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The Girl from Another Planet

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Jane Rizzoli realized she was stooping as she stepped out of her car, stood straighter, did a couple of neck rolls and felt and heard a few very satisfying cracks. She strode toward the lights the CSU had placed around the crime scene. It was so late. Or early, she supposed, depending upon how you chose to look at it. She’d already had a bad day and it had stretched into the middle of the night. A bad night to cap off what had been perhaps eleven days of steady overtime and little sleep. She’d stopped counting at seven.

Frost met her and yawned as he apprised her of the circumstances. She listened to his recounting of the crime from his ever-present iPad. He was green but he was good. She shoulder-bumped him with affection. “Yawning is a big step up from puking, Frost.”

He glanced at her and smiled, because he knew she was sincere. She never truly ribbed him about his problem. “I was just thinking that when you drove up. Hell, I was getting proud about that.” He ran one hand over his short-cropped hair, his tired brown eyes sad and pensive. “But Jane?”

“Yeah?”

“I think it’s more respectful to puke than to yawn, you know what I’m saying? Someone’s dead. I never want to yawn about that.”

Jane stared at him, then motioned with her head but as they walked toward the scene, she said, “You’re right.”

They dipped under the crime tape and Jane dropped to squat next to the body of who had been presumably, by dress and location, a very young prostitute. Maura Isles was already meticulously processing evidence.

“Whadewegot, Maura?”

Maura focused on the victim. Jane did as well: a pale, bruised and malnourished young woman in her late teens wearing a mini skirt and a tight blouse unbuttoned enough to expose a red push-up bra. She was just a damned kid and that made Jane’s mind flash through a thousand pointless things that might have put her on the ground in front of her and every one of them made her brain burn. She stared at the cheap, sad bracelet on the girl’s thin wrist, ground her teeth and listened.

“Here…and here,” Maura said as she examined the young woman’s forearms. “Evidence of subcutaneous drug use—that I can say definitively.”

“In other words, track marks. A junkie.”

“I can’t say that. I don’t know she injected herself. If she did, I don’t know she was an addict. I know she has evidence of extensive subcutaneous injections. And not everyone who uses subcutaneous drugs is addicted to them. In fact—”

“Please!” Jane interrupted, closing eyes burning with fatigue, and opening them again to face a bright-eyed, smiling M.E. “Please don’t start with this. She’s a junky—just look at her!”

“I can’t say that definitively. But do you know the word junky has many etymological—”

“No! You know what, Maura? Right now? I don’t care! Look at her! Jesus Christ! Do you ever even hear yourself? Do you even care at all? Because who gives a shit about your facts and figures and all this word stuff? A kid is dead! Just tell me what I need to know about this case.” 

Frost winced and turned away from both of them. 

It all came out so much more harshly than Jane had really meant it. And she realized she’d made a major mistake when she saw Maura’s expression, which was like the shock of having been slapped, then changed, closing off completely as she turned to finish her work.

Maura’s voice, after she’d collected her last few samples, was as cool as the body she was examining, “Her rigor and hepatic temperature suggest she’s been dead perhaps eight to ten hours. There is nothing to suggest that she died elsewhere. There are no external signs of a cause of death beside the possibility of drug overdose and no external signs of sexual assault.” She picked up her bag as she stood and said, “I’ll give you a report after the autopsy.”

“Maura. Look, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean any—“

“I said,” Maura’s eyes weren’t unkind, just vacant, “A report after the autopsy. Good night. Good night, Detective Frost.”

As Jane watched her walk away, at her curiously stiffened posture, she realized maybe only a detective or, no, a best friend might recognize this meant the doctor had been hurt. She rocked back onto what she realized was a fairly scrawny posterior when meeting very hard concrete, looked up and whispered to the night sky. “Fuck!”

Frost heard her and sighed. “You got some splainin’ to do, Lucy.”

“No shit.”


Jane pushed a grumpy Jo Friday to one side as she finished yet another revolution in her bed. She couldn’t get comfortable and it was really useless to want to be comfortable, wasn’t it, when it was…she glanced at the clock balefully, 0453 and you really needed to be at work at 0830.

She’d been home maybe two hours and Maura’s face hadn’t left her mind. She’d wanted to call her since she’d gotten home and had almost hit the speed dial maybe five times and had slapped the phone down on the bed. When she was running ‘should I or shouldn’t I’ stuff like this through her mind, she always asked herself, ‘What would ma do?’ And do the opposite.
 
Her mother would definitely call in the middle of the night, no matter what. But Jane knew she’d already hurt Maura’s feelings and it would be selfish to wake her just to soothe her own anxiety because, after all, the woman had worked nearly exactly the hours she had over the past days. She had a flash of realization—maybe more hours, actually. What had Maura once said, “The dead can’t sleep—why should I?”

She fidgeted for another few minutes. Alright. Not a call. A text. That wouldn’t be like her mother. That would be okay. 

She reached for her phone and tapped out  <Sorry again> 

She pressed send.

In perhaps thirty seconds, she jumped a little when her phone buzzed.  <It happens>

After a few moments of reflection, Jane realized that reply had given her absolutely no information. No information from Maura. She got up and put on a pot of coffee. Sleep was dead.


She got to the station early, raced down to the autopsy room with a peace offering and was surprised to see Maura closing an incision on Jane Doe’s head.

Jane waved the bag at her, and although it seemed a little incongruous to smile and say, “Chocolate scone?” when someone’s skull was being sewn shut, there it was.

“Thank you.”

Maura finished her sutures and as she took off her gloves and washed her hands, Jane noticed she was in the same clothes she’d worn the night before.

“Didn’t you go home?”

“No.” She took Jane Doe’s chart, wrote a few notes and turned to Jane. “Cause of death? Catastrophic cerebral aneurysm. I did a routine tox screen but no matter the results, they will be secondary. She had a congenital malformation but I’ll skip the details. They’re charted. You can look it over if you want but you don’t have to. Natural causes. Not your case but it would be helpful to have an ID.”

“Ah, man,” Jane slumped and looked at the pale figure on the table, “Poor girl.”

“Yes. Poor girl.” Maura patted the sheeted leg behind her gently. “I am a doctor, if you don’t remember? I know they’re dead but I find all of my patients worthy of my concern and sympathy.”

Maura’s face was completely blank and Jane winced. Okay. She deserved that and this was so very much worse than she’d thought. “I know you do, Maura. I’m so—“

“So tired and so busy and so am I. Thank you for the scone.”

The look on Maura’s face was one Jane had never seen. She nodded and left and was glad she’d done so quickly because as she punched the elevator button she realized she’d never come so close to throwing up in the autopsy room.


It stayed the same over days and days and days. Jane trying to warm Maura’s chill and watching it not work and not work and not work. Everyone noticed it because Maura was the same with all of them, as well.

She was suddenly ‘just the facts and nothing else.’ Nothing. 

Any crime scene? Nothing. Nothing but facts. No chirpy explanation. No elucidation. Nothing. No smile, no sudden non sequitur that left them shaking their heads. Nothing.

Korsak finally got fed up after watching yet another pathetic exchange on his ex-partner’s part with their M.E.

“So, Maura, you’re saying these are real Maori tattoos?”

“Yes.”

“So he’s probably…?”

“It’s in the report. You can read that, Jane, or you’re proficient at Google as you once pointed out.”

“Maura? Faster to catch a killer if we skip a few steps? I mean, please?”

Maura hesitated, then nodded. As she laid out her explanation there was nothing of her old joy in sharing the smallest or most arcane detail—just the most rote exchange of information that anyone could imagine.

Korsak watched, listened and when Maura had left the room said, “Hey, Rizzoli?”

“Yeah, Korsak?”

“You and I mean YOU obviously broke our M.E. Go fix her. Now.”

Jane glared at him and he glared back. It didn’t help that Frost was looking fixedly at his computer screen. She knew he knew what they both knew she’d said to Maura.

Fuck, she thought. Off to the basement.


Before she walked in, she could see through the glass that Maura was on her computer, which meant she was probably…oh hell, really? Who knew? Comparing DNA samples? Reading some crazy shit about something nobody had ever heard of or cared about? Buying shoes? Who knew?

Not knowing made her heart ache.  

She closed the door behind her as she entered, “Maura?”

“Yes?”

“We gotta talk.”

“About?”

“Us.”

Maura stood and tilted her head, “Us?”

Jane moved forward and saw Maura move backward. Okay. Cop Body Language 101. Unless necessary, don’t crowd a person who thinks you might hurt her.

She took one step back and softened her tone. “Yeah. This is killing me.”

Maura didn’t blink. “What’s that?”

“I’m sorry.”

“I know. You’ve apologized. I’ve accepted.”

“Oh, really?” Jane wanted to move forward but merely stepped sideways, “because it seems like you’re still pretty pissed off to me.”

“I’m not angry, Jane. Or upset. Or as you prefer to term it pissed off. I’m just being me.”

Jane’s eyes widened and Maura turned to flip through a chart.

“Really? I don’t think so, because this,” Jane waved a hand between their body space, “This? Isn’t normal, Maura. This isn’t you.”

There was a long silence. Maura flipped a page, then another and Jane noticed her hand was shaking right before she slammed the file down.

“What in the hell do you know about normal for me?”

Jane stepped back.

Maura’s eyes were cold, her voice quiet and calm, “This, thank you very, very fucking much is normal for me. That other me? You call it goofy or nerdy or quirky or whatever you want to? And to my face don’t you? I used to think that meant you liked it but now I know otherwise. And hello? I know I don’t have social skills. This is what I am! I am boring. I do autopsies and I know things. That’s all I am. Science and facts all day, every day. I have tried so hard to make a personality out of it and you know what? It works with men.”

She laughed bitterly at herself, “I mean, look at me. I’m not a toad so of course it does. And it works with professors and employers because they expect a pathologist to be a freak. But you? My friendship with you? It made me really happy and I thought maybe finally it was just maybe true—that I was a real person like other people.”

She slapped her hand on the table, “But it wasn’t and I’m not. So now? You’ve been getting what I really am because what I was trying to give you obviously wasn’t good enough. Okay?”

Jane had just enough presence of mind to realize that she, the mouthy Italian, had literally nothing to say.

Maura did. “I’ve been burned by this since I was a very small child and I know when to retreat. So I’m going to stay down here in the boarding school of my autopsy room and you go play with the people with real personalities.”

“Maura—”

“No! Be fair. Please. Leave.”

Jane did feel the fairness of this. It was the least she could do. And this time she actually did throw up in the bathroom just down the hall.


When she made it back to the squad room, Frost took one look at her, stood and said, “Jane?”

“Yeah?”

“You got a second?”

Jane nodded. He pulled her into one of the interrogation rooms and said, “Hold please.”

In two minutes he re-entered the room with an open sleeve of saltines and a cup of ginger ale.

She chuckled and took a sip. “How’d you know?”

“Barry Frost’s the name—throwin’ up’s my game. Know the look and keep supplies on hand.” He waited as she finished two saltines. “That bad, huh.”

“Worse. I’ve messed up so bad.”

He nodded and took the chair across from her at the table. He didn’t ask questions, just sat with one elbow on the table, propping his head in his hand.

She ate two more crackers, drank some ginger ale and said, “I don’t know what to do.”

He nodded, “Woman trouble’s the worst.”

Jane snorted, then stared at him. His face remained neutral and after a few moments her shoulders fell. “Is that what I got?”

He raised his head. “I don’t know. I don’t care either way. You don’t need to answer me. Answer yourself. Is that what you’ve got?”

She chewed the inside of her cheek, took another swig of ginger ale, damned the absence of vodka in the cup, then sighed and put her head on the table for a second before jerking it up abruptly. “What the hell am I doing? This table's ground zero for germs. Maura would just…just…”

And she couldn’t even finish that sentence because it told her something. Told both of them something.

Frost looked at her and smiled.

She finished the ginger ale. “Woman trouble.”

“Yeah. Sounds like it.”

“Wow,” she half-whispered, “Ain’t that a kick in the head?”

Frost shrugged, “Doesn’t have to be.”

“Do me a favor? Go check the glass—make sure we don’t have an audience, okay?”

Frost jumped up, opened the door and quickly crossed the hall to see Korsak bellowing at someone on his phone.

He stepped back into the room and sat down, “Coast is clear, partner.”

She lowered her voice, “Okay—so like maybe I have this thing I didn’t know I had and…”

“Don’t make it sound like a disease.”

She raised both hands and hissed at him. “I know it’s not a disease but for me? It’s a little like hello Brick. Surprise! Meet Face!”

Of every one of the things Barry Frost thought he might be called upon to do and was, indeed, prepared to do in the line of duty, listening to his partner’s coming out anxiety hadn’t been one of them. But he manned up. “C’mon. It’s not that big a deal, Jane.”

Jane slumped in her chair and huffed, “Yeah, right. Worldview turned upside down—no biggie.”

He looked at her and had to admit she did look, if a person could, like she’d been thrown off her axis. He reached across the table and covered one of her hands with his, “Maybe your worldview just got turned right side up. Maybe the other way was upside down, you know what I’m saying?”

She squeezed his hand, withdrew it, then shook her head and chuckled at the look on his face, “You poor guy. Welcome to the Boston Police Department Homicide Division, right?”

He shrugged again and said, “Protect and serve, detective. All in a day’s work.”

She ran her hands through her hair and he could see she had no idea what to say.

So he said, “Listen—with Dr. Isles?”

She pulled herself to attention.

“One thing I can tell you? All that crazy stuff she talks at crime scenes?”

“Yeah?”

“It’s not so much for me or anyone else. It’s always like she’s explaining things as a professional courtesy or something, in case we’re interested. But with you, she goes into hyper-drive.”

“I know—to irritate me.”

He stared at her and shook his head. “No. To impress you.”

She looked at him quizzically, “Why? I’m already impressed.”

“Wow,” He shook his head again, “No lie about the brick thing. She likes you—as in likes you?”

He watched Jane’s face change as she absorbed this. “She likes me likes me?”

He couldn’t help it. He rolled his eyes, “Yes. Work from that assumption.”

She slumped back in her chair, “She likes me and I—“

“Basically shot her down with an intercontinental ballistic missile. Yeah.”

Her eyes narrowed on him.

“What? I’ve been working on that description since it happened.”

“Gotcha. Great. Thanks, Frost.”

“No problem—but we have to get out of here or Korsak will be drinking coffee and eating donuts outside this window.”

“Don’t I know it?”

As he opened the door she said, “Hey Frost?”

He turned.

“Really. Thanks.”

He nodded, “All of this? It’s in the vault, okay? Major encryption, no ISP access. Okay, partner?”

She smiled her answer.


Jane worked and fretted and fretted and worked and waited and watched the clock and prayed that no one else would get the urge to kill someone on her time today and then shot a quick ‘oh sorry’ prayer up for being a little selfish. She prayed a lot more than she’d admit to anyone and wondered if Maura prayed.

Without thinking, she snapped her pencil in half.


Six hours later, when the doorbell rang, Maura Isles prayed it wouldn’t be who she was completely certain it would be. She looked through the peephole. Prayer unanswered. She put her forehead on the door to brace herself briefly before unlocking it.

Arms linked behind her back with a small surprise in one hand, Jane felt more nervous than she ever had in her life. As Maura opened the door, her expression gave Jane absolutely nothing. Maura was as casually dressed as she’d ever seen her, but now that Jane knew how she felt about the woman? She looked insanely beautiful and what in the hell was wrong with her and why hadn’t she realized that before now and how in the world had she missed this and wait-a-second, Maura was talking to her.

“I’m sorry what?”

“I said why are you here, Jane?”

“Oh. Right. Uh…right. I came to apologize.”

“We’ve gone over that.”

“Oh I know. Not to you—to Bass,” she said as she pulled a small box of strawberries from behind her back.

Maura went literal, which Jane would have bet money she would, “Why? What did you do to him?” Her eyes hardened, “Did you hurt my tortoise?”

Jane shook her head, “No! Of course not! I mean, no. I didn’t. I just thought I should apologize for not being nicer to him.”

“Why now?”

“When else will I get the chance?”

Maura looked strangely undecided and Jane took her cue, “Look. Can I come in? I’ll just talk to Bass and I’ll leave.”

Maura opened a path and Jane stepped inside. “Thanks. Where is he?”

“Probably in the kitchen.”

“Okay.”

Sure enough, there he was. Jane shuddered and Maura noticed this. “What?”

“I—wow. Uh, could you show me how to feed him?”

“Why? You just offer it to him and—“

“No! Really. Would you show me how to feed him? I’m a little—okay. I’m a little afraid of him.”

“You’re afraid of him?”

“Yeah. I am.”

Maura took the box from Jane and sat on the kitchen floor. She gestured and Jane joined her there. Bass immediately lifted himself up and crept over. Maura looked at him with immense fondness and took a strawberry from the box. “You offer it in his sight-line. He won’t bite you. He’s very gentle.”

Sure enough, Bass took the strawberry almost daintily and swallowed it whole. “Your turn.”

Jane took a strawberry and offered it to Bass and waited like she was facing a meth-head with an Uzi. Bass took it from her just as pleasantly. Jane laughed, hesitated, then moved to pat his head.

“Pat his shell. His instinct is to retract when anything soft is touched.”

Jane nodded and patted his shell as she fed him another, “Good boy, Bass. I’m sorry I wasn’t as nice to you as I shoulda been.”

Maura smiled at her pet, “Keep feeding him strawberries and all is forgiven.”

Jane fed him half the box before Maura stopped her. “That’s enough. I don’t want to make him sick. They’re acidic.” She continued to pat his shell and he seemed content to have this done, resting his head on her leg.

Maura smiled. “This behavior is deceptive. I know I attribute anthropomorphic traits to it. He’s a reptile and associates me with a non-threatening source of food and a non-threatening source of the body heat he doesn’t have. He moves forward when I enter the room and he puts his head on my body and I assume he likes me for those reasons.”

Maura placed her hand softly upon the tortoise’s head and stroked it.

“Hey, I thought you said you could only pet his shell.”

“I said you could only pet his shell. I can pet all of him.”

The tortoise closed his eyes and Jane smiled, “Then I’d say he probably likes you.”

“Another assumption. Our mammalian brains make assumptions about intentions and motivations reptilian brains don’t have. He can’t understand human complexity but he doesn’t create any either.” She patted his shell, “Most people think it’s odd that I have him but, in that sense—his purity of motivation—he’s the perfect pet for me.”

Jane, again, found herself with no reasonable answer so she patted the tortoise’s shell gently, “I’m sorry, Bass, that we got off to a bad start. You’re a good boy. Take care of your mom.”

She turned to Maura, “I guess I should leave. I mean, fair’s fair.”

“If that’s what you want.”

With that one sentence, Jane understood why loving a woman was a million times more complicated than loving a man. What to say?

She took a deep breath, “It’s not what I want. It’s what I said I’d do.”

Maura mulled this over for a moment and said, “We could have a glass of wine.”

Jane wanted to scream “YES!” but merely said quietly, “I’d like that, thank you.”


As Maura poured their wine, Jane sat on a couch she’d sat on innumerable times. They’d done this before and she’d been here before and yet she really hadn’t been here before and they really hadn’t made up. Maura had left the door open but it was so much easier to enter a room with a gun when someone might shoot you than try to…

“Thanks,” she said as Maura handed her a glass of red, from which she immediately took a hefty pull and put on the table.

Maura sat at an uncharacteristic distance from her, only took the slightest hint of a sip and put her glass on the table.  “So. Here we are.”

Jane felt her stomach do things that were pretty damned novel in her experience. “Yeah. Here we are. And you know what?”

“What?”

“I think you should let me speak because I listened to you today. And heard you. Loud and clear. Believe me. And you were right to say I needed to hear you and that it was only fair to listen. But again? What’s fair? I mean, shouldn’t I get to say my part of this?”

Maura twitched but nodded. “Of course.”

Jane didn’t even know how to start so she just looked at Maura. Her gorgeous, sweet, earnest face.

“Maura. I really did hear what you said earlier. I took it in. But you gotta understand. You’re like a girl from another planet.”

She placed a hand on Maura’s knee and the woman didn’t move so she kept it there. “And I know it has to be hard to live with us, among us. People who aren’t nearly as smart as you are—or as kind or as moral or strong. I know it must be hell to have to pretend to be like us when you’re so much better than we are.”

“Jane—no—I”

“Stop. My turn. You are. And sometimes you’re going to knock up against the humans who inhabit this world, right? Like the other night? Someone like me who was tired and bitter and crabby and feeling emotionally off-center and there you were, just as tired, just as bitter, just as sad and just as off-center and you smiled at me and started spouting facts. You’re sort of unreal, Maura. And that’s just really irritating sometimes.”

Maura’s face fell and Jane reached out, running a thumb over her cheek. “Like I want to kill you irritating. But I don’t mind it. You need to understand I love it.”

Maura glanced at her, then held her eyes.

“I love it. I love the irritation, the constant detail, the word stuff, the facts, facts, facts, facts. Because at the end of the day, Maura? The most interesting fact you’ve taught me? The one I can’t deny knowing or remembering or loving? It’s the fact of you. The idea of you.  I love everything about you because I love you.”

Maura almost smiled as she perused Jane’s face. “Your vocal tonality and facial symmetry suggest you’re telling the truth.”

“What else does my face tell you?”

Maura gazed at her for a few moments, “I think you want to kiss me.”

Jane smiled, “Why Dr. Isles, was that a hypothesis?”

“No. I believe it was a statement of fact.”

Jane leaned forward and kissed Maura, the lightest and most chaste kiss she’d ever given anyone.

“How’s that?”

Maura laughed, “I know you can do better but time for bed.”

“Bed? Really? That was quick.”

“No. Bed as in sleep.”

“Sleep?”

“We’re both exhausted. At least I am. And you can’t be far behind. It would be unfair to unleash my alien powers on a human without proper sleep. “

“But bed?”

“We sleep together all the time.”

Jane snorted as she realized, “Yeah. I guess we do. What the hell was I thinking all this time?”

“I’ve been wondering that.”

“What? You knew?! How far ahead of me were you?”

“Galaxies?”


They got ready for bed and it sort of was another Brick!Face moment to really grasp the fact that she had her own toothbrush and bed clothes at Maura’s house truly should have told her something.

When she joined Maura in bed, the woman seemed completely comfortable. “I’m going to kiss you goodnight and we’ll turn off the lights?”

Jane nodded.

Maura kissed her with such considerable enthusiasm and heat that Jane was thinking that the night might make a turn for the better right about the time Maura pulled away and smiled. “There. Sexual excitement releases endorphins. Not like an orgasm, mind you, but we’ll wait for those. Good night.”

“Oh, uh, good night?”

With the lights out, Maura wrapped herself around Jane and said, “I love you, too.”

Jane smiled into the darkness, “Did I tell you I named my little tortoise?”

“No.”

“SMB.”

“SMB?”

“Small Mouth Bass.”

“You’re very lucky you’re already in this bed.”

“C’mon. You can’t say that’s not funny.”

“Goodnight.” Firmly.

“Damn. Alright. Goodnight.”


The next morning, Jane Rizzoli walked into the squad room like she owned it and Frost lifted his eyebrows. She lifted her fist and smirked as she said, “Gimme a pound, dawg.”

As he knuckle bumped her, he saw nothing like sexual triumph, just sheer relief. He smiled, “Glad I could help.”

“Oh great. Another party I wasn’t invited to?”

Jane smiled at Korsak, “Nah. You’ve already been to this party a thousand times. This was his first 'knock some sense into Jane Rizzoli’s head experience.’”

“Really?”  Korsak considered this, grinned and lifted his fist, “Gimme five of the best you got, Frost.”

Frost rolled over and knuckle bumped him hard.


When Dr. Isles walked in, looking like a million bucks and carrying coffee for four, everyone perked up.

“Jane? You first.”

“And Vincent.”

“And…Barry…there we go.”

“The condiments are in the bag I’m leaving here,” she said as she put the bag on Jane’s desk.

Korsak asked, “Better mood doc?”

“A little sleep and I’m on top of the world.” She thought for a second, “That expression used to puzzle me because on top of the world? From outer space? The North Pole. Here? On Earth? Mount Everest. The point of reference creates an intellectual and emotional frame of reference.” She smiled at them and was passing to leave as Jane held out a hand, which Maura took.

“Good to meet you, Maura. I mean, North Pole.”

“Likewise, Mount Everest.”

“Alien.”

“Human, get to work.”