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The Greatest Thing You'll Ever Learn

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“Again, Rizzoli? The department is beginning to think you are planning these murders yourself so you get the close!”

The shout cuts through the low buzz of conversation that fills the Robber, cop-bar extraordinaire, and starts a tsunami of guffaws and clapping. Jane and Frost just closed their second case in as many weeks, unheard of even for them. They both know it was lucky break after lucky break plus the sharp eyes of Dr. Isles that led them to their suspect, and then again with timing and the fact that the murderer was proud of his accomplishment and bragged throughout the interrogation, Miranda Rights be damned. The arrogant bastard hadn’t even requested a lawyer; preferring instead to re-account, in grisly detail, his methods of torture and the rush he had gotten when the girl’s life fled her eyes.

It makes Jane sick, his insouciance, that and the fact that she is no longer surprised by it. When had she grown this jaded? She tips her bottle at such an angle that she can roll it around as she tries to remember the last time she felt anything except disappointment in her fellow man.


More clapping, but now accompanied by wolf-whistles and cheering and Jane covers a smirk at the full-dimpled smile beaming from Maura’s face. Three years surrounded by cop procedure and the doctor has finally ingrained herself in the BPD. The dimples are contagious, and Jane knows that her own punctuate the grin from feeling Maura’s thrill at being accepted as one of the team. Simple pleasures.

Korsak follows close behind, his smile is as big as Maura’s. Their team is unstoppable; Jane raps lightly on the table as the thought flits through her mind. No need to jinx their incredible stretch of closes. She stands as Maura approaches so that the blond can squeeze past and Jane can indulge herself surreptitiously by sliding her hand along Maura’s hip and across the dip in her lower back. The detective is lucky Maura has no point of reference for friendly behavior or Jane would be caught red-handed. Jane is back to feeling now: the warm and wiggly tug in her middle that blooms at a smile, a touch, sometimes just a text from her best friend. The best friend with whom she is head-over-heels in love. The best friend who is blissfully ignorant of Jane’s adoration, and adoring-Jane would like to keep it that way. Emotions only complicate things; plus the detective is pretty convinced that Maura likes her lovers even more flat-chested and bigger-balled than Jane. The detective smiles at a light touch on her arm and waves at Murray to send over a glass and a bottle of the red that he stocks for Maura only.


Four hours later, twenty-nine beer bottles and one empty wine bottle cover the entire surface of the table. Jane is pretty sure she only had seven, but that would mean that Frost and Korsak each had ten and there’s no fucking way her lightweight partner drank more than she did. The brunette tries counting label-less bottles and makes it to nine before she realizes three have lipstick along the rim and one of those is half unfinished. That would explain Maura’s head on her shoulder and the doctor’s body leaning bonelessly against her side.

“Maur?” The detective thinks that perhaps her friend had a beer or three once she finished her bottle of wine. The ME usually can hold her booze better than this. “Hey, wake up. Murray says he doesn’t care where we go, but we can’t stay here.”

The blond shifts with a murmur that tapers to a whine, tucking herself more firmly against Jane. The detective rolls her eyes and attempts to get Korsak’s bleary-eyed attention.

“I’m going to take her home.” Jane shrugs her shoulder, softly jiggling Maura’s head. “You and Frost ok?” The older man just looks at her and blinks, then turns his head towards a loud groan echoing from the rear of the bar.

Jane’s partner is staggering back from the bathroom, ashy-pale and wiping his mouth. Murray’s voice rings out from behind the bar drawing the attention of the few stragglers left. “Tell me you didn’t make a mess in there, Frost, or I’ll have you back here in the morning to clean it up.” Barry just flips him off and collapses into their booth.

“Well, that answers that. I’ll call you both a cab.” Jane digs for her phone, but with Maura practically deadweight against her side, she can’t maneuver it from her pocket. “Murray, call these boozers a cab please so I can take Maura home?” The barkeep gives her a thumbs up as he reaches for his phone.

“Maura, sweetie…” Jane grits her teeth as she pushes the doctor into a sitting position. Maura threatens to slump forward onto the table. “We need to leave. That’s it, upsy-daisy.”

Jane slips her arm around her friend’s waist and drags her to the edge of the bench, then pulls her to her feet. The detective eyes the four inch heels warily, convinced that she’ll be carrying Maura out of the bar, but the doctor surprises her with three deceptively steady steps and an extended hand.

“Practice Jane, I’ve had years and years of practice.” The words slip and slide together and Jane smirks before she can stop herself. Maura might be able to walk the yellow line in heels, but learning to speak without slurring must not have been included in her fancy finishing school’s tuition. Jane takes Maura’s hand and waves to Frost and Korsak, both of whom look like they’ll be spending quality time on their knees praying to the porcelain god. Jane’s smirk only deepens. All three may have outdrank her, but she’ll cherish the memories that will be black, fuzzy spots in their minds.

The door is heavy, heavier than sober Jane would have found it, but she manages to prop it open and lead Maura out into the cool spring night. The women start down the sidewalk towards Jane’s apartment; Maura’s heels clicking smartly against the pavement belie her heavy lean on Jane’s arm. They make it three blocks before the detective decides the ridiculousness of taking a cab the remaining five blocks is outweighed by the fact that she’s pretty tipsy and practically carrying the her best friend.

“I’m going to call a cab.” Jane stops to dig her phone out, stepping away from the doctor so she can get her hand into her pocket. Maura mumbles something and wraps both arms around Jane’s waist, gluing herself back against the detective’s side. Jane rolls her eyes and switches the phone to her right hand so she can wrap her left arm around the M.E.

“Well, well, well…what do we have here?” The voice is quiet and cruel and punctuated by a deep chuckle.

It happens so quickly that even sober, Jane wouldn’t have had much of a chance, what with Maura pasted against her gun and Jane’s draw-hand wrapped around her. There are two of them: big and burly and armed, one with a knife and the other, a ball bat. The six and a half beers have punched holes in her powers of observation, but the rush of adrenaline has cleared her mind enough to know they are in trouble. Maura’s eyes are wide and fearful.

“What do you want?” Jane’s voice is flat and resigned. She’s hoping the phone will connect with the taxi dispatch so at least someone will hear what is going on and call 911.
“Drop your phone, but keep your hands where we can see them.” The speaker steps forward, streetlight glinting on the knife blade, and Jane wonders where the hell all the cars that usually clog the street are. “We saw you two come outta that cop bar, at least one of you is packin.”

The detective steps slightly to her left and pulls Maura behind her in an effort to keep their attackers’ attentions on herself. Maura staggers at the motion, totally unprepared for the shift in momentum. The doctor whimpers and slips her arms around Jane to steady herself. Jane wonders how sobering the adrenaline is for a whole bottle of wine plus two and a half beers. “It’ll be alright, Maur --”


Jane drops it with a clatter, holding both arms wide out to the side, palms facing forward. She can feel Maura shaking against her back, but the doctor’s left arm is inching lower and lower towards Jane’s gun. Apparently the adrenaline and alcohol have cursed the M.E. with an impulsive side. The detective shakes her head slightly and Maura freezes. Right now the danger is manageable; if the men were out for violence alone this confrontation would already be over. It’s more than likely that once they get money they’ll leave in a hurry.

“Purses?” He’s no longer yelling, but urgency gives his voice a wild edge. He motions for his silent partner to go around and pull Maura’s from her shoulder. The detective tries to be soothing, whispering little comforts over her shoulder to hopefully ease Maura’s trembling. But at his touch, Jane loses what little control she has over the situation because drunk Maura goes rogue. As the thief grabs the strap of her bag, doctor cries out and seemingly grabs for Jane’s gun. Then all hell breaks loose.

Jane sees the man in front of her lunge forward with the knife and all she can think is protect Maura. She twists to evade the blade and pull her gun when she hears a dull thunk and sees Maura crumble to the ground, eyes open but glazed. The bat rises again, but Jane can do nothing but scream.

“NO….MAU—“ Her scream is cut off by a punching burn in her lower back, but there are lights, blessed headlights and shouting. It is enough to send both men running, and Jane whispers a prayer of thanks to whoever was paying attention. Her back aches fiercely; she reaches back and pulls away a hand covered in blood. Maura. The M.E.’s glazed eyes have closed, and Jane feels a stab of fear. She crawls to the doctor’s prone body, back in agony and her vision tunneling down to a pinpoint. Jane manages to make it over to Maura, but passes out trying to gather her friend into her arms.