Chapter 1: We Were Tethered By The Sea
A/N: inspired by a gifset going around on tumblr that swapped out Hannibal for Maura, this thing popped into my head and hasn't left for weeks. It's dark and twisted and has Rizzles. If blood and guts and all that isn't your bag, then turn back now. Cause this is going to have it all. Draws strongly on the book 'Hannibal' as well as the show. Some 'Silence of the Lambs' will be showing up at some point. Bon appetit.
I tap him against the temple. He stirs just a little and opens his eyes, trying to focus in the dark.
The boat rocks gently back and forth as I stand above him and I feel the slightest surge of power course through me. I enjoy the view from up here. He looks around and then looks at me, confused.
"Hello, Adam." I am polite, despite his past discourtesy towards me. I even prop him up so that he is sitting.
He tries to speak, but the tape over his mouth just butchers my name to "Mmmorahh." I roll my eyes at his attempt as I kneel down in front of him.
A trickle of blood makes its way down from his hairline where the ship's boom collided with him.
He looks out over the water; maybe for help, maybe for point of land to understand where we are, and I press my thumb into the laceration. He rolls his head back trying to escape the pain and screams against the tape. I'm sure I could easily squirm under his scalp if I truly wanted to.
"Do you remember summers on the Cape?" I keep my hand steady and he looks at me with one eye, his other closed and stained by blood. I'm sure he tells me to go fuck myself, and this time I press my thumb further. Separating skin from muscle; his bound hands pounding hard against his leg.
He nods this time and I pull a handkerchief from my pocket and clean my hand as I stand back up.
"Good," I say and step back. Kicking the bottom of his loafer, I look him over; "You look cheap."
I can see him turning the memories over in his head in the dullness of the moonlight; like the complexities of watch. The gears attempting to tick and click into place and move forward. And then it does. I know because his good eye widens.
"Yes. I do remember you calling me that once." He had as he held me down.
Now I'm sure I hear him say 'I'm sorry'. Over and over.
My hand slips into my pocket and I can feel the cool metal there. Bringing my hand out, I flick my wrist and the blade clicks happily. He is leaning away from me now as I kneel back beside him.
His smug sense of entitlement has all but withered away. It seeps out of the Fairfields. I feel anger well inside me. I steady myself and resist the urge to slit his throat. That can wait.
"I'm having a dinner party this weekend. Your family is invited." I trail the curve of the knife down his gaudy sweater. I press harder and the strands separate. I pull his shirt open and rest my hands on my knees.
"Sweet breads." I tap the center of his chest with the knife's handle. "They are commonly prepared by soaking in salt water and then being poached in milk." I don't know why I bother explaining it to him. Though all things considered, he is going to be a course.
"Adam, would you prefer an appetizer or..." I pull the knife away from his chest and smile. I tap the blade against my teeth. "Dessert. I'll save you for last."
His eyes shut tightly and tears mix with his sweat. "Your thymus gland gets its name from the Greek word thumos, meaning life. Heart. Soul. Desire." I smile as I push the knife's point against him and am rewarded with a small rising of blood.
"It can also translate to mean anger." I push further until I feel the blade press against the bone of his sternum. He is struggling against the ropes and I don't particularly care for the sounds he is making, like some kind of wounded animal.
I lean in close to his ear and pull my knife out. "I am going to crack open your chest, Adam."
His breath hitches as I stand. And that's where I want him to stay, suspended just before his diaphragm contracts and his lungs expand. I move my hand low across him. Swiftly. And when the blade severs his carotid I am blessed with arterial spray. It tastes like copper and wine.
I cut his ropes and open the fuel tank of the small inboard motor. I dip them in like wicks and let them soak while I retrieve my tote from the cabin below. I travel lightly on nights like this. My knife, a single scalpel and a small bone saw, as well as ziplocks and an insulated bag for what I take. To keep it cool. Fresh.
He's choking on his own blood and slumped on his side; in between the motions of breathing. I push my foot into his chest and he rolls onto his back. His hand comes up limply in some desperate attempt to fight me off and I push it back down gently beside him.
I press my scalpel firmly against the opening the knife had made earlier and splay him.
I steer the boat towards a wooded area near the coast to an opening I had scouted earlier. Tossing my items on the clearing I pull the wheel hard to port and, kneeling, light the ropes I left soaking. I push the throttle forward completely and jump off into water waist high.
Making my way to shore, I gather my things and watch the boat move out into the distance and to open water. If the explosion doesn't destroy the body he will be reduced to bones by scavengers on the ocean floor. Picked clean of features. Stripped of anything and forgotten.
I place my tote into the trunk of my car, and open a small black trash bag with dry clothes. I change quickly and store my wet clothes away in the bag. I will dispose of them when I arrive home.
Getting in I can't help but notice the envelope sitting in the passenger seat with 'Jane' neatly written across the front of it. I pick it up and feel a small sense of pride well in my chest at the penmanship. I had taken my time with those four simple letters. They were perfect.
I wanted to be formal with the invitation, though part of me wanted to ask her directly to gauge her reaction. Would she assume that I was asking it in terms of friendship? Or dissect that I meant it in the form of a date, perhaps? I preferred the latter.
I place the envelope back on the seat and start my car just as I hear a sound in the distance.
Like thunder before a monstrous storm.
Chapter 2: Mercury Rising
A/N: Some Hannibal and Silence of the Lambs references sprinkled in here
I sleep more soundly than I have in weeks. My dreamscapes are canvases of black. Expanses of the color where no light seeps through. I welcome it in place of what usually mars my subconscious.
My phone's alarm goes off and gently beginnings of Bach's Goldberg Variations fills the room. I let it play for some time, raising my hand above me as I turn onto my back and conduct to an absent audience. I keep in time with my movements and the cadence rolls over me.
It is such an anomalous feeling, peace.
Rising from bed I shut my alarm off and check my messages. Various emails remind me of online sales. Burberry. Armani. I receive multiple culinary newsletters. I vaguely wonder if they have any recipes for the new induction chilling in my refrigerator.
The sound of a notification on my phone brings me back from my thoughts. It is Jane asking for a large, double caramel iced coffee with cream and four sugars, as well as an espresso shot. I will get her soy. She never notices anyway with all the refined sugars.
I text her back and remind her of our yoga class at noon and I only receive a frowning emoticon. I can picture her face matching the small pixelated one perfectly. I laugh as I open my closet.
In the kitchen I feed Bass and make myself a cup of coffee. I look out the window and feel an inkling of tranquility. And for a moment everything is still. Quiet. Much like I felt the night I watched Adam Fairfield bleed out. I feel calm. I try to hold on to it; without it I become unhinged. Dismantled.
It's a feeling that has been settled in my heart since I can remember. I feel it move through me with each beat of the muscle.
Recently though I realize that something else has replaced it. Something I can put a name and a face to. She is a light in the corner of something dark inside of me.
I wish I knew how to place what she does. How she does it. I want to put it neatly in a box and compartmentalize it. Her.
But I can't.
I haven't been able to for some time now. She is an algorithm. Complex and measureless beyond my means.
I finish my cup and place it in the sink before grabbing my keys and heading to her.
"Pain is only in your mind," I whisper before lowering myself into the downward dog position.
"Feels like my leg," Jane says and she loses her balance; "My mind has a cramp."
She re-adjusts and steadies herself, then arches her back. I catch myself staring at her from the corner of my eye as she lowers herself down to the mat. I lick my lips and try to find inner peace.
The sound of Jane's phone ringing conjures up a slew of muffled annoyances from the room as well as the instructor into our space. He kneels in front of Jane as she answers with a roll of her eyes. His name is Brock and I am suddenly remembering I have a date with him tonight.
And Jane will be there with Jorge. The idea tugs at me though am I the one that arranged it. I have a hypothesis. Jane hates the idea of the date. But she is a variable even if she isn't aware.
Laying flat on her stomach, Jane ends the call and looks at me and I am doing my best to not make eye contact with her.
"We have a body," she says, pushing herself up and standing above me.
I open my eyes and think of Adam Fairfield being swept along by the Transatlantic current. His body being dragged across the ocean floor. Falling apart and disintegrating. No. It won't be that body.
Gathering our things we leave the class. Brock walks with us to the door; "I'm looking forward to tonight," and turns on his best charm.
I smile and Jane places her hand into the small of my back, hurrying me along out the door. Outside she comes up beside me and bumps her shoulder into mine. Looking at her, she sticks her finger into her mouth and feigns a retching sound.
I stifle a laugh and find myself sharing the sentiment.
I am holding the test results in my hand and Jane looks as though she wants to hide before the words leave her mouth; "You mean like a dildo?"
I am taken aback slightly by her embarrassment of the subject and suppress a small smile.
"Yes. I believe that is the popular term for it."
She looks at me blankly for a moment and nods her head. I decide to change the subject as I pass her and head to my office. I try not to think of what it would feel like to move inside of her that deeply.
"What time is Jorge picking you up?" I push open my door and turn; facing her abruptly. Jane stops in her tracks and her face contorts into a grimace.
"Half past I'd-rather-be-on-my-couch-with-a-beer."
"He's sexy. Every time he looks at you he contracts his orbicularis oculi and pars orbitalis."
"Huh?" her face falls flat.
I turn around and walk into my office. "It means when he looks at you his eyes widen just a little," I say over my shoulder as she follows. She is a sight.
I open the side drawer to my desk and take the invitation out; "Speaking of dates." I hand the envelope to Jane. She looks between us for a beat and pulls firmly on the envelope, bringing me a step towards her.
"If that's the case I could say you do the same."
Her proximity makes me dizzy. She smirks and steps back, the envelope in her hand. "What's this?"
She flips it over in her hand and tugs on the flap. I am twirling the ring on my finger. Unhinged.
"It's dinner." She looks up from the invitation at me and raises an eyebrow; "A dinner invitation. A party."
"I see. It asks if I'll be bringing a plus one." She taps the parchment against her open palm.
"That depends." She shrugs her shoulders.
"On what?" And I find myself at the mercy of this dance with her. It has become commonplace between us and I revel in it. Innuendo.
"On if I can ask the hos-"
"Rizzoli!" Crowe yells from the lab.
I can see Jane's demeanor change. Her jaw tightens and she tosses the invitation on my desk before she turns.
"I hear you're going undercover at the dyke club." Crowe's smile is smug and he pulls on his belt buckle.
"Not really much of an undercover job for you."
I can hear Jane cluck her tongue against the roof of her mouth and scoff through a laugh; "Fuck you, Crowe."
"Hey, I've offered." He raises his hands in faux defense.
I find myself flexing the muscles in my jaw. I want to cut out his tongue.
"Go upstairs and kiss your brass," Jane says, walking with purpose past him and sending her shoulder into his, causing him to stumble back.
"Happily, right after my vacation," he quips behind her. He watches her leave with contempt etched in his face along with a hunger as his eyes roam over her backside.
I watch him watch her. He smiles.
"Where will you be going on vacation, Detective Crowe?" I ask as I circle my desk and take my seat.
"My place in New Hampshire. Deer hunting." He doesn't bother looking at me as he speaks; his eyes still fixated on Jane at as she leaves the through the lab.
I decide then to visit Darren Crowe and to personally invite him for dinner.
He takes his leave without a goodbye. His discourtesy is unspeakably ugly.
I sit quietly for a moment in an attempt to recompose myself.
But I can only picture the birds of his surname pecking at his eyes as he hangs from gallows in his home.
Fly away, Crowe.
Fly, fly, fly.
Chapter 3: Short of Daybreak
Dinner is dreadfully boring. Brock and Jorge have been talking about transcendence and how Jorge's patients could benefit from the healing power of spiritual enlightenment.
Normally I would be keen to show more interest, but I can't seem to stop looking at Jane. She is stunning in a simple black dress. My eyes trail from her collarbone and up her neck, then to her lips that curl into a small smile when I catch her gaze.
I quickly glance down at the table in an attempt to hide being caught. I look back up at her and smile curtly before taking a sip of wine and turning my attention to the two men.
When our food arrives I get curious glances from around the table.
"Did you want the cow still mooing on your plate?" Jane points to it with her fork.
I cut into the filet and bring it to my lips; "Honestly having a cut like this any way other than rare would be a culinary crime."
"So I would have to arrest the chef?"
I smile into my glass before the wine touches my lips; "Perhaps."
I feel Brock's hand on my knee. He is cold and I do not like the intrusion of my space. My hand tightens around the steak knife as an image of it sticking out of his chest flashes through my mind.
"Excuse me, I think I need to use the ladies room."
I rise from my seat and look at Jane expectantly who waves me off; "No. I don't need to go."
Walking passed her I dip my head low and brush my lips against her ear; "Oh, I think you do."
I can hear her rise behind me and once we are around the corner I turn quickly and face her, causing her to almost run into me and her hands to fly up to her face.
"I thought you had to use the restroom!"
"No. That was a ruse. Do you like him?"
Jane scrunches up her nose and shakes her head; "He's dull."
I nod my head in agreement; "But he may not be dull in bed."
Jane's eyes widen; "Maura! No!"
"What? Too bad though. Did you know that sex releases immunoglobulin A? It wards off colds."
Her eyes trail from mine. Down to my lips, and I tilt my head. Posturing at her. Daring her.
She leans in closely, bringing her lips to my ear and for a moment I breathe her in.
"It's getting late. I vote for a nightcap rather than dessert with these two. My place?" her voice is low. It rasps and cracks against my skin.
She leans back and looks at me. I'm at a loss for words and let out a shaky breath. I nod.
"I'll be right back. I need to get out of these heels."
Jane pauses for a moment as she walks back towards her bedroom. She snaps her fingers and turns on her heels; "Do you want a change of clothes?"
I drum my fingers absently on the kitchen island and smile; "That would be wonderful. Thank you."
My pulse quickens at the thought of being beside her.
Jane returns changed and with yoga pants and a blue, baggy t-shirt. She hands them to me as I walk by to her bedroom and gives a small smile. I can feel her watch me leave.
While changing I notice her laptop on the night stand. I slip the shirt over my head and pick it up, then settle on the side of the bed I seem to have designated for myself.
"Jane, come here."I ask, opening the laptop.
She makes her way into the bedroom with two glasses of wine and she eyes me suspiciously as she hands me a glass and lies back.
"Let's see if you have any messages." I set my glass on the bedside table.
"Messages for what?"
"Your dating profile."
"Frost and Korask wanted to fill it out. They thought it would be an easier way for you to meet women at the club. I typed."
Jane sits up slightly and props herself on her elbows. She raises an eyebrow; "You what?"
"If it wasn't for me, you'd be butch."
She snorts and rolls her eyes. I turn laptop towards her; "All of these women think you're hot."
I watch her eyes move from message to message.
"Oh! She seems like your type! She has season tickets to the Celtics," I point to the screen.
Jane closes the laptop in my hands and sets it at the bottom of the bed before lying back.
"No, thank you."
I open my mouth in mock offense; "Just like that you're done?"
"Just like that." She snaps her fingers.
"So are you."
I scoff; "I am not."
"Yes you are. You're only nice and polite when you're bossing people around."
"Well, it's a good thing you're not my type."
Her mouth hangs open for a moment. Offended.
"What do you mean I'm not your type? That is so rude!" I can tell she is joking, but there is a tinge of truth in it. I know because she looks away from me briefly. I settle my head back and close my eyes. This is bordering on stressful.
"Well just think. Think this time tomorrow I could be on a date with a killer."
I open my eyes quickly and look at her. She is studying me with one eye open and it reminds me of Adam Fairfield.
"Yaay." Her voice drips with sarcasm and closing her eye, she pushes against the pillows with her head.
And something washes over me. Guilt and regret. It is foreign and I equate it to Jane. I want to hide more than I ever have. I picture Jane's moral compass pointing true north, and mine beside it; spinning madly out of control. I feel an uncomfortable heat spread across my chest and a flush creep up my neck as my skin raises slightly.
"Maura?" Her eyes are still shut.
I look up at the ceiling and swallow down the sudden bitter taste in my mouth; "Yes?"
"You're my type."
I feel her reach out to me. Her hand rests atop of mine; our fingers lacing together.
I turn off the light beside me and squeeze my eyes shut. Her thumb brushes against mine and keeps a comforting tempo as I drift into the oblivion of sleep.
It is a memory of a memory of a memory.
I am small. So small. I fit perfectly in the shadows.
Screams woke me up. A horrible sound filling my head.
I'm hiding in the dining room; under the table and looking through the cloth like a veil. My mother is sitting in a chair in the center of the kitchen. Her hands tied behind it.
The screaming stops when the burly man in front of her wraps duct tape across her mouth and around her head. Her cheeks are bound so tightly that the blood constricts there. She is sitting beside my father who is stoic. A man accepting his fate and making his peace. Or maybe he is just too afraid.
The man is pressing the point of an ice pick against her chest and I can't make out what he is saying. His eyes flash with an anger I've never seen and he pushes the hilt of the handle quickly; piercing the howling woman's heart and pulling down abruptly. Bluntly. I hear skin, bone and cartilage rip, crack, and tear.
My father writhes against his bindings. He swears and spits at the man.
He takes a small knife from his back pocket; the blade is curved and sharp. Like a talon. He slits my fathers throat. He turns back to my mother and pulls at her ribs. He opens her chest and cuts out a broken heart.
I look up at a crucifix on the wall in the kitchen and I weep with Christ. My father's dog barks and paws at the backdoor.
I bring my hands and fingers together and form the shape of a heart like my father had shown me. I frame my parents perfectly between my hands and through tears.
The man lays my mother's life in a bowl on the floor. He opens the door and whistles, The dog trots in and wags his tail happily. He leaves red paw prints that lead to his food dish.
I am running now. Towards my mother. No. She won't be left for the dogs. She is mine.
Crimson hands grab me and hoist me up. I am a million miles above them. They are out of reach and I cry and fight with my little body. I want my mother. I want her heart. I want to take it and hold it. I want to swallow it. I can mend it.
I force all the air out of my lungs and scream.
And then I hear a voice through the discord. They are hushed reassurances. Loud whispers that echo. I can feel myself being pulled out of his hands and into a warm embrace.
And when I open my eyes she is a vision of resurrection. Wrapped in the sheet we share; her scarred hands cradling me. I am upright but she lowers me down to her so that I lay my head against her chest. I am grounded.
Her fingers brush through my hair and I listen for her heart. And when I hear it I grip at her shirt above the beating muscle. It is damp from her own nightmares. Tortured halves of the same soul.
And she is an angel of mercy. Her lips grace my temple and then my brow. The last time I wept I had seen Christ and had lost faith in any deity, having seen too much of God and man's malice. My own depredation pales in comparison. But in her arms I can feel myself being saved. She is grace. The sky is on fire and I weep for the first time since I was a child.
I can see the yellow, red, and orange that rise with the sun.
I listen to her heart and my tears stain her shirt. I close my eyes.
I can see Darren Crowe's face upturned to the branch that suspends him. A murder of his brethren fly overhead and I see black.
Chapter 4: May My Own Home Be My Gallows
Jane's breathing is even and her arms hang loosely around me. My eyes are closed but I haven't slept. Even with her strong heart drumming below me I am still too afraid of what my subconscious may conjure up.
I begin to rise from her embrace, but she tightens around me.
"Not yet," she says sleepily.
I smile sadly and brush my nose over the small cleft of her chin before placing a chaste kiss there.
"I need to."
She huffs and raises her arms. I sit up and look at her. She squints at me with her hand covering her face in a failing attempt to block out the sun.
"Are you okay?"
I shake my head. "No, but I will be."
She sits up beside me and rubs small circles on my back; concern etches itself across her face. "Is there anything I can do?"
I shake my head again and give her a small smile. "I just need some time to myself."
She nods and I know she understands when I feel her lips press against my cheek. I lean into her and turning my head, I capture her lips lightly with my own.
"Thank you." I lean back slightly and brush a stray lock of hair behind her ear. Admiring her comes easy.
She takes my hand in hers and places a small kiss the back of my knuckles; "For what?"
"For this morning. For protecting me."
She smiles and cups my cheek; "Always."
And I believe her.
Even at home I can feel the earth shift and move under me. I feel unstable. This morning with Jane has thrown me off my axis. No routine is satiating. I have fed Bass, showered and changed. I had attempted to mediate but instead of silence was left with the screams from my nightmare echoing in my head.
I twirl the ring on my finger absently as I pace the kitchen. I sit at the island and open up my laptop and search the public land records in New Hampshire. I scroll until I find the listing for Darren Crowe and see he bought 4 acres in Grafton County in 2010.
I retrieve my tote from the hall closet and grab my keys and as well as few extra items for tonight. I need control.
The leaves are beautiful this time of year. Even as they wither and fall, their colors spread like a fire.
I've parked off a side road and to anyone passing by it would look as though there is just another hunter claiming a space. The roads were lined with cars on my drive.
I watch him for some time from my place on the hillside. He has brought back an impressive stag. A bright yellow arrow protrudes from below the shoulder. A well placed kill shot.
He guts and cleans the carcass at a work bench outside of the garage. His skinning technique is crude as is his removal of flesh. He doesn't cut to the bone, leaving a great deal of meat at the back as he removes the loins; or attempts to rather.
He saws the stag’s antlers. A trophy to his accomplishments. One of many I am sure he has collected. His avidity is astounding. I've noticed for some time his tailored suits and expensive watches. A man living above his means in some ill-fated attempt to garner prestige among those around him. His ego is insatiable. His shoes have always been cheap, though.
I stay in my place behind the trees and watch him until he retreats inside. The sun is low in the sky and the fall chill settles in for the night. I begin down the slope careful to stay against the tree line that surrounds the cabin.
I watch him through large bay windows. He drinks in the glow of the television. He throws back shot after shot and gets himself off. I watch him stumble and brace himself against the wall as he makes his way to the bedroom. When the lights go off I make my way around the cabin and smile at my discovery. He never closed the garage door. Leaning against the wall just outside of it is an upright dolly that he used to move and unload his kill earlier in the day.
Inside the garage are a multitude of hunting tools. A recurve crossbow as well as a quiver of bright yellow arrows hang from the wall. I pull my hair back and remove a pair of examination gloves from my tote. I set aside the crossbow and arrows. I take a small hunting ax and slide it into my tote. I sling it over my shoulder as I roll the dolly in from outside and push it along in front of me. I remove my knife from my pocket and flip it open and drag it along side the 76' Camaro parked inside. Pity
I make my way back through the garage to a door. I turn the knob tentatively. It is unlocked. I lift the dolly and enter through a modest kitchen. The noise from the TV is still low in the background. To my left is a small hallway that leads to a parlor. Deer heads line the wall as well as antlers. Seems Detective Crowe has an affinity for killing as well. Also hanging on the wall is a black truncheon. One I assume he received after graduating from the academy. I take it and pull the small sling over my wrist as I make my way up the stairs, leaving the dolly at the bottom. I twirl it and I suppress the want to whistle.
I can see the light from the bathroom down the hall. I flank myself against the wall until I am a few feet from the open door. Crowe stumbles and catches himself against its frame. Gripping the truncheon’s handle. I swing and connect it to the space below his ear, near the base of the skull. He slumps to the floor and is immediately unconscious. I flip him over and check his pulse. It is faint, but there. I pick up his ankles and drag him back down the hall and stairs. His head bouncing along each step until I reach the bottom. I pull his shirt up and over his head and turn on the hall light. I remove my scalpel and make a waning crescent incision above his groin. I cut deep through his external oblique and aponeurosis. I spread the incision with my fingers and reach into his abdomen. I run my fingers along a smooth kidney and dipping my scalpel in cut through the renal artery. With the organ freed, I drop the scalpel back into my bag and pinch the artery. The blood pooling in his abdominal cavity is almost black. I remove my hand and retrieve a ziplock. Placing the organ in and then securing it into the insulated bag inside my tote.
I lean back on my knees and look down at the man. The thick blood will clot his artery, but he will still bleed out within the hour. I want Detective Crowe alive. I remove a small bag with surgical sutures and neatly close the incision in minutes and end with a baseball stitch. Laying down the dolly, I drag his legs onto it and push his feet firmly against its base. It takes a bit more effort to move his upper body. Once he is fully on I remove a roll of duct tape from my tote. I bind him to the dolly mid leg, hip, and chest, then hoist and roll him back out through the garage.
I silently thank Darren Crowe for keeping the supplies in his garage so well stocked. I cut him free from the dolly and bind his wrist and ankles and hoist him up slightly from the ground with a twenty foot extension cord. It wraps around his torso and under his arms. I've rigged it up and over a tree branch of a sturdy oak near the house and tied it to the grill of his truck to keep him loosely suspended. Around his neck I've tied a hangman's noose from nylon rope I found in the bed of his truck. Its length is twenty-two feet.
I retrieve an ammonia cap from my bag and break it under his nose. He rouses, snapping his head up. He is still drunk when he looks at me; his head swaying back and forth. We study each other for a moment while his whiskey soaked brain trying to process me.
I walk over to his truck and get in. Starting it, I back up and lift him until he is suspended a good deal above the ground. I turn on the headlights and press on the horn. He is fully awake now. He kicks and struggles in the air. He spins and sways around and side to side. Getting out, I reach into the bed of the truck and remove the crossbow, quiver and the small hunting ax. I hoist myself onto the hood of the truck and chastely cross my legs as I set the items beside me.
"You're going to lose more blood if you keep struggling, Detective Crowe." I can see it seeping through his incision.
"Maura?" He sounds unsure, and I'm almost certain I must look like an outline of a shadow lurking behind the trucks lights.
I pick up the crossbow and place my foot into the cocking stirrup, pulling back on string until I hear the latch fall into place, securing it there. I remove an arrow and slide it up the flight groove and bring the stock to my shoulder. I look through the sight.
He is silent for a moment.
"You were extremely discourteous to Jane the other day. And have been for sometime if I'm not mistaken."
I send an arrow through his left shoulder and he sways from the momentum and screams. It echos and bounces off the hills and trees. I grit my teeth and pinch my brow as I lower the bow. I should have taped his mouth shut. Not for anyone around us. There isn't another house for miles, but for my own sanity.
"Fuck you and that guido dyke," he chokes out.
I let out a sigh and reload the bow.
I send another arrow into his thigh. This time he cries
"I really don't think you are in the position to be saying anything like that, Detective Crowe."
He is breathing heavily and I set down the crossbow beside me. I cross my legs again and clasp my hands over my knee.
"Do you know what you look like to me with your nice suits and cheap shoes out here in the wilds? A well-scrubbed, hustling rube, with a little taste. Good nutrition give you the length of bone, Detective Crowe, but you're not more than one generation from poor, Southie street trash, are you?"
"Fuck you." Falls out of his mouth, limply
"No, Darren. You won't. I prefer blue-collar Italian Detectives. Or, that guido dyke, as you so eloquently put it." I pick up the ax and bring it down swiftly into the electrical cord, severing it.
He drops. The slack from the rope around his neck becomes taut. His bound hands grip at his throat and I watch until his struggling frame becomes limp. His face shades of purple and blue.
I lower myself from the hood and walk around the truck. I toss the crossbow into the passenger's seat and drive forward; lowering him to the ground. I retrieve my tote from the bed of the truck and flipping the man over, I properly remove the loins.
Getting back into the truck, I reverse and hoist him back into the air.
I begin the walk back to my car and I can hear the distinct calls of large black birds nearby cheer him to the gallows.
Chapter 5: Pieces Of You In Me
There are times when I can't remember what are memories. If they are something I saw or was told. Something I took and stored away to remember later in some failed attempt at happiness. Memory is what I have, skewed as it may be.
The scent of juniper berries in my hand awakens it.
I am in our kitchen and hoisted up on my mothers hip. She is beautiful and she kisses my cheek. She twirls us around and her laugh lightens the room. I bury my small face into flowing, blonde hair and giggle into her neck.
I shake the passing vision from my head and take a long draw from my wine glass. I drop the berries in and mindlessly push them along inside the skillet, mixing them in with the shallots. Beside my glass on the counter is a small cut of tenderloin that I have brushed with oil and added a generous amount of salt and pepper to. Though a vast majority of the cut I am saving for the dinner tomorrow, I give myself this one pleasure to indulge in. I set it in a pan and open the oven and slide it in.
The notification on my phone sounds and it is Jane.
How are you?
Better, thank you. I'm just making dinner.
I look at the clock on the stove realize it is close to 10. I had arrived home a little after 9 after leaving New Hampshire. I had showered and changed as well as thrown away the black yoga pants and track jacket I had been wearing. I uncork a bottle of Château Montrose and pour it over shallots and berries and bring it to a simmer as my phone sounds again.
A little late for that don't you think?
Perhaps, but I have been distracted for the better part of the day.
Quid pro quo.
Tell me what your distractions are, Jane.
I set down my phone and bring the wine cork under my nose. Sweet black raspberry mixed with a black fruit currant as well as earth and forest notes. When the notification sounds, a sad smile tugs at the corner of my mouth as I read the message
You scared me last night.
I counter in an attempt to steer away from where this could lead.
I thought you were going to say kissing me.
That too. A lot of distraction with that, but you're deflecting.
I let out a heavy sigh as another text comes in.
You don't have to face that stuff on your own, you know.
It is really no big deal, Jane. I can't control my dreams. Our subconscious manifests itself in whichever way it sees fit.
That wasn't a dream. I know what that was. I'm used to it. What happened?
Don't worry. I am okay now. I assure you.
I stare at the bottom of the cast iron skillet. It is black on black. The currants burn off with the alcohol leaving a sweet smell in the air until a dark reduction is left.
This for that.
I googled your Latin. Quid pro quo, Doctor. What is your distraction?
She responds quickly and I clench my jaw as I tap out my response.
My mother... Sometimes I see her; a version of her in my dream.
What kind of version?
Heartbroken. I am left alone and there is nothing I can do to help her.
I set my phone face down, brace myself against the counter and let out a slow breath. I take a step back and walk into the living room. I turn on the small dock my iPod is charging on and scroll until nylon strings fill the room; playing a sad rendition of King Henry VIII's 'If Love Now Reigned' as I place a setting for one at the island.
I remove the loin from the oven. I check the temperature and it is a perfect medium rare at 125 degrees. I divide it into thirds and plate them overlapping. I take a spoon from the drawer and tilt the skillet and dip the it in, then drizzle a generous portion across the course and over the plate creating intersecting lines of purple and red before topping it with the shallots and juniper berries. I slide my wine glass over as well as the Château Montrose and take my seat just as the doorbell rings. I tentatively rise and see headlights flash through the window as a car pulls from my driveway.
I open the door and watch Jane's patrol car take the corner and disappear. At my feet is a single rose. Tied around it is a string that holds a blue post-it with a hole punch in it.
I smile as I pick it up and am greeted with small, blocky handwriting. It is so quintessentially Jane.
You are never alone. -J
I step back inside and walk to the kitchen. I pour the remainder of the Château Montrose into my glass. I rinse the bottle and place the rose inside of it. I set it behind my plate and in front of me.
I re-read the note several times and something rises in me. The feeling of fitting. Of being seen. Of belonging. There is a shift and the intricacies of love take root. The notion of walking in a world alone is distant. I suddenly never want to feel the pull in my heart of being without her.
I reach for my phone and text her.
You are the honey in the lion.
From the Book of Judges, you are the answer to Samson's riddle: 'Out of the eater came forth meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness.' What is sweeter than honey? What is stronger than a lion? That is why the Philistines could never understand it, because the answer is you.
Chapter 6: A Note From Which A Chord Is Built
I spend a majority of the morning and afternoon shopping. I pick up Belon oysters for an appetizer and Branzino as a secondary meal for the night.
I will substitute it for myself, Jane, Frankie, and his date. And while I have no qualms about Garrett and Sumner at my dinner table, I would never show discourtesy to Jane or her family.
A small pang of guilt resonates in the back of my head as I pull into the driveway and I'm not sure how to gauge it. Empathy is something reserved for those deserving of it. It is not an emotion I am familiar with. I do not mourn the loss of Adam Fairfield or Detective Crowe. Honestly, I relish it. And I find myself trying to pinpoint the source of this sudden uneasiness.
I tighten my hands around the steering wheel and draw in a steadying breath. I need to center myself. A tap on my car window brings me back from my thoughts and I see Jane waving her hand at me.
"Hellooo Maura, you in there?"
I shake my head and force a smile. Jane opens the door and steps back, extending her arm before taking my hand and leading me out.
A airy laugh floats up from the back of my throat and my worry escapes with it.
"And they say chivalry is dead." I say as I round my car to the trunk and unlock it.
Jane smirks and brings her hand to her chest; like a pledge.
"It is very much alive." She taps over her heart for emphasis.
She joins me at the back of the car and bounces on the balls of her feet; a smile spread across her face. I give her a sideways glance.
"And what are you so happy about?"
She bounces again and clasps her hands behind her back. She is giddy and I find it overwhelmingly endearing.
I turn and give her my full attention and eye her suspiciously; "Your date?"
"Yep." She takes a step towards me; "See, I'm going to this fancy dinner party tonight and I have a plus one."
"Oh." I nod my head and give her a small smile and turn back to the trunk; lacing the bags into my hand.
"Yes?" I take a step back and a lock of hair falls into my sight. Jane sweeps it gently from my face and tucks it behind my ear.
"Wanna go to a fancy dinner party with me?"
She looks at me hopefully and I smile, motioning to the trunk with my head. She reaches a hand out and closes it quickly, her gaze staying fixed on me.
I shrug. "I don't think I can be a plus one at my own dinner party," I quip walking past her up the driveway.
I hear a low grumble behind me as Jane follows.
"You're not playing along."
I stop abruptly and turn, facing Jane.
"Are you asking me out?"
Stopping suddenly, Jane wrings her hands together and I can see nervousness etched in her face when she worries her bottom lip between her teeth.
"Yes." The word tumbles out of her mouth with uncertainty.
"Hmm." I tap my foot and narrow my eyes, studying her.
"Now you're playing along too much." She steps forward and take the bags from my left hand.
"I'd love to attend my own dinner party with you at my house as your plus one."
I let out a small laugh at the absurdity of how it sounds and turn to begin my walk back to the house. I feel Jane's hand ghost across the small of my back as she comes up beside me.
I stop at the door and look at her as I slip the key in and unlock it.
A soft smile tugs at her lips as she leans in, pausing for a moment. She searches my eyes as though she is asking for permission and I close the distance between us.
"A kiss is usually saved until after the first date." I pull back as I open the door and Jane shrugs and gives a coy smile as we walk inside.
We place the bags on the island and Jane makes her way to the fridge, opening it, and helps herself to a beer. I watch as she leans back against it and twists off the cap before taking a long draw from the bottle.
"It's formal attire. Are you hiding a dress under those jeans?"
"In my car, actually."
She takes a step forward and pinches my hip and I can't help the small leap I do along with my heart.
"Do you need any help cooking?"
"No!" It comes out rushed internally berate myself. I give her a smile.
She studies me and takes another sip of her beer; looking at me over the bottle.
"I won't burn anything. I can actually cook stuff other than grilled cheese, ya know."
"Of course. Here."
I open the drawer in front of me a retrieve a small box. I take off the lid and flip through multiple recipe cards.
"You can make the rosemary vinaigrette for the Branzino."
"Okay, but I'm still settling for steak."
I flip my hand as I make my way past her to the fridge and remove the chilled loin. "Absolutely not. You've had red meat three times already this week."
"So. You need to cut back your intake."
"I'm not sure how I feel about this date suddenly." She forces a frown as she turns and retrieves a cutting board from the cabinet.
I wipe my hands on the small towel hanging from the oven handle and come up behind her; wrapping my arms loosely around her waist.
I rest my head against her back. I listen for a moment and can hear her the slight hitch of her breath and the low hum that resonates through her as she relaxes back into me. I feel her hand lay tenderly atop of mine.
"You're still having fish."
We engage in banter and steal kisses from one another as we cook and prepare.
It is a domesticity that we fall into naturally with each other. It feels as though something slots into place. There is an alignment; a normality. It is something I have rarely felt, but Jane makes it swim inside of me.
She dips her finger into the vinaigrette.
I grip her wrist lightly and guide the digit to my mouth and let out a gasp of surprise when she swipes it across my bottom lip.
"Don't you dare play with the food, Jane Rizzoli!"
I push her playfully against the shoulder and she rocks back and then forward into me, her hands gripping my hips and her seizing mine. I can taste spice and the subtle hint of barley from her beer as her tongue enters my mouth. My hands encircle her waist and pull at the fabric of her shirt. A fire has been lit. She takes a step forward and I feel the edge of the counter press into my back. Her lips trail down my jaw and to my neck, leaving a trail of heat against my skin. I roll my hips and am rewarded with a low moan against my neck as she nips the skin there and soothes it with a gentle placing of her lips. I tilt my head back and I close my eyes. My hands are beside me, gripping the counter for support as she trails the tip of her tongue lower, her teeth grazing my collar bone.
I can picture us as a mass of tangled limbs on the floor, our voices echoing off the walls. I imagine what she must look like as she comes undone. She is beautiful with her eyes closed and her bottom lip caught between her teeth, trying to suppress a primal, vocal want. My hands are sliding further the down the counter and I feel the paring knife under my hand. I can see her shirt slit up the back and the cool blade severing the fabric.
My eyes are suddenly open and my hands are at Jane's shoulders, pulling her back up to me. She rests her forehead against my temple. I push the image from my mind.
"I'm sorry." It comes out in a ragged breath against my ear and it sends a bolt down my body that spreads a warmth low across me. Her fingers are drawing shapes absently through my shirt on my stomach.
"Don't be. Don't ever be."
I lean back and give her a soft smile; one that she returns as she captures my lips in a final, sweet kiss.
"We should be getting ready. It is nearly seven. The guest will be arriving at eight."
She nods and gives a lopsided grin as she takes a step back. Her eyes stay fixed on me, raking over my body before she pulls her keys from her pocket and turns towards the door.
I pick up the paring knife from the counter and examine it. I turn it over in my hand and bring it down quickly into the cutting board; my frustrations propelling it. A thick noise fills the room and the knife stands at attention. I clench my jaw as a surge of anger wells up inside of me.
I open the oven and slide the sirloin in and set the timer before making my way upstairs to get ready for the night.
I can't focus and it's maddening.
My shower did nothing to quell my mind, and as I lean towards the mirror to apply the last of my makeup, the feeling won't dissipate. My mind screams at me.
But you adore her.
It is fear, I finally realize. Trepidation. And how strange it is to link a word and emotion. I could write it and feel no connection to it. I'd only study the line made to form the letters. Only now it suddenly courses through me.
Signals from my amygdala reach my hypothalamus, releasing HCT which in turn releases cortisol. There are connections, intricate and small. Primal and ancient. They make my muscles tense. They make my body move on its own accord.
They make control nonexistent.
Who I am to Jane?
Who do I become when I am outside the control of my rational brain? I remember the way she felt against me and the knife under my hand. When everything around me takes on every shade of red. When thoughts intrude that I can't push away.
Who am I with Jane?
I now know fear; not for myself, but of myself.
I lean back and look at my reflection. I gauge and study myself. I remember the words of Marcus Aurelius.
Of each particular thing, ask what is it in itself? What is its nature?
The line rolls over in my head. Over and over.
"Hey, you ready?"
I catch Jane's reflection in the mirror as she walks into my room. She looks stunning. Her hair is pulled back in a tight bun and she wears a cobalt blue dress with a plunging V neck. It leaves little to my imagination.
"Almost, I just need to put on my tie."
She quirks an eyebrow as she steps into the space behind me.
"You look—…" her hands rest on my shoulders and she is momentarily lost for words and only a scoff of surprise escapes.
"Amazing?" I finish for her.
"More than that." She steps to the side of me and looks me up and down. I am wearing a fitted Armani dress suit. Pinstripe with simple white button up underneath.
"Handsome." She pauses for a beat; "May I?"
I nod and watch her walk to the armoire. She opens it and picks out a black skinny tie then is behind me again. Close. Almost flush against me. She pops up my collar and brings the tie around my neck and adjusts the length. Her arms are over my shoulders as she brings the ends together, wrapping and tucking it into a small, perfect Windsor knot that she slides slowly up.
I picture Darren Crowe swinging lifelessly from his tree in the woods. And my mind begins again.
You covet. And how do you begin to covet?
Jane reflects a soft smile at me; "There."
Do you seek out things to covet?
Her eyes catch mine in the mirror. They are midnight.
No. We covet what we see everyday. Don't you feel eyes moving over your body? And don't your eyes seek out the things you want?
Jane comes up beside me and offers me her arm. I link myself with her as she places a gentle kiss on my cheek. My heartbeat quickens and I become acutely aware of the shift happening. Cold is replaced with warmth and I question whether it is fear or love that resonates throughout me as we make our way downstairs.
Garrett and Sumner are the first to arrive. They bring three bottles of Krug Brut, a vintage from 1988 that I'm sure Garret has picked from his personal reserve. I retrieve flutes from the cabinet as Garrett pops the cork.
"Maura. Wow. You look beautiful."
I give him a curt smile as he places a friendly kiss on my cheek.
"Thank you, Garrett." I turn my attention to Jane; "This is Jane Rizzoli."
"So nice to meet you. You both look absolutely breathtaking."
Jane gives me a smug smile and I can't help to roll my eyes.
"My apologies for Adam not being here. I know he is in town, but we haven't been the best at keeping touch as of late." Garrett says as he pours our drinks.
"Adam is an asshole." Sumner chimes in matter of factly; "Are those oysters I see over there, Maura?"
"Yes, please, help yourself."
"A toast." Garrett raises his glass; "To a wonderful night."
"To a wonderful night." I echo and bring the glass to my lips.
"Wow. That is good!" Jane's eyes are wide and I nod in agreement.
The door opens and Frankie enters with a petite, brunette woman by his side.
"Hey, you clean up nice, Janie." He pushes his sister playfully in the shoulder.
"You're not too bad lookin' yourself. Who's this?"
"Oh, this is Lola." He wraps his arm around the woman's waist and Jane extends her hand.
"Nice to meet you, Lola. I'm Jane and this is Maura. That's Garrett and Sumner."
Her eyes are immediately drawn to Jane's hands as they shake. I see the smallest glint of excitement behind them and an uneasy air settles around me.
"A pleasure." I extend my hand and take hers into a firm grasp. She is taken aback, I can tell. My eyes never leave hers. I break the contact and turn to Jane.
"Help me with the food?"
Jane sets out the oysters while I plate the Branzino and sirloin. I pause over the setting for Lola and my eyes pick her out in the living room. She is close to Frankie, doing her best to listen, but her interest lies with Jane. Her eyes won't leave her. They follow her, and when Jane comes up beside Frankie they focus and darken. I plate her sirloin.
Vinaigrette and reduction added to the plates, I set the table.
"Dinner is served. I hope you don't mind Lola, I plated you the sirloin," I say as everyone takes their seats.
"No. That is fine, thank you," she says dryly and I do my best to contain the snarl I feel creeping into my lip.
"Ugh, it's looking at me like I personally put the hook in." Jane says in a hushed tone as I take my seat next to her. I let out a small laugh.
"How am I supposed to eat that?" Genuine worry creeps into her voice.
I pick up my own utensils and point to hers.
"Use the fish knife."
She stares at me blankly.
"It is next to the melon spoon. Second from the right. Hold it like a pencil." I flip the knife in my hand as though I am writing.
"Use the tip to cut the backbone." I demonstrate as she watches my hands intently.
"You cut the tail and place it on the side of the plate. Use the edge of the knife to remove the skin and place it at the back of the plate."
"Yeah, okay. This is how we do it in my family."
She brings the knife down and sends it through the fish. The pressure causes its eyeball to rupture and send a stream of juice up and onto her dress.
"She said like a pencil, Janie." Frankie says from beside her and then motions at his own plate that mirrors mine almost perfectly.
"Just eat it. It's delicious," I say and bring my fork to my lips as Jane blots her dress with a napkin.
Conversation is kept light. Garrett discuss his new clothing line in Milan while Sumner works on getting drunk.
I glance around the table, but my attention keeps being brought back to Lola. Her features are subtly dark and her lithe frame reminds me of the orphaned stable boy I killed in France.
I was fourteen.
He had been a stable hand on my adoptive father's ranch in the French countryside.
I had woken up to the whines from the mares in the barn near my window. When I went down to investigate I saw him switching their hides. Small lines of blood rose up from under their coats.
When he moved on to my horse I walked with purpose up to the shoe bench and picked up the hammer there. I grabbed him by the shoulders and spun him. I swung and brought the flat head to the center of his chest with all my might and he fell to the ground without another beat of his heart.
I saddled my horse and I bound his ankles with rope. I mounted and rode side saddle to the edge of our property, his body dragging behind me. I hid him in nearby brush and rode home. I cleaned and brushed each mare and returned to bed just as the sun began to rise.
Weeks later I watched out my bedroom window as the local police talked to my father. I watched them pull back the cloth from the stable boys body they had brought out from the back of a van. He was bloated. His skin was seeping and peeling away from the country sun. A black bruise had grown and spidered out from the center of his chest.
Afterwards I had rode happily around the property in the warmth of the sun.
"Maura, are you finished?"
I am brought back to my thoughts by Jane who is looking between my plate and me.
"Oh, yes. Thank you."
"That was amazing, Maura. You are a culinary genius." Garrett gushes.
I rise from my seat and join Jane in the kitchen.
"Wait to clean up. We still have dessert."
"None for me. If it is anything like dinner I'm not ready for something that I have to solve like a rubik's cube to eat."
"I doubt you will like this anyway. Tomato sorbet with a sweetbreads garnish."
Jane cringes and I smile.
"No, I didn't think so." I turn my attention to Garrett and Sumner; "Would you gentlemen like dessert?"
Both men smile and Lola gives a curt hand raise; "Me too, please."
Frankie finishes the last of his champagne and shakes his head; "Tomato sorbet? Ack. None for me, thanks."
I knew neither Rizzoli would care of the dessert; that is why I had chosen it.
Sumner wanders the living room with his fifth glass of champagne, when he sticks his head into the parlor.
"Do you still play, Maura?"
Jane looks at Sumner and then me and mouths 'play?' with a hint of confusion.
"Occasionally." I answer.
"You should." Sumner pushes with a smile as he makes his way into the kitchen and I hand him a small bowl.
"Please do!" Garrett chimes in as he takes his own bowl.
I bring a spoonful of sorbet to my lips and taste the delicate mixture of zest and sweetness.
"If you insist."
The spaces in between is where music hides. It expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent. There is a depth and beauty that words cannot do justice to. It is a space in which you can be lost and found.
I open the french doors to my parlor. I take my place on the bench at the baby grand piano and lift its heavy mahogany lid. The keys are smooth. Real ebony and ivory. It was an heirloom passed down from my adoptive father. And if asked I would gauge it to be about 200 years old.
I can feel a small presence gather behind me as I begin the opening notes to Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata.
Heavy notes fill the room and I feel like I am being swept over by the sea. I close my eyes and muscle memory leads me. I've always enjoyed this particular piece. It is non-sequitur in a beautiful way. It dances between light and dark; pulling away and leading back.
When I open my eyes I see Jane has moved from the grouping behind me to beside the piano and in my line of sight. She watches me with reverence; an appreciation I have never seen and I know it isn't reserved of me, but rather what fills the room. It moves her, and in this moment if the world were to crack and spin madly away, I'd happily go with it. I blink and save the look in her eyes to memory. I find it hard to do anything else other than watch her.
I play the last of the notes; they fade and fall away, dying in the air.
"Beautiful" Garrett says; "Absolutely amazing."
"Janie, you should play!" Frankie says.
"What? No. No no no. I can't follow that up." Jane throws her hands up in protest.
I close the lid and rise from the bench.
"I'd love to hear you play," I say towards Jane. I can't control the want that tumbles out with my request and I watch small sea of worry and excitement churn in darkened eyes.
"A lovely evening as usual, Maura. Thank you for having us." Garrett places a chaste kiss on mine and then Jane's cheek.
"Always a pleasure to have old friends for dinner."
"Come on, you drunk." Garrett slaps Sumner on his back causing him to stumble out the door.
Frankie says his goodbyes and Lola gives a curt nod of thanks as they walk out the door. I watch as she glances back over her shoulder and close the door from intruding eyes.
I turn to find Jane gone from the room. I look around curiously until I begin to awaken. Goldberg Variations carries from the parlor. I follow the music and watch her from the french doors. She plays without hesitation and I feel like I am watching her from above. The notes carry and weave with a sad beauty that only Jane's hands could bring. I come and join her on the bench. She watches me sit; her hands never missing a note and gives me a small smile.
I play in tandem with her. My lows coexisting with her highs. They connect and compose. It is as though the room has been brought to life. Something almost tangible. She guides me and I follow. She speaks and I respond. Her hands many consider to be broken and scarred; including herself; carry a delicate strength to them. They are durable and strong, yet refined and beautiful in this moment.
In every moment. She is something to marvel in. She is deceptively complex. She is bold and brash.
She is beauty and grace. Her points connect.
"I used to sit at the Musee d'Orsay for hours and just stare at it." I begin. "Do you know what I mean? To see such refined beauty? Have you ever tried to appreciate Euler's number e? It is a beautiful equation that connects three constants of mathematics."
I stop playing and gently rest my hands on top of her and she stills.
She looks at me and shakes her head. I bring her hand to my lips and kiss her palm. I expect her to pull away. But instead her thumb traces my brow and rests at my temple before I guide our hands to my lap.
"I am in awe of what human beings can do."
She kisses me then. It is filled with a silent understanding and adoration. And I realize then that even this is music; a depth and beauty words cannot do justice to. Finite events and unique arrangements in which harmony and dissonance exist in a world together
A/N: "It expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent. There is a depth and beauty that words cannot do justice to" is a quote from Victor Hugo.
Chapter 7: Inferno, Purgatory, Paradise.
It had been three days, six hours, and thirty-two minutes since Jane had kissed me last. Since her eyes conveyed a kind of love and understanding that I had never seen before or had the privilege of seeing directed at me.
Now we are standing across from each other in the morgue, a table with Darren Crowe between us and her eyes are unreadable.
"Tell me again."
Her voice is monotone but low and her arms stay crossed. Her eyes stay fixed on the table and I open the file in my hand.
"Found at 12:46 this morning by a hunter who came onto the property. Victim was hanging from a tree with 3/16" diamond braid nylon rope wrapped around his neck in the form on a hangman's noose. Torso was eviscerated by what appears to be wild animals. Size of claw and teeth marks on the bone are consistent with Ursus Americanus.
Jane looks at me expectantly.
"A black bear," I offer.
"What about his eyes?"
I lean in close to the dead man's face. His eyes have been pecked at and are shriveled in their sockets. His skin is blotched with black and purple around his neck and the color seeps into his cheeks.
"Birds most likely." I suppress my smile.
The door opens behind Jane. Frost immediately runs to the sink and throws up. Korsak joins Jane opposite me.
"What a shame. Darren was good cop," Korsak says solemnly.
"A crooked one," Jane says and it makes Korsak shift awkwardly. She leans down and looks between the dead man's body. His spine barely keeps his two halves together.
"What's this?" She points to a small hole in the skin on what is left of his abdomen.
"It appears the victim had stitches in him. No trace of them was found at the scene," I say.
'The devil is in the details' rolls over in my head.
"You think it was a hit?" Frosts asks. His elbows are propped up on the sink and his head is cradled in his hands.
"Maybe. Rumor was he had a lot of shady dealings in Southie. Cavanaugh is checking into it," Jane calls over her shoulder.
"Crazy fucking psychopath," Korsak mumbles under his breath.
I pull the sheet up and over the dead man's body; "Psychopaths are not crazy. They are fully aware of what they do and the consequences of their actions."
I am aware.
"So whoever went up there had the premeditated intention to kill Crowe," Korsak states.
"It would appear that way, yes." I turn and shut off the examination light and bite the inside of my cheek. I inwardly implore Korsak to stay with the idea of Darren Crowe just being another body turning up because of Boston's seedy underbelly.
I roll Crowe into cold storage and leave him there with our secret. Jane is waiting for me by the doors of the lab when I come out. It is nearly 4 am when we walk out the building together. Jane's hand finds mine and pulls me close. I rest my head on her shoulder as she walks me to my car and feel a sense of contentment settle over me.
"See you in five hours." She kisses me and looks exhausted.
"You can come home with me," I offer.
She kisses me again and shakes her head. "Go home and rest. I need some time to myself."
"Because of Darren?"
I can see the flash of anger in her eyes; like a storm passing through.
"He was a cop, Maur."
"But that didn't make him a good man."
"Are you upset that he's dead?"
"He was a cop." She says it again and I know she is not upset with Darren's passing, but rather convincing herself to find a way to be.
"Okay." I can see her relax when she knows I understand. I kiss her again and unlock my car. She opens the door for me and gives me a weak smile as she closes it. I hesitate for a moment and look at her. She gives me a crooked look before bringing her hands up beside her head like a prayer and resting it there.
"Go home and sleep, woman," she says through my window.
I relent and start my car. Driving off, I watch Jane in my rearview bring her fists down hard on her cruiser's trunk and tangle her hands into her hair before kicking a tire and getting in.
Rest doesn't come. A call from Frost pulls me from bed after only three hours.
I'm staring into the open chest cavity of James Stern. White male, twenty eight years old and his heart is frozen.
Frost enters the lab and immediately turns away from me and the body on the table.
I give Frost a small smile. I've always liked him.
"Guy isn't exactly husband of the year. Beat the crap out of her. Put her in the hospital a couple times."
"No. His actual heart is frozen." I knock on it for emphasis and Frost wretches.
I lean down close to the open chest cavity; "So is his right lung."
"What does that mean?" Frost asks, taking a step towards me. He keeps his closed fist over his mouth.
"He wasn't killed recently. He's been in cold storage."
"So he's been in the freezer."
"Or possibly a meat locker. I've stored bodies for months."
Frost gives me a pointed stare and I realize how that sounded.
"Unidentified bodies in ten degrees without a sign of decomposition." I remember Crowe's kidney bagged neatly in my freezer and remind myself to pick up shallots and sherry on my way home.
"How long has he been dead?" Frost asks.
"Well, how long has he been missing?"
I nod; "It's possible."
Frost is quiet for a moment and his face changes from thought to concern as he walks over the table. He points to the dead man's wrist.
"Doc, what's this?"
"Adhesive residue from duct tape. His hands were taped together. Blanched indentations around his mouth suggest it was also taped."
"Did the killer use a scalpel?" His tone is serious and I understand why. My stomach drops and I inwardly curse myself for not seeing it before.
Frost turns and slams his hand on the autopsy table behind him and I share in his anger silently.
"This is bullshit. She shouldn't have to keep dealing with this twisted fuck from behind bars."
He turns towards me, his face softening; "I'm sorry."
I wave off his apology; "It is okay. Frustrations are running high today. I understand."
Frost looks at me sadly and averts his eyes to the ground; "I just—"
"Jane is resilient," I say quietly and Frost looks lost. I can tell he wants to do so much more; provide something for Jane. Protection. Loyalty.
"She is strong. It is ingrained in her." I say; "Jane is a deep roller."
Frost looks at me questioningly and I come around the table. I remove my gloves and stand beside him, letting out a small sigh.
"Roller pigeons. There are shallow rollers and deep rollers." I bring my hand up in an arc; "Roller pigeons fly high into the air and roll over and over backwards in a display. Shallow rollers pull up quickly—" I bring my hand down and then cut back up into an arc just as fast; "—whereas deep rollers continue their freefall and pull up just before it is too late. You can't breed two deep rollers. Their offspring will roll, crash, and die." My hand begins its descent again until it claps against the other. Its sound echoes in the stillness of the room.
"Jane is smart. She is acute and she is sharp. She uses all that she has in her to do her job. It is who she is. It is what she does. It is hardwired in her. Jane is a deep roller. Let's hope that one of her parents was not."
Frost chews on this and looks at me; "Hoyt is the only thing that scares her."
"I know. Fear is an irrational propellent."
"He'll kill her."
"I know," I say quietly, and I can feel the worry creep into my voice; "I know."
Jane looks at the pictures on her coffee table and she brings her fingers to her temples and presses them there before rubbing her eyes.
"It's him, Maura."
She stands and walks to her desk; "I wasn't going to say anything, because personally, I thought someone was screwing with me."
She hands me a bag with a burnt out flare in it. Anger and shock well in the pit of my stomach.
"I'm going to call Frost and we are going to some get patrol officers out here and you are going to get some sleep," I say, pulling up Frost's name in my phone.
"Yeah, well, not until the cavalry gets here, okay?" She deadpans and picks up her gun from the coffee table.
"I'll stay." And she looks at me with a mixture of amusement and surprise.
"What are you gonna do? Hit him over the head with your Birkin bag?"
I almost roll my eyes. I narrow them instead and purse my lips.
"Give me that." I hold my hand out expectantly for her gun.
"What? No. It's loaded." She pulls back and tucks the gun into the side of the couch like she is a child. Clearly sharing isn't caring.
"I'll stay up!" I chide.
"It's loaded. No." Now I feel like the child.
"Magazine capacity fifteen. Trigger pull two point five milligrams. Line of sight a hundred and fifty three millimeters."
"Have you ever shot one?" She cuts me off before I can mention recoil.
Silence. She grits her teeth into a forced smile and I do the same. I'm caught.
"No." I shake my head.
She does the same in agreeance; "No," and then lets out a nervous laugh.
"But I'm a fast learner." I am serious and the look she gives me is soft as she relents and drops the magazine out and clears the chamber.
"Okay. It's empty."
And I know this is her trust.
It's a little after 2 am and she is asleep.
I sit on the edge of the bed and watch the steady rise and fall of her chest and her face is etched with small flickers of pain.
I wonder if she is dreaming.
And it is a different kind of intimacy to watch Jane sleep. She rarely experiences quiet moments, and even in her dreams she isn't granted them. I find myself relating to the feeling all too well.
When I stand she turns to her side and pats the spot behind her.
I make my way around the bed and place Jane's gun on the bedside table and lay beside her, conforming my body against hers. And with her back against me and my arms around her, Jane has entrusted me for a second time tonight.
"What if something happens?"
"You have my gun?" She pushes back into me and I nuzzle my nose into the nape of her neck.
"Mm'kay. You'll get 'im."
I stay like that, wrapped around her, until her breathing evens out. She lays in my arms and I am her protector. I watch the sky pass from midnight black to the beginnings of blue. And I wish to outrun the sun if only for today; just to keep this quiet moment. A construct of safety I'd happily design just for her.
And it weighs on me then; happiness. I hope that Jane knows it. Unequivocally experiences it. It's then that the thought occurs to me if I am deserving of it myself. It is nearly 6 am when I remove myself from around her. She sounds of disappointment and loss and absently reaches out for a body and warmth that is no longer there.
I make my way to her side of the bed and the features of her face are serene. Contentment has settled there. And an idea strikes me as I read the subtle lines around her eyes. I gently kiss the space between her ear and cheek before I return to the living room; love almost falling past my lips.
This is how you treat monsters. You bind them in metal and confine them. You take away their sight and confuse them, and yet they still grasp at any idea of control that they can sense.
I have every intention of taking away Charles Hoyt's control.
"I smell lavender and fear."
And when Agent Dean removes his hood I can tell he is initially confused.
"Hello, Mr. Hoyt." I am cordial.
"Doctor Isles," he laughs and I smile. "You must be very proud of yourself; that's a play I didn't see."
He looks me over; "And what brings you here? The same thing that brings me? Jane." He says her name snidely and I control the urge to come across the table and wrap my hands around his neck.
"Mr. Hoyt, I—"
"I usually ask people to address me as Doctor. I nearly completed medical school."
I lean forward on the table. His delusions of grandeur are unbecoming and I am hardly about to adhere to the twisted sense of superiority he thinks he has, let alone reward him with a diploma to hang on his cell wall.
"But you didn't, Mr. Hoyt. Though that is why you are so precise when you sever the carotid arteries of your victims."
He swims in the complement; "Well I've always been quite deft with a scalpel."
I remove a scalpel from my purse; "Hold him down in that chair."
I make my way around the table as Dean pushes down on Hoyt's shoulders. I keep my eyes locked with his.
"You going to show me your technique?" I picture myself easily slitting his throat and watching contently as he bleeds out on the table.
I unbutton his prison garb and I hear him breathe me in.
"You do smell like lavender."
I cut the seam above his left breast, over his heart.
"Fifty-fifty polyester cotton blend fabric shows every winkle after a lot of use." I remove a picture of Jane.
Behind me officers set up a camera as I resume my seat across from Hoyt.
He looks at the camera when an officer switches it on then looks at me; "I assume this is for your research."
"You assume correctly."
"Facial action coding system. You think you're going to dissect my facial expressions?"
I remember Jane's face as she slept; how worry was replaced with peace.
I remove a picture of a blonde woman from the folder in front of me and slide it across the table beside the picture of Jane.
"Where is Emily Stern?"
"Oh, not far." He looks at the picture with a nostalgic look; "You know she cried when I slit her husband's throat."
"Why now?" I lean forward on the table; "Why have whoever is working for you pull James Stern out of cold storage now?"
He tilts his head and a small snarl twitches at the corner of his mouth; "What's this?"
I sit back; "Anger."
He downcasts his eyes and does his best forlorn look; "And this?"
"Empathy, something you don't feel." And neither do I.
"I can mimic any emotion Doctor. Pretty good, huh?"
"Will you tell if you plan to hurt Jane?"
"Oh, I do. I plan to kill her. Mentally 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."
And I believe him.
"You're not going to get out of here."
"But don't worry doctor, I'm not going to kill you." He jumps in his seat as though he is readying himself to come across the table; "Rape you maybe."
I remain stoic and until I almost laugh; "You're clearly trying to frighten me."
I lean forward again and catch myself reaching for the scalpel in my lap; "I'm not afraid of you."
"I know. Because you're like me."
He leans back in his chair and gives me a look as though he understands me.
"Do you know horror, Doctor Isles? It is almost impossible to describe it to those who do not know what horror means. Horror and moral terror are your friends. If not, then they are enemies to be feared. I've seen horror. I've inflicted it. I find comfort in its embrace and I am loved by it."
I stand; "We are done here."
As the officers put together the camera equipment and I walk towards the door, I stop and place my hand on Hoyt's shoulder; leaning down close to his ear.
"I am nothing like you. I am far worse than anything you could ever be," I say before I take my leave.
"Thank you, Doctor Isles," floats out behind me.
It is late and I am sitting at Jane's desk. I haven't heard from her since her encounter with Hoyt in the interrogation room. She has only sent me a text saying that she was going home and to come over later.
I pull up the still from the video Korsak had found in the basement and Hoyt's words echo in the back of my head when I notice Frankie's film strip in the file basket on Jane's desk.
"She's not far."
I had felt it at dinner when Lola had shown up a few nights ago and now I understood why.
I gather my things quietly and say a quick goodnight as I pass Korsak and Frost on my way to the elevators and to Jane's apartment.
Worry mixes with anger and it settles over me. When I arrive at Jane's I make my way up the steps quickly and when I knock on her door Lola answers. She is surprised but I am not..
"Why are you in Jane's apartment?" I step past her.
"I'm making dinner for her and Frankie."
Lola closes the door and makes her way back to the stove.
"Where are they?"
She waves in the direction of Jane's bedroom; "Brother-sister bonding time."
She doesn't look at me when she speaks and my anger swarms inside of me.
"I just need to ask her something." I begin to walk back to the bedroom when Lola picks up the knife off the cutting board. She points at me and I take a step towards her.
"I wouldn't do that." I keep my voice low. It is the only warning I will give her.
"You don't really leave me a choice."
I am almost impressed with her temperament.
My eyes stay fixed on her as she walks toward me. She keeps the knife's point fixed on me.
"Did you kill her?"
She lets out a small laugh and I take another step forward and close the distance between us. She presses the tip of the knife into my chest and I feel its pinch as she makes a small cut there. My expression doesn't change.
It is all I need to move quickly. I catch her wrist and bring her hand up above her head while I close my hand around her throat. She scratches and claws at me. She tries to twist her arm free but my grip is a vice. I push forward and keep my arm firmly extended as I back her up towards the wall and towards the coat hook I see perched on it. When her back hits the wall I let go of her neck and cover her face with my hand and push her head back with all my force. The hook pierces her cerebellum and her arm goes slack in my hand causing the knife to fall to the floor. I step back and her she stares at me; her expression is shock. I can see her pupils widen and I hate her eyes. I come forward quickly and press my thumbs until they disappear up to the joint in her sockets. Her body stiffens for the last time as aqueous and vitreous humor from her eyes run down my hands. The anger that has built itself up inside of me erupts as I press my face into the dead woman's chest and let go of the scream that had been perched under my chin since I set foot in the door. The enormity of what I've done comes into into focus. I've killed in Jane's home.
I leave her there, like a tortured ornament and make my way back to Jane's room. She is bound on the floor with Frankie beside her.
She struggles against the cuffs around her wrists as I kneel in front of her. She stops when she notices the cut on my chest and the marks from Lola's nails on my face and neck.
"What did she do to you?!"
"It doesn't matter. I am fine. Where are your keys?"
"Where is she?! Did she run? We have to call Frost and Korsak. Lola is Emily Stern. She is Hoyt's apprentice."
"She didn't run. She is dead. Where are your keys?" My voice is low and monotone. I feel shut off.
And when I look up at Jane there is confusion and worry in her eyes.
Jane looks at Frankie and shuts her eyes tightly; "The keys are in my bedside drawer. There is a pocket knife in there too."
I retrieve the keys and knife. I hand Jane the keys and am careful to not let my hands touch hers. They are stained with blood and visions of what I've done. I cut the duct tape off of her and Frankie and as I stand back up, Jane walks past me to the living room and I hear her muffled gasp.
Frankie looks at me and empathy swims in his eyes; "Are you okay?"
I can only nod.
Frankie walks to the living room and I follow. Jane is on the phone with dispatch and I sit silently on the couch. When she hangs up, Jane walks to me and kneels in front of me, her hands on my knees.
"She attacked you."
I provoked her. I wanted to kill her.
"Yes," I say quietly. I knit my hands together in my lap and look at the woman on the wall. Blood has begun to pool at her feet. Her shirt is stained front and back with it.
I look at Jane incredulously and shake my head; "For what?"
"For you having to do that. To experience that. You shouldn't have to had been in that situation. You had no way of knowing she would be here."
Only I did.
I stay quiet and Jane sits beside me, burying her hands in her hair. When Frost and Korsak arrive Jane speaks for me. She explains what happened to her and Frankie. How Emily held them at gunpoint. How I had arrived and she attacked me, and how in self-defense we had both fallen back toward the wall, causing Emily to get impaled on the coat hook.
I nod with the statement Jane gives and when when the body is removed and everyone has cleared, we are left alone with each other.
"I'll drive you home." Jane says, gathering her keys.
"Pack a bag. You can't stay here."
She looks at the wall and then back at me and nods.
The shower I take is near scalding. Crimson swirls in the tub's basin and disappears. And for the first time in my life I feel regret.
Regret for being unable to control myself. For allowing that side to take over. I am unclean. And for a time as the water burns and soothes my skin, I hate myself.
But what I wouldn't give to protect Jane; to preserve her life.
With my shower done, I dry off and put my robe on. When I walk back into my bedroom, Jane is sitting on the bed, her hair still wet, dressed in a plain shirt and boxers.
"Hey." She gives me a weak smile and pats the bed next to her; "Sit down."
I do and she takes my hands in hers; "Are you okay?" And when I stay silent, she gives my hands a small squeeze; "Come on Maura, talk to me. I know there is something going on in that big Google brain of yours."
"I don't think I had ever felt more worried in my life than I did today." I pause for a moment and meet Jane's eyes with my own; "I can't lose you."
"You didn't, and you won't."
"Is a freak. I saw the video of your interview with him."
"Maybe he's not wrong," I say.
"What are you talking about?"
"I did a lot of research into his background, his childhood. Maybe I am a little bit like him."
I am just like him.
Jane is taken aback and she brings her legs up and under her on the bed and turns so that she is facing me; "Maura, look at me. You are nothing like him."
I look at her and she cups my face in her hands and I fight the urge to pull away from her. I am undeserving of her grace, of her touch.
Of her. I can tell she senses my uncertainty.
I try to find my voice and explain without explaining to her. I bring her hands back down to my lap.
"I... I don't know, Jane. I was a weird kid."
"What? Were you killing small animals?"
No, just stable hands.
"No, but I dissected a lot of frogs."
"No." She shakes her head; "That's different."
I stand and begin to pace the room. She watches me.
"I spent a lot of time alone. You know, I was adopted and my father was a professor and my mother, she came from a wealthy family and I was an only child and—"
"Here it comes, there are bodies buried in your basement," she says sarcastically.
My heart sinks as I sit back on the bed and Jane has her arm around my shoulders.
"Hey, no. I was just joking. I'm sorry."
I shake my head; "There was a lot of benign neglect. It's just that I didn't ask for much. I don't think I really knew how. And the less I would ask for the less time they would have for me. I was just really lost."
She wraps her arms fully around me and envelopes me. My worry disappears. She is safety. She is forgiveness and I can feel her words against my skin, mixing with my hair and falling onto my ears.
"No matter what happened to you, you are nothing like that monster, okay? Yeah, maybe you are a little anti-social and little goofy, but that's not the same thing. And those are the things that I lov—"
She stops herself and I can feel my heartbeat quicken. Heat rises in my chest and I feel like I am on fire and when I lean back in her embrace I know my eyes are conveying what I can't find words for.
Say it. Please.
"Those are the things that make you, you."
I kiss her then. Reverently. I want to believe her. I want to believe that I am not those things. That I'm not a monster that needs to be confined to metal and chains. I kiss her for her sorrow and for my own. I kiss her for her protection and to be her protector. I kiss her because of love.
I pull gently at the hem of her shirt and my fingers graze over warm skin. She is on fire too. She breaks our kiss and rests her forehead against mine. Her hand wraps around the back of my neck and she holds my gaze steady with her own. Her eyes are dark and I am lost there. I pull at her shirt again and she raises her arms and I discard it on the floor.
She is beautiful and when she moves above me she casts a shadow like a statue. She settles atop me and her lips find the pulse point in my neck. Her ministrations are slow and she moves against me unhurried. Time has no place here with us.
My hands move to her hips and then roam over her back. I feel her muscles contract and relax with each roll of her hips against me. And when her lips find mine again, I slip my hand past the band of her boxers and I feel her breath catch in her throat when I move slowly inside of her. And there something clicks into place within my heart. She moves against my hand slowly and buries her face into my neck; suppressing the soft moans I can hear falling out of her.
And when we are gone, our energy will remain long after in this room. Transposed and ingrained in the air. Like a string it will reverberate and replay itself. She moves across my chest and pulls at the tie on my robe. Her hand presses against the skin above my heart while her the other moves between our bodies. She parts me, runs her fingers the length of me and finds where I need her most.
My fingers trails across her shoulders and find the nape of her neck. Her fingers move against me; circling me, and I can feel myself coming undone.
I close my eyes and it is black. Expanses of the color and I focus on it. I am suddenly open. I am vulnerable. I am losing control in a beautiful way, and I'm not sure if I can take it. I will fall apart in her arms. If I do, I am irrevocably hers.
"Stay with me." The words are like heat against my skin.
"Jane." I am barely able to breathe. Her name comes in short breaths.
"Stay with me, please."
I can hear the hitch in her voice. It is pleading and her hips begin a quicker pace. She is falling apart too. Her lips find mine again. Our kiss is uncoordinated and when she tightens around me, she comes undone. I catch her sound against my lips and swallow it. I bury it inside of me and lock it away. It is reserved only for me and I know it. It is beautiful.
And when her trembling subsides, my own begins. I know she is looking at me and I can't bring myself to do the same for her. The beginnings of star bursts of color crack and break through behind my eyes.
"Look at me." Her voice is soft, encouraging.
She kisses me lightly and I am balancing on a dangerous edge.
"Maura, look at me."
And I do. Her voice leads me and I let go. Her eyes never leave mine and there is trust behind them; like a secret she keeps for me.
She gathers me. She finds my pieces and gently puts me back together with her. She falls beside me and pulls at my arm and wraps it around her. We fit and it is perfect.
We lay there for some time in a comfortable silence, until we move up on the bed together.
She keeps her back against me and laces our fingers together; bringing our hands against her chest; above her heart. I feel her kiss my knuckles.
My lips brush against her shoulder blade and I gently trail my lips over her back. I kiss her and kiss her. I kiss her for every knife ever placed there from every Brutus act, and I tighten around her to protect her from my own. It is sweet and it is salvation. It is desperation.
I close my eyes as I begin the tranquil lines of Dante Alighieri quietly against soft skin like a prayer.
The first three hours of the night were almost spent/The time that every star shines down on us/When love appeared to me so suddenly that I still shudder at the memory/Joyous love seemed to me the while he held my heart within his hands/And in my arms my lady lay asleep wrapped in a veil/He woke her then and trembling and obedient she ate that burning heart from out of his hand.
"Piangendo, ho visto poi allontanati da me." I finish.
"Weeping, I saw him then depart from me." A quiet voice says.
Jane lets go of my hand and turns so that she is facing me; "I didn't know you spoke Italian."
"Nor I you."
"I am Italian," she says with a smile.
"You never speak it."
She shrugs and brings her fingers to my face; tracing my features.
"I guess there's some things you don't know about me."
I shift against the pillow with a deep sigh. I silently share the sentiment with her as her lips press against my forehead. I close my eyes and am strangely content.
"Do you know Dante?" I ask looking at her.
"Not personally." Her fingers continue their path as she watches them.
I pinch her elbow playfully and a small laugh rumbles in the back of her throat.
"The name of that particular sonnet is A ciascun'alma presa e gentil core," I say. She is outlining my ear.
"To every loving, gentle-hearted friend," she echos.
She trails her finger across my cheek and over my nose and lips. Down my throat and to the space above my heart where she traces the childlike shape of it over and over.
"And more than that."
There is a tentative sobriety in her voice. Her eyes meet with mine for a moment and then are gone; focusing on the pattern of her hands. It is a question, not a statement.
"Much more than that." I still her hand and press her palm into my chest.
"Un amante," I state simply.
She pushes me back gently and is above me again.
She kisses me and I feel a subtle roll of her hips.
"Mio amore," she whispers against my lips before taking them in a sweet kiss. I breathe in the words and gasp when her other hand slips between us.
There in the dark a small fire erupts in my chest and lights our way. And when she moves in me I am complete.
My love, my love, my love.
And with her words repeating like a mantra, she unknowingly ate my heart.
Chapter 8: A Sin To Hold On To
My world has color. Long, sweeping brush strokes. It is brighter. It is alive.
My heart beats differently. It had laid dormant for so long in the grave of my chest. Walls built around it; brick meticulously laid next to brick, undeserving of warmth. I thought I was undeserving. But now red pumps through blue. And if I were to bleed, it'd be a spectrum.
We had been given the week off after the ordeal with Emily Stern and have not left each other's side. We make love every day, and the experience is always new. Our exploration and attentiveness. It drives us to the other. We build on the structures of us. We create a construct.
And sometimes the pull is too great. I need to feel her skin under my hands and her lips on mine; and she always grants me this. And when it becomes too great for her, I grant her the same.
We lay in bed and each morning Jane walks her fingers up my chest and perches them under my chin and brings my lips hers. She speaks to me in Italian because I ask. Some days she recites Dante, others she names off appliances in the kitchen. This morning she reads the back of the cereal box. And I don't care what she says as long as she is saying it to me. Her syntax is perfect and she teaches me. She teaches me how to conform my mouth around the words and steals a kiss from me each time she brings her hands to my cheeks and squeezes them gently, puckering my lips.
"E sì come la mente mi ridice. Amor mi disse: "Quell'è Primavera E quell'ha nome Amor, sì mi somiglia."
She tells me loves me in ways I never thought imaginable. And though the words in the most literal sense have not been said; I know that she does.
And part of me bends to say it myself, but I feel that it is something Jane must do; her heart doesn't come easily into the hands of another. And how I have come this far into her I don't know; to be granted entrance to a strong but delicate muscle, but I do not care to understand. I love her and that is what I know.
We are sitting in the parlor. She is playing Bach's Piano Concerto No.7. I listen intently and try to deduct what key it is in. I am by the windows sketching the Duomo from memory. I had been captivated by the architecture of Florence when I had studied abroad one year. I set down the charcoal on the windowsill and blend, creating shadows in corners and ushering in light. It is simple in black and white, but shades of grey add unseen complexities.
I set down my sketch pad and look at Jane. She is engulfed in the music, and not only do notes fill the room, but also her heart. I feel that pull again. It is a want.
A need to feel her. I walk towards her, behind her, and sweeping her hair to the side a place a light kiss behind her ear.
"Have you been to Florence?" I want to take her there and make love to her while a breeze sweeps over us from the terrace. I want to taste wine. I want to taste her.
She hums as I nip and run the tip of my tongue against her ear and doesn't miss a note. She tilts her head and gives me greater access. My lips trail down her neck as my hands ghost down her sides.
"No." she husks as I pull up on her shirt.
"I want to take you there."
The music stops then and she turns on the bench to face me. A smile tugs at her lips and her eyes trail down my body. Her hands find the string of my yoga pants and she gently pulls the knot free. She pushes them down slowly so that they rest low on my hips. Her teeth nip and her lips graze across me. And as the last barriers are pushed away further, I step out of them and my hands run through her hair. Her hands are on my hips and she pulls me into her her lap, and I settle myself there; balanced on either side of her legs.
And she stills for a moment. Her eyes flicker with mischievousness as she runs her hands along my sides, pushing my shirt up and above me. She tosses it and it lands haphazardly on the keys behind her. Fingertips trail across my shoulders, then unhook my bra and move down my arms. And she does this; tracing me; reading me. Trying to remember every inch; become familiar with all that I am and saving it to memory. It is an appreciation that I have never felt. And I watch her. How her hands move across me and how her eyes do as well, until they find mine. And when I lean down to meet her mouth with my own, I can't control the movement of my hips. I roll against her and I can feel her smile into our kiss.
Her hands trail slowly up and down my thighs and slow. She is teasing me. I can feel the upward curl of her lips each time they move against mine. She revels in this game. And when her tongue enters my mouth, her hand shifts under me and makes us whole. She silences the sound that falls from me behind her lips. And I don't mind the pain biting at my knees from the mahogany bench as I move to keep pace with her ministrations. I can only focus; pinpoint the feeling of Jane around me, against me, inside of me. She beckons me and I wrap my arms tightly around her neck. A strong arm moves around me and she settles her palm against my lower back and applies a subtle pressure there.
She is telling me to slow.
And this is how I know we fit; silent understanding. In this instance and in others. A glance or a movement conveys all that we need. And when I do, she breaks our kiss and dips her head, moving her lips across my chest. She nips and takes me in, and when she does she pushes further into me. My head falls back and I am swimming, and when I feel her roll her wrist, my body responds like she knew it would and I quicken my pace against her.
I press my forehead against hers. She is beautiful from here; this vantage point I have above her. I can feel heat begin to gather it my body. It moves from every point in me; a kaleidoscope finding symmetry until it is centralized in me. Her eyes stay with mine, and she watches me.
She watches me and I love it.
And there is a precipice with Jane that I have never met before. And as I approach it I know that no matter how far I fall she will always find me. It is something visceral we share, something cataclysmic she brings me to. And when it happens static fills the air. She keeps watching me. Even when I push against her; collapse against her, causing her to fall back and to land on the keys behind her. I reach out to grasp for something to keep me grounded and disjointed sounds fill the room; she watches me and I watch her.
My body is slick against hers, and as we slow, she brings us forward. Her hand finding purchase at my neck as her other strokes and quells at heat. It's then three words fall past her lips and grace mine. She is quiet with them, but fervent. And before I can reciprocate with my own she silences me with a kiss.
"Not now," she says; her breath hot against me.
"But I do," I say quietly, and she is no longer watching me. Her eyes are tightly closed and I kiss her brow; a request to open them.
"I do," I say again.
And when she looks at me it is with sincerity and fear; but also a plea, as though the words being returned to her could break her apart and she wishes for nothing more than to hear them.
"I love you," I say, standing, and she watches silently as I kneel in front of her. I pause for a moment as she traces her finger down my cheek. I unbutton and unzip her jeans and tug at the waist band, and she raises her hips obediently. Her eyes are impossibly dark.
"I love you," I say again and place a small kiss against her inner thigh. And my lips trail higher. I slowly bring her leg so that it is hooked over my shoulder. I look at her for permission to cross this line, one I had been wanting traverse since I had moved inside her for the first time.
To taste her.
My fingertips run the length from her thigh to hip, and when her hand rests gently on my head and loses itself in my hair I know she is granting me this.
And when I move my mouth to her, she arches against me. She is exquisite. I want to savour her for all that she is.
And I do. I can feel her grip tighten and the pull of my hair sends a shock of pleasure through me because I know she is close. Her head is lulled back. Her eyes are closed and her lip is caught between her teeth, suppressing a primal, vocal want. She is just as I imagined she would be, and she is beautiful.
Her back arches and the only sound that fills the room is her breathing; wonderfully broken and ragged, and the single note that plays when her head falls completely back.
She had played in G minor.
And it is simple; a 'Y'.
The lines I use come in diagonally, from the shoulders and meet at the sternum then continue downward, straight. My hands are steady. Lines coming together and separating, revealing all that we are.
What keeps us; what propels us.
What we become a husk for, once we are gone.
The human kidneys weigh between 120 and 140 grams and each lung weighs approximately 1.1 kilograms. The liver weighs between 1200 and 1500 grams.
I finish the final stitch in his chest.
An ice pick had been protruding from his skull. The image was far too familiar. And while no one around me would have noticed in the evidence garage, inwardly unsettlement had taken hold and not left until I had entered the morgue.
I find comfort here.
Barold was shifting awkwardly next to me, trying to look at the body, but finding his shoes to be far more interesting.
"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."
He gives me a curious look; "What were you afraid of?"
"People;" I said matter of factly; "Live ones."
I remember the young girl on my table and felt a sense of contentment when I looked at her lungs and they did not expand; "She'll never judge me, tease me, and I can help her. I can speak for the dead."
Though in this moment I find myself wishing for the dead man on my table to rise up and tell me his story so that I could understand; to piece together his last moments and my own past.
A patrol officer is standing in the double doors before the lab with a burly man. As I make my way towards them his face is unreadable but there is a familiarity about him.
Something dark, and I've seen him before in my dreams. My blood freezes in my veins.
"This man is here to identify his son," the officer states and then takes his leave.
He introduces himself as Mr. Selsi, and his anagrams are showing, but it is of no matter. I am mounted in the spot that I stand. He takes a place beside me and looks through the windows at the man on the table.
And I am lost. Shock and sadness well inside of me. He is close enough to touch.
"I— I'm sorry for your loss." I remain as clinical as I can, trying to keep my voice level.
He doesn't look at me and I do my best not to do the same. I feel as though I am going to be sick.
"How was he killed?"
"He died from a cerebral hemorrhage."
He looks at me then, and though I fight the urge to meet his eyes, I do.
"I want to know how."
"An ice pick; he was stabbed with an ice pick."
My mother is screaming and I can do nothing.
A flash of understanding crosses his face as he looks back into the morgue.
"I am terribly sorry; we are looking for his killer."
I remember Jane and the drawings she had brought me.
"What was he like?" I'm surprised by the softness of my tone.
"He was too much like his old man."
"I've seen his drawings; he was brilliant. I have them if you would like one to take with you to remember him."
"No. I won't forget my son."
I absently twirl the ring on my finger.
"But you have something I do want."
He turns fully towards me and takes my elbow into a firm grip and pushing through the doors that leads us to his son. I am unable to fight. I am paralyzed.
"I want those," he points to the stitches.
"You want sutures?" I mutter, confused.
He lets go of my arm with a push and I stumble towards cabinets. I watch him, but I seem to be all but forgotten; he is focused on his son. I retrieve the sutures and come back; and he only acknowledges me enough so that I can hand them to him. He slips them into his pocket and turns.
"Goodbye, Maura." And he disappears through the doors.
My body is hot and I can feel bile rise in the back of my throat. I run towards the sink and promptly throw up.
I lean against the sink's edge, trying to compose myself. I had been in the same room as my parents' murderer. I wonder if he remembers me; the little girl whose life he stole.
I push the dead man's body to cold storage, but I pause. I look at him, and time slips away. I want so desperately to understand, and while I may speak for the dead, they can never truly speak to me.
And while loneliness has been a companion for some time, I feel myself craving warmth. Comfort.
I place the man into cold storage and head home to Jane.
When I walk in Jane is sitting at the island in my kitchen with stacks of folders in front of her. Crime scene photos take up every space.
I come behind her and rest my hands on her shoulders. She reaches across and covers my hand with her own.
"Paddy Doyle," she says quietly.
I round the chair and stand beside her. Many of the pictures are from murder scenes. Shootings and stabbings. More than one picture shows an ice pick lodged in the victim's chest. I shut my eyes and inhale deeply. I feel Jane press a kiss into my shoulder.
"Colin Doyle is—... was his son. That's who's on your table."
I run my fingers over the pictures until I notice a cross on the wall in one. I pick it up and my hand clutches at my chest, in some desperate attempt to shield my heart.
It is my mother. Her head is back and her eyes stare blankly at the ceiling. There is so much blood around her.
"What do you know about your biological parents?"
I look at Jane and open my mouth but no words come out. I put the photo face down and see the name 'Hope Martin' written across the back.
"Hope," I say.
Hope. That had been her name.
Jane's eyes are downcast and she is shaking her head.
"Maura, I am so sorry."
"Did you read the case file?"
She only nods. She knows about the two-year-old found crying at her dead parents feet, blood pooled around her.
"My adoptive parents never told me about them." I say quietly; "I think they liked to believe that I was too young to remember what had happened."
Jane looks at me then, and concern and sympathy play in her eyes.
"He introduced himself as Mr. Selsi. It's Isles, my adoptive name spelled backward. He was there to identify Colin."
"He was with you?" She is angry. Protective.
Her anger doesn't begin to match my own. I walk around the island and begin to pace; "He was toying with me from the start while he was staring at his murdered son. He knew who I was, Jane."
"I think whoever killed Colin knew his murder would draw Patrick out, and used his M.O has a way to send a message." she leans back in the chair and rubs her eyes.
"The ice pick," I say absently.
I pick up the picture of my mother and stand beside Jane; "I saw him kill my parents. I watched him and there was nothing I could do."
"You were a child," she counters softly.
I'm going to kill him.
She takes the picture from me and slips it back into the case file before she stands and envelopes me. Her arms are protection. Her embrace is home.
"Go upstairs; I'll clean this up." She places a light kiss against my temple. As I retreat upstairs I remember an earlier time when I had first started at the BPD. When I had spent hours in the basement combing boxes of files looking for my parents' case. Looking for anything to understand. And I'm sure I had held those pictures in my hand, but kept them hidden; too afraid to open up the file and reveal them.
My shower doesn't relax me, and sleep doesn't come. Even when Jane gets into bed and slips her arms around me.
Paddy had said that Colin was too much like him. And while DNA may bind them, he also made me. I wasn't born this way, instead I was reprogrammed and hardwired. A predisposition that I can no longer change, but have learned to adapt to. Something dark and I had seen the beast of who I am reflected back at me when I had looked at Patrick Doyle. A dark familiarity. A suffering transposed into me from a monster, in turn making me a replica.
When I feel Jane's breathing even, I slip from her embrace and grabbing my robe, make my way downstairs to the parlor. The morning sky is grey and a light snowfall has started.
And for a moment it is quiet. I feel Jane's arms wrap around my waist and this is peace. Even as the tears begin to make their way down my cheeks, this is the stillest I have ever felt.
It is Jane and her murmured declarations of assurances and love against my ear.
And it is the pieces of my past falling into focus. An understanding of who I am; of what I am. I can feel Jane's strong heartbeat drum against my back. And I want nothing more than to hold Patrick Doyle's heart in my hands.
And the day had started off so promising.
My hands are bound and I am in back of the medical examiner's van. I can smell blood.
And when it stops and the back doors open I am met with Paddy Doyle again.
"I'm sorry. I couldn't get back to see you again. There was no way but bringing you to me."
I writhe against the zip tie around my wrist and wonder if he has ever heard of a phone.
"I can take that off." He leans in and I back away.
"No. Don't touch me. You've done enough." And he steps back.
"You should know you're not in danger."
"There's a lot I don't know." I shout. My anger is boiling over; "You don't get to terrorize me."
I slide myself forward and step out of the van; "You don't get to kidnap me and interrogate me. I want to know why you killed my parents."
He is silent as he walks towards me; "I don't expect forgiveness for what I've done, or for who I am. But I am sorry. I'm sorry that you were there."
"Business. Your father was a low level thug in the Donegal family. He was a hit."
"And my mother?"
"She was their money handler."
He leans against the van and shoves his hands in his pockets. His matter of factness only pushes my anger further. He doesn't flinch when I run towards him and my hands close around his neck, tightening.
He grabs my hands and pulls them away from him. He flicks open a knife and cuts the ties binding me. I keep my eyes fixed on him and step back. His stone expression doesn't change.
"I know what you've heard about me; most of it's true." He puts the knife back in his pocket and removes an envelope from the other.
"I can't change what I've done. I don't let regret follow me, but you are the exception. You should know I've always kept an eye on you."
He hands me the envelope. The paper is worn. He has kept it with him for some time, and when I open it there are pictures of me.
My college and medical school graduations.
The next picture is grainy and in black and white. I can make out it is me on Adam Fairfield's boat. I am leaning over him. The one that follows shows me standing in front of a suspended Darren Crowe.
I swallow hard; "Why do you have these?"
"As a reminder of what I did to you. Who I turned you into."
He takes back the photos and tucks them into the envelope and back into his pocket; "I need a favor from you."
I scoff at the notion.
"I need to know who killed my son, and you are going to tell me."
I square my shoulders; "And if I don't?"
"I wouldn't want to use those photos as leverage." His tone is dark; "You don't deserve what you are. I'm not seeking forgiveness, but rather restitution for what I've done. You still have a chance for a life; something I gave up a long time ago."
"You know nothing about my life," I counter bitterly.
He nods; "Maybe. But maybe in a way I did you a favor. I took you away from a world where you could have been hurt. You are accomplished, beauti—"
"Is that your justification? That perhaps I am better because of what you did? You saved me from some questionable life? You burned down my world," I say vehemently; "The anger I feel is measurable to someone standing on my chest. You put that there. You are responsible for that. And in the brief moments when it eases and I have enough relief to breathe, I don't even have the time to exhale the pain I feel before its weight settles back on top of me. You killed my hope."
And a sharp pain closes around my heart. It is no longer a word or a belief.
And a look that I can only gather to be sympathy flashes across his face, but he doesn't respond, but rather walks towards me, producing a phone and the van's keys from his pocket.
"It's programmed with a number. I'll always answer it. When you know, as soon as you know, call me."
I take the items and look at him.
"I want to protect you. These are the only pictures that exist," he taps his finger against his pocket; "When you call me they will disappear. That is a promise."
He holds my stare, before glancing at the ground; "I'm sorry if you ever felt abandoned, Maura."
"Abandonment requires expectation, something I no longer have."
He turns and begins walking up the parking garage's ramp towards the street.
And know my expectations have shifted. I no longer keep my time with the dead. The protection of being surrounded by death is that they cannot leave you. They cannot be taken from you.
Stability. That is what death provides. It is an inevitability, but one that can be controlled. One I can control.
And I will control Patrick Doyle's.
"I'll be expecting your call," echos off the concrete walls of the garage and he is gone.
I flip open the phone and call Jane as I get in and start the van.
"Whatever you want, I can get it."
I let out a shaky breath.
Expectations can change.
"Jane, it's me."
"Are you okay?"
"Yes." I pull out onto the street and I'm not far from the station; "Meet me in the morgue's delivery bay in ten minutes."
Our ride is silent back to my house, and when we arrive and make our way inside she walks straight to the kitchen; pouring me a glass of wine and getting a beer for herself.
I sit at the island and she stands beside me. I tell her about how I had been taken to the parking garage. About Paddy and his twisted presentation of forgiveness. She listens intently and I omit other details.
"Seeing him made me so angry. It also made me feel so alone. What if my parents had lived? Who would I be now? I feel like I don't know who I am."
"Hey, come on. You are still the same ridiculously smart, amazing, goofy person that you are. You can't focus on the 'what ifs'."
I can't help but smile; "Thank you."
She cups my face in her hands and gives me a gentle kiss; "I like being able to do that for you."
"Make you smile."
I kiss her again, and my rage dissipates. She is set apart; her words, her touch are perfection.
She is slow.
The way her lips move across me. As though she is mending every broken piece and scar for any pain that has ever cut through me. An affirmation of her love and the knowledge that I am not alone.
It is warmth.
Her lips press against mine and my hands tangle in her hair. She moves against me and I arch my hips to meet her. Her tongue runs across my lips and I bring my fingers there. She takes two into her mouth and feel her play against them; sucking gently and tracing them. It almost becomes too much. I am becoming desperate to feel her mouth against me and she knows; the look I give her conveys it.
She gently pulls at my hand, and kisses me; lacing her fingers with my own she begins a slow path down my body; her hand never leaving mine.
And when she finds where I need her most and I gasp at the contact. I can feel the low rumble as she hums happily against me for the first time. Her ministrations are calculated. Methodical. My grip tightens around her hand. I can feel every fiber in my body tense until warm waves crash through me. And as they subside, she moves up me, until her head finds a home against my chest. Her fingers stay loosely tangled with mine, and my thumb traces the infliction in her palm.
We stay like this; in a comfortable silence until the sound of Jane's phone rouses us.
"That was Frost. They found Colin's killer. It was O'Rourke." She runs her fingers through her hair and leans over giving me a small kiss against my shoulder.
"Do you need to go in?" I ask.
"No. Him and Korsak are working on getting warrant. Judges aren't easy to wake up at two in the morning," she says as she lays back down beside me; "We'll get him."
I suddenly remember the phone Paddy had given me in my jacket pocket. Jane shifts beside me and lays against my shoulder, conforming her body against mine. I place a light kiss against her forehead and then rest my cheek there.
"I love you."
I feel her release a content sigh; "I love you, too."
I stay with her until her breathing evens. I wrap my robe around me and, leaning down, kiss her temple gently; "I'll be right back," I murmur. I want nothing more than to stay in her arms.
I retrieve the phone from my pocket and close the bedroom door behind me as I make my way downstairs.
I set the phone in front of me and brace myself against the counter. I open the it and select the saved number.
It rings two times; "Tell me."
"Wait." I cut him off.
"It still stands," he says with a husk.
"Don't expect thanks from me."
"I will kill you." I make my resolve clear.
He is silent for a moment; "I'd expect nothing less," and the line dies.
I take the two halves of the phone and, bending it back at the joint, break it in half. I wrap it in a paper towel and throw it away before making my way back upstairs.
The parking garage is the same. It is a message made clear only to me; a standing of terms.
O'Rourke is tied to a chair; an ice pick sticks out from his chest.
"Looks like Paddy got O'Rourke first." Frost says from behind me.
I pull the pick from his chest and notice blood on his shirt, near his abdomen. I unbutton it. He has been cut open and stitched back together.
"Maura, could that be the same as Crowe?" Jane asks. Her flashlight moving over the incision.
A chance for a life. Patrick's words echo in my head.
I only nod; "It very well could be."
I feel a cold draft behind me and notice a small pile of soot on the ground beside O'Rourke. The charred, white corner of a photo the only thing visible. The draft picks up and my ashes spread. Hiding and exposing who I am in an ember's light.
Chapter 9: Project And Personify: The Killing Fields
I hardly remember the ambulance ride.
But I can remember Jane's face as she collapsed to the ground. The image is seared in my memory.
I remember the sound of my heartbeat drumming in my ears as I ran towards her; the feeling of adrenaline rushing through me and applying so much pressure to the wound that I feared my hands would push through her; trying to keep every drop in her from pouring out.
And I remember Jane's blood on my hands.
Now I am standing in the E.R and she has disappeared behind doors with EMTs and doctors swarming around her. My hands are cold; caked and cracked with red. And the reality sets in that Jane may very well die.
A nurse is beside me. My ears are ringing and her words bunch together. She is asking me if I want to clean up, I think.
What is the first thing a person is shock says? I'm not in shock.
I look down at my hands. They are stained. So stained that I'm sure my bones now carry the color. I bring my hands to my chest and clench them into fists. I can only nod. I don't trust my voice not to betray me.
The nurse leads me through the ER doors where Jane had gone. I can hear the rushed calls being made and my attention is pulled to it, but the nurse stays firmly beside me, gripping my elbow and obstructing my view and leading me away to a private bathroom.
She opens the door and points assertively at me; "Stay here."
I want to run to Jane. I want to save her. It is the least I can do. She saved me; helpless in my dreams, she reached down and pulled me out of an abyss I thought had engulfed me long ago. She awakened me and I love her. And while that may not be enough, I know that I can put her back together so that she can continue to love me.
Because without her I am lost. Drifting aimlessly and overwhelmed by a darkness that has until recently consumed me.
Something she chased away.
Jane can't die. She can't leave me. She is a pure and perfect love that has embedded itself in me; pushing a darkness that has welled deep in my chest to the peripherals of my heart and kept it at bay. I would drown in myself without her.
'Code blue' rings out over the hospital speakers and I am sure my heart seizes in my chest. I brace myself against the sink and look at my reflection in the mirror. Shock has bled the red from my face. I feel like a ghost; inhabiting a shell of who I am.
I set and tighten my jaw, I try to remember the muscles there.
Masseter. Depressor anguli oris. Buccinator.
Anything to stop the feeling of my heart tearing in two. Jane's blood is pronounced. It streaks my face from where I attempted to brush my hair away.
My features are traced with red. The clarity of who I am, of who I will always be, reflected back.
I turn on the water until steam fogs the mirror and bring my hands under it. The sink is crimson and blood streaks down my arms when I bring my fingers close enough to brush them across my lips.
And there is Jane; close to me. Close enough to touch.
To smell and taste.
Metallic and brazen. Like gunpowder and hammered brass.
I pull my hand away and wipe the steam from the mirror before gripping the sides of the sink that has started to overflow. I feel outside of myself.
When the door opens, the nurse drops the towels in her hand. She is beside me quickly, shutting off the water and I find myself wrapped in an unfamiliar embrace that I find comfort in. I pull and grip the larger woman's shoulders and tighten the fabric of her scrub top in my hands for something tangible.
"Your friend is heading up to surgery." Her voice is reassuring.
"But the code." I choke out.
The woman pulls back and gives me a sympathetic look; "They resuscitated her."
She smiles at me; "Clean yourself up." She runs her hands up and down my arms before taking her leave. It is a small comfort.
I turn and lean against the sink and avert my eyes to the ground. Crimson water moves around me. It stains the sterile white of the floor before disappearing down a drain in the center of the room.
Warmth trails down my cheeks. I'm lost in a small sea; adrift and suddenly an unfamiliar sensation wells up in my behind the confines of my heart. Absence beats inside of my chest.
My hands fall to my sides. Drops form at my fingertips and deepen the color of the water around me as they fall.
There was so much blood.
And her heart bleeds rivers deep enough to drown.
Jane has yet to wake.
The nights have been cold, and the days have turned to weeks. Snow blankets the city. Angela and I rotate our times at Jane's bedside. I have taken a substantial amount of accrued time off and while Dr. Pike may be incompetent, he hasn't driven the lab into the ground. The senior intern has kept me up to date. Though work has been pushed to the far reaches of my mind at the moment, the job she has done is impressive. I have every intention of hiring her once she graduates in the spring.
The ICU staff has come to know me. I look over Jane's charts each day. An air of protection surrounds me and in turn surrounds Jane. I have become particularly fond of the nurse who helped me when I first arrived. Her name is Barbara. She reminds me of an older version of Jane's mother. She wears bright scrubs. They are almost overly cheerful. Often she will sit with me in silence while I stay vigilant at Jane's bedside.
When I arrive today, she tells me that Jane had a visitor; a gentleman wearing military fatigues. He came by yesterday morning, and again today. Only for a few minutes after Angela left and before I arrived.
"He brought flowers today."
I narrow my eyes and look towards Jane's room from the nurse's station. There is an arrangement on her bedside table.
Aside from myself and Angela, the only other visitors have been family along with Korsak and Frost.
"He was quite handsome," Barbra adds with a small raise of her eyebrow.
I thank her quietly and make my way to Jane's room. I check over her chart. She remains baseline like the previous two weeks. I sit in the chair beside her bed and look at the flowers left behind. I pick up the card and read it.
With all my love - Casey.
And I fight the urge to tear the card in two. Instead I replace it and calm the jealousy inching its way up my spine.
I spend the day beside Jane. I shop absently on my iPad. I almost believe that UPS knows me on a first name basis now, but really I observe Jane. They had removed a quarter of her liver. The trauma inflicted on her body had sent it into a state of shock, leaving her unconscious. Her features are pale. Her lips are chapped and her skin is dry. I remove a small tube of lavender lotion from my bag and apply a generous amount to my hands before massaging it in. I trail and trace her fingers, lacing them with my own before placing a light kiss on the back of her hand. I retrieve chapstick from my bag and apply it to her lips. It is a simple regimen I repeat each day. A habit I find comfort in.
I have spent the days holding one-sided conversations with Jane. I miss her sarcasm; her touch. I picture her rolling her eyes as I read her poetry, or her brow knitting together as she tries to decipher a particular stanza.
Instead, I'm sure she would make a quip about Doctor Seuss and poke me in the shoulder to keep tempo with "I do not like green eggs and ham. I do not like them, Sam I am."
Today I read her part of John Donne's A Valediction Forbidding Mourning.
Moving of th' earth brings harms and fears;
Men reckon what it did, and meant;
But trepidation of the spheres,
Though greater far, is innocent.
Dull sublunary lovers' love
—Whose soul is sense—cannot admit
Of absence, 'cause it doth remove
The thing which elemented it.
Our two souls therefore, which are one,
Though I must go, endure not yet
A breach, but an expansion,
Like gold to aery thinness beat.
I lean over and place a light kiss on Jane's temple. I turn off the lamp on the side table and bring my chair closer to the bed. I lace her fingers with mine and lay my head on her shoulder. I listen to even, shallow breaths beside me. I remember the most stable elements.
Somewhere between iron and silver.
And in there seems about right for Jane.
Somewhere between iron and silver seems about perfect.
I make a point to come in early the next morning in hopes of running into Casey. Angela is curled up on the chair beside Jane's bed. I check over her charts before gently tapping Angela on the shoulder. She opens her eyes and I give her a warm smile.
"No change," she mumbles, leaning over and kissing Jane on the cheek.
"Things will turn around soon enough, Angela." I reassure her.
She returns a warm smile.
"You." She points at me and settles back into the chair; "You are a good friend. You are good for my Janie. She is loyal and protective sometimes to a fault." She motions around her with her hands; "Clearly. Am I right?"
A small, sad smile tugs at me.
"She needs someone like you. Someone to help her fight off everything she keeps in here." Angela taps her temple; "You do that for her."
And she does the same for me.
She stands and closes the distance between us; wrapping me up in a tight hug.
"Just promise to love her like you have been," she says quietly as she steps back.
I nod and we share a knowing look. She smiles as she begins to gather her things.
As she makes her way towards the door, she gives me a light kiss on the cheek; "Call me if anything changes."
"Of course," I say as I take the seat next to Jane's bed and look at her; taking her hand in mine.
I watch Angela leave and I can almost hear Jane asking me if I think she has picked out a wedding theme yet. I laugh to myself at the idea. But then it turns into a sobering thought.
The idea of a life with Jane. It doesn't seem so unattainable. I actually find myself happy at the thought. Excited.
And do what? Galavant around the city at night with a knife in your hand?
I wonder if I will ever be able to paint a picture of us that works. One in which I no longer straddle the line between the worlds of who I am and who I yearn to be.
A knock at the door pulls me from my thoughts.
He is dressed in military fatigues and carrying a fresh bouquet of flowers.
"I'm sorry. May I?" he asks politely, concern almost creeping into his voice. I try to pinpoint his dialect.
"Yes. Please." I stand from the chair and walk towards him; extending my hand.
"I am Maura Isles."
He shakes my hand and a bemused looks comes across his face; "So you are Maura." he says, almost impressed.
"I am." I narrow my eyes slightly at him.
"She's told me about you," he says, reading the confusion on my face as he lets go of my hand and places the flowers on the side table.
"Has she now?" I ask.
"Mmhmm." He walks across the room and slides up another chair beside Jane on the opposite side of the bed and sits.
"All good things, I assure you."
I sit back down and observe him for a moment; "So you are friends?"
"For going on 20 years now, yes."
I suddenly feel like a fool for reading the way I did into the card he had left.
"From high school." He continues, "After she joined the police academy, I enlisted. We fell out of each other's lives for some time. I recently came back into Boston about eight months ago."
"Were you overseas?"
He nods. He explains to me how shrapnel from an IED had embedded itself in his spine, leaving him partially paralyzed. He had come back to the states to seek out a neurosurgeon who would perform a surgery that would remove the shrapnel in hopes of allowing him walk again.
He gives me a strong smile and taps his shin; "I have braces now for support. But other than that I am able bodied."
I smile. He seems like a decent man.
"Jane and I had been going back and forth through email for a few months. I didn't tell her I was back. I didn't want to worry her. But she was very fond of you."
It feels strange to have this conversation over her. I look down at Jane and brush a strand of hair and tuck it behind her ear. How she is here, but not.
"Finally meeting you now makes me see why. It is clear you care about her."
"Very much," I say.
He smiles and pats Jane's hand before sitting back in his chair; "I'm happy to know she has found someone like you. Someone, if I remember correctly she said, "completes me." He air quotes the last statement; "Her words, not mine."
I let out a small laugh and my heart feels as though it may float away; "She can be surprisingly sweet," I say.
Casey nods; "There is a tenderness about her that not a lot of people get to see. But once she lets you in, you're there for good."
He pauses for a beat before continuing; "Jane and I were close in high school. I was, uh—" he laughs; "I guess I was an insurance policy in some way. An idea of normality. High school kids can be relentless." His look becomes wistful. He had loved her and it had been unrequited.
He checks his watch and rises from his seat; "I have to be going. I work over in Jamaica Plain at the Veteran's Hospital. I've been over here lately though because they are building a new wing specifically for Veterans. I'm overseeing the PTSD division."
I quickly stand up; "Do you need a ride?"
He waves his hand; "No. No, but thank you. There is a T stop a few blocks down. Besides, I like being able to break these in." He taps his foot and smiles; "I will be back over later. Probably early in the evening. Maybe I will see you again."
"Maybe," I offer, but I know that he will.
He extends his hand and I take it. He places a light kiss on the back of my hand; "It was a pleasure meeting you Maura."
"Likewise," I say.
I watch Casey leave and a sudden shift moves over me.
And I give serious thought to where to place my knife. Somewhere between the 11th and 12th discs of the thoracic, I estimate.
Angela arrives a little after 6pm and I take my leave. Outside it has begun to snow, adding another layer to the many that have accumulated over the days. As I make my way to my car I hear my name being called.
It is distinctly London, though it has worn off in the years since he has been in the states.
"Maura!" I can hear his footsteps crunch into the snow behind me.
I turn and face Casey and give him a polite smile; "Hello Casey."
"Any changes with Jane?"
I shake my head; "No. She remains baseline." His face falls and I can tell he is disappointed in the news. And in the moment, I believe this is for the best.
Best that she sleeps through the nightmares of this world that I have stepped fully into.
"How is construction going?" I ask.
He shrugs; "Stalled at the moment because of the weather."
"Would you like to see it?" he asks.
I nod and he smiles; "This way."
We walk around the side of the hospital and up a side alley to where the construction site is. Bare light bulbs hang from the skeletal structure. Walls and floors are halfway constructed. Sheets of plastic cover the open areas where windows will go in some half attempt at weatherproofing from the wind and snow.
"I'm on the third floor." Casey says, looking up; "Want to take a ride?" he motions towards the scaffolding lift. A breeze picks up from behind us. The cold bites at my face and there is a window of clarity in which I know I should walk away. That this good and honest man shouldn't be a part of who I am, and yet, I can't leave. Instead I smile happily as he takes my hand and helps me into the lift.
When we reach the third floor, Casey pushes the plastic aside and allows me in. It is all but bare, aside from the lightbulbs swaying above us and myriad construction tools laid out on tables and scattered across the floor.
"This entire area is going to be a rehabilitation area. Physical therapy with brand new equipment and even a hydrotherapy pool."
He is proud and I am eyeing the masonry hammer on a nearby table.
He leads and I follow like thread. I wander from him and stop in front of the table and turn back to face him. I keep my hands clasped behind my back.
"This is awe inspiring, Casey." I lean back slightly and pick up the hammer, keeping it loose in my grip.
I know he is smiling as he speaks; "We will do amazing work here." he looks around the open area.
"May I ask you a question?"
"Of course." he turns and faces me before waving me to come over; "My office will be back here."
"When you were injured, was your convoy attacked?"
He stops a moment before continuing forward; "Yes. We were ambushed. We took cover behind our rig and returned fire. We didn't know there was a roadside IED. It was detonated about five meters away from us. I fell on top of my staff sergeant and took the brunt of the explosion."
His voice is distant. Makeshift floors shift and groan under us as we walk across the boarding.
I feel constricted. Wound suddenly to a point that I feel as though I may fracture.
He wrings his hands together and it reminds me of Jane; "This will be my office. Clients can meet with me here. I'm kind of a PTSD mentor. Therapy will happen on the second floor. I'm support here while they go through their rehabilitation."
Irrational anger surges up inside of me. It tears through me. I can feel my muscles tense.
This man is decent and pure. He is selfless and brave. He reminds me of Jane. I can see her laying broken and bleeding on the ground.
The thought consumes me. It is about want. I am far outside the realms of desiring control. I want chaos. I want destruction. I simply want to kill him because I can.
I am behind him before he knows I am there. I bring the hammer to the side of his head in a swift movement and he collapses. A gurgle of incomprehension falls out of his mouth.
He tries to stand but only falls over and through the drywall of his office. I am over him and bring the hammer down in the base of his skull. He stops moving.
I take his hands in mine and drag him back towards the scaffolding lift. I push the plastic aside. It is dark out. With only blankets of snow falling. I am careful as I pull Casey onto the lift as to not lose my footing. I set him up so that he is sitting; propped against the railings of the lift. I step back inside and after a few moments am able to find materials that meet my needs. Turpentine, a soldering torch, and duct tape.
I bind his hands and ankles and kneel in front of him. And I can focus. Casey has done nothing to me. If anything he has been kind and receptive to courtesy. He has been a friend and confidant to Jane. He has been a hero in his own right, just like Jane in hers.
But heroes can die. Shrapnel can tear and bullets can rip through them and leaving others to spin madly in their wake. Jane has left me spinning and directionless. She left me.
I stand suddenly and step back through the plastic and shield myself from what I have done.
This is panic.
This is uncertainty and impulsiveness for a fix to a need that I had been able to control.
And it is fear for what I know is just out of sight; projection and unrequited anger. A promise from Jane all those weeks ago, after Emily Stern.
"I can't lose you," I said.
"You didn't, and you won't."
Yet here I am, alone.
I step back out onto the lift and tear off two small pieces of tape. I cover his eyes as well as his mouth. I pick up the masonry hammer and turn it in my hand. I swing and bring the point firmly in the top of Casey's skull. I am thankful he had been unconscious. I drop the hammer into his lap.
I take off his dog tags from around his neck and slip them into my jacket pocket. I pour the can of turpentine over his body and then lower the lift. When I reach the ground I click on the soldering torch and bring it to his boot. The flame moves up his body until he is engulfed.
I start the lift and step off. A funeral pyre elevating above me, I remember the poem I had read to Jane as I walk away.
As virtuous men pass mildly away,
And whisper to their souls to go,
Whilst some of their sad friends do say,
"Now his breath goes," and some say, "No."
So let us melt, and make no noise,
No tear-floods, nor sigh-tempests move;
'Twere profanation of our joys
To tell the laity our love.
But we by a love so much refined,
That ourselves know not what it is,
Inter-assurèd of the mind,
Care less, eyes, lips and hands to miss.
I make my way around the hospital and to my car, caring less if I were to be seen. Part of me wishing that I was.
Instead I silently drive home, Casey's burning body lighting my way. A beacon in the night that brings no warmth or solace.
I don't sleep. I am marred with guilt for what I've done. I try to justify it to myself throughout the night.
Mercy is a poor description for it, but it is the only one I can settle on.
I watch morning come with gray clouds as it continues to snow. I go through the motions of getting ready and leave.
I drive carefully back to the hospital. When I arrive Angela is watching tv. She tells me that she asked for a radio to be brought into Jane's room, hoping something more lively would do the trick in bringing Jane back. If she notices the dark circles under my eyes and robotic demeanor, she doesn't say anything. Instead she gives me a light kiss on the cheek and asks that I call if there is any change.
The radio Barbara brings only gets one station that goes somewhere between static with a music background and music with a static background. For the past few hours there has been nothing but a Johnny Cash marathon playing. It's tolerable. I vaguely wonder if Jane can hear it or would even be partial to it if she were awake.
I rest my arms on the bed and take Jane's hand into my own. Her skin is dry. I retrieve the lotion and chapstick from my purse and carry on our daily regimen.
I notice the smallest twitch at the corner of her mouth. She slowly licks her lips and turns her head towards me and I can't make out the words she is saying.
I lean down closely to her; my ear near her. Her voice is tired and rough; it cracks like the dying embers of a fire.
I look at her and her eyes are open; half lidded, but open. They are beautiful. Even as she struggles to open them wider, I struggle between wanting them never to be hidden again and hiding away from them myself.
She brings her hand up slowly and takes the chapstick from my hand, which has been hovering above her lips, and drops it beside her.
"I like cherry."
And I can't help the laugh that escapes me and quickly transforms into a desperate sob that I try quickly to catch with my hand, because of course she would.
"Then I'll get cherry," I say through tears, kissing her cheek.
She hums her approval and rests her hand against my head.
I sit back and keep her hand in mine. A semblance of peace washes over me.
And somewhere over the radio and through the static, Jane sings along quietly. A dusty voice in a morphine state, 'I shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die."
A/N: Some segments from 'Hannibal' (book) with Maura referring to the elements, that was actually written in a letter from Hannibal to Clarice. Some recommended listening for this chapter Copper Wimmin - Bleeding Rivers
Chapter 10: This Is How Sanity Slips (In High Heels)
It takes three days for Casey to be found; charred and frozen. I had considered going back to dispose of the body, but couldn't bring myself to wage the risk. So I left him to the elements and bided my time for the inevitable.
In the days that follow police swarm on the construction site. Frost and Korsak question nurses and doctors. I stay with Jane, who is roused from her drugged state and is suddenly very sober and aware of her surrounds. I can tell she is on edge and I know any attempt at distraction on my part would avail to nothing, so I don't try. I also can't keep hidden whose body was on that lift. Not after Frost and Korsak question if I had seen or talked to any military personnel. And I can't lie. Yes, I had seen and talked to Casey days before in Jane's room. The statements from the nurses confirm my story. Only I hold my tongue at mentioning our encounter in the parking lot. I know Jane has read the card attached to Casey's flowers. She is smart and she is capable. She knows whose body they found. Dental and tissue records would be used and easily accessible given Casey's military background. I know, because it will only be a matter of time before I will be pulled out of Jane's room and back to the morgue by a call from Cavanaugh. So I wait.
I dread how Jane will react when she finds out. Inwardly I seethe over my mistake.
My impulsiveness. My need for something. Anything to ground me after the shooting. Any attempts to bargain and reason with myself are useless. I murdered an innocent man and I must live with that and the repercussions it brings.
When the call finally does arrive, I find myself struggling to leave Jane's side. And I'm sure she views it as love and dedication. Which to a degree it is. And again, I bargain. It is one that I think can be understood and remedied only if I stay by her side. That if I love her enough and do all the right things that this mark will make itself disappear.
Only I know it is solemn remorse and regret for what awaits me. I do not want to come face to face with what I have done. There is no wave of relief that washes over me. It isn't the contentment I felt of killing Adam Fairfield or Darren Crowe. And I have no discernible explanation for what I feel. It has come to me in pieces over days as I have tried to understand my actions. And at first I thought it was true empathy for what I had done. I found solace in that. That maybe I wasn't inherently so disconnected.
That I wasn't a monster.
But overanalyzation in the days that followed the feeling had quickly dissipated, and I was left remembering the hammer in my hand and how, despite my scattered clarity, I know now that I looked only at Casey as an object; one that fulfilled a need.
And I can come to no other conclusion other than I simply wanted to kill him.
And the war waging in me; one that I have never felt before and makes me realize that I really don't feel so bad.
Because killing him felt so good.
And the regret that courses through me isn't correlated to his body, but rather the ramification it will have on Jane.
Heroic and perfect Jane who deserves none of what has happened to her. Who deserves no more burdens or crosses to bear or buried demons to fight. Jane who deserves happiness and dispassion.
As Frost and Korsak wait for me, Jane gives my hand a tight squeeze and a small smile.
"Go." she says.
I lean down and leave her with a kiss, one that I let linger on her cheek.
"I'm so sorry." I say, and it carries so much more than she can know.
I'm sorry for what I've done. What this will do to you. For who I am. For who I will always be. And I'm so sorry that I fear that no amount of love that pours out of you can change that.
"Don't be. Don't ever be."
And I almost suffocate on my words coming back to me.
The precinct is all but new.
Bullet holes have been spackled and painted over. It's hard to not hear the shots ring off the walls or invision how they must have power washed Jane's blood off the sidewalk.
It is not new. It only masks what was.
Korsak and Frost brief me on the way to the morgue. They explain that Dr. Pike was out of his element, and that after all that had happened, a case like this was not something Cavanaugh wanted 'fucked up', as Korsak so endearingly and gently put it.
As we step off the elevator I can see Pike in my office. He is sitting in my chair and the look I give him as I open the door all but makes him jump up and out of it and scramble into the lab. I walk to bathroom and promptly change into my scrubs. I hate Pike. He is incompetent and rude. Egotistical and dense. Killing him would almost be a favor to everyone. My mind wanders back and I realize how much I am going to truly dread performing this autopsy.
Frost and Korsak wait for me outside my office and we make our way to the morgue. The smell of burning permeates the air. Frost immediately gags and runs for the sink, and it stops Korsak in his tracks.
Burnt flesh has an acrid smell; one that lingers and has no proper way to describe. Processed meat from animals isn't the same. It lacks the fluid and fat; but when present, these two elements add an unfavorable stench. In all my years it has yet to be something I have grown accustomed to.
Korsak clears his throat; "We believe he was military. His back wasn't all that burnt up compared to the rest of his body. He was wearing fatigues from what we can tell. No ID on him though. No dog tags and his wallet was destroyed."
I only nod as I make my way to the autopsy table and unzip the body bag. I can make out the distinct smell of the turpentine left over on his body. It doesn't make the smell in the room any more bearable.
I can hear Frost wretch and throw up. Korsak is beside me with a mask.
I carry through the motion of the autopsy. But I am not there. My mind has traveled elsewhere.
"Blunt force trauma to the back of the head. He has a fracture at the base of his skull."
I hear myself say it and I see Korsak nod but this is all automatic to me. I peer into the wound on top of Casey's skull where I had sent the point of the hammer through.
Killing Casey is obscure to me and it makes me question everything that I am.
If I am who I ever thought I was. If I am who Frost and Korsak know me to be.
Who Jane knows of me to be.
And if all of this has just been a veil. Some kind of abstraction of myself; one in which I have adorned this very well tailored person suit; or what the idea of a person is. If this has all been an affectation and taking Casey's life has finally revealed me for who I am.
Something intrinsically evil.
It is the mathematics of human behavior and all the ugly variables that come with it and I simply have no answer to it.
"The wound at the top of the skull is two and a quarter inches deep. It appears that his eyes and mouth were taped shut." I remove small, blackened clumps from under his eye and the corner of his mouth; "A small amount of residue remains adhered to his face."
"Ritualistic?" Korsak asks as he leans over and exams the pieces between the tweezers in my hand.
I shrug at Korsak's assumption, but really I did not wish to see the fear in his eyes. I didn't want him to know his fate or the paralyzing fear that takes hold. He wasn't deserving of it in the way the others were.
So maybe I am not a monster. Perhaps there is shred of human somewhere inside of me. I had carried concern as I killed Casey. I did not want him to suffer.
But that does not take away from the fact that I wanted to kill him.
I can feel the edges of a headache begin to move in as I begin the 'Y' incision in Casey's chest.
Jane had once said that is must be very complicated to be me. And in this moment, it couldn't be more true.
"I will have the results ready and sent to you as soon as possible, Detective Korsak. But I am confident in saying that the wound at top of the skull is what killed him. Not the fire."
"Smart bastard covered up anything we could have gotten with the fire. Evidence be damned."
"We have nothing." Frost says with a cough as he leans against the sink; his eyes fixed on the ceiling.
"I can at least give you a name. I will run his DNA against the military databases."
"Thanks, doc." Korsak says, a sad frustration inching in his voice.
I force a smile and nod as the two men leave and carry on with the autopsy. Three hours later I have closed Casey up, put him in the freezer and sent off the DNA for identification. It is dark when I receive the fax for Charles Jones, along with his list of service and credentials. I finish my report within the hour and send the intern, Susie Chang up to Frost and Korsak with the results.
Casey. Brave and courageous. I should have ate his heart.
And a cold grip takes hold inside of me as I turn off the lights and leave for the hospital.
When I arrive Jane is awake, but makes no attempt to move or acknowledge me when I sit down beside her. Her eyes stay fixed on the tv but I know she is not watching.
Frost or Korsak called. I knew that they would, but hope that they wouldn't. Part of me wanted to tell Jane; for some sort of catharsis. I wanted to be the one to fix what would make her fall apart.
Because I am the reason.
We stay quiet for sometime; our breaths the only sound in the room, and it is almost too much for me to bear.
And I have lost track of time when Jane reaches across the bed for my hand. I put my hand in hers; giving myself over.
She wipes her face and looks down; playing with the edge of the sheet covering her. Her hand tightens around mine.
She looks at me then with such a sadness that it breaks my heart. She is something so vital and pure to me. And even with the dark edges that surround me, she has always remained clear.
And it isn't something I understand; how she chases every dark piece of me away. Even now, with every confliction inside of me. Every worry that centers around finding myself again; or if there is anything of myself left over. She gives me hope to find the salvageable in the broken parts of me. Whatever that is. Whatever, whoever I am is all there when I'm with her. It fits and slots into place. There is a peace. She brings balance to an unbalanced mind.
Jane is the core of me. She makes me see that things can be made better. She does it in a look or a gesture; with her love. She saves me from myself.
And even with all of this, it has never occurred to me to run; to save myself. Every person has an intrinsic responsibility to their own life. Yet I do not. The reality that my actions and the consequences they carry to me are incidental. Perhaps it is because I know that whatever happens to me is deserved. I have no reason to fight or flee; instead only remain stationary as the world were to close in around me.
And it is strange sensation that I suddenly have. In the silence of Jane's hospital room with her thumb brushing over the back of my hand in a steady, soft tempo, her eyes find mine and I see there the reason why the grey outside grows ever so darker and why blue skies will burn a little less bright when the sun graces it. There is a new piece of darkness there. And I'm seeing her differently. Something with a reckless strength and something unfamiliar. There is a kind of truth in them that she knows she is missing part of herself; that small part of her has broken and fallen away.
And in the moment that I see her with this, it is gone. All but fleeting. She is back looking out the window and pressing buttons, lowering her bed and giving herself morphine to black out oblivion.
"Stay." Her eyes begin to flutter shut, and her hand becomes loose in mine.
"Of course." I say quietly, bringing her hand to my lips, and placing a light kiss on her knuckles.
And I do. I stay and hope that morning brings a new light. One in which darkness is laid dormant; not left to fall away from me and land in the open wounds of Jane's heart.
Chapter 11: December Never Felt So Wrong
Jane crosses her arms and begins drumming her fingers.
We have been sitting in my car for almost twenty minutes locked in a stalemate of where to go.
"Just take me home, Maura.
And I am hesitant. It will take at least three months for her to fully recover. I have every amenity she would need. Instead she is being petulant and defiant. She needs to be looked after, and it borders maddening that she is not letting me provide for her some sort of safety and assurance.
"Your apartment's energy is not conductive to a healing environment." I say, putting the car into reverse.
Jane closes her eyes and takes a deep breath; "My apartment is just fine."
Her drumming continues and my hands grip the steering wheel a bit tighter.
I begin my drive down the levels of the parking garage and we remain silent. As we approach the exit I can see Jane looking at me out of the corner of my eye.
"Don't turn towards Beacon."
"Jane, really if you just come home wit-"
"Jesus, can you just take me to my fucking apartment!" she erupts, and her hand comes down hard on the dash. She winces in pain, but when I begin to reach for her, she puts her hand up and I stop.
"I'm fine. Just go." She sounds defeated.
My tongue clicks against the roof of my mouth and settle back into my seat. I am intently studying the emblem in the center of my steering wheel.
I expect an apology for the outburst, only it is one that never comes. Instead Jane's eyes stay set forward, focused on the grey cold as I pull out of the garage.
Though the apartment has been cleaned, the kitchen re-floored and the walls painted, it still carries residual horrors. Ones that shiny, new things cannot cover.
And I can't comprehend why she would want to come back. After everything that had happened here; after it all, she chose to come back. And I don't know if it is because she wants to distance herself, or because she feels that the pain that her home carries is something she is deserving of.
Or if it is both.
During the renovations, Angela had been the one to go to the apartment and retrieve Jane's clothes and bring them to my house. She had even taken Jo. Parts of Jane were still left with me, even if they were just half filled drawers. And up until the shooting we had begun to interweave with each other; building upon a foundation that had already been laid; that had been there for sometime and took a nightmare to awaken us to.
A simple kiss had opened up distinct possibilities for us, but in turn left me in the limbo of two worlds. Worlds that I fear that I may not be able to separate from.
And I had the idea in my head of some sort of happy ending after Jane awoke. One in which we started a life; safe with each other. Casey's murder changed that and now I'm not sure if anything can be saved or if we'll ever find each other again.
I have watched her slip further and further away. She has built something impenetrable around her and I have no idea how to begin to approach her. She is almost unreadable, but I can see anger in her.
And pain. It burns all around her.
I follow Jane back towards the bedroom. She throws her bag into the general direction of her closet and closes the blinds before tossing back and disappearing under her covers.
I watch her from the doorway and absently twirl the ring on my finger. I don't know what to do.
"Can I get you anything?" It is an open ended and safe enough statement.
I take a hesitant step forward and the covers flip back, exposing the empty spot next to Jane. It is an invitation I take and though she makes no move as I slip into bed beside her, I find comfort in the small gesture.
She switches the light off and darkness closes in around us and an immense silence settles. One that doesn't break and I wonder if this is what we have been reduced to; watching each other drift away. The space between us may as well be an ocean.
I feel the bed shift and I know sleep will be elusive for us both.
Somewhere in the dark I can feel much darker eyes on me. She is giving me an opening for something.
In the back of my throat I feel confessions build; ones that I want to scream into an insipid sky until they opened and parted clouds; tearing away any foundation under us.
And they are ones I choke back down. I force myself to hold my tongue and feel my heart break when I hear a frustrated sigh fall passed Jane's lips and I know that the moment is gone.
I watch the city lights play on the ceiling and desperately hope for some broken fragment of a chance Jane can find her way and that I can do the same.
That what is left of her won't reduce itself to ash and that my name on her lips isn't something that will fade away and become a distant memory; forgotten.
It has been almost two months since Jane left the hospital and it has become a routine of mine to visit her during the week; sometimes during my break and other times after work.
The end result of every meeting is silence. It fills the air heavy with forevers we have never spoken; like a dying breath it lingers and moments to break it pass us by again and again. We can say so much without parting our lips. Dinner grows cold and Jane may as well be counting the tiles on the ceiling of her kitchen. We are each other's only company.
And I want to know if she has bled her nights dry with tears.
Or if she has shed any at all.
But I never ask. Instead I clean our untouched plates and Jane takes her place on the couch; the tv dulling in the background while she becomes a platinum plus member of the shopping network with her laptop propped in front of her.
And even though boxes have begun to line her walls; an opening remains where a coat hook had once been; the growing deliveries on either side of it close in the space around it like a coffin.
There are fleeting moments though when I catch her looking at me and the angry lines around her eyes soften and I feel like I am being found only to be lost again.
It is all so horribly unfair; to love someone to a point that it breaks you in two. And I wonder if she see's me in the way I see her; so inherently a part and just as much at a loss to find herself. Blinded and tortured by sleepless nights and a wish for the past and all its misgivings to fade.
Jane is anything she is because of me, and I have no way to atone. My guilt leaves me for a wish to change the past, and the feeling that every ounce of love that once was held for me in her heart is now in my hands and any offering that I can give to rectify it or fit it back in place is a shortcoming; because I simply cannot.
I cannot change what I have done. I cannot give Casey back his life and I cannot give Jane the closure she so desperately wants that it tears her apart in ways that a bullet going through her never could.
And I can't say a word because it would mean losing the one thing that brings me hope and into a world I never thought I would experience.
I look out the kitchen window and at Christmas lights lining trees that shine through a flurry of snow. The days have grown shorter and colder and despite this, everything is supposed to be beautiful; only it is not.
"I don't want to go."
The break is silence pulls me from my thoughts and I look at Jane. Her eyes stay fixed on the screen in front of her.
"The thing. The gala, benefit whatever Boston Hero shoots herself and gets an award thingy. I don't want to go." she raises an eyebrow and waves her hand above her head.
I set down the plates in the sink and walk over to her. Her eyes raise and I feel as though she is studying me. She raises her legs and I take a seat on the couch. And when her legs come down and rest in my lap I realize that this is closest we have been in months.
"Why don't you want to go?" I ask, tentatively resting my hands on her knee.
"I'm not a hero, Maura. Shooting yourself is not heroic."
"The people of Boston think it is."
"Eight people died. I don't want a medal for that." Her eyes flicker up to mine for a brief moment and then look passed me.
"Five of them were bad guys, Jane."
"Like that makes it better?"
"This ceremony isn't for you." I pat her knee and her eyes travel back to mine.
"This is-.. this is for your parents and your community. You are a symbol. You are a heroic flesh and blood reminder of the thin blue line and of the officers that were lost."
She rolls her eyes and closes her laptop quickly.
"Yeah. Good guys were lost that day, and the city wants to wave around its hands and celebrate it." She tosses her laptop onto the coffee table and swings her legs off my lap. She sits up and tangles her hands through her hair.
"No. The city wants to thank you for what you did."
"For putting a gun in my gut?" she asks, incredulously.
"No, for willing to risk your life for a greater good so that no other lives were lost that day."
She stands quickly and retreats to the kitchen where she retrieves a beer from the fridge. I sink further into the couch and Jane watches me.
I am quiet for a moment; "What you did saved your brother. You saved me. The departments loss could have been much grea-.."
"What could you even know about loss?"
The contempt in her voice is like nothing I have ever heard. It runs through me and breaks under my skin like glass. Suddenly everything around me seems wrong. Nothing aligns and my searching eyes are desperate to lock on to something and when I can't, I quickly grab my purse from the coffee table and head towards the door.
"Maura, that's not what I meant." her voice is quiet; retreating into itself.
I stop at the door, my hand trembling at the knob.
But I am already gone; leaving only silence as the last words we spoke.
I drive until it is too hard to see. I pull off to a side street and allow myself cry. It is like a wave crashing through me and I'm not sure how long have I been sitting when I can summon the strength to wipe my face and no longer taste salt.
I step out of my car and the wind bites at me as I take in my surroundings. I am by the Charles River. The bridge nearby is lit up with lights and reflects off the waters frozen surface. It is the kind of picture you would want to save to memory with someone beside you.
And what Jane had said keeps echoing around me. I know it isn't about the shooting. It isn't about Frankie or I. She is hurting and wanted to hurt someone in return.
It is about Casey and because the ceremony being held isn't just for Jane and the fallen officers of the shooting, but also for him.
Because behind Jane lies another fallen soldier and I may as well pin the medal myself.
I wrap my arms around myself and walk the small pathway beside the river. I am alone and it is a familiar feeling; being your own single, solitary guide. It is how I have lived most of my life until recently, and now I'm not sure what to make of it all, because Jane completely dismantles me. She has taken the most lonely and desperate and turned them inside out. I have never felt love in the capacity that I have, or that I was even capable to.
And love edges an epiphany. It fills me with a fear I have never known; of being completely vulnerable. Jane rearranges me. She has taken me apart, broken me down, pieced me back together and taken me into some unfamiliar world that mirrors my own. One in which the pure white of winter isn't marred by blood red. Where nowhere has become somewhere and where she has an idea of me; of who I am. It makes me dizzy and it constricts inside me. She has allowed me to love and be loved in return and it weakens me. I don't know if I can tolerate the thought of it, and when I do the enormity of it collapse around me. I have been laid bare; stripped to my foundation, and by anyone lesser, they would have bled.
But not Jane.
She has buried me in a love that I fear because it comes so close to who I am, and that if any hint my darkness were to be found it would still the air around me and light a fire in my chest that I would choke on the embers its blaze.
When I return to my car, I am exhausted. My phone blinks and I have missed calls and texts from Jane. Every message a repeat of the next.
I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry.
When I arrive home, I can see the lights inside are on and Jane's cruiser parked on the street. Before I can even retrieve my keys, Jane is opening the door; her face is crestfallen and desperate.
I study her and then walk passed; "You look terrible."
The door shuts behind me, and I can hear Jane let out a small, sad laugh; "Thank you."
I set my things on the island and remove my coat, and before she can speak I turn on my heels and am facing her.
"It's been almost three months, Jane. You could have read all of Shakespeare. Learned Finnish. Instead you lost yourself. I lost you. You became angry and withdrawn. And I'm sorry, Jane. I'm sorry that I can't take back a single thing that happened. I wish that I could. I do more than anything. But you've been acting as though you are staying alive out of habit, not because people around you actually need you and love you, but because you don't know anything else."
She wrings her hands together and remains silent. I watch her process what I have said, and she seems taken aback by my outburst and I wait for something from her. Minutes that drag for an eternity pass between us.
"Do you have anything to say?" I finally ask.
She stops staring at the floor and straightens her back; "I love you."
I close my eyes as the words crash into me and I wonder if love is enough to fill the emptiness between us with a substance of virtue.
And before I can open my eyes I feel myself wrapped in her embrace and a sweet kiss graces my lips. One that turns more possessive and desperate as Jane takes my face firmly in her hands and steps towards me, pressing her body flush against mine and backing me into the islands counter.
I melt into her and I feel the broken parts of me being brought back to life. Her hands run down my arms and intertwine with my own and I know then that they are the last ones I want to hold.
I pull back and break our kiss. She looks at me as though she has done something wrong. I give her a small, reassuring smile and bring her hands up. I turn them over in my own and kiss each infliction inside of her palm. And as much I don't want to, I release them and bring my hands to her face; tucking a strands of hair behind each of her ears and she leans into my touch. I bring my lips back to hers as my hand ghost down her chest and pull at her shirt. I can feel her stiffen and wince as she lifts her arms. I gently pull at her shirt and bring it over her head and let it fall.
I kiss her again and turn us so that she against the counter. I am careful not to press fully into her, but Jane brings us together. I unclasp her bra as I begin to make my way down her neck; trailing my lips and sucking gently at her pulse point. She rolls her hips into me as my teeth graze her collarbone. My hands move from her hips and pause when I feel the raised skin of her scar across her stomach.
"Does it hurt?" I ask quietly.
"We don't have-.."
"No.. well, yes, but not with you. It doesn't hurt with you."
Her eyes find mine and I can see reflected back at me a quiet love and it urges me on. I kiss across her chest, down between her breasts and take a darkened bud into my mouth. Jane's head lolls back and her hand becomes tangled in my hair and pushes me into her before bring me up for a bruising kiss. She bites my bottom lip and I can taste the beginnings of blood. Her hands move between and she unbuttons her jeans and pulls at them, sliding them down and kicking them off to the side.
She takes my hand in hers and guides us lower; "Here."
I can feel the heat radiating off her and it is intoxicating. I've missed the way she feels.
I've missed her, and when I push inside of her, her leg moves up and wraps low around my waist, pulling me closer to her and her arms wrap around my neck. Her hips begin a rapid pace and her voice is low; primal.
I burn, but add another finger and push inside her deeply; my thumb brushing over her most sensitive area. Her fingers dig into my back and I can feel her begin to tighten around me. Her head falls to my shoulder and she stills for a moment until her voice cracks. She folds and wraps her arms around me tightly as her climax courses through her and as she begins to return to me I can feel her tears against my neck and muffled apologies.
"I'm so sorry."
I slowly remove myself from her and take Jane fully into my arms; her cries growing louder as a catharsis takes hold and moves through her. She collapses to the floor, I envelope and gather each part of her and we find our way back; rearranging and piecing her back together into a image that works.
Chapter 12: Heroine Fix
Physical remnants are what we cling to. They are found in every desperate touch and breath shared between us. Gone are lingering, loved filled gazes and caresses that set fire to skin. There is no longer the commitment to memory of every curve and dip of our bodies. Her eyes stay hidden. They no longer find mine in precipice moments. Lips no longer soothe hot, grazed skin; marks stay in their place instead.
Shades of black, red, and blue.
It is wanton. It is a desperation to feel anything; to provoke something tangible. That maybe in the abject parts of this we can find a way back to what we once were. And as each day passes, I'm afraid that I am coming apart. Words between us have yet to give way in the days since I came home to find Jane. Every construct we have built and pieced together is unraveling. The whites of her eyes stare into the darkest nights at their core. And in brief instances where they meet with mine, I can catch glimpses of her; bits of lust and fear mixed. A reminder of what we have left.
We once burned bright, but we have burned out.
We are ashes.
Our bodies stay tangled in place until she pulls us apart. And I'm not sure it is relief I feel or fear as being left alone settles around me. If hanging on to this is worth the growing void between us or if I'd rather her desperate breaths beside my ear tell me that I'm not welcome here.
But I'd steal her tongue before she could ever utter the words.
I press my palms hard against my eyes until bits of light spark in the darkness to quiet the voice that has grown louder in my head. In a perfect world my name would never fall from Jane's lips and her mind wouldn't be burdened by my misgivings.
So instead we hold in this pattern with no discernible beginning or end to us. I am stranded in memories of what we once were and I can't be rescued by the one person I need most. And I fear as the vacancy beside me grows, the tendency for nights of violence do along with it. The ache in my chest is sharp. It closes in around me; gathering and weakening me. It has set me adrift and I fear for what may come of it as it steals any ounce of will that I have with every beat.
Jane is gone, likely on the couch, and this is how we spend our nights; crossing each other in the dark and yet I can't leave. I can't walk away; not fully. So we carry on, another episode, fooling ourselves into an idea of a happy ending.
I begin to gather my clothes and as I get dressed I question where Jane fell in love with me. At what point her heart shifted. I wish I could pinpoint the palpitation, understand the moment and bury it away deep in locket to wear around my neck and keep it close to my own heart.
I want to understand when every word that passed her lips became poetry and every cell of my being was ingrained with hers. I want to make sense of all things I have no answers for.
Frustrated, I run my hands through my hair before slipping my shirt over my head and wish for soft kiss from her lips so that I may sleep; a silent plea I yearn for to quiet something lethal building inside of me.
The light from the TV flickers in the living room. Boxes have gradually begun to disappear. I would like to believe that it is because Jane is feeling better, feeling more like herself, but the reality is she needed the room after a delivery from Frost and Korsak.
I stand in front of the dummy. Life size with no real chance of living. I push my finger into its chest. It swings back at me lifelessly and an image of Crowe invades my mind; his body swinging like a pendulum.
I notice a box on the ground. It holds a tangle of Christmas lights. I nudge it gently with my foot and wonder if Jane had intended on getting a tree only to abandon the idea.
Kneeling, I pull the string of lights and quietly begin circling a silent partner in the corner of Jane's living room. I have never taken much stock in the idea of Christmas. My adoptive parents were too busy with their own lives to notice the holiday.
I was eight. I sat in my room with my nose cold and pressed against a fogged window while my parents played hosts downstairs. I watched Paris through a twinkling of lights and snow. I listened to carolers sing L'enfant au tambour' and wished for my father to come to my room and ask if I wanted to go outside. In my fantasy he would hoist me up on his shoulders and we would sing along as I tried to catch snowflakes on my tongue.
I would wish and daydream, hoping for a knock on my door that never came.
I begin at the head, wrapping from its crown to neck and tighten. I can feel a small snarl tug at my lip as I move on to the torso and then around each joint until it is bind and bound. I plug in the lights and a flickering of colors light up the the corner. Behind me I can feel Jane; the warmth of her body against my back as her arms circle my waist and small kiss presses behind my ear.
I stiffen at the contact. It is a burning moment and for once it is not one fraught with lust or abandonment, but rather one of compassion and love.
It is a moment threading us. Something we had lost and have only found in pieces.
"I like this." she says quietly against my ear.
I hum in agreement as I lull my head back against her shoulder. Her grip tightens around my waist and soft lips press against my neck.
"This seems more your style than a tree."
Jane chuckles and moves around me; her fingertips moving slowly across the small of my back.
It feels so natural.
"It does, doesn't it?" she flashes a small smile as she moves around the dummy, examining it; "I was going to get a tree, but-.."
She waves off her thought.
Jane pokes absently at a small light; "But I wanted to-.." she lets out sad sigh; "I wanted to get it and decorate it with you but what would be the point if you weren't going to be around?"
"And why wouldn't I be?" I question.
She shrugs and takes my hands into her own. Her eyes stay fixed on the ground. Jane is strong and decisive regarding so much, but matters of the heart leave her lost.
Open and vulnerable.
A notion of empathy swells inside me and the feeling is familiar.
"I feel like I've used you." she says quietly.
I dip my head to meet Jane's eyes. My thumb runs over the back of her knuckles.
"I know that isn't the case."
Her eyes flick up to mine; "That doesn't take away from the fact that I feel like I did."
I sigh; "Then if that is the case, I used you as well. We've been lost, Jane."
I can see the slightest quiver of her lip.
"But that doesn't mean we can't find our way back. We coped. We were hurting and we coped."
Jane remains silent and I wish to arrange these crucial parts of us. That we can find the other and we can be guided back to what we were together months ago in a life that seems distant.
"You almost died." I say.
Jane looks at me. She truly looks at me as the words hang in the air.
She nods and I pull on her hands gently and she steps towards me. I cup her cheek and my thumb traces the line of her jaw.
Jane pulls me into a tight hug and kisses my temple.
"I'd die for you." she says resolutely.
Lost hours and days are gone. Deconstructed parts of us move in a chaotic state. They form and fuse back together, piece by piece into something new.
"So would I."
She leans back and midnight eyes search mine and I hope she can see the honesty of my words reflected back.
We stay silent for a moment, lost in a look as we sway in each other's embrace. I know there is more. It is Casey and every ounce of loss that she won't speak of. I give the subject a wide berth for her sake and my own. If Jane wishes to talk about it, I will listen but exercise silence when the time comes.
For now this is about the shooting.
His body burns likes a bridge.
She kisses me and I can feel her smile. The skin and muscle over her bones move and contract into something joyous.
We have found our way back.
"I love you."
I want to hold on to the words.
I want to wrap my hands around her throat and capture every word and breath there.
I clench my jaw, forcing a smile and push the intruding thought away; "And I love you."
She wraps her arm around my shoulder and places a chaste kiss on top of my head.
I hesitate. My mind reels and races back from dark recesses. I can feel myself grow anxious.
"The gala is tomorr-"
She silences me with a kiss.
"That is tomorrow. Let it stay there. Right now I just want you."
Her hand cups my cheek and she gently sweeps strands of hair away from my forehead. Her features soften and she smiles.
And Jane see's me. She looks through me to the darkest parts whether she is conscious of it or not.
There was a time I was able to carry a look so deceiving, but not anymore. I watch her eyes search mine and the feeling warms me. Jane see's me. I show through cracks and she has taken on the bloodied parts of my past and only loved me more. She has put parts of me at rest and has left me to question who I am. It is confusing and liberating the upheaval she has caused. I want to beat down the urge pulling at me. She trusts me, and it is such a difficult idea to take on. She has laid herself down broken at my feet and looked for forgiveness but carries no fault.
I put the weight entirely on myself and bear it. It is the least I can do. That if I can protect Jane in the ways she has protected me that I set some part of this darkened life right.
"You have me."
Chapter 13: What Good Are Ties If They Don't Bind
I am drowning in my sleep.
Dreams so vivid steal the breath from my lungs. Nightmares make nights heavy.
'Sometimes the good gu-'
Shots ring out and Jane slumps against the podium. The tables around us are empty. I run towards her and ease her to the ground. She is bleeding and no amount of pressure I apply can stop it. I push until my hands disappear inside of her and a joyous feeling overtakes me.
It is warm and slick.
Flames lick the corner of the room and I can feel we are being watched.
His eyes burn like embers.
I blink at the darkness. I roll over and check in my phone. It is a little after 3am and I know I won't be falling back asleep. I slip and out of bed and head towards the bathroom.
The shower is near scalding when I step in. My body aches. It reverberates to the deepest parts of me. Something is building; threatening to crash and spill over. It is manifesting itself and without the promise of sleep, I can only focus on one color that paints itself over and over in my mind.
I brace myself against the wall and let the water wash over me. My forehead touches cool tile and wrap my arms around my waist and I close my eyes. I am lost in a memory.
She stepped in the shower behind me. Her lips trailed over my shoulder and her hands moved around my hips. Her fingers drew abstract patterns of the skin of my stomach.
We had been awake over over 24 hours and now that we are alone, the proud excitement that had buzzed around Jane is gone. I can hear thoughtfulness in her voice.
"I know it won't protect me." her lips brush against my ear. Her body pressed flush against mine.
"Hm, what won't?" I gently trailed my fingers over hers.
"Not being married, having children." warm lips capture my earlobe. Her hands moved lower on my stomach, cradling me.
I want those things."
I don't answer. I can't. The seed of a thought that had been planted weeks ago by a baby and his dead mother; one that I had pushed down and buried begins to take root.
It was too complex. I hadn't understood it; the feeling it left with me with while I held baby Doe against my chest.
His mother died. He had been strong enough to make it into this world. I had filled his empty lungs with air and he expelled it with a cry.
It quelled something raging inside of me. The feeling made so much nonexistent.
It had settled me. It hadn't wanted to let it go. He had been beautiful.
I sway in our embrace instead of offering an answer. Jane nuzzled the side of my neck.
"Not now." she said, placing a light kiss behind my ear, "But someday, maybe?"
Her hand trailed down to my thigh. Her arm tightening around my waist. She held me in place at my hip. I gripped her forearm and anchored us.
Her hand moved over me. Delicious and slow. It trailed from my thigh, to my stomach and up to the valley between my breasts until her fingers pushed gently at my chin, angling my face towards hers.
And Jane had smiled. Dimpled and genuine. Like she was catching a glimpse of our future.
She kissed me and a single fingertip trailed down my neck, to my shoulder and down my arm. Her hand slipped under mind and I moved with her.
Her body was warm and wet. I arched back into her. Her lips were at my shoulder, biting gently as she guided our hands.
Between and parting me. I let out of a breath laced with her name. My grip tightened at her arm and my hand leaves her to move alone. I reached behind me. I threaded my fingers through wet hair at the base of her neck and held her close.
Closer for moments I never wanted to end.
The brink she builds me to shatters and I can feel the breath she held being released along with me.
I open my eyes. Water runs in them and I blink away the thought.
I try to bury the feeling, but loneliness envelopes me.
My hand trails over my stomach.
I try to imagine growth.
I try to imagine a future.
I step back into the waters stream and a cold uncertainty takes hold.
New horizons and far directions. Building something, bringing someone into this world. The construct, the idea of... a family? The fear is too great as is the risk.
I could easily lose it all. The loneliness would be too much. I can't expose myself. I can't expose Jane or a child to that.
There is no place for a kind of light like that in this world. I've seen the darkest corners of humanity. I have been consumed by it. It is no place for a child.
It is nothing you are deserving of.
I wrap my arms tightly around myself. Anything to feel less alone. And the warmth of water mixes with tears.
A pink, chubby hand moved across my breast and to his mouth. He suckled and closed his grey eyes. The sound of my heart lulled him to sleep and I placed a light kiss into his hair as I rocked us back and forth.
I clasp my hand over my mouth to contain pained cry building up in my throat.
I can't fool myself for something I so desperately want.
The enormity of it is frightening.
And any ounce of love that I have to give becomes caught between every rib for the innocence of an idea that could dare to find life.
I am pacing my living room. I have checked each plate, piece of silverware and glass multiple times.
"My mother is famous for her dinner parties." I pick up a wine glass and examine it.
"The apple didn't fall far from the tree." Angela compliments from the kitchen.
"Oh, no, I couldn't possibly live up to her. She would spot take out in a second."
Angela offers a sweet smile; "Stop worrying, you're the perfect daughter."
I am hopelessly seeking approval. Hoping to be reminded, told, that I am someone she believes in.
Someone that she loves.
The comment catches in my chest and I can't help but smile. I glance around nervously as Jane walks in. She places a box of cannolis on the table. Angela disapproves and I walk past them as they begin to bicker. I know the expression I carry is pained. Angela is warm and inviting, everything my mother is not.
"You're the perfect daughter." she says to Jane.
Jane simply wanted to make her happy and it is evident in Angela's voice. She is proud of her daughter.
I am desperate to know what that feels like.
Jane glances over her mother's shoulder and gives me a 'so there' look just as the doorbell rings. I run my hands over my dress and make my way around the island.
Jane puts her hand out and stops me; "Hey, you look beautiful."
She smiles and her eyes are soft. She places a light kiss on my cheek and it slows the drumming of my heart as I make my way to the door and open it.
"Hello darling, you look well." She kisses my cheeks and I can feel my smile falter. I haven't seen her in almost five years. Any call or visit is dictated at her convenience. I feel like a child again. I contain myself from reaching out for a hand I know I will never be given the privilege to hold. I can almost feel the familiar sting on the back of my of my own as I clasp them in front of me.
"This is Jane Rizzoli and her mother, Angela." I bite back the anger I can feel building up. I detach cooly at her introduction.
"Lovely to meet you." Angela extends her hand and my mother gives only a curt nod.
Jane pushes down gently on her mother's forearm. I clear my throat.
"This is my mother, Constance Isles."
My hand drops behind her. It hovers at the small of her back, and I extend my hand to the table.
Jane forces a smile.
"Let's have dinner, shall we?"
Jane's hand finds mine as we sit. She gives it a reassuring squeeze and I mumble an apology under my breath.
Dinner progresses and my mother speaks about her travels, and her art. She mentions my father and I can't think of the last time I spoke to him.
"That's great that you found time in your busy schedule to come to Boston to visit your daughter." Jane says brightly.
"I'm actually here for an installation opening."
I bite the inside of my cheek.
"It is almost impossible to get a hold of my daughter. I hardly know what is going on in her life. It almost seems as though she is trying to keep me in the dark. She hardly speaks a word to me."
She taps the table and my eyes immediately find hers; "Dear, that voice of yours clearly works considering how long it took for you to find it."
It is towering and I was small. I was sure it reached the sky. Shards of glass were embedded into the surface. It was gleaming and I was memorized by it. It was beautiful and broken, held together by wet, grey earth. It smelled of dirt.
It reflected light coming through the bay doors of my mother's studio that overlooked Paris. It painted the walls in refracted light. I wanted to touch it. I barely heard the the footsteps behind me as I reached out.
Her movement was sudden and forceful against the back of my had. It sent my fingers into a jagged shard. I felt immediate warmth trail down my fingertips. I knew the color. I remembered the sound of my voice filling my head. Screams.
I looked up at my mother and anger flashed across her features. I cradled my hand to my chest and a sound escaped me.
I was five and it had been the first time I had spoken since I had been adopted. For almost two and a half years I had not said a word until that day in my mother's studio.
The piece has gone on multiple installation tours with her. I'm sure it has traveled with her here to Boston. I'm sure she will tell the story of how it was originally sold and how she convinced the buyer to back out because of its powerful testament to art in all of its forms, and how it had rendered a student enrolled in her class speechless and then allowed her to rediscover her voice.
My body grows warm at the backhanded comment and the connotation it carries. I glance at Jane. Her jaw is clenched and her lips are a thin, firm line.
"Be careful, mother. You may choke on that bayonet tongue of yours soon enough and become the martyr you have always portrayed yourself to be.' I say jovially as I can. I wipe my mouth and stand. "Let's have dessert. I made poire belle hélène, your favorite."
My finger absently traces the knife beside my plate. Angela shifts uncomfortably in her chair as I make my way to the kitchen.
"Try the cannoli. They're my ma's favorite."
I watch the exchange between my mother and Jane. My fingers flex around the tray in my hands as she glances back and forth.
"Je m'excuse, mais je suis très fatiguée."
I force a polite smile; "She says she's sorry-"
"She's tired. Yes. I know."
I look at Jane; "I didn't know you spoke French."
"I read body language." Her eyes stay fixed as she watches my mother rise from her chair.
"It was lovely to meet you." my mother says as she collects her purse.
"You too." Spite drips from Jane's words.
"I thought you were staying. I prepared the guest house for you."
"Darling, did I mention that the gallery organized for me to stay at the Ritz? I've already checked in."
And this is the only home I have known. One in which mothers abandon their young and fathers are distant. Further than any star to hold.
"Really, darling, you have been ever the gracious host. I have missed our banter."
We both force a polite smile.
"I will see you tomorrow evening for the welcoming dinner. And you will be my date."
"Please come to the opening. Just call the gallery and have them put you on the list." my mother says coolly and uninterested towards Jane and Angela.
I can hear Jane barely contain a scoff; "The list? Sure."
She places a chaste kiss on my cheek before retreating to the door; "Bonsoir."
I set the dessert tray on the island as Angela begins to clear the table.
"Wow, she is so, uhm, put together." Jane edges politeness and I know it is difficult.
"She is hard to get to know."
"Oh, I think I got a pretty good idea." She cracks her knuckles; "Ma! Really, with the pots and pans. Cincinnati can hear you. See? You could have that for a mother, nosey and loud."
I glance over my shoulder at Angela who appears to be doing her best to look occupied at my kitchen sink.
"And warm, involved."
"Grass is always greener."
I pinch the brow of my nose and sigh; "Yeah."
Her words bit and caught. They set in my skin. I almost found myself wanting apologize again. I felt the knife under my fingertips and I wanted to part her ribs like a sea.
Jane leans in across the table; "You know.." she whispers; "I used to dream that I was adopted."
She gives a genuine smile; "Yeah. And my pretend mom was chic and glamorous and educated.
"I always wondered what it would be like to have a mother who cut the crusts off my sandwiches."
Jane leans in further and shares her secret; "Annoying."
She laughs and the look she conveys tells me I am loved. It reminds me that I am someone believed in and protected.
But I question how long can this last. The devil on my back doesn't compare to the practiced pose of an angel. I am only a monster.
I am a monster.
But in that moment, I let go of a cold hand I never held. For all of the love and what it demands of me, this is home.
The garrote was pulled taut in my hand. My knuckles were white around its wooden handles.
I have spoken since the last time I was in this studio. In French and Serbian. To thousands during my residency. I have taken lovers and lives and with my hands around her neck, who will stop me?
"Maura, chérie, est-ce vous?"
I paused and then took another step forward closer. So close. The wire could bite into her flesh.
"Oui, ma mère."
"Apportez-moi mes outils. Si tu voulais vraiment me tuer, vous auriez fait maintenant."
The next step I took brought me to her side and laid the wire neatly on her work table.
My mother is walking in the door of the Robber and I glance around confused. The memory quickly fades.
"My mother is here. I.. I thought she was in Paris."
Jane tosses a peanut into her mouth; "She forgot to say goodbye."
"I must keep it brief darling, I have a taxi waiting, but Jane can be very persuasive when she wants to be." she says as she approaches the table.
Jane cracks a shell.
"I just wanted to say that you've done well for yourself, darling."
Despite how taken aback I am by the compliment, I can feel a smile begin to pull at my lips.
"And you have someone that cares about you deeply, I see that."
I glance down at the table and smile. Angela nudges me gently with her elbow.
"Don't play coy, darling. With a friend like Jane, there is no need for subtext."
My mothers hand rests gently on my shoulder as she leans down and places a soft kiss on my cheek.
"She has a strong heart. That is what you need. It will ground you." she says quietly. My jaw sets and tightens.
"It was a pleasure to meet you all." she waves and heads back towards the door.
She is gone.
I reach for my wine glass, and Jane's hand finds mine. Her thumb brushes over my knuckles.
I nod as a flurry of emotion wells up in my chest.
Confusion and acceptance.
And for who I am.
We return to Jane's apartment and she makes her way immediately to the couch, falling back on it.
"Is that what you and my mother spoke about at the installation? Coming to say goodbye?" I ask, closing the door.
A single, dark eyebrow raises as I join her; "Hm? No. I just laid it out plain and simple for her. She showed up on her own."
I bring my hand up and capture a lock of hair and absently twirl it around my finger. I tug gently and Jane leans in and places a sweet kiss against my lips.
"I could see how much that dinner hurt you." her hand comes up and cups my face and her thumb traces my brow; "I don't like seeing you hurt."
I lean in and press my lips fully against hers. Jane's hand holds firm at the line of my jaw as our kiss deepens and my hands tangle into her hair. I push back firmly and move across her lap, straddling her. Pulling back I look into her eyes and see sincerity.
"I'm sorry for saying what I did after the Mateo case." Her hands rest at my hips and tug half halfheartedly at the fabric of my skirt; "I spoke too soon. I was tired and just had a lot running through my head. After meeting your mother I can see why you weren't quick to answer me. She doesn't really set the bar high for what a mother should be."
"But you do."
Jane looks at me and blinks.
"You are the maternal type. I'm sorry that I ever said otherwise. You are protective and kind. You are tough.." My hand loosens and flows down from her hair to her shoulder and rests over her heart.. "and tender."
She rolls her eyes and I smile.
"And you would probably teach our child horrible habits, like sarcasm and eating directly out of the cereal box."
Her eyes light up and my hands moves down her chest, across her stomach and stills. She looks down between us and then back up.
"Yeah?" she says quietly, hopefully.
I nod; "Yeah."
She rises up and kiss me. I can feel her smiling.
Growth and a future. I can see it with Jane. I want to feel it under my hands. I want to hold a small hand in my own and look down upon obsidian hair. I want all the things Jane is, hard lines and fire; strength and kindness ingrained in another and eyes that hold a love in them that speak without a word.
Mother, I loved you at your darkest.
PS A/N: i really have no intention of moving these two along into marriage or children. i think rather that i wanted explore the depths in which Jane has changed Maura since this story started. by no means is she reformed, but the capacity in which she feels has evolved and carries new complexities along with it. anywho, we are back to murder in the next chapter!
Chapter 14: Optimism Is An Epitaph
Please note: Trigger warnings for violence and sexual assault.
I crane and crack my neck. I don't know when I stopped reading, only that I have been staring blankly at the case file pages. I lost track of time hours ago. My mind wanders .
I miss Jane's touch.
The doorbell ringing brings me out of my thoughts. Rising, I make my way to the door and my hand stills at the knob. A surge of adrenaline pumps through my body when I recognize the face greeting me at the window.
His eyes widen and looks at the door, "Are you going to leave me out in the cold?"
I blink sharply and open the door. A small smile graces his lips and he takes a step forward. He leans in closely and I press my hands to his chest, "Ian, no."
His smile quickly fades and he steps back, "Do you have someone here?"
I shake my head and I cross my arms, hugging myself tightly.
"What do you need?"
He shrugs and adjusts the bag on his shoulder, "I can't stop by and say hi to an old friend?"
"You never stop by anywhere, Ian. There is always a reason." I step aside from the doorway to allow him in, "And I was under the impression we stopped being friends ten years ago."
He steps inside and I close the door behind him. He glances around the living room, "Hm. I suppose that's true,"
"So why are you here?"
"I'd prefer that."
"I'm only in the states for a few days. I need supplies to take with me." He says, his hands disappearing into his pockets, "And I didn't have a place to stay."
"So you looked me up?"
"You were a last resort." He drops his bag to the ground and I narrow my eyes. He shrugs, "You wanted honesty."
I take in a deep breath, "So I did."
The silence between us in heavy.
"How long are you here for?" I finally ask.
"Where are you going after?"
The muscles in his jaw tense and his eyes become downcast, "I'm going back to Ethiopia."
"Oh." A wave crashes over me and leaves me numb.
"It will only be two days. I have a list of what I will need. Can you get it?"
I shake my head and watch him remove a crumbled piece of paper from his pocket, "Ian, I don't kno-"
"You owe me at least this, Maura." He says firmly. I look up from the paper he is holding out in front of me. His face has hardened. Years of a desolate life have carved itself into lines around his eyes and crease his brow.
I take the paper and give a curt nod, "The guest room is this way." I say leading him through the living room and down the hall.
I shake my head as I push the guest room door open, "Please, don't thank me."
Ian purses his lips and nods before walking in the room and closing the the door behind him.
I stand in the hallway for a moment and the ringing of my phone is distant and drawn out. It occurs to me that Ian's arrival turns up parts of my past that I had long thought to be buried.
I reach out and trail my fingers along the grain of the door as I walk away.
"You didn't have to tell me about Ian." Jane shrugs. "It's none of my business."
"I'm not not telling you about him. He just stopped by this morning." I say turning my attention back to dead man on my autopsy table.
"I heard he stopped by last night."
I nearly scoff.
"He.. he lives in Africa, or was living there. It's complicated."
Jane narrows her eyes, "Complicated how?"
My phone vibrates and it is a text from Ian.
'30 1oz vials of liquid iodine'
"Talk to me, please." Jane says making her way around the autopsy table. She takes the phone from my hand.
I sigh, "I haven't seen Ian in almost ten years. Not since we worked together in Africa."
Jane glances down at my phone.
"He is only in the country for a few days. He needed a place to stay."
"And iodine, apparently." Jane says curtly handing me back my phone.
"It's nothing. He is taking back some supplies with him."
Jane licks her lips and shifts her weight back and forth on her feet, "Was it ever... something?"
I tilt my head and smile, "You're jealous."
Jane opens her mouth to speak and then quickly closes it. She shakes her head, "I am not."
I take a step closer to her and run my hand down her bicep, squeezing gently, "Ian and I.. we have a past, but not how you think. It is.." I lick my lips and attempt to push away dark memories, ".. sorted. Complicated. Ethiopia was a lifetime ago. I was in a very different place in my life then."
I had been sorting through a box of medical supplies in my quarters when I heard crying from a nearby tent in the camp. They carried the howls of pain. They were distinct.
Different. I knew the sound. It was infliction. It was intentional pain.
The refugee camp was small and I moved between the tents trying to pinpoint the location. Pangs of both pain and hunger were not uncommon and often carried through the air. I became accustomed to differentiating the sounds, but this one in particular was desperate.
It was coming from the medical supply tent. The sounds became muffled as I came closer. I stilled at the tent's entrance and my hands twitched in anticipation at the heavy canvas flap. I pushed it forward slowly. The interior was lit by a small hand crank lantern. My eyes darted around the interior and began to adjust. I could see a figure between boxes. A dark head moved back and forth.
I stepped into the tent quietly and maintained a wide berth around the supplies as to stay to the back of whoever was inside. I edged into the darkness where the lantern's light did not reach as the figure came into full view. It was a soldier. His hand raised and the sharp sound of flesh being met with force filled the air. He writhed and cursed in Somali under his breath.
My body tensed. I became coiled. I could see a body beneath his. The legs were bent on either side of him. Feet dug into his bare calves trying desperately for traction, anything to escape.
A woman's cry filled the room.
I snarled. My teeth ground against each other. He was raping her.
I looked around the room frantically for something to defend her with. My eyes finally settle on a box behind the soldier; atop it were his gun and belt.
I moved quietly behind him and grabbed the leather belt. Looping it through the buckle I dropped it around his neck and pulled. The soldier floundered. The momentum sent him to his back and I stepped down on his chest. My hand wrapped around the belts strap once and I pulled it tightly. He struggled to get up and I shifted my weight. My foot pressed further into his sternum. His eyes were wide and in the dark I could see the whites of them. My hand twisted around the strap again and I adjusted, sending my knee hard into his chest. The buckle dug into his skin. I could hear the distinct pop of cartilage. He clawed at his throat.
"You." I snarled and spoke to him in Somali, "You're the one that has been raping the women in this camp. Four so far counting this girl."
I looked over my shoulder towards the woman behind me. She had her arms wrapped tightly around herself. Her shirt was torn and her right eye was swollen and partially closed. Her cheekbone appeared fractured. Blood trickled from her brow.
"Can you walk?"
She nodded. The fear in her eyes morphed into a silent gratitude.
"Go. Find the other doctor. He will help you." I said softly and craned my neck toward the front of the tent. She hurried to her feet and disappeared into the darkness.
He struggled and my attention refocused below me. I pushed my knee further into his chest and noticed a half-eaten loaf of bread beside him. I picked it up and tapped it against his forehead, "It must be easy for you, hm? Offering hungry women food."
I was choking him. His movements began to slow. He gasped and absently searched for oxygen. He would black out in seconds.
I smiled when his eyes rolled back in his head.
I removed the belt and dragged his body to a nearby support pole in the center of the tent. Propping him up against it I bound his arms behind him with his belt. I moved across the tent and picked up the lantern. His pants were bunched around his ankles. Light reflected back at me as I knelt beside him. I could see a silver clip peeking out from his pocket. I pulled and was rewarded.
Military grade. Cold steel. I pushed the blade open with my thumb and it clicked into place with a flick of my wrist.
Every amount of pain inflicted against another I intended to return.
Slow footsteps approached behind me and I heard a stifled gasp, "Maura."
I closed my eyes and a ghost of a breath escaped me, my grip tightening around the blades handle.
"Hold him, please." I motioned the blade to his ankles.
"What are you going to do?"
I settled back on my feet and opened my eyes, studying the soldier. Beads of sweat rolled down his brow. I pressed the blade's edge against his temple, trailing down to his cheek. His breathing was shallow. Labored. I was sure a section of his trachea was partially collapsed.
"I am going to castrate him."
"That isn't your decision to make."
Turning my head, I caught a glimpse of Ian. He was kneeling, his hands hovered over the unconscious man's legs.
"We can hand him over to the authoriti-"
"He is a Lieutenant." I cut into his words curtly and continued the blade's trail across his neck and chest and tapped it against the stars over his left breast pocket, "They will do nothing."
The soldiers eyes fluttered, opened and adjusted. They moved frantically around the tent. He opened his mouth to speak. I covered it before his lips parted.
"I can radio the police. Let me." Ian's words edged panic.
"Didn't a woman just die in our triage?" I looked over to Ian and back to the soldier. I could feel his teeth grind against my fingers, "She had a fever brought on by an infection. Another soldier found her near the edge of the camp. She had been raped and left for dead."
I looked back and Ian's hands wrapped tightly around the soldier's ankles. He let out a shaky breath and nodded. Beneath him, the soldier kicked and struggled. He gasped for air, broken and desperate against my hand. My fingers flexed around the blades handle. Being made an eunuch was too much of a consideration for this man.
I leaned forward and pressed the blade against his chest. I could feel his heart beat madly. My lips curled into a tight smile and I pushed my weight forward. His sternum cracked as the blade passed through. His scream caught in his throat. Froth of saliva and blood pushed against my hand. He strained and his eyes grew wide. I could feel his heart palpitations reverberate in the knife's handle and then still.
Ian's hands were at my shoulders, pulling me back. He struggled to his feet and brought me with him.
"You didn't say you were going to kill him!" His words were frantic. He spoke through his teeth.
I blinked. My eyes moved from the clenched fists by his side and to his face.
Stepping back and turning, I leaned over the dead soldier and pulled the knife from his chest. I wiped my hand and the blade clean on his shirt. Tucking the blade in its handle, I dropped it to the dry earth beside him.
"We'll bury him."
I don't know when Jane's fingers threaded between my own. She squeezes my hand reassuringly.
"Hey, you okay?"
I realize I have been staring at her lips.
They are the wrong shade of red.
Jane leans in and presses a sweet kiss to my cheek. Over my shoulder I can hear someone clear their throat.
"Not gonna ask." Korsak says.
Jane steps back and catches her bottom lip between her teeth, suppressing the smile of being caught, "I'll see you tonight. I want to meet this Ian."
She steps past me and the smiles are becoming more difficult to fake.
When I arrive home Ian is rummaging through boxes on the kitchen table. I set my purse and keys on the island. He has already opened a glass of wine. An untouched glass sits on the islands edge.
"Is everything there?" I ask, raising the glass and taking a sip.
Ian nods, "Seems to be."
"Good. So you'll be on your way tomorrow then?"
He joins me at the island. Taking a sip from his own glass, he studies me.
"So quick to see me leave?"
"You said you would only be here two days. Having you here is.. distracting."
I inhale sharply and push my building anger to the periphery. "I have someone coming over. She should be arriving soon."
Ian tilts his head and his eyebrows raise expectantly, "Who?"
"Jane Rizzoli. We work together."
I stay silent at the question and raise the glass to my lips and Ian straightens his back; a bolt of realization dawning upon him.
"More than a friend." He muses.
My phone vibrates and it is a text from Jane.
'Can't stay long, gotta head to the station. Be there in 5.'
"More than a friend." I echo and smile.
When Jane arrives her arm immediately circles my waist as we walk to the kitchen.
It is possessive.
"You must be Ian." She extends her hand, "I've heard so little about you."
A mirth of laughter escapes Ian as he shakes her hand.
"Probably better it stay that way." He motions to the table, "I'll be leaving tomorrow."
Jane's eyes widen for a moment and she nods, "With your own traveling pharmacy no less."
I tighten my hold around Jane's waist and she clears her throat.
"Maura has been kind enough to help with supplies that will do a great deal of good back in Africa."
Jane's phone buzzes and she pulls it from her clip on her belt.
"It's Frost. I gotta go."
"I'll walk you out." I offer. Jane smiles and gives me a quick kiss before turning her attention back to Ian.
"Nice meeting you."
"Likewise." Ian's voice remains monotone as Jane and I walk towards the front door. Opening the door, Jane stops short of walking through. She floats in the doorway, looking at me.
"I don't like him. Something feels off."
"Of course you don't." I pout and my fingers trail the collar of her shirt.
"I'm serious. It's not jealousy, Maur. It's... something else."
Tension builds inside of me. Dark eyes catch and hold my gaze.
"Who is this guy, Maura?" Her voice drops. "You've been acting weird since we talked in the morgue."
"Ian's arrival was unexpected. It hasn't brought back the most pleasant memories." I step out onto the landing, and close the door partially behind me. "Having a piece of you past show up in your living room isn't ideal."
Jane shakes her head, "Then tell him go!" Her words are harsh, but firm. Disbelief flashes across her face. "What happened over there?"
I draw in a deep breath. My distress builds and I can feel the walls I have surrounded myself with being to wane and crumble. I can't piece them back together quickly enough. Jane is sensing what I always feared she would.
Her phone vibrates and she lets out an exasperated huff of air.
"I have to go. I'll talk to you later." She presses a kiss to my lips and walks briskly to her car.
I give a curt wave as she drives and step back inside. Shutting the door my gaze lands on Ian.
"She is something." He comments over his wine glass, "How long has it been?"
"A few months." I say making my way back to the kitchen. Standing at the island, I let finger trail the lip of my glass.
"She is quite amazing actually. Pity you will never get to know her."
A light hum floats up from Ian as he takes another sip of wine.
"A lot changes in ten years. I'm not the person I was. Jane has had a huge part in that."
"In only a few months?" Ian's says flatly.
"You don't know what we've been through-"
"No, but I know what you've done. I think that is enough." Ian says flippantly.
Silence isn't golden. It hangs in the air between us. It shines like rust.
"What you saw-.."
"What I saw," Ian cuts me off. "No amount of years can change. His hands were bound, Maura. You knew what you were doing."
Anger coils inside of me like smoke. It fills every crack and crevice. Jane is right. Ian needs to leave.
Turning, I open my purse and remove a neatly folded piece of paper, one that I have kept hidden since my encounter with Doyle. I had poured over newspaper clippings, searching for my parents obituary. I had wanted to know where they were buried and had finally been able to find their death certificates after convincing Korsak to search through Doyle's case files with me. He promised he would not tell Jane until I was ready to do so myself.
They were buried in St. Joseph's cemetery in West Roxbury.
I unfold the paper and hand it to Ian.
"What is this?"
"The cemetery plots of my parents."
Ian's eyes cut to mine.
"Jane helped identify the man who killed them. I was able to locate my birth parents death certificates and where they were buried. Jane doesn't know that I have this. I haven't been able to bring myself to visit them yet."
Ian rubs the paper between his fingers.
"You don't know me, Ian. Please don't assume that you do. Perhaps this will better help you understand exactly who I am."
"And who is that?" He asks, handing me back the paper.
"Let me change, and I'll show you."
The sun has just begun to set as we pull into the cemetery. Beams of light peek and shine through bare tree branches. Winters grip has loosened its dying grip on the city. The air is crisp, but not cold. The ground is soft from the last traces of melting snow.
We walk in silence and pass newly broken ground. Hollowed earth. Ian has had one foot in a very shallow grave since he walked through my door.
We reach the plot and the headstones are simple and embedded in the ground. The lettering is tarnished.
Hope Martin and Sean Donegal.
There is a stillness that surrounds us and I feel empty.
"When I was two, my parents were murdered. I was adopted six months later. What you saw that night in the camp was an extension of this. You wouldn't understand. I wouldn't expect you to."
I feel Ian's hand on my shoulder. The touch is meant to be comforting, but it only gnaws at the tension coiling in my body.
"Without ties to our ancestors, we are lonely specks of dust, adrift and floating, attached to nothing and no one.* I was that way for a very long time. I didn't know who I was. Jane helped me find myself."
"What does Jane know?" He asks.
"All that she needs to." I say, turning. A familiar glint of silver at Ian's pocket catches my eye.
He had kept the dead soldiers knife.
I suppress my smile as I step towards Ian. I rest my hand on his bicep and trails my fingers down his arm. "Thank you for coming here with me." I say quietly. I raise and lean up, pressing a gentle kiss to his cheek.
It proves to be enough of a distraction as I pull the knife free and slip it into the pocket of my track jacket.
I settle back on my feet and walk past Ian as he clears his throat and follows.
I stop beside the grave we had passed earlier.
"Why did you leave?" I ask, turning towards Ian.
He hesitates and crosses his arms, biting at the inside of his cheek, "Because I was surrounded by death."
His eyes stay fixed with mine, "Why did you stay?"
It isn't a question I expect.
"I was saving lives-" I falter with my response
Ian scoffs and his hand clasps over his mouth in an attempt to shield his disbelief.
"Is that what you really believe? I left because I couldn't close my eyes and not see the fear in that soldiers face. You hardly blinked at it."
He takes a step towards me and his proximity is dangerous.
"The reason you work with the dead is because you are just like them. You are empty, Maura. Your eyes were-" He shakes his head, "They are hollow. Did you think if you stayed after I left- that if you bandaged and stitched enough people in that camp that you could save yourself? Did you think if you brought me out here and showed me a piece of your past that I would understand your complexities and you could justify what you did?"
"He was a rapist!" I barely coarseness that edges into my voice.
"And you're a murderer." Ian says leaning in. His voice drips with spite, "Maybe you can fool yourself into the idea of a happy ending, Maura. You sure as hell seemed to have fooled Jane. I bet she thinks she knows you, but she doesn't."
I slip the knife from my pocket and hold my hand flush against my thigh. My thumb glides along its handle to the blade. I push it open and my muscles twitch for release.
"People don't always tell you what they're thinking, Ian. They just see that you don't advance." I smile genuinely. "And since you were so kind to share you honesty, allow me to me to be perfectly frank with you. I have every intention of killing you."
Confusion flashes across his face and is replaced with shock. His eyes widen and I embed the blade in his groin quickly. Warmth coats my hand and I step back just as he stumbles forward, falling to his knees. His hands press quickly to the wound in valiant attempt to stop the bleeding. A thick surge of blood escapes from in between his fingers with each beat of his heart.
"Ever since I was a kid, I've loved watching funeral processions. They're so beautiful."* I step around him. His body slumps and his head falls forward. His breathing becomes labored and he will lose consciousness within minutes. "So dignified. It's the one thing people still do right. The one thing they haven't ruined."*
I kneel beside him and run my fingers through his hair, "I should have taken you to Bourne. Two men were buried there recently with honors; an Officer and a Sergeant. I put them there."
Ian lifts his head. Sweat that has gathered at his brow begins to roll down his face.
"At funerals, they still show respect for what's proper*, but you're a ghost, Ian." I whisper, "No one will even know you are gone."
I step back with my right foot and widen my stance. I press my hands to his shoulder and push. He leans hard to his left and is perched on the graves edge.
I can bury Ian with every lie I ever told myself.
I dig my feet into the soft ground and send my weight forward. A yelp of pain escapes me as Ian twists his hand into my hair at the base of my skull. He pulls me as he falls back and we are swallowed up.
Sharp, searing pain moves through my chest. I can feel my ribs shift and force the air from my lungs. I struggle to raise myself. I can smell iron and earth.
I can't breathe.
Ian shifts and his shoulder pushes further into my side and I cry out. Adrenaline courses through my body. I press my hand into the dirt and against Ian's chest. His breathing is erratic and I can feel his heart race. Each beat of the muscle pumps life from his severed femoral artery.
Blood seeps into the cloth of my pants. I roll over onto my side and prop myself up. I run my hands along my sides and feel for a break. There is none. It is likely dislocated.
Ian reaches weakly to his leg. I move my foot and kick his hand away. I look up. The sky is painted with wisps of purple and blue. Dirt falls into my hair and face and in the light of a dying evening Ian stills.
I clench my jaw and push myself up. White hot pain moves through my body. I brace myself against the graves wall. I notice the knife beside Ian and I step across his abdomen, straddling his body I hold my breath as I lean down to pick it up and resist the urge to cry out. I stick the knife into the graves right corner and begin to straighten out Ian's arms and legs. With less angles of his body, the easier it will be to bury him.
Once he is positioned, I step onto his chest to elevate myself. Pulling the knife free, I propel it into the wall above me and using the blade as an anchor, I step forward and press the tip of my sneaker as far as I can into the dirt in front of me. I hoist myself up. My left hand grips the edge of the grave and I can feel grass beneath my fingertips. Quickly I draw myself up and send the knife into the ground above me. The pain in my left side is nearly blinding as I pull myself free. I stifle a cry as I raise my knee and brace myself on the graves edge before rolling over to my back.
Dim stars begin to take their place in the sky and I exhume every misspent hope for a life that I can never fully give to another. I beget my own distress. I construct it.
This is my design.
Ian was right. I had fooled myself into believing that I deserve a life with Jane. I couldn't be faced the with the truth of it and it cost Ian his life.
I let out a shaky breath and hold my hand out over the grave. I drop the knife in and I roll over to my stomach, pushing myself up, I lean back slowly on my knees. Shrugging off my jacket, I stand and make my way to a small hill of dirt. My hands disappear into the soil. Stone and dirt push under my nails. I lay arm full after arm full of it into my jacket, and using the sleeves to lift, I dangle it over the open grave and begin the task of burying Ian.
A foot of soil is enough to conceal Ian's body. It will not interfere with the scheduled burial and the depth is not largely influenced. The grave has a false bottom that no one will know of.
I am thankfully the lights are off in the guest house when I arrive home. I slip into the side kitchen door and strip out of my dirtied clothes. I bag and dispose of them. I set my phone on the island. The screen is cracked and chipped. I had received a text from Jane while I was in the cemetery stating that she would be at the station late. It gives me enough time to shower, sweep the kitchen and quickly wipe down the interior of my car.
A settling of silt resides in the basin of my shower that I clean with a spraying of bleach and wash away. I trim and file my nails to rid them of underlying dirt. The pain in my side has become a persistent throbbing. I change carefully and standing in the bathrooms doorway, I reach above me, grasping the door frame and extend my body. The shift in my side is sharp and with a quick 'pop' my rib is back in place.
Downstairs I tape up and label the supply boxes left on the table. I will donate them anonymously to the camp Ian had planned to travel to. I put them in the hallway closet along with Ian's bag.
I open a new bottle of wine and Jane arrives shortly have midnight. A smile spreads across her lips and she attempts to hide her mirth when she realizes half of the bottle is gone.
She takes a glass from the cabinet and pours herself the remainder.
"Where's Ian?" Her tone remains even and she glances around the kitchen, as though she is expecting him to come around the corner.
I lick my lips, "He's gone."
Jane nods and raises the glass to her lips, taking a sip. I can't meet her eyes.
"I want to tell you about Ethiopia."
Setting down her glass, Jane presses her palms into the islands counter, "Okay."
"There was a triage that Ian and I were in charge of. We took in and cared for refugees the best that we could with what we had. I can't recall how many times we performed surgeries by flashlight."
Jane's hand moves to my lap and intertwines with mine. I exhale a shaky breath. I don't try to begin to understand where my confession has emerged from.
"July of that year there was a string of rapes. We treated all of the women, but lost one due to an infection. One night, I heard crying coming from the medical tent. I went to investigate and discovered one of the Ethiopian soldiers raping a woman."
I gather my strength and look up to Jane. I feel completely dismantled. Her eyes are wide and they beg the question.
I shake my head, "Rape me? No."
"Look, Maura, you don't have to explain anything to me. We all have a past." Jane raises her hands, presenting her scars. "You've seen the worst parts of humanity. So have I. We still do, but I feel better knowing that I have you beside me through all of it."
She cups my face, and her thumb trails across my cheek before she leans in and kisses me.
And I try to understand if this what people mean when they talk about the loves of their lives.
Something so grand that it eclipses the worst parts and allows a light to grace the parts made so dark.
That is Jane.
Tears sting my eyes and trail down my face.
"Hey, hey." Jane raises her other hand and her knuckles track in unison down each cheek. "I'm gonna stay, okay?"
No. Tell her to leave. Tell her to run.
I want to hand my heart to her. A broken thing of porcelain, chipped and worn.
I close my eyes and let my tears run.
Jane moves closer and gathers me into her arms. I gather the sides of her shirt loosely in my hands. A desperate attempt to devour her completely.
And I don't know how much time passes, only that I can taste salt as Jane hums reassurances of love in between each kiss against my temple and brow.
Chapter 15: Evolution, Adaption
I swirl the wine in my glass and imagine the glint from Ian's knife. The soldier's knife. A comfortable numbness has moved through my body as the alcohol swims in my veins. Silence envelops us. I can feel the tightness on my cheeks where my tears have dried. I know what I want to say. The words prick and push at the back of my lips; threatening to escape, so I allow them.
"I killed the soldier in Ethiopia," I say bluntly.
Jane's expression is unreadable as she stands. She moves away from me and towards the living room. I join Jane on the couch. The space that surrounds me is vast suddenly and I crave containment.
"I wanted to tell you. I wanted you to know. Ian being here dredged all of this up. There are parts of my past that are better off hidden, but I don't want to hide from you."
Time slips by. Jane is chewing her thumbnail and her eyes are vacant and unfixed. Her foot bounces against the hardwood floor, creating an even tempo.
"I admire your courage," she finally says quietly.
"Putting words to an atrocity isn't courageous."
"No, but killing that man was."
The cold, prickly sensation of shock leaves me silent. Jane's eyes flicker to mine, and for a brief moment I can see worry and conflict. I can see that she's circling questions and choosing her words carefully. I reach across the space between us and gently take her hands into my own.
"Can I tell you something?" She finally asks.
Jane's hands tighten around mine and she releases a shaky breath. "I don't want to sound crazy, Maura."
Jane's hesitation is paramount. She drags her bottom lip between her teeth and slowly shakes her head in some last desperate attempt to chase away her thoughts. "After Hoyt was locked up, I spent a year looking over my shoulder for him. He haunted me, but when he had me in the back of that van, for the first time I wasn't afraid."
"Because my rage blinded me to any fear I had. He had me alone on that road, but I also had him. I knew that if I had the chance I was going to kill him. My career didn't matter. My family didn't. The consequences didn't. Nothing mattered but my anger. I wanted to set the world right for myself and for all those women he killed. I didn't want to be afraid anymore."
My thumb sweeps over the angry crescent scar on the back of Jane's hand. "But you didn't kill him."
"No." Jane says, shaking her head. She looks up at me and her eyes plead for understanding. "When you killed that soldier, what were you thinking?"
How I enjoyed watching the life leave his eyes.
"When Hoyt had me, I thought of God." Jane says, looking down at our entwined hands.
"I suppose those are one in the same," I say, shrugging indifferently.
"Was killing him the only option for you?" She asks.
I nod. "I believe in that moment and in every moment after that it was. He would have raped another woman and left her for dead." Jane nods in agreement. "You thought about God, why?" I ask.
"Because God forgives. And in that moment I wanted to forgive Hoyt, so I put a bullet through his hands instead of his head."
Silence beats between us and I can hear anger rise steadily in Jane's voice when she finds the right words, "I wish I had killed him."
I look down at our joined hands. I imagine them dark and slick with the coppery smell of blood clinging to them. I think of God in all of its abstract forms and what separates sinners and saints. Why people drown their babies, strangle their wives, and shoot their co-workers. People are capable of such horrors, and yet, God is terrific. He'll drop church roofs onto his worshipers while they sing a hymn. If man is what is evil in this world, then what is God? Cruelty is the gift humanity has given itself and if God is up there watching, he must love it. Or perhaps he is asleep; indifferent and unaware to every voice that calls out his name. How our prayers travel no further than the ceiling of our bedrooms and rain back down, falsifying hopes that they've traveled beyond the clouds and reached the ears of a benevolent God.
"Killing must feel good to God, too," I say. "He does it all the time and are we not created in His image?" Jane's eyes flash to mine. "Forgiveness isn't all it's cracked up to be, Jane, but you don't need religion to appreciate old testament revenge. If you want to forgive how God forgives, perhaps you should look less to morals and more to the edge of a blade."
Jane pulls her hands back from mine and runs her fingers through her hair, letting out a sigh of frustration. Her eyes shut tightly and she shakes her head. When she finds her voice, it is weak, "All I see is dark swarming behind my eyelids. I dream darkness comes to me. It comes and it's insidious; up my nose into my ears. I feel poisoned. I get lost in the thought sometimes of what I would have done to him. Shooting him would have been too humane."
"How would you have killed him?" I prod gently.
Long fingers curl into fists on Jane's lap. "My hands."
The corner of my lips turn up in a tight, brief smile. "That seems fitting."
"How did you kill the soldier?" Jane's eyes open and she studies me with curiosity.
"With his own knife."
The ugly and broken parts of our humanity are suddenly open to interpretation and uncensored discussion. Our pasts cling to us like muck and mire. We try to deny it, but it makes us who we are. But in acknowledging it and giving a voice to the unmentionable, it in turn becomes beautiful.
"You killed Emily Stern with your hands. What was it like?"
The mention of Stern fills the room with heaviness. We haven't discussed it in the months that followed; just the silent acknowledgement in the moments after that it had happened. I find myself reliving the moment and picking apart the memory.
"It was... intimate."
The room we are in holds sounds of our curious breaths. They heave and die on our lips while our old lives hover in the shadows, suspended in dust and light. Realization strikes me that perhaps my path is not as dark as it seems. Perhaps it is wide enough for Jane to walk beside me.
"Of the times that you have had to use your gun, have you ever taken a life?" I ask.
"Then how do you know that you can?"
"I know because I've wanted to." Jane murmurs, "I've felt my finger squeeze and squeeze, but I stop. Not because I can't. I feel it in me, coursing through my veins and whispering in my ear."
"Then what is stopping you?"
Jane's eyes narrow and she watches me. "I am an offic—.."
"No," I say, my tone sharp. "That is incidental."
I grasp Jane's hands tightly in my own and she flinches. I press my thumbs into the palms of her hands. Stigmatic wounds looking for retribution and forgiveness through release. I can hear the muffled groan of pain rumble in the back of her throat. Our eyes meet and they burn with the same intensity. I am challenging her. The muscles in her jaw are tense, like she is holding back a scream that she has kept in for far too long. She teeters on the edge of an abyss, one that I am willing to tumble over along with her. Hoyt had left Jane with scars; psychological and carved into her hands. An affliction that left her powerless. I want to return that power. She edges on absolution and I want her to see its beauty.
"What is stopping you?"
Chapter 16: A Great Becoming
A/N: as always, thank you to the amazing Feltknickers for providing her super beta powers. And also for really pushing me this chapter to expand and explore more. Trigger warning: violence ahead. Thank you for sticking with this story for so long. I don't plan on leaving it unfinished. This moves through the episode 'Remember Me'. I've taken liberties with some scenes to align them with the narrative of the story.
Great, monolithic pillars stretched to cathedral ceilings and rose into a smoky abyss. The engravings on the sides of them were charred and the floor beneath me creaked at each step I took. God does not know I am here. I watched a figure as it knelt at a broken pew and wept.
I heard its whispers asking for forgiveness.
"The devil is real." It said, and I knew the voice, "He was an angel."
The figure came into focus as I stepped closer and it turned to me. Its milky blind eyes searching. I knew the face and my heart leapt, but not its name. "He can be beautiful and fallen. He can be divine because he was God's favorite."
"He enjoys seeing the destruction of faith. It is his favorite thing." I said.
It smiled and was pleased with my revelation, "Do you see?" it asked.
It is the lingering smell of copper that floats into the room. The floors are slick and dark and I swallow the metallic taste. "This is about three liters of blood," I say.
"He's lucky he made it to the infirmary," Korsak says, scribbling something on the notepad in his hand. Korsak is a good man, though his investigative skills have remained decidedly old school.
"Only because he was young and healthy," I say. My eyes find Jane as she walks the perimeter of the room, edging the dark pool between us. The blood licking at her feet like an ocean to its shore. She looks past me to Warden Price and her eyes burn into him. Her agitation is apparent as we leave the bathroom and move down the hall to the infirmary.
"He bled out. Two stab wounds to each of his kidneys," I say. The young man's body is laid out on a hospital bed. Small pools of blood have gathered on each side of him.
"Ouch." Jane winces.
"It's an excruciating way to die," I say.
"Yeah, but quick. All you need is a shiv. They practically teach it in here," Korsak adds.
"Any idea what the shiv was made out of?" Jane asks.
"No. It looks more like puncture wounds. The edges are surprisingly clean. Something very sharp," I say.
"Like Jane," a voice says, floating up from the curtain behind her. Hoyt. Korsak and I both look at Jane. She is suddenly uneasy. A moment passes and Jane is able to dig up her courage. She turns walks towards the curtain and pulls it back.
"What the hell," Jane says flippantly over her shoulder to the warden. I notice she presses her fingertips into the palm of her hands and kneads her scars. Hoyt notices, too.
"Do your hands hurt, Jane?"
"Like it never happened."
"Well as long as you're here, come closer. I have so much to tell you, Jane, and so little time."
My eyes move around to Korsak and Warden Price. Their expressions are blank as they stare at Jane and Hoyt's exchange. He has cancer and he is dying. Just behind Price are labeled blood vials. They sit on a counter by the door waiting to be picked up by the lab. It would be easy to slip one out unnoticed. My gaze falls on the prison guard standing at the end of Hoyt's gurney and the smile tugging at his lips that intrigues me. He is watching Jane with censored glee. I can tell by the heave of his chest that he is focusing to regulate his breathing. He is excited. Monsters walk the halls of justice and slip between the spaces of law and order. Chaos is a world Charles Hoyt revels in and he looks for an apprentice to witness it all with him. It is his weakness; his reliance on others. His need to put on a show, to have an audience. He loves it, the attention. He has a dying wish and Jane has taken his bait. I wonder if a right set of circumstances will present itself.
"Nobody knows, Jane. Nobody knows, but I will tell you. I did something very bad. The good doctor can hear, too. The fat cop needs to leave, though." Hoyt says, his eyes cutting to Korsak.
"Korsak, go." Jane says quietly. Crestfallen, Korsak silently pleads with Jane before finally conceding and leaving the room.
Jane glances over her shoulder. "Record this," she says quietly. I nod and pull my phone from my purse.
"Do you remember where you were in the fall of '05?"
"Oh, the leaves were beautiful. Even the weeping willows turned yellow that year."
Jane pulls in a deep breath, "You said you did something very bad. Did you murder someone in the fall of '05?"
"I love the feel of velvet," Hoyt says. His eyes move over Jane's body and settle on me, "Virgin, white velvet. I imagine that's how you feel, Doctor. Am I right, Jane?"
Jane's body tenses and wavers forward. She stills a step that would have sent her hurtling forward, reaching out to tighten her hands around his throat.
"I'm fucking done here," Jane says, throwing her hands up. She turns and makes her way towards the door.
"A young eagle lost its family of four. Do you know eagles don't drink water? Did you come through the west gate?" Hoyt says.
I reach out, and catch Jane's forearm. "It is possible the cancer has metastasized into his brain."
"What? You don't think he knows what he's talking about?" Jane asks.
"I'm just saying it's possible."
Jane's eyes hold mine for a moment before she looks over her shoulder to Hoyt, "I'm glad you're dying. Let's go, Maura."
The sound of Jane's shoes echoes down the hall and I quicken my pace to keep up with her. She turns sharply and pushes open the door to the restroom. I stop at the door and hear her retch as she purges her demons.
The next few days I spend confined to the lab. When I finally see Jane again she is pacing in her living room. She spent the previous night in the records basement, poring over cold case files until she came across the Wilson family. DNA from Jacob Wilson had matched with the teeth we discovered in the balloon from Graham Randall's stomach.
"I want to watch it again," Jane says, coming around the coffee table and clicking 'play' on the laptop.
I quickly pause it. "You're obsessing," I say
"No, I'm investigating," She counters.
"When was the last time you slept?" I ask. Jane bites at her thumb nail and her eyes move around the room, "Does it matter?" and she begins pacing again.
"I haven't been able to," she confesses, "not since I saw Hoyt."
Jane is haunted, and I don't know the nightmares that lay coiled beneath her pillow. She must lay awake at night, listening to her breathing and the tiny clicks of her blinking eyes in the dark. I wonder what scenarios she fantasizes about when Hoyt moves through her head. If she picks them apart and pieces them back together into a narrative that leaves her bloodied and righteous.
"It's hard to lie still and fear going to sleep when he's there to think about. And when I do sleep, I am dreaming more, if you could even call it dreaming." Jane rubs her hands over her face. She stops in the center of the room and looks at me. Exhaustion weighs down her eyes.
"Your dreams were the one place you could be physically safe relinquishing control." I say. Jane walks around the small table and sits next to me on the couch.
"This feeling consumes me and Hoyt is at the center of it. I can't just let it go."
"You're maintaining your position on the event horizon of chaos. How you feel is a reflection of that. You need to fight your fear—"
"I'm not afraid," Jane says firmly, "that isn't it. But this feeling; this rage. It isn't sustainable." Shaking her head, Jane looks down at her hands and becomes consumed in her thoughts.
I understand this remarkably well. How consuming anger can be when it settles against your heart. It is no longer a fixture, but rather an intimate part of you. As real as the blood in your veins and the air in your lungs. Embracing it means bringing the darkest corners of yourself into the light. The knowledge that no beast is more savage than one possessed by power answerable only to their own rage.
"Then embrace it. The guiding thread through your narrative with Hoyt has always been that you cannot be defeated. Even in death. Weclome your rage."
When she looks up at me again I can see the muscles in her jaw clench. She is trying to box back up what has been released inside of her. Years of meticulous compartmentalization have finally begun to erode and she begins to let go.
"Help me find the Wilsons." She says, finally with a new found focus.
"So their throats were slit?" Jane asks.
I look up from the bones laid out on the table, "Yes."
Jane bites her lip and shakes her head, "They were probably out eating sandwiches, enjoying a beautiful fall day and Hoyt came across them. My guess is he went after one of the children first and used them to keep everyone else in line."
"The evidence could potentially give your theory merit." I say, then quietly add, "Is that what you need?"
Jane's eyes focus on mine. I choose my words carefully and keep my voice low. A secret just between us, "You already know Hoyt did this. The evidence is all here. Perhaps you didn't come here looking for a killer. Perhaps you came here to find yourself."
Jane glances around the room, "Maura, we can't talk about this here."
"There is no safer place to talk about it. No one here will say a word," I look over my shoulder at the scattering of bones behind me, "I assure you." I reach out and take Jane's hand into my own, "You're safe."
Jane lets out the breath she had been holding, giving her words freedom, "I can't get it out of my head, Maura. He's just laying there withering away and fucking dying, feeling nothing while that cancer eats him alive and I just want.." she trails off.
"To kill him." I finish for her.
She grows quiet for a moment, letting the revelation settle between us. Memories from our first conversation float through my mind. Jane pulls her hands back from mine and runs her fingers through her hair, letting out a sigh of frustration. Her eyes shut tightly and she shakes her head. When she finds her voice, it is weak, "All I see is dark swarming behind my eyelids. I dream darkness comes to me. It comes and it is insidious; up my nose, into my ears. I feel poisoned. I get lost in the thought sometimes of what I would have done to him. Shooting him would have been too humane."
"He shouldn't get to die like that," she whispers.
"I agree, but Hoyt is weak. He is the dying bird you find nestled away in the grass. And when you see it, your first instinct is that it is vulnerable, but why save it when it when can you just as easily crush it. It is a primal rejection of weakness, which is every bit as natural as the nurturing instinct. Hoyt is dying, and even the most docile human is capable of murder in the right set of circumstances. You are simply following your primal inclination," I say.
Jane's eyes plead with mine, It is scary when someone tells you the truth.
Jane's self control is remarkable. Over the months though she has started to tread dangerously close to an epiphany; that she is capable of much more. I saw beginnings of it last night in her living room; a crumbling facade. Human emotion is a gift from our animal ancestors. Cruelty is a gift humanity has given itself.
The vibration of Jane's phone brings our attention back from edging an abyss.
"Rizzoli. Okay. And the warden okayed that? Yeah. I'll be right there." Jane lowers her phone, "Hoyt's dying and he told the guard he wants to see me. He said he's prepared to give up the names and burial sites of every person he's murdered."
Jane looks at me. Her eyes are dark and her breathing has quickened, stoking the embers of her rage; breathing new life into them. Her hand brushes against the gun on her hip; a natural, unconscious reflex to a threat.
"Is that what you want from him?" I ask.
"You know what I want."
I watch Jane as she gathers her belongings. Her body is tense, humming with anticipation. I wonder if Jane is aware of the threat Hoyt poses, or if she simply does not care, focused more on the reciprocity of the situation as she comes to terms with the opportunity being gifted to her. The outcome holds so many unknown variables. It has captured my fascination. Jane has come so far, she only needed the mention of Hoyt to get her there.
"It can sometimes be brave to allow yourself hopes." I say, "I'm coming with you." I gather my belongings and follow Jane out the door. I do not know if Jane seeks vengeance or revenge. Rather, I believe she simply craves an unscarred dreamscape. One where nightmares no longer plague her and the echos of Hoyt have finally grown silent. Suddenly we walk an unknown path together. I reach out and take Jane's hand into my own and feel a satisfied smile tugged at the corner of my lips. My curiosity is suddenly starved for what Jane will do.
Oh, my dear. When life becomes maddeningly polite, think of me.
"He's been in and out of it," the guard says.
"It's not fair," Jane mumbles.
"Maybe he will still be able to talk to you," I say, coming up beside her. Hoyt is motionless on the bed. His breathing is shallow.
"It's not fair because this piece of shit tortured so many people and gets to go out peacefully."
Hoyt's pulse point flutters rapidly against the flesh of his neck at the sound of Jane's voice. He is not dying. I look over my shoulder at the guard. A smile twitches at the corner of his lips. He is anxious. He is waiting. We've been baited.
Hoyt is whispering to Jane now. Beckoning her to come closer, "I have more bad things to tell you."
The mechanical restraints around his wrists are loose and he moves quickly. His wiry hand captures Jane around her neck and he pulls her to the gurney.
"GET HIM OFF ME!" Jane screams.
"I think I'll watch." The guard doesn't move to apprend Hoyt, but instead wraps his arms around me, lifting me off the ground. He carries and tosses me onto another bed in the room. His large hands wrap my around my own, holding them together and he pulls a zip tie from his pocket and fastens it tightly around my wrists. He moves across the room to Jane and ties her hands as well. I feel my body grow warm. I close my eyes and sip from my rage, trying to control it from consuming me.
"Happy birthday, Jane. I was so hoping you'd be smart enough to put together my clues. Was it fun? Like a murder treasure hunt?"
He is looming above her; a twisted smile spread across his lips. She coughs and her hands wrap around his wrist as she struggles against his grip. "I should have fucking killed you when I had the chance," Jane finally spits.
"Yeah, you should have." Hoyt says. The guard is beside him now pulling the taser from his belt and handing it to Hoyt, "I always finish what I start, Janie."
I focus on Jane. A moment of silence fills the room. I see the flicker of calm composure settle across the features of her face. She has stopped fighting against Hoyt's grip and her eyes burn into the guard. She is starting to let go of her control.
"He played you Mason, just like he plays all of his little apprentices." Jane says, taunting the him.
Mason smiles over his shoulder at Jane as he walks back towards me. I watch him in all of his bravado, "I'm not the one wearing zip ties, detective."
"What was in it for you?" I ask, trying to keep his attention on me and away from Jane.
"It was fun. He was all proud of himself, the Graham kid, going off to law school. Big deal. Idiot was dropping mystery books off for a serial killer," he says.
"I love mysteries. It was almost too good to be true when little Graham told me he was off to Boston College to be an eagle. I knew then he'd be the perfect envelope for my letter to you." Hoyt says. He looks over his shoulder at Mason and tilts his head, signaling him to come over, "It's time, Jane."
A flash of silver moves between Mason and Hoyt's hands, and he presses the scalpel against Jane's neck, "I'm dying and I want company. I think I'm going to take you and Doctor Isles with me," Hoyt says. Jane flinches and lets out a shriek of pain. "Hold her down," Hoyt directs Mason. He picks up the taser from the bed and makes his way towards me.
"I win, Jane." Hoyt says, smiling. His small teeth are stained and the spaces between are black, a testament to the cancer seeping out of him.
"Hoyt, don't you touch her!" Jane's voice echos off the walls. It's isn't desperation in her voice. It is a warning. Hoyt is in front of me now. He waves the taser in his hand, taunting me and drawing out the thrill. Police issued tasers are often fifty thousand volts. A well placed strike can incapacitate, but Hoyt is gaunt. Weak. I can maneuver and throw him off balance. When he brings the taser toward me, his hands tremble, and I shift my weight, leaning to my left side. It is enough and the taser glances my right shoulder. I fall back and I feel my body seize. The light above me becomes a pinpoint and I hear a voice, "You're going to feel a little pinch, doctor."
Cool metal cuts into the skin of my neck and I feel the quick surge of adrenaline pump through my veins. I have control of my body again and I lock my hands together. I bring them up quickly, connecting with his jaw and send him stumbling back. I stand and see Jane rising from the floor, her face bloodied. Mason writhes on the floor behind her, letting out a gurgled cough and cradling his face in his hands. He's choking on his own blood.
Jane is behind Hoyt now. Her long arm wraps around his neck, trapping him between her forearms. She locks her wrists beneath his chin and pulls back, sending him to the ground. The scalpel falls out of his hand and he rolls over to retrieve it. His weakness is apparent as he struggles on his hands and knees. I step down on his wrist and he lets out a whine of pain. Jane reaches down with her bound hands and pulls him back by the collar of his shirt. The force sends him falling onto his back. She is above him, wrestling for control until she wraps her hands around his throat. Her breaths are calm and even as she watches him his struggle. His hands claw at his neck in a desperate attempt for air. I kneel beside Hoyt and pick up the scalpel. His eyes meet mine and I can see his fear. A moment of awe settles upon me as I watch Jane awakening to who she is in this moment. I've seen this place before. I've been there and know it intimately. She sees her truth with new eyes and she understands. She has moved past treading the line of absolution and she steps forward onto new, familiar ground. And in this crucial moment; she is no longer observing. This is participation. Fire is breaking out from under her skin. This is her reckoning.
"Jane." I say. Her focus wavers for moment from Hoyt to me. Mason has started to move and I can hear voices echoing from down the hall. I hold out the scalpel to her, "We need to hurry."
She loosens her grip from around Hoyt's neck and takes the scalpel from me. She does not hesitate and easily allows her savior moment to pass. She forgives how God forgives, with malevolent grace. Through his hazy consciousness, Hoyt can see it. His eyes widen and a plea begins to form at his lips. Jane welcomes her rage and it consumes her, flickering across her face. The corner of her lips turning upwards.
"I win." she says, turning the scalpel over her hands she raises it above her head and brings it down into Hoyt's chest and blood seeps into his shirt. Mason is standing now and stumbles towards us. Jane shifts her weight off from Hoyt and stands. The sound of gunfire rings out and Mason falls. The breath he struggles for never makes it past his lips. The holes in his chest gurgle with air as blood begins to fills his lungs.
Frost is beside me, pulling me to my feet. I look past him to Jane. Korsak is cutting the zip ties from her wrists. For a moment she stands motionless, then tilts her head back and closes her eyes. The wound on her neck opens and bleeds angrily, staining the collar of her shirt. When she opens her eyes again, she looks down at Hoyt. And for a moment it is beautifully silent. She knows the reality of taking a life. Of people who die when we have no other choice. We know these moments not of flesh, but of light, air and color. They are the richer and darker notes of the chaos that bind us.