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The Greatest Thing You'll Ever Learn

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Maura's phone buzzes just as she badges in to the precinct. It's a text from Frost letting her know they found the assailants, (no…murderers, she corrects herself) and would she be able to come in and identify them in a line up? She knows he is nervous; Frost has very little memory of that night and he knows, after reading her statement, that Maura barely walked out of the bar under her own power. The doctor knows she's not the only one harboring quite a bit of guilt. Both men think that if they'd been more aware that they could have intervened, despite Maura's protests to the contrary. She has also told both men several times that she remembers every last detail of the attack. In fact, sometimes Maura wishes that she hadn't had that moment of clarity, that instead, she passed out cold on the sidewalk so that she and Jane would be missing their money and not each other.

She feels her throat tighten as the image of Jane crawling towards her flashes in front of her eyes. She types a quick response to Barry and pushes the up button for the elevator. First things first: take care of the thugs who ripped her life from her. Maura still doesn't know if there will be permanent damage from the blow she took to the head, but right now she can't imagine working without Jane anyway.

She steps out of the elevator before the doors have opened all the way, and walks down the hallways towards the observation room for the line-up. Everyone is there waiting for her, Frankie and Frost Korsak and Cavanaugh, all with cautious looks in their eyes. They speak quietly, watching and waiting for her to fall apart again. Barry put his hand on her shoulder.

"You don't have to do this right now. They can sit in lockup for another day."

Maura shrugs out from under his hand, making her face go blank and putting on the mask she uses with the Fairfields and the Emersons, the Lowells and the Winthrops. Her Isles mask. Jane once teased her about it, mimicking her empty eyes and emotionless tone for a moment before turning serious and asking Maura to please never do it again. Until now, the doctor has complied.

"I want justice for Jane." And I want them to pay for what they took from me. Cavanaugh nods his head, and Korsak calls for the first group to be brought in.

Maura doesn't even need the man to turn and face the window. She feels Frankie's hand gripping her elbow and she realizes that she is swaying.

"You're holding your breath." His voice is subdued enough that no one looks at her alarmed by her inability to do something as important as breathing. All previous calm is gone.

"Number 3." She chokes it out, fighting the urge to hyperventilate.

Korsak calls for the man to step forward, and Maura shakes her head emphatically. She cannot listen to this man talk without losing the tenuous hold she has on the last few threads of her sanity.

"It's him, I'm sure of it. He's the one who hit me with the bat."

Vince searches her face for a moment, then just nods. "You're doing great. Do you think you can do the second group?"

Maura can't respond. Her heart is pounding in her chest at the thought of seeing the man responsible for causing her world to implode.

"Sit down for a minute." Frankie guides her to a chair and squats down in front of her. "I know this is probably the hardest thing you've ever had to do, but don't let him win. Don't let fear win." He takes a moment to clear his throat and when his eyes meet hers they are shining with unshed tears.

"Janie would be so proud of you, Maura." He paws at his face, angrily pushing the tears away before they can fall. "To see you here, fighting through everything to bring her justice and give her a voice. She is so proud of you, where ever she may be."

At that comment Maura nearly cries out that Jane is somewhere here still, that Maura spent a few glorious minutes wrapped up in her warm arms, but any respect she has earned in the last fifteen minutes would be destroyed.

"Thank you." She can barely choke it out before she turns her head to the sergeant, "I'm ready now, Vince."

He calls through the mic again, and Maura closes her eyes when the door opens and the men file in. Frankie takes her hand and helps her up, guiding her to the window, but does not let go of her hand. He gives it a gentle squeeze as she clenches her jaw and opens her eyes.

Although he is standing still, Maura sees him in her mind's eye, lunging and shoving the glinting blade into Jane's back. Her head instantly begins the throb and her stomach rises into her throat. She doesn't know how long she is standing there before she hears Cavanaugh's voice.

"Is he there, Maura?" She doesn't even register that the Lieutenant uses her first name instead of her title, something the other three men notice immediately. She can only nod.

Frankie squeezes her hand again. "For Janie, do it for Janie."

The pounding in her head increases, now so intense it is deafening. "Six." Maura has to shove the word out. It clings to her throat with barbed claws, tearing and burning as it crosses her lips. She clutches at Frankie's hand with both of her own. There's movement around her, but Maura barely notices. She feels oddly detached from herself, the pain in her head easing some as Korsak, Frost, and the Lieutenant leave the room to continue procedure with the two suspects she identified. Frankie endures her deathgrip on his hand without comment, leading her back to the chair and pushing her gently into it.

"Thank you."

It takes a moment for the words to register, and she raises her head to meet his eyes. Then the words are out before she can stop them.

"I slept at Jane's last night."

Frankie's brow furrows, but his eyes go soft. "Anything you need to do to heal. You have a key and I know she would have wanted you to do whatever you have to do."

"She was there…with me." Anxiety wells up in her; her once-reliable brain has turned traitor. Her chest tightens in panic as the softness in Frankie's gaze turns to pity. "She told me that she left something in her desk for me. If it's there, that's proof." She drops her head to see she is still clinging to his hand.

"Maura," His voice is thick and Maura's eyes fill at the thought of Frankie losing his composure. "We can go check, but she always-" He hesitates, then shakes his head apparently having changed his mind. "Come on, let's go."

She allows herself to be led back to the bullpen, apprehension growing with every step. What if she is hallucinating all of this? Side effects of the Valium (as she had secretly hoped would happen?) Frankie keeps pace with her slowing steps, letting her lean on his arm when her courage begins to falter and she drops her eyes to the floor.

The room opens in front of them and all of the detectives go silent. Maura feels their eyes on her, then hears their feet shuffle as they all approach, each offering condolences and help with anything she might need. Even Crowe has nothing more to say to her than that he is truly sorry that they have all lost such a champion for truth and justice. She just nods through their apologies and wonders why they are treating her like a mourning wife.

"Where did she say it is?" He's being so gentle with her, despite his own grief and what the doctor interprets as possible frustration.

Frankie steers her stiff frame over to Jane's vacant desk where Maura just freezes. It's the moment of truth and she is crippled.

"She didn't. Just that it was in her desk."

Frankie runs a hand back through his hair, and Maura realizes that he is as nervous as she is. She swallows and squats slightly to reach the largest drawer at the bottom of the desk. When her fingers grasp the handle she closes her eyes and pulls, ball bearings ratcheting along their track.

She whimpers when her eyes fall on the package of chocolates –fudge clusters- with a purple bow. As she lifts the package she sees a card underneath, her name written in Jane's surprisingly neat script. She feels Frankie's hand go to her shoulder as she picks up the card with shaking fingers.

"Sit down." It is an order, not a request and to ensure her compliance he pushes her gently into Jane's chair. "I'm going to call Ma."

Maura doesn't hear him. She is staring at her hands: chocolates in the left, the card in her right. Frost and Korsak show up almost immediately after Frankie left. She barely notices their arrival. She has set the chocolates on the desk and now holds the card in her left hand, right index finger tracing lightly along the inked letters of her name.

They say nothing as they stand around her, at least not until Maura opens the card and starts to cry, tears and sniffling turn to wracking sobs. Vince gets on his phone, shouting at Frankie to hurry and Barry practically lifts her out of the chair and carries her to an empty interrogation room. She won't let them see the card, she won't let them console her, she just sobs with her head on her arm on the metal table and the card clutched against her chest.

"Maura! Oh my poor girl." Angela's normally scratchy voice is even rougher; she has already fallen apart and put herself back together many times over the course of the past three days. "Let's go home."

The doctor is on autopilot. She doesn't remember leaving the precinct. She doesn't remember getting in the car, walking through her door, or sitting on her couch but here she is, her face a streaky mess and her hair falling from her braid all around her face. She hopes that she is all cried out The card is still in her hand, now a bit sweaty and smudged, but it's there, the proof she needs that Jane is still here, somewhere.

"Dolcezza." Angela has Maura's attention immediately.

"Parli italiano?"

"I don't really speak Italian, just little words here and there." The older woman responds regretfully, realizing that Maura was looking for a distraction, "Things that my parents and grandparents would either shout or lovingly whisper to us kids."

"I saw her last night." Maura waits for Angela to call her over-tired or to say something about her injury, then gloss it all over with a cannoli or pizzelles and tea.

"I'm not surprised, sweeting." The doctor's eyebrows raise in surprise as Angela continues, "I've seen her too. Twice since the…well you know."

Maura does indeed know and if Angela's seen Jane then maybe Maura isn't losing her mind. She looks at the older woman hopefully as she feels Angela sit down on the couch and take her hand. The doctor decides to lay all her cards out on the table. If there is anyone in Maura's small circle of friends who will understand, she believes it will be Angela.

"When you saw," Maura hesitates, unable to say the name aloud, "her. Did she touch you?"

Angela reaches up with her free hand and tucks some of the wayward strands of Maura's hair behind her ear. It is such a maternal, protective gesture: a gesture she's seen the older woman do with Jane a thousand times, a gesture that Jane herself has done to Maura, that the doctor closes her eyes to rein in threatening tears. She cannot believe that there are any more left.

"No, she didn't, because it wasn't really Janie." Angela says gently. "Maybe it was her spirit, maybe it was my subconscious but something knew that I needed closure and so there she was. She didn't talk, but I got to say everything I didn't get to tell her before she was gone…" The older woman trails off at the disappointment that flashes in Maura's eyes before cool and collected returns.

"I saw her. I talked to her. I touched her." Maura tries to pull her hand away, but Angela won't let go, so instead she hides behind closed eyes. "Her hands were warm; her body was warm! She told me she left me something in her desk and then there was. It's proof, Angela, she's not gone."

"Maura, open your eyes and look at me." Angela's voice is firm, so the doctor is shocked to see the tears in the older woman's eyes. When Maura starts shaking her head Angela lets the doctor's hand go and captures her face gently between both hands. "You have something very special with my Janie."

"She told me she loved me. She promised she would never leave me."

"Honey, you are like my daughter. We're watching you waste away, but you can't just give up in spite of how much it hurts. We all love you; you can't leave us." Maura closes her eyes abruptly. No one is listening to her; they're all coddling her and her hallucinations. If she can't find a sympathetic party in Angela Rizzoli, the doctor is on her own. She pulls back and this time the older woman lets her go.

"I'm going to go upstairs and lay down. What time- " Angela cuts her off before she can ask when the wake begins.

"You're family so there is no time. You're coming with us. The boys will be here by 5:00."

The doctor just nods, rising off the couch and grabbing her bag on the way to her room. If no one will believe her, she'll just keep Jane to herself. She wishes she were back at Jane's apartment but returning there at this point just isn't practical. Ever pragmatic, even mid-breakdown, she attempts to recreate a night in with the detective. She grabs her remote and clicks on the television, changing the channel from Discovery Health to ESPN. Then she digs through Jane's drawer (one of her own, emptied so that Jane had a place to put things she would normally leave lying about the bedroom), finding two tank tops and a v-neck tee. She buries her face into the cotton, relieved that these pieces hadn't been through her wash machine or dryer. They still smell like the detective's Downy fabric softener and pressboard dresser. Leaving her heels in the middle of the floor, the doctor curls up in the center of her bed in her clothes with all of her pillows piled around her. She lays the three shirts out on the pillow in front of her and rests her cheek against the fabric. When she closes her eyes she tries to imagine herself tucked up under Jane's arm, her head softly rising and falling on the detective's chest as Maura listens to her breathe.