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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.

“DOC!”

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 --”

“PHONE NOW!”

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.

Chapter Text

She hears Jane's scream and its abrupt ending as the thug behind her jabs his knife into the detective's back. Maura's unsure as to why her body feels like it's been buried in sand, or why the scene in front of her is warped, as if she's seeing it through a witch ball. Her head throbs something wicked, and she sees Jane struggling forward to get to her. Maura pushes up onto her elbows and blinks, trying frantically to clear her head. When she looks again, Jane is slumped over and terrifyingly still.

"Jane?" Her tongue feels thick, so she works it around in her mouth, practicing, before she tries again.

"Jane..." The detective doesn't move, just groans. Fear clenches around Maura's heart and she fights to focus her eyes enough to see that the small black puddle forming under Jane's crumpled form is coming from Jane.

"Jane, you're bleeding." Maura pleads with her body to please move so she can find the wound and staunch the flow of blood. Head spinning she manages to sit up and swallow down the consequential wave of nausea. "Can you reach back and …and- ?" The rest of her thought floats just out of reach.

"Dammit," she swallows again and closes her eyes before scooting herself forward, "Answer me, Jane Clement-."

"Reddish-brown stains…" The whisper is weak, but it cuts through the ringing in Maura's ears. "You don't know that it's blood." The doctor smiles despite her worry, some relief coming from the fact that she'll have her hands on Jane in a moment.

"Keep talking to me, sweetheart. I need you to stay conscious." Maura wonders where the rescue workers are; she could have sworn that there were lights that frightened off their attackers. "Janie?" The diminutive comes out before she can censor herself, but the detective doesn't respond. Maura's head throbs harder as she pushes herself across the three feet that separate her from the shallow-breathing silence. When she finally musters the strength and stomach to pull Jane up into her lap she gasps and her stomach turns.

"Oh no oh no oh nonono. Please not the renal artery." Maura pleads with an entity that, up until now, she was sure didn't exist. Her head is still spinning, and she struggles out of her sweater and presses it against the profusely bleeding wound. The doctor turns her head and tries to focus down the street. Still no sign of help and her phone is in her purse back where she had fallen. Panic is starting to set in.

"Help!" Maura shouts as loud as she can, her voice echoing off of buildings and the inside of her skull. She just manages not to vomit.

"Jane…Janie. Come back to me please." The ME pulls one hand from her saturated sweater and digs her knuckle into Jane's sternum. The detective groans and slowly opens her eyes. They are huge, and unfocused, and so hauntingly dark in her pale face. Jane's lips move, but Maura can't make out what her friend is trying to say. The doctor is struggling to stay in control; panic and despair cloud her already fuzzy mind and she realizes she's slowly losing consciousness herself. She hears it then, a low voice in the distance.

"Maura?"

"Help…please help. Over here!" It's little more than a whisper, a last ditch effort before her eyes close of their own accord. "Don't you leave me, Janie. I love you…don't leave me alone."

"Maura….wake up."

The M.E. sucks in a gasping breath and sits up in confusion. Barry Frost stands in the doorway to her office, a concerned frown marring his handsome features. He hesitates, then shakes his head and crosses the threshold to come and squat down by her elbow and take her hand in his. Maura stiffens, still in the throes of the dream, and pulls her hand away. Barry sighs.

"You haven't been sleeping." His tone isn't accusatory and his eyes are soft. Maura doesn't even need to make eye contact to see that she's not the only one who has been awake for the past three days. Korsak and Frost haven't left the station, working frantically to find the assailants who put Maura in the hospital for two days and who killed Jane.

Jane's dead.

Maura draws a shuddering breath through the tears choking her throat and shoves the thought away. She still can't believe it; still refuses to believe it. Jane said she would never leave her almost exactly a year ago today. She promised with Korsak as witness. There have been moments over the past three days where Maura wants to demand that Vince do something, a promise is a promise, and Jane should be made to hold up her end of the deal. The doctor can hear Frost talking to her softly, but it's as if he's speaking a language that Maura doesn't understand. The words wash over her but nothing registers.

"You need to go home, Maura, get some sleep."

"I can't. I can't leave her here alone."The 'like she left me' is left unsaid.

Frost shakes his head again, desperation staining his normally calm demeanor. The M.E. hasn't slept more than an hour or two since she left the hospital AMA after calling Frost to pick her up. Her concussion was severe enough that the neurologist had told her to avoid reading, her computer, the television, and light. He had heard the man almost beg Maura to stay, going so far as to follow her in the wheelchair to the doors, but she'd been adamant. It took two days for Maura to become cognizant enough to ask to sign the AMA paperwork, and those two days were two days too long. She needed to get back to Jane.

"I'll stay here with her." When the doctor shoots him a sorrowful glance, he clenches his jaw refusing to back down. "Maura. I'll stay right in the morgue if you want, or I can run reports from your desk. You need to go home and sleep." Frost chokes over his words and tears immediately fill Maura's eyes. "The viewing and wake is tomorrow and Angela needs you there."

Maura just nods, not trusting herself to respond without breaking down. Jane would have trusted Frost, so Maura should too. She turns and pulls her purse from the bottom drawer and realizes her car isn't here. She looks up, distressed at not being able to fulfill even this simplest of requests, and sees Barry holding his keys out to her.

"Take mine and leave the keys in your mailbox. I'll have Vince come down here in a couple of hours and Frankie can bring me to your house."

"I'll come back and relieve Vince. What time is Frankie coming to get you?" Her voice is shot through with exhausted determination. Barry wants to shut her down, to insist she stays home until morning, but he knows it would be futile. He and Korsak are crushed by the loss. Angela, Frankie, and Tommy have all lost a part of themselves, but Maura, all that Maura had was Jane.

"He'll be here in about five hours. He's with Tommy and Angela trying to locate Frank Sr."

Maura hears what Frost can't say: that they're also making all the funeral arrangements and calling relatives, that Angela is popping Ativan and Tommy has turned back to the bottle, and most of all, that Frankie has big shoes to fill without Jane to turn to for guidance.

"I'll be back before then."


Maura is gone for all of 3 hours. Her head throbbed too much to sleep and Bass was so put off by her mood that he wouldn't come out from under the table. She left him lotus leaves and fresh water, then called a pet-sitter to care for him for the next two days. He doesn't deserve to suffer just because she is.

She's gotten braver over the last hour, actually making it out of her office to hover by the swinging morgue doors. Vince left without further argument after his initial feeble protest about her early return. He'd looked even worse than Frost, but Maura is sure she will find him at his desk in the bullpen, mainlining coffee and shuffling through CIs. They all are trying to numb the pain with exhaustion, and by the looks of them, it's not been successful. Maura takes a deep breath and pushes through the physical manifestation of her trepidation.

The pain is so sharp in her head that Maura cannot stop the moan that escapes. Jane should be sitting on one of the dead-people tables with her arms braced on the edge and her long legs swinging, not laying in the dead-people coolers, still and silent. Maura presses the back of her hand against her lips as the moan devolves into a sob. Her feet (in plain ballet flats, she's lucky to have even remembered shoes) are glued to the floor, but she just has to see, has to check that Jane was taken care of in Maura's absence. JR7613 in stark black Sharpie on a white unlined index card, but she doesn't need the tag to know exactly where Jane is. They are opposite poles inevitably drawn together; Maura finds herself holding her breath and standing in front of the square metal door. If she doesn't open it now, she'll lose her nerve, so she bites her lip, closes her eyes and pulls the handle.

It's through muscle memory that she reaches out blindly and tugs the drawer. Another deep breath, 1, 2, 3…but still she stands locked into the longest blink of her life.

"Maura, open your eyes." That voice, Maura almost falls to her knees. Her imagination has never been this vivid. "Can you hear me? Open your eyes and look at me."

"This is not real. You're dead." She's losing her mind. Head trauma, sleep deprivation, and grief are causing hallucinations. Maura counts quickly in her head. Four days is generally what it took before the hallucinations set in, she's not noticed any slurred speech. Unfortunately, these symptoms could also be attributed to her head injury.

"Please, sweetie, I'm right here. Open those beautiful eyes." And Maura cannot resist any longer. The heartbreak can't be any greater than when she woke up, alone, in the hospital room. Then she raises her eyelids and Jane is there, eyes open and a tender smile on her pale, pale face.

"H-how…" Maura is at a loss.

"Honey, there is so much I want to tell you. So much I should have said a long time ago, but I just didn't want to rock the boat, you know?" Jane's eyes are earnest, and she turns her head a bit to look at Maura, but makes no move to sit up. The doctor is relieved. It's hard enough to reconcile that warm, smoky voice with cool, pale skin so she's sure she would suffer a mental break if she were to see Jane's chest rise and fall with a Y incision.

"I d-don't understand." Maura stammers out, her usual eloquence lost to shock.

"Listen, Maur. I don't have a lot of time, but I want you to know that I love you. I love you so much, and I'm not going to leave you, ok? I promised and I always keep my promises." Jane's voice is choked with emotion, and Maura feels her eyes well up. "I'm sure you're blaming yourself, but nothing that happened is your fault."

The doctor can only nod.

"I'm going to go talk to the powers that be and tell them I can't leave you; that I have to stay here and make sure you are taken care of." Jane's eyes track down across Maura's wrinkled clothes and flats, "Since it's obvious you aren't able to do it yourself."

Maura feels the slight tug of a smile, despite herself. It is just too much like Jane to be anything but. She still can't speak, hoping that their uncanny mental connection will communicate to Jane just how much she is feeling.

"First though, I need one thing from you, Maur. Just one tiny thing. I need you to wake up."

"What?" Ice blooms around the doctors heart. This is too real to be a dream. "No, no. Nooo!"


She comes to in her office on the couch with her head shaking to emphasize her denial. Too real, too real, too real. Maura crosses the room, unsteady even in her flat shoes, and dials Frost with trembling hands. He doesn't even manage to greet her before the words tumble from her lips.

"Janie's not dead. You need to come down here. She was talking to me and she told me she couldn't leave me and that nothing that happened was my fault."

"Maura? Hang on. We'll be down in a minute." She doesn't bother to end the call, instead she drops the phone on her desk and starts pacing the length of her office, eyes glued to the wall of coolers through her window. The bell on the elevator rings, and she can hear their shoes as the men come down the hall. At the knock on her open office door, Maura whirls around and sees that Frost has brought the cavalry. Barry is at the head of the group, but Korsak, Cavanaugh, and Frankie follow close behind. Maura can't look away from Frankie's gaze, his sad brown eyes so much like his sister's.

They think she has finally cracked, she can see it written all over their faces. She looks from Vince to Barry to Sean and finally to Frankie and she feels her heart fall and shoulders sag. She knows she does sound ridiculous, but it was just so real.

"Dr. Isles, we need you to go home and get well. You have suffered a serious injury, but we need you back with us when you're doing better." Cavanaugh is being as gentle as he can while still sounding firm. Maura nods her head, resigned.

"Maura, I'm going to go check on her for you, alright?" Vince's voice is gruff but soft. "Do you want to come?"

Maura shakes her head and moves closer to Frankie, subconsciously seeking comfort from the closest thing to Jane that she still has. The Rizzolis must all be divining rods for emotion, because he slips his arm around her shoulders and pulls her against his side. They watch Korsak cross over to the notecarded door, but when his hand grasps the handle Maura closes her eyes and buries her face into Frankie's chest. She hears the door pop open, and the drawer slide out, then a sob that she recognizes as her own. Both of Frankie's arms wrap around her, crushing her against his shaking frame, making her pulse thunder in her head. Maura is grateful for the distraction that the physical pain brings. Frankie is crying now too, she can feel his tears soaking through the hair at the crown of her head. She wraps her arms around his waist and says the only thing that expresses all of the emotions swirling inside her.

"I'm sorry. I'm so, so sorry."

Chapter Text

That's all Maura can see is their faces. They are grieving Jane, yes, but some of it is for her, a beautiful mind- broken. She doesn't want their pity, or even their commiseration. They can't even begin to understand exactly what it is that Maura has lost. Jane wasn't just a friend, or a partner (regretfully Maura thinks, in work only), or a sister; Jane was Maura's whole world. How dare she make herself so important? How dare she make Maura, who before was perfectly content to be alone, so reliant on her friendship? How dare she make Maura fall in love? The doctor slides the Prius into a parking space and slams her hands on the steering wheel when she realizes that, in her distraction, she drove to Jane's.

"Dammit."

The righteous anger that Maura's managed to drum up melts away, leaving a Jane-shaped hole in her heart. She's just so tired and if nothing else at all, Maura has always trusted her mind when it came to making decisions. Her subconscious brought her here, who is conscious-Maura to argue?

"You're rationalizing with yourself." The blond mutters as she slams the car door and walks up the steps, fishing for the key on her keyring, "And now you're talking to yourself about it." She shakes her head as she climbs the stairs to the apartment, questioning her own sanity.

She hesitates at the door to the actual unit, sucking in a deep breath before pushing the unlocked door open. Old habits die hard so she has to bite her tongue to keep from calling out for Jane, letting her friend know she's arrived. Maura frowns, but notices her heart is lightened a little just being surrounded by everything Jane. She moves to the kitchen, running her hand across a counter still covered in crumbs and a spot of jam. There is such a sense of normalcy that she finds herself poking around under the sink for her gloves while it fills with hot water and bubbles. The doctor is halfway finished with the dishes when she realizes she's washing away what's left of Jane: sticky countertops, half-filled water glasses and empty beer bottles, red-sauce spotted plates. Aghast, she pulls the plug, yanking the gloves off and throwing them back into the disorganized wreck of cleaning supplies and plastic grocery bags that reside under the sink.

Maura grabs her purse off the end table and digs for the bottle of Valium her doctor prescribed during The Great Fight. She couldn't sleep then, and she can't sleep now. One more thing for her to add to the list of can't-do-without-Janes. Clutching the bottle, the doctor grabs a bottle of water out of the fridge and walks back to the bathroom. She decides to spend this last night here where it is guaranteed to be quiet. If she goes home, Angela will turn her mothering over on Maura, and at the rate the M.E. is going she's pretty sure she will say something that would offend. So here she will stay. Maura Isles was alone before Jane Rizzoli appeared in her life, and she survived just fine. She will survive this as well. One more night surrounded by everything but who she really wants and then she will make a clean break. Start over. Something.

Maura dumps the entire jar of lavender bath salts into the tub and fills it so high that she displaces a large amount of the fragrant water onto the floor. She's drank half the bottle of water with one of the pills, and feels some of her tension dissolve into the bath. A movement in the mirror catches her eye. She's surprised that she's not at all surprised to see raven curls and a long, lithe body as it moves around the bed. Maura hates towel lint and smeary steam on the bathroom mirror so she left the door ajar to prevent everything from fogging up (and maybe, just maybe she hoped that Prince Valium would permit a visit from Jane.) She's going to play it cool this time, act like nothing is out of the ordinary. She can't see out into the bedroom, but Maura is pretty sure that Jane is turning down the bed.

"Come on Maur, no turning into a vegetable…" Jane's tone is light and joking, but tight as if the detective is worried Maura will take offense.

The doctor smiles despite herself, and grabs the clean towel she had to search for in the laundry basket.

"I do believe that one turns into a prune when one is in the bath too long, not a vegetable." She's shaking inside but keeps her tone light. The doctor doesn't know what is worse, the first time she realized Jane was gone, or finding and losing her over and over. Maura slips on a BPD tshirt (too tight in the chest) and a pair of shorts (too long) that she found in the basket with the towel and walks out into the bedroom.

Jane is laying on the bed on her side, the duvet tucked up under one arm and her head propped up on her hand. She smiles at Maura and pats the turned down side of the bed.

"You're really here?" Seeing is not always believing the doctor is learning.

"I'm here, now."

Maura slides under the sheet but maintains a safe distance from ghost-Jane. It's much easier to pretend when there's nothing to ruin the illusion. Jane grins and grabs her hand before she can shy away.

"You're warm!" It slips out before Maura can stop it.

"Move over." Jane tugs at Maura's hand, pushing and pulling to try to get the doctor over on her side so Jane can spoon up behind her. Jane's breath stirs the fine hair by her ear; Maura feels goosebumps bloom across her skin.

"Comfortable?" The detective's voice is barely a whisper.

Maura just nods. The lump in her throat prevents her from speaking, and she'll be damned if she starts crying again. Maura has wanted to be wrapped up in long arms and brown curls for the better part of the last three years and her sobbing would break the spell.

"So, I just want to tell you everything I tried to tell you before." Jane begins, "And I know we don't normally do this," The detective lifts their joined hands and waves them above their bodies, "but you told me once that touch is an important part of getting better and you're –" Jane's voice cracks and she takes a deep shuddering breath. "You're going to be fine."

Maura feels a wry smile tug at her lips; she remembers telling Jane about the studies on the healing power of physical contact. Even when the brunette rolled her eyes and cut Maura off, she still listened. Maura isn't sure of the effect on psychological trauma, however. The fact that she's seeing Jane, and feeling Jane, and wrapped up in Jane cannot be a good indicator of her psychological health. It seems almost oxymoronic actually, using Jane's comfort to get over Jane. The doctor wonders if it's not a bit like a heroin addict in methadone therapy. She tries to remember how many pills she has left and if she will be able to lie well enough to get the prescription refilled so maybe she can slowly wean herself from needing her friend.

Jane's thumb is making soft circles on the back of her hand and Maura realizes that the detective is organizing her thoughts. Maura closes her eyes and waits, blissful at the warm body wrapped around her own.

"I can't sleep without you, you know. Knowing I can't call you if I have a nightmare. You can't leave me."

Maura's brow furrows, so into the illusion she doesn't know which one of them spoke. She wrestles against the heavy weight of her eyes as Jane tucks her face to the nape of Maura's neck and presses a soft kiss there.

"I love you, Maura." The detective is whispering again and Maura strains to hear the words that get lost in her hair. "Like, love love you. Like, I want to tell you how smart you are, and how you're the most beautiful thing I have ever seen, and how I want to stay with you forever."

Maura's heart flipflops, so full of emotion that she wonders if she'll drown. "What about now? Can you just stay with me now?" Jane is silent, contemplative. The thumb moving against her hand falls still.

Unease blinks into existence. Jane's saying everything Maura has ever wanted to hear, but there is something hanging in their conversation just out of the doctor's reach.

"They think I'm crazy." Maura's voice is soft, "Because I told them I talked to you. I'm so tired and my head is still fuzzy." Her inflection rises and tightens; she doesn't like this loss of control over something as intimate as her mind. "I don't know what's real anymore. I need to sleep. Stay with me so I can sleep?"

Maura feels Jane's nose nuzzle into the back of her neck and another brush of her lips. "I'm not going to leave until you wake up, Maur." The doctor relaxes, not realizing how nervous she was about Jane's response. The brunette's thumb resumes its stroking and Maura closes her eyes.

"I have something for you in my desk."

"That's sweet of you. I'll get it in the morning."

"Maura, you need to wake up and go get it now."

"I haven't even fallen asleep yet." But the unease is back, this time with a hint of fear. Another kiss, and Jane repeats her request, but now her voice drips with tears. The doctor clutches desperately at Jane's hand.

"Wake up Maur."

Her eyes fly open and she finds herself in just a robe on Jane's bed surrounded by pillows. Anger and sadness join forces to wrest more tears from her already red-rimmed eyes. It was all too real. Jane was warm and soft and not an inanimate pile of pillows. Maura should be wearing a too-tight tshirt and overly long shorts, not Jane's ratty bathrobe. The doctor buries both hands into her hair and pulls, fighting the urge to scream at the top of her lungs.

"She left something for me in her desk. If there's something there, they'll have to believe me." Maura is past trying to keep up appearances. She digs through to the back of Jane's closet where she's hidden an emergency dress and heels. Although Maura is only acting the part, there's no reason to go to the precinct looking as scattered as she feels. It would only confirm their suspicions further.

She takes only a quarter of the time she usually spends on her morning routine: a quick, loose braid, some mascara, and a thorough teeth-brushing. She grabs her purse as she passes through to the door, hesitating in the doorway, taking everything in blurry eyes before she softly pulls the door closed and locks it.

She makes it all the way to her car before the tears start to fall, the fat drops grabbing mascara and pulling it down under her eyes. When she parks at the precinct, she allows herself a minute of hard sobbing against the steering wheel. Then she fixes her make-up with tissues from her bag, tucks a few wayward strands of hair back into the braid, and slams the door to the Prius with an air of finality. Maura Isles may be losing her marbles, but at least she'll look good in the process.

Chapter Text

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.

Chapter Text

She swears she can hear her phone buzzing against her keys deep in the pocket of her purse. She doesn't want to leave this safe place to find it so she just snuggles into her nest and tries to block out the insistent rattling. It stops for a moment and Maura relaxes, pleased at the feeling of control that her subtle rebellion brings. She hears it again and groans softly, pulling the pillow from behind her head and smashing it against her face. The phone cuts off, then immediately buzzes again and Maura throws the pillow across the room and surrenders.

"Ok, ok." She leans halfway off of the bed and rifles through her bag until her hand closes on the offending object, thumbing it on by feel and putting it to her ear.

"Hello?"

"Maur-" At that voice,that growl, the phone falls from her hand and clatters to the hardwood floor. Maura scrambles out of her bed, struggling out from her den of pillows and tangled sheets. She snatches her phone and folds herself on the floor, still clutching one of Jane's shirts.

"Jane?" Her stomach twists in anticipation and anxiety at the same time.

"I'm sorry I wasn't here earlier, but Ma said she'd talk to you and make sure you were alright. I spoke with the powers that be," Maura can imagine the air quotes that Jane throws up around the last four words and feels the corners of her mouth turn up, "and they said that they'll let me stay with you."

The doctor hears a beeping and realizes there's a call on the other line. There is nothing, come hell or high water, that will tear her away from Jane. Even just her voice on the phone is a lifeline.

"You can stay? Janie, you have to call your mother, or Frankie, or Barry. You have to tell them that you're here." Her voice cracks; Maura isn't sure if she wants to laugh or cry. The seesawing from one emotion to another is making her motion sick. "Call them on the way here. Why aren't you here in person telling me this?"

"I love you."

"Jane Clementine Rizzoli, come to my house and tell me that. I want to look in your eyes when I say it back." The phone beeps again, and Maura realizes she's managed to block out the beeping since the first time she heard it. The seed of panic is back. The doctor fights to keep it out of her voice. "I want to see you."

"I'm here, I love you. You'll see as soon as you wake up."

The doctor frowns in confusion. "I'm not asleep, although I was trying really hard…" The phone beeps more insistently and Maura pushes the button to ignore the call in irritation.

"Wake up, Maur, just wake up."

Before she can respond she jolts awake, still curled in a ball with her face buried in Jane's clothes and her phone beeping angrily near her outstretched hand. Disoriented, Maura grabs her phone and flicks it awake. There are four missed calls from Angela and when Maura pages to her received calls, the last is from Jane. She bursts into tears at the impossibility and frustration. She has less than thirty minutes to get ready for the viewing, undoubtedly the reason Angela was calling her. She types out a message as well as she can through blurry eyes, letting the older woman know that she would be ready to go by the time they arrive. She debates mentioning the call from Jane, but decides against it. The Jane that she sees and hears and touches is hers alone now. Maura has never believed in anything that couldn't be supported by facts; and of course it is Jane that has shaken her foundations. No one else has ever had that much power over her.

Sniffing, the doctor pulls a simple black dress and heels from her closet, but forgoes any make up. Her eyes already refuse to stop leaking, and she doesn't want that slightly unhinged look that comes with mascara running down one's face . Maura knows she looks undone enough, but she hopes the others will be too distracted by their own grief and mourning to notice.

She finishes getting prepared with ten minutes to spare, a personal record and something about which Jane would have teased her endlessly. Jane. Tonight will be Maura's chance to say goodbye, and she realizes that she's not even close to ready. The visits, the conversations, the phone call; Maura is so deep in denial that she's floundering. She sits on the edge of her couch, shoulders hunched and her phone cupped in both hands as she waits for the Rizzolis. The compulsion to confirm, to fact check is too strong and her thumb moves of its own accord, paging down until Jane's name is highlighted then tapping the callback symbol. She doesn't even move the phone to her ear. It is so quiet in her home she's able to hear the ringing from where it sits in her lap. Six rings in and Jane's husky voice lists out options for leaving a voicemail. Maura hangs her head.


The rest of the evening is a blur. Maura tries three different times with Angela, Frost, and Frankie respectively, to go into the funeral home. Each time she gets no farther than the front door before she's hyperventilating and almost overcome by panic. The visitation is opened to the public at 6:00 and from the car the doctor watches the line, populated by officers and civilians alike, snake out of the building and down the sidewalk. She can't do it. Jane may very well reside only in Maura's dreams, so she's not going to take the chance of losing her there as well. She is afraid that if she sees the detective in her uniform in the casket that her subconscious will come to the conclusion that Jane is indeed gone, and Maura's dreams will be as lonely as her waking moments.

It's all over by 10:00, two hours after the posted end time because of the seemingly endless parade of mourners and well-wishers. Maura has curled herself around her phone, hoping against hope that it will ring again before they all come back to the car, but it sits in silent rebellion in her lap. She leans her head against the window, fingers aimlessly tracing the buttons on the face of the phone as she works herself through the first three steps of her nightly meditation. Deep in thought, Maura jumps as the doors to the car pop open and the Rizzolis fold themselves into the vehicle. Tommy is gesturing wildly as he buckles his seatbelt, Frankie's eyes glued to the motion in the rearview mirror as he shoves the key in the ignition and turns it. Angela smiles at whatever story Tommy is reaccounting as her hand slips around the backseat and rests on Maura's shoulder, squeezing softly. Maura puts her own on top of Angela's, grateful for the comfort. The doctor fears all of her friends are so frustrated with her inability to process in a timely manner, everything that has happened that they will decide her presence isn't worth the effort they're having to put in.

"Then she crammed the entire thing in her mouth." Tommy's choked laughter garbles his words and Maura smiles despite the clenching pain around her heart. "You remember, Frankie?! She started choking on the powdered sugar, and when she coughed it puffed everywhere like smoke."

Frankie pounds on the steering wheel in remembered glee. "So ma said she looked like an angry dragon…" At that line Frankie totally loses it for a minute, Tommy clutches his side in silent laughter, and even Angela is chuckling although not with the same abandon as her sons. "Ma had no idea what it meant and Janie just spit half-chewed donut all over the floor and once she could talk again, she threatened all of our lives if we spoke a word about it to anyone."

The laughter tapers off and they all slip into contemplative silence for the duration of the drive. Angela's hand stays on Maura's shoulder and the doctor lets herself relax and close her eyes. She opens them when she feels the car bounce over the entrance to her driveway and is surprised to see that Frost and Korsak are standing, hands in pockets, at the front door. She catches Frankie giving her a side-eye and Tommy is nervously clearing his throat. Angela's hand squeezes again, but this time the gesture makes Maura apprehensive. Frankie stops the car and shifts into park. No one moves to leave the car.

"Is everything alright?" Her voice is hesitant.

"Honey, we are worried about you…" Angela trails off as Maura's face goes blank and unreadable.

"So what is this, an intervention?" She knows her tone is cold and clipped. She just wants to go in her house, have a glass of wine, a sleeping pill, and to dream herself in Jane's arms.

"That wasn't the intention, but if that's what you need." Frankie pops open his door and the other two Rizzolis follow suit. She reluctantly trails behind, stepping up only when she realizes Angela isn't unlocking the door. They part like the Red Sea; their eyes on her as she makes her way to let them in. She swings the door open and hangs her sweater in the closet then moves to the kitchen to open a bottle of wine and grab beers for the boys. As she pulls the last four bottles from the fridge, she mentally adds a new case to her grocery list before frowning. Maura doesn't need to keep beer stocked anymore. It's these little things that keep knocking her off-kilter.

The only open seat is the middle of the couch. They have formed a sort of semi-circle around it: Frost, Korsak, and Tommy forming the farthest part of the arc with Angela and Frankie flanking the open seat on either side. Angela pats the couch cushion between herself and Frankie and Maura sits down, placing all the bottles and glasses on the coffee table.

"Take what you'd like, I didn't know what everyone wanted."

A tense and awkward silence ensues but Maura revels in it. Until Jane, most of her conversations and interactions were filled with such gaps. Maura is queen here as well. Queen of uncomfortable pauses and averted eyes. She feels the control that she thought stripped away return with each pregnant second. She suddenly realizes she is smiling and they are looking at her with even more concern than before. She's having an epiphany here on her couch in her living room, surrounded by the first people that she could ever call friends. She loves them, but she loves Jane more—most. No matter what they ask of her, what they say, she will not let them take Jane away.

"Dolcezza." It worked for her before, so Angela tries the term of endearment again. The older woman is unsettled by the doctor's vague smile and empty eyes. Maura turns to face her but her expression doesn't change. Angela frowns and goes to lay her hand on the ME's knee, but Maura stiffens slightly and shifts out of reach.

"We're all very worried about you. You've not been eating-"

Maura cuts her off, the facts tumbling from her lips before she can help herself, "Loss of appetite is very often a symptom of grief and depression. I've been very careful to continue my vitamin regimen and stay hydrated. I'm fine." She tries to make her expression more genuine, less forced, but by the looks on everyone's face she's not succeeding. Maura isn't used to this much raw emotion directed at her without Jane acting as a transformer, paring down the intensity so the doctor could more easily process. She finds herself spinning the ring on her left hand; her need to self-soothe is overwhelming. Angela mothers the only way she knows, but Maura isn't wired for Rizzoli-level interaction without a buffer.

"Ma told me that you're still seeing Jane." Frankie speaks slowly, like he's weighing every word before letting it leave his lips. "Don't you think that maybe that's a little disconcerting? I mean, I don't know you like Janie did, but I know it's not like you to live in a fantasy world."

"I had proof. I- I have proof." Maura abandons all logic as her heart takes over. "You both saw the chocolates and the card-."

"Maura." Korsak speaks to her like an abandoned animal, "She was always buying you little things that she thought you'd like. You cracked that case wide open. She bragged about you all afternoon." Maura shakes her head but he keeps pushing, "I'm sure she was waiting until Monday to give them to you."

"That doesn't explain how I knew it was there. She came and told me." Suddenly she just feels so tired. Tired of explaining everything, tired of their pity, tired of living in two different worlds: one with Jane and one without. "She called me this afternoon."

Tommy drops his head into his hands but the others manage to control their reactions to this new piece of information. Maura holds out her phone to Frost, "Check the received calls, you'll see it."

He takes it but doesn't bother to look, instead he flips it end over end in his hands before taking a deep breath and blowing it out. "Her phone was stolen in the attack, or after the attack, we're still not sure. You are number one on her speed dial, Maur. Jane's phone called you, not Jane."

"I don't know why you won't believe me, but I don't care anymore. It's like you don't want to entertain the possibility that I might be right." Angela's hand is pressed against her lips, openly grieving for the daughter she lost and the one she is now losing. Maura continues in a voice as dead as she feels. "I'm tired and I want to go to bed. Thank you for your concern. I will be fine, goodnight."

"You can't keep living in denial like this, Maura!" Frankie stands and helps his mother to her feet, slipping his arm around her shoulders as the others rise and move to the door. "She's gone, and we don't want to lose you too."

She doesn't respond, standing instead to walk over and open the door. Frankie pulls Angela past Maura's stiffly standing form, but the older woman stops at the doorway and comes back to cup the doctor's cheeks in her hands and press a kiss to her forehead. "Come back to us, Maura." The ME's eyes close and she tips her head back, but it's too late to stop the tears that she is desperately trying to balance on the rim of her eyelids. The others offer words of support as they file out; Frost going so far as taking her hand and giving it a squeeze.

The house is silent. Maura leans against the door listening to the occasional hum of a passing car, watching the headlights throw shadows across her walls. She is alone. She wants this silence, this alone ,so that she can just be that with Jane. She pushes off of the door and walks back to the bedroom, snagging the bottle of merlot she opened and the glass she'd poured but not touched.

Her nighttime routine is so ingrained that Maura honestly doesn't remember doing any of it. It's like the handful of times she has arrived at work without a single memory of how she got there. She finds herself sitting on the edge of the bed in pajamas staring at the bottle of pills in her hand. She needs Jane like breathing, and Jane only comes when she sleeps. There's a solution here somewhere. She twists open the lid and dumps the contents out onto the duvet, counting the little pale green discs into a small, neat pile. Twenty-eight. Not enough to keep Jane forever…at least, not without help. Her stomach turns as she focuses on the wine she sat on her end table. Liquid courage, now she just needs to be brave enough to have a glass. Jane. And that does it.

She adjusts Jane's shirts back over the pillow on the other side of the bed and pushes the pile of pills aside so she can tuck herself under the comforter. Wine in hand, she raises it in a macabre toast but doesn't let the thought cross her lips. To forever with the woman I love. The first swallow is full and dark with a slightly bitter finish; she doesn't know if it's the wine or her frame of mind. Maura doesn't miss the irony. Another large swallow drains the glass, so she leans over and pours herself another. This time she grabs a handful of the tablets from the pile; she figures she can swallow about half of them with a good gulp of wine. Maura leans back against the pillows, a drowsy smile on her face, wine in one hand, sleep in the other. She realizes, with a sort of contented resignation, that she isn't afraid. She takes small sip of the red, rolling it around in her mouth, determined to enjoy the rest of the bottle as it should be, not as a means to an end. The phone rings and Maura's heart jumps.

Jane.

The ringtone that Jane had programmed for herself into Maura's phone thunders out from the end table and Maura almost drops her glass. She sets it next to the lamp, amazed that it stays upright with how badly her hand is shaking. Her other hand is sweaty; she opens the clenched fist and shakes the pills sticking to her palm onto the pile while simultaneously trying to grab her phone.

"Jane?" She's breathless, anticipating the smoky growl that will respond.

"Maur, what are you doing?" The doctor flushes, of course Jane would know what she was planning.

"I can't do it without you. I need to be with you." She is crying now, and angry that she can't hold herself together long enough to let Jane know how she feels.

"I love you, sweetheart. I miss you." Jane's voice is teary now, but Maura can hear her fighting to hide it. "You can't do this."

"I told them you called. No one believes me." The doctor shakes her head, tears flowing freely now, "They all have each other. They don't have to believe me because they don't need you like I do."

The detective's tone changes, becoming more controlled and determined. "I need you to do something for me-" Jane husks, but Maura cuts her off.

"No!" The doctor grabs a fistful of pills. "Don't tell me that. Don't make me leave you."

"Please, please, Maura." The rough voice breaks, pleading now, "Do it for me. I love you. Wake up, baby."

Maura sobs, shaking her head back and forth furiously. "I don't understand. Don't ask me to leave." Her call waiting beeps, but she refuses to talk to anyone else tonight. The beeping punctuates Jane's begging and Maura finally snaps, flinging her phone into the corner. She wraps her arms around her knees trying to contain the sobs that threaten to rip her in two. The throw must have turned on the speakerphone because Jane's voice still pours from the corner, the detective's sobbing pleas cut by beeps. Maura covers her ears and rocks on the bed. "Wake up, wake up, please Maura."

She is drowning in sound, her chest is so heavy that it hurts to breathe. Jane is just crying now, a tiny muffled sound smothered by the piercing beeps. Fighting to stay with Jane is more than Maura can manage; she is in that space between dream and wakefulness and unconsciousness is slipping through her grasp.

"No!" She wails. "Jane!"

Chapter Text

Awareness seeps slowly back into her body. Maura feels her brow furrow slightly, but her eyelids refuse to budge and her arms are hundred pound weights. She is not home; that much she can tell by the rough cotton sheets and lumpy mattress. Even her brain is sluggish as she tries to piece together the fragments of memory she is able to pull to the forefront. A bottle of wine. Pills, lots of them. And her phone. Jane. Jane crying and begging her to wake up. Beeping, that infernal beeping.

A hospital.

She must have been successful in swallowing some of the pills and a good portion of the wine. That would explain why everything feels so slow, why her lips are cracked and her mouth lined with cotton. The call waiting she didn't answer. Someone must have come back and found her in her bed and had her brought here. She feels tears threaten as she realizes that she has failed yet again. A lifetime of successes, but when it counts, Maura can't seem to get it right. She couldn't save Jane and now despite all her efforts she cannot save herself. The doctor wants to scream and thrash and rip the lines from her arms and the cannula from her nose, but the concentrated effort it is taking to do something as simple as focus on the noises in the room make a mockery of her rebellious thoughts. From her concentration she discovers the beeping continues and strange upon strange, a soft weeping. The noises are muffled, like she's hearing them from the other end of a hallway, but she is hearing them. Maura's eyebrows furrow again and she discovers that she wants nothing more than to crack open her eyes, an eye. Even just one would suffice at this juncture. She needs to let Angela know that she is ok; that the older woman wasn't too late.

Nothing heeds her commands; her eyelids do not so much as twitch and already fatigue threatens the back of her mind. Personal inventory is her next thought. Her arms are by her side, leaden, but her right hand is warmed by another. She focuses her energies into feeling the hand holding hers, long fingers wrapped around her own, a rough thumb gently stroking her last two knuckles. She has held Jane's hand four times: in the Robber waiting for Jane's father to turn on the plumbing, after that terrible day of the building collapse, on the way from the bar that fateful night, and the last time in her dreams. Four times shouldn't be enough to be so familiar, but her heart leaps. Something she did must have worked because it is Jane holding her hand, but it is also Jane crying. Maura hears the beeping increase as her heart starts to race. This cannot be happening again.

Jane's voice catches mid-sob at the increase and Maura feels her hand lifted so Jane can press her lips to the knuckles she's been caressing. The doctor struggles to calm herself before she gives her cognizance away. If the detective knows Maura is aware of her, she'll ask her to wake up and Maura doesn't know to what extremes she will have to go to next to stay with Jane.

"Hey. I'm here." Another press of lips and Maura, despite her attempts at calm, cannot stop the thrill that accelerates her heart again. She feels the detective's lips brush against her fingers as she speaks again. "Look at me, please. Open your eyes."

Maura wants nothing as much as she wants to see Jane, to drown herself in those eyes, but the risk isn't worth losing this time with her. She is slowly coming back into herself though, she feels her fingers reflexively twitch in Jane's then a gasp and squeeze from the detective.

"Maura." Jane's voice catches, beseeching. "Please. God, anything, I'll do anything if you'll just wake up."

The doctor feels that spark of panic, and the beeping reflects the increase. Tears start to pool under heavy lids and her fingers jump again. She is trapped in this waking nightmare.

"Hey!" Jane's voice sheds its tears, changing tactics, now all business. "Stop it! Stop avoiding me, Maura. Wake up! I know you hear me." The doctor feels the grip on her hand tighten and hears a chair scrape the floor as Jane shifts closer. She braces herself for the heartache that will steal her breath when she wakes and Jane is gone. A tear slips from under closed lids, slowly sliding from the corner of her eye.

"Oh sweetheart…oh Maura." Her bravado cracks and Maura feels Jane's free hand cup her cheek and brush away the unbidden tear. "Don't cry. Let me see you, please. Come back to me. Wake up."

The doctor can't fight it anymore. She pushes as much energy as she can muster into lethargically tipping her head from one side to the other, then forcing a whisper.

"No." It is nothing more than a breath.

Jane surges against her, both hands now on her face, thumbs stroking under Maura's shuttered eyes. "I heard you! That's it, sweetie. You're almost here." She is loud, excited, but still choking on tears. The doctor feels Jane feather tiny kisses along the path her thumbs were tracing and then rest her forehead against Maura's. "Let me see those beautiful eyes. Open them, Maur."

"Kiss me." Again, the effort to speak is tremendous. Maura has never been able to deny Jane, and she knows the reverse is true as well. If she must open her eyes and leave the detective again, it will be on her terms, not fate's.

Jane's face is already close; her hands still cradle the doctor's cheeks and Maura can feel those chocolate-brown eyes studying her. "Eyes first, then reward. I need -." And with the last of her syncopal strength Maura wrenches open her eyes, squinting against the harsh light of her hospital room.

"Hey, there you are." The detective's rough voice is a lullaby; Maura basks in its sweetness. "You're back." Jane gives her a tremulous smile, then, choking back a sob, she closes the space between them and presses her lips to Maura's. The doctor feels Jane's lips trembling against her own, the detective's long body shaking with the sobs she's repressing. Maura closes her eyes again, melting into Jane's hands and lips until she feels wetness on her cheeks. Hazel eyes fly open as Jane pulls away pressing long fingers against her own mouth, tears streaming down her face.

"Don't say it, Jane." The kiss was food and air and life but Maura is already bracing herself for the inevitable. She will do better next time; she'll be her meticulous, thorough self. "Please."

The detective stares in confusion, eyes still bright with tears. "Say what, Maur?" Confusion slips to hurt and Jane wipes at her eyes, face in agony.

"Wake up. Don't tell me to wake up. I can't do it anymore." Maura watches hurt flash to confusion again, then finally realization dawns on Jane's face.

"Oh honey." The detective sniffs, and draws in a shuddering breath. "You are awake. You've been unconscious for -" She pauses, counting in her head, "four days. We didn't know if you were coming back."

The doctor struggles to sit up and Jane moves to her immediately, slipping an arm under Maura's and lifting her. Maura sags back into the pillows behind her. "But, but you were stabbed. I watched you bleed out."

Jane shakes her head as she withdraws her arm and lowers the rail. "I didn't bleed out. He got me, but lost his grip when the blade hit one of my ribs." She moves so that her hip and thigh are against Maura's, balancing her weight on the bed and the foot braced on the floor. "Just some stitches and a band-aid, good as new." The detective sniffs again and draws her arm across her eyes, picking up the last remnants of moisture. "You were already out by then though. He hit you so hard…"

Jane trails off before she starts to cry again, clearing her throat and picking up Maura's hand to play gently with her fingers. "We have them both in lock-up. I need to call Cavanaugh and tell him to switch the case to Robbery. Thank god. Frost has been lining everything up alone."

Maura isn't processing at top speed, but she doesn't miss the fact that they were treating the case as a homicide.

"You were stable, but the situation was touch and go." Jane takes another deep breath, collecting herself as best she can. "But then this morning, you started to decline and I just, I didn't know what to do. You weren't here to tell me…"

The door opens, but Jane doesn't move from her intimate position nor does she drop Maura's hand. Angela pokes her head in the door, then seeing Maura's open eyes, shoves through the opening dragging Frankie and Tommy behind her. If the Rizzolis are surprised by Jane's display of affection, they don't show it.

"Maura! Dolcezza! You're awake!" They crowd around the bed, jostling with one another for position. They all begin talking at once and Maura, overwhelmed, squeezes Jane's hand.

"Ma, enough for a minute. I've not even called the nurse." Maura watches as the detective raises an eyebrow at her younger brothers. They lean forward in turn, Frankie first then Tommy, and gently kiss Maura's cheek both saying how happy they are to have her back and that they're going to go find a nurse. They file out before the doctor has a chance to say anything.

"Don't ever scare us like that again." The older woman busies herself straightening Maura's blankets. Her voice catches on the words and she tries to hide it with a stilted laugh. "Now, at least, I can make Jane go home and shower."

"Ma, stop." The tone is biting, but the smile that follows is indulgent. "It was probably my smell that brought her around anyway. You should be happy I stink." Jane's fingers tighten around Maura's for a moment. "Plus, Maura hasn't showered in 4 days either."

The doctor flushes at both comments. She is still waiting to jerk awake and for everything to be just another dream. Jane's head drops to lean against hers and out of the corner of her eye Maura sees Angela smile as she picks up her purse.

"You two are peas in a pod then." The older woman moves around the bed, shoving her purse up on her shoulder. "Maura, we were only able to drag her away three times to eat and it was under protest. She would only go if Frankie, Frost and I stayed. I'm surprised you didn't sit up and scream just from the constant chatter. If it wasn't from us, Jane was running her mouth the whole time."

Jane shrugs sheepishly. "I read that it's possible for people who are unconscious to hear the sounds and voices around them. I just wanted you to know that you weren't alone. I don't know if anything got through."

Maura leans away from the detective to catch her eye, wincing a bit at the stiffness and pain in her neck. Jane immediately slips her hand into the hair at the base of the doctor's skull and gently scratches her nails against Maura's scalp. The blond manages a smile as her eyes fill with tears. "It got through, Jane." She sniffs and leans into the massaging hand, "It all got through."

"I'm going to go see what's keeping the nurse." Angela pats Maura's leg, then Jane's, and moves towards the door. "Glad you're back with us, sweetheart." Maura smiles, raising her hand in a little wave.

"It is odd that no one has been in yet. I imagine being unconscious for four days would warrant a bit more attention." The doctor picks at the hem of the blanket covering her lap. Jane pulls her hand from Maura's hair and covers the fidgeting digits with her own.

"I have Tommy and Frankie running interference. I'm sure Ma is going to go help. I wanted a little time alone with you." Jane brushes her fingers along Maura's knuckles. "So you could hear me then, when I was talking to you?"

"I could."

"There's something I had been meaning to tell you." The detective's lips move against Maura's temple as she speaks, Jane's forehead resting against the crown of the doctor's head. "And that night might have been the night that I was brave enough to say something because you were smashed enough to not remember. But then it was so fast…"

The doctor shivers and her eyes flutter shut; the heart monitor squawks in protest. Jane pulls away, eyes somber but soft. "Time is precious. I've lost enough." A long finger traces up along the bridge of Maura's nose and along a fine, arched eyebrow as she leans in to whisper. "Open your eyes and look at me, Maur. I want to see you this time when I say it."

Hazel meets brown and Jane smiles disarmingly, crooking a finger under the doctor's chin. "I love you, Maura Isles."

There are voices in the hallway, muffled by the heavy door but obviously Rizzoli in tone and emotion. The doctor's reprieve from dealing with doctors and nurses is coming to an end. Despite the nagging pain and weakness, Maura struggles up and leans forward to bury her face in the crook of Jane's neck. She presses her mouth against the life she feels pulsing below her lips.

"There was a song my mother listened to when I was a child, a song sung by Nat King Cole. I know you tease me about being the dumbest genius you know, and I didn't realize until everything happened that you were right." Maura takes a deep breath, the jazzy piano and guitar riffs resurfacing in her mind. "I've gone to the best schools, I've had some of the best instructors in the world, I've been able to wrap my mind around concepts that a majority of the population cannot fathom."

She pauses, overwhelmed with the realization that she finally understands the song that confounded her for so long. "I finally understand what he was singing." The doctor pulls away just far enough to rest her forehead against Jane's. "The greatest thing you'll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return."