her desk with a cup of coffee and something too sugary to eat. There had been other nights like that--for both of them. She knew there was the chance that she would wake her.
But just as Maura was about to turn away, she heard the sound of the chain sliding. he hugged herself against the chill in the hall as Jane opened the door.
“Maura,” Jane said quietly. She was blinking in the light of the hallway, and her eyes were bloodshot from lack of sleep. “Hey...it’s...late, uh...early. Is everything okay?”
Maura clasped her hands in front of her and made a concerted effort not to twist them. Suddenly, she was all too aware of her wrinkled skirt, her disheveled hair. The glare of the lights in the hall seemed too strong. “I stayed to do the autopsy. I thought I might hear something before I left...” She looked up, meeting Jane’s eyes. The brunette was in a coffee stained t-shirt, and her pants were unbuttoned. “Everyone is all right?”
“Yeah...the partial print led us to his place, and then it was a chase, but we got him eventually. And once the full DNA results come in... I mean...you’ll hear about it tomorrow.” She ran her hand through her tangled hair and glanced back into the apartment. “Is everything okay?” she asked again. “ You look...uh, wrinkled, actually.”
Maura automatically smoothed her skirt. “I’m fine. Jane, I...”
“Everything okay out there, Jane?” Maura heard a voice call. Her eyes widened when she realized the sonority was distinctly male and not completely familiar but not wholly new. She felt herself take a small step back as Jane turned partially into the apartment.
“Yeah...just...it’s... I’ll be right there, okay?”
“I’m sorry,” Maura said, shaking her head as she smiled apologetically. She hadn’t thought...she hadn’t thought at all that Jane might not be alone, that she might have wanted to...celebrate somehow. “I didn’t realize you... I should go.” Maura had not fully sorted what brought her there, even though she knew it was the irresistible pull of a tension neither of them had yet to fully acknowledge. She realized now that it was a tension that was one sided.
Jane glanced back into the apartment before stepping into the hall, leaving the door cracked open. The brunette was more alert now, and Maura could see the tension in her muscles. “No, it’s okay. I just... We got him, and I should’ve called you. I’m sorry... I just... I’m sorry.”
“No,” Maura replied, shaking her head, smiling still even though her throat felt tight. “I’m glad... I... Enjoy your...morning, Jane.” As soon as she turned, the smile faded, and she walked away as briskly as she could manage without seeming to run. Her eyes burned with fatigue, and Maura told herself that there was no way she was thinking clearly.
There was no way any of them were thinking clearly. Adrenaline, sleep deprivation, caffeine... One could only survive so long on those to fill the spaces between too few quiet moments. When she stepped outside, the sky had turned nondescript grey, and the lamps were pale against it. The chill was firm, betraying the day it preceded. As she got into her hair, her entire body felt heavy. She had just enough time to shower and change at home before going back to work, if she was to go in at her usual time.
The schedule was a comfort. She focused on the road and on the morning ahead, and while that did nothing to clear her head, it kept her away until she pulled into her lonely drive. And for a moment, as the garage door closed automatically to put her in darkness again, she squeezed her eyes shut and took a shuddering breath. Then Maura stepped out briskly to prepare for the day.
Her joints felt stiff and even the lightness of her dress didn’t make Maura feel any less tired. She checked the coffee pot to see if the brew was fresh, and she let herself listen to some of the chatter going on behind her as she poured herself a cup. It was clear that quite a few people were tired, overworked, but the air of excitement still hung. And for some, Maura guessed, it did not yet feel empty.
“No need to drink that.” She flinched at the sound of Megan’s voice, and for too long a moment she did not look up to see that the brunette was carrying two cups from the shop they’d gone to days before. “I thought you might need a cup.” Megan smirked. “I sure as hell did.”
“It’s...” Maura’s attention was taken away from a moment as Jane walked into the room. There were circles under her eyes, but she grinned at the group of officers and detectives that tipped their coffee cups toward her. When Jane’s eyes met hers, the brunette’s smile faded, and Maura turned back to Megan. “This is fine. Thank you,” she said with quiet force.
She saw Megan glance to Jane and raise her eyebrows, but Maura did not stay to invite conversation. Briskly, she began to walk to the elevator, and she had to bite back a sigh when she had to wait. It didn’t surprise her that Megan followed, but she was quiet.
Maura told herself she was simply being professional. And after the investigation, the frenzy that ended it, she thought that was perhaps what they all needed, what she needed.
“Detective Rizzoli,” Megan said as the elevator began to descend. “Can’t believe I didn’t see that one.”
“Excuse me?” Maura felt herself gripping her cup too hard, and she forced in a breath. Her throat felt raw. “I don’t think that insinuation is appropriate, Dr. Hunt.”
Megan’s laugh seemed grating, and it was cut off by the bell announcing the floor. Maura stepped out of the elevator and hurried toward her office, keeping her hand steady so as not to spill the coffee. She didn’t want to hear more. Not from Megan Hunt, not then.
“Look, if that’s the reason you left last night...well...” Maura rounded her desk and sat just in time to see Megan shrug. “I get that there’s some kind of sloppy appeal there. And that hair...” She shook her head, and Maura couldn’t tell if it was in distaste or thoughtfulness.
“Jane is a friend.” Maura said it as if reminding herself. She opened her computer and fixed her eyes to the screen. It was all the explanation she was willing to offer for why she left, and that Megan didn’t need more was obvious. Maura hoped her own disappointment wasn’t.
“What you’re doing or...not doing,” she said too pointedly, “with your detective isn’t really my business. But from my take on it, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t forget about last night and,” Megan smirked as she shrugged, “make tonight more successful.”
“No.” Maura snapped the laptop closed suddenly and stood once again. She shook her head before running her fingers through her hair, smoothing it nervously. “I mean, yes. Yes, we should forget about last night. I apologize. It was...impulse...and...”
“Sleep deprivation. Jesus, Maura, it’s not the first night I’ve had like that. Though, I’ve never had anyone walk out on me like that, and I’d like to make damn sure it doesn’t happen again. So, if you want to make those impulses a little more...contained, I can handle that.”
“This is not a game!” Maura snapped, immediately taking a step back as if realizing she was the one who did it. She shook her head again as if trying to shake the right word, the right feelings lose. But the entire problem was that--that she had finally taken hold of the feelings that were not fleeting, and it left her with nothing.
“Oh my God,” Megan said slowly, the realization playing over her face in a way that was finally uncalculated. “You’re actually in love with her.” She shook her head slowly before turning around. Maura’s heart was racing, but any denial was stuck in her throat. She was till staring when Megan turned over her shoulder to say, “My invitation still stands. Impulse...forgetting...it’s all the same thing.”
The squad room was relatively quiet when Maura walked in, folder tucked underneath her arm. She paused a moment at the sight of Jane hunched slightly over her keyboard. The brunette straightened at the sound of her footfall.
“These are the DNA results,” Maura said, proffering the folder. “The partial print might have helped you catch him, but this matches the skin under the last victim’s fingernails. It should help put him away.”
Jane took the folder, but she didn’t open it. “Thanks.” Maura watched as she glanced about the half empty room and stood, stepping closer. “Maura, about last night...”
As if to stop the words, Maura put up her hand. “It’s okay, Jane. I understand. I’m sorry I...interrupted.”
“It was just...” Jane began to twist her hands but stopped abruptly and put them in her pockets. “You know how it can be after a case like this one. Just with everything...and it, uh, you know...it doesn’t mean anything, but...” She shrugged.
“Of course,” Maura replied, an automatic and generic smile coming to her face. “The adrenaline...”
“Yeah...” Jane nodded and smiled as i they had just come to an understanding, and she glanced around to confirm that no one had heard. “Well, I should...” She picked up the folder and Maura nodded.
“I’ll have the full autopsy report tomorrow.” Maura was already taking a step back, extracting herself from the moment with less care than she ordinarily might have taken. She merely nodded to Jane before turning toward the elevator. The weight of the conversation clung to her shoulders, preoccupying her to the point that the sound of the doors opening startled her.
“Dr. Isles.” She met Peter Dunlap’s eyes as she stepped past her out of the elevator. She merely nodded, thankful that the doors were already closing her in before she had to speak.
The sky behind her was pale with the last of the sunset when Maura pulled into the parking garage. She wound around two levels before finding a spot close to the elevators. A walk through the dampness and the chill of the concrete might make her change her mind. When the elevator doors opened into a lonely hotel hall, she felt like going back on the decision then would make her a coward.
There was no sense in spending the evening alone when she did not have to, when there were so many others where she did. She remembered the room number, and by the time she reached it, Maura did not hesitate to knock. She closed herself off to all of the other decisions she had made before and merely looked forward. There was always time for looking backward, and now she felt some obligation to make up for her miscalculation.
When the door opened she smiled, almost apologetically. There were moments where she had lost herself. Maura was determined that this was to be one of them.