Maura waited a few moments, wanting to enjoy the look on Susie’s face before it was overwritten with concern again. Although it was true that she had a plan, it wasn’t a great one, and she definitely had more questions than answers at this point.
Maura didn’t let go of Susie’s hand as she started to talk, needing the comfort as much as the battered criminologist seemed to. “Now, before we get to the plan, tell me if you found anything in Jane’s samples.”
Susie straightened in her seat, her face relaxing as she returned to talking about her familiar science. “I didn’t get far.”
A spasm of pain crossed Susie’s face as soon as she croaked out the short sentence and was immediately reminded of her broken jaw. Maura realised the problem and cringed. “I’m sorry Susie, I forgot about your jaw. Please, don’t try to speak. Type it out on your phone instead”
Susie nodded gratefully and pulled out her phone, opening up a note file and typing furiously. She handed the phone over to Maura and sat back to wait for her to absorb the information.
‘I managed to complete the initial analysis on the blood, which turned up a few oddities. I ran the sample through the mass spectrometer, and found varying concentrations of multiple elements not usually found in blood. I couldn’t match the combination to anything in our database, but I only had time to try the database at the lab, I didn’t get a chance to compare the combination with any external databases. I also discovered that the blood had a very low white cell count. I had just started a closer examination of the cells when Detective Lucas found me and I had to stop.’
Maura flinched slightly at the mention of Lucas. “What happened?”
Susie took the phone back, again hammering away at the screen.
‘I don’t know how, but he knew I was working on something that wasn’t for a case. He came into the lab and walked straight over to me and pulled me away from the microscope. I was surprised to see him, since I thought he’d disappeared. He demanded that I leave with him immediately, and put his hand on his gun. I decided to try to get away from him on the way out of the station, since there was nobody else in the labs that could help. I packed up the samples, since we agreed that nobody else could be allowed to see them. Unfortunately he dragged me through the morgue loading dock, and we didn’t see anyone else. When we got to his car, he grabbed the samples out of my hand and demanded I get in. I tried to hit him and get away, but he was expecting me to try something. He hit me across the jaw, then pushed me into the back of his car while I was stunned. By the time I realised what had happened we were already moving, and he had the sample with him in the front.’
Susie handed back the phone, looking downtrodden after remembering her experience with Lucas. Maura looked at her with sympathy after she finished reading, having a new appreciation for Susie’s bravery. The young criminologist hadn’t been exposed to much violence first hand in her time with BPD as far as Maura knew. In fact, the incident of Maura threatening her during a mental breakdown was, to her knowledge and shame, the only violent trauma Susie had endured prior to yesterday.
Maura couldn’t help the quaver in her voice, her hand finding Susie’s again and squeezing for emphasis. “I realise it must have been terrifying to be assaulted by someone who is supposed to protect you, but you need to remember that you are okay. He can’t hurt you here, and we aren’t going to give him any reason to hurt either of us anymore.”
Susie nodded, still looking glum. Maura sighed, realising Susie wasn’t scared. She was disappointed in herself. “Please listen to me. We’re the only ones who have any idea that there is anything amiss, and we have to do everything we can to help Jane. And that’s exactly what you’ve done. You tried to fight back against Lucas, even though he is twice your size. You did everything you could to stop him taking those samples. It’s not your fault that he was in a superior tactical position. It’s not your fault that he somehow knew about the lab tests. None of this is your fault.”
Maura paused to check that Susie was listening, and was encouraged to see that her shoulders starting to lift out of their dejected sag. “Now, I’m going to be stuck here for a while, which means you’ll be taking point. And I know you can do it, because you’ve been covering for me and saving me for years now. I wouldn’t still be here if not for your support. I need you, Susie. Are you up to it?”
Susie nodded, her face lightening as she seemed took Maura’s words to heart. Maura smiled at her encouragingly, relieved that she had gotten through to her.
Susie frowned suddenly, reaching for the phone eagerly as she remembered something. ‘I don’t know if this is important. When I realised where Lucas was driving us to I started to panic. I remember looking around the car for anything I could use to get the upper hand when we got to your house, but there wasn’t anything in the back seat, and his car had a grill separating the back seat so I couldn’t reach him. But I did notice that he was following a GPS tracker. It didn’t look like he’d programmed in your address, he was just following a dot on the map. When we reached your house and he realised where we were, he rolled his eyes and muttered something. I think he might have been tracking Jane.’
Maura’s eyes grew wide at the realisation. “So possibly one of her implants contains a GPS tracker.”
Susie nodded frantically. Maura frowned, confused as to why nobody else had come looking for Jane if it was as easy as following a GPS signal. Jane had seemed so sure that somebody would be after her when Maura had asked.
When Maura glanced up she realised Susie was frowning as well. ‘So do you have any idea what happened yesterday? With Jane suddenly growing hair and her scars disappearing?’
Maura realised she hadn’t filled Susie in on the amazing discoveries she’d made that night after Susie left. She had no idea about the broken bottle and subsequent revelation of Jane’s accelerated healing, or Frankie’s visit and the possible implications.
As she filled Susie in, Maura reflected back on the confrontation with Frankie. She still couldn’t believe that Frankie would be involved in hurting Jane, but on the other hand she did believe Jane’s response to him. Something had happened in the past four years to make Jane believe that Frankie was a mortal enemy. The reaction had been strong enough to convince Maura that there was something behind it, and until she knew the reason for Jane’s fear and anger, Frankie couldn’t be trusted near Jane, or Susie for that matter.
Susie had frowned in disbelief at each new disclosure, her feelings apparently similar to Maura’s both on Frankie’s involvement and on the unknown forces behind Jane’s unnatural healing ability. She lifted the phone again, her expression serious and thoughtful as she composed her message.
‘There must be something in Jane’s blood that allows her to heal. That would explain the elevated levels of those foreign substances. It also explains why I couldn’t find a match. If we’re right about Jane being held by an illegal and secret group, they wouldn’t have their miracle healing ability on file. I didn’t see anything unusual under the microscope though, so I don’t think Jane’s blood cells have been changed, there is just something extra in there.’
Maura nodded in response to Susie’s conclusions. “I think you’re right. The low white cell count could indicate that Jane has been on some kind of immunosuppressant. It might have been necessary to prevent her body rejecting whatever they added to her blood. Did you get to do any drug screening?”
Susie shook her head in response, which didn’t surprise Maura. They both frowned as they contemplated the information available, knowing that they didn’t have enough to draw any conclusions. It seemed as though they had hit a dead end unless they could obtain some more samples.
Maura tried to move on to something more certain and positive. “Alright, let’s try to work out what to do next. As you know, I’ve exhausted all avenues of investigation that were open to me. However, now that we know Detective Lucas is heavily involved with Jane’s disappearance, we might be able to use him to find out what happened to her.”
Susie nodded, her expression growing determined in response to Maura’s idea. “What we need to do is try to trace his movements over the last four years. We can start around the time that Jane disappeared.’
Her expression clouded as she thought back to that day. “I don’t remember if he was involved in the investigation or the bomb threat that day. Do you happen to recall if he was officially involved? Everything gets a bit fuzzy for me after Jane and I went into the building.”
Susie shook her head sadly, the sympathy on her face clear. Maura cleared her throat and kept talking. “Well, hopefully we can find out where he was and get a lead.”
The pain in her shoulder was starting to bother her again, the sharp pain a reminder of the injuries she had suffered during the collapse of the building four years ago. Her leg ached slightly as well, a possible psychosomatic flare-up in reaction to her memories. The old badly healed injury usually didn’t hurt unless she’d been standing for long periods, but now it throbbed in concert with her newly injured shoulder.
Maura gritted her teeth and resolutely pushed past the pain to continue formulating a plan. “In order to do this, we’ll need to get some help. We need to get access to the records from the investigation, and we’ll probably need video footage from cameras around the area. I have some of that from my initial investigations, but since I wasn’t focussed on Lucas before I will most likely be missing information.”
Susie sat back in her chair, her face crinkling in concentration. She suddenly sat up, grabbing her phone again. ‘What about Nina? She would have the skills to get the information, and she could probably manage to get it without anyone noticing.’
Maura nodded slowly, realising Susie’s suggestion had merit. “You’re right, she would be perfect. Are you friends with her?”
Susie’s face fell, answering Maura’s question wordlessly. “Me neither. I suppose we’ll just have to appeal to her sense of justice and hope that she believes us.”
Susie gave Maura a disbelieving look, which made Maura smile a little. Susie had become a lot more sarcastic over the last few years, again filling a hole that Jane had left in her life. It had taken a while, but they had developed a quirky set of in-jokes that would baffle any outside observer. Once Susie relaxed around Maura and started treating her like a person instead of a mentor and hero, their contented companionship had become a great source of comfort for Maura, keeping her from falling back into her melancholic and isolationist ways.
Susie had also become far more comfortable with telling Maura when she was being ridiculous. She was correct about Nina; they would definitely need a better argument as to why she should help them investigate a fellow detective than ‘he’s a bad man, because we said so’.
The two sat in silence for several minutes, both unable to think of any convincing facts that they could use to win Nina’s trust and cooperation. Simply asking would most likely be met with refusal, since to the outside world Detective Lucas was a good detective who had just managed to find and recover one of their missing people. Nobody was likely to believe that he had manipulated Jane, injured Maura and Susie, and most likely contributed to Jane’s disappearance in the first place.
They also had the disadvantage of Frankie’s involvement. He would be able to corroborate the story of the insane woman attacking them, since he had actually seen Jane in a violent state earlier that day and probably had the bruises on his neck to prove it. Whether he was involved in hurting Jane or not, he would definitely be a hindrance to any story Maura told that was different to the official story.
Maura shifted slightly, wincing as her shoulder protested angrily. The conversation with Susie had distracted her from the pain, but the silence was allowing the pain to return to the forefront of her attention. She squirmed in the bed, trying to find a comfortable position, and her eyes fell onto Susie’s phone.
Maura gasped as she realised she’d forgotten one of her planned actions for the morning. “Susie, I need your phone for a moment.”
Dialling quickly, Maura hoped that she wasn’t too late. Fortunately Angela picked up after the third ring with an uncertain greeting.
Maura realised she probably didn’t recognise Susie’s number. “Angela, it’s Maura.”
Before she could get another word out, Angela was off and racing. “Maura! Where have you been! Have you heard, one of the detectives found Janie! She’s here! She’s alive! You were right, she’s alive! Where are you? You need to get to the station, she’s here!”
Maura impatiently waited for a gap in the torrent of words. “Angela! I know, I saw her yesterday. She was actually at my house.”
Angela’s reply was loud and outraged. “You knew? How could you not tell me! I only found out a few hours ago! You knew yesterday? How…”
Maura knew she needed to jump in before Angela hung up on her. “I’m at the hospital!”
There was dead silence at the other end of the phone. Maura couldn’t be sure that Angela was still on the line until her voice exploded out of the speaker once again. “Hospital? Why didn’t anyone call me? What happened?”
Maura was relieved to hear concern in Angela’s voice. “I was shot yesterday, that’s why I couldn’t contact you. I’m okay, there shouldn’t be any permanent damage, but I lost a lot of blood at the time and passed out. When I woke up in the hospital I didn’t have my phone.”
There was rustling on the other end of the line. “Maura, I’m going to come and make sure you’re okay. Where are you?”
Maura felt a moment of panic. “No! I’m okay, Susie is with me. I would much prefer for you to stay with Jane and make sure she’s alright.”
Angela sighed, the indecision evident in her voice. “I think she’s okay, she’s still in with the detectives being interviewed. I haven’t even seen her yet. Frankie called me a couple of hours ago, but I haven’t seen him either.”
Maura tensed, her gaze finding Susie’s worried eyes. “So you don’t know if she’s okay? You don’t know who she’s with?”
Angela sounded worried now. “No, I don’t. Maura, I need to go. I’ll call you later.”
The line went dead. Maura frowned at the phone, wondering what to do now. She didn’t trust anyone at the station except Angela to look after Jane’s best interests right now, and if she was being kept away from Jane, it didn’t bode well for Jane’s well-being.
Susie grabbed the phone urgently, clearly having heard both sides of the conversation since Angela had been practically yelling. ‘I need to get to the station. I can try to make sure Jane isn’t left alone with Lucas or Frankie. Hopefully I can get Mrs Rizzoli to help.’
Maura hesitated, considering their options, before nodding. “Make sure you don’t antagonise anyone. I don’t want you getting hurt. Hopefully as soon as Angela talks to Jane she’ll realise she isn’t acting like her old self, and she’ll believe us. But don’t let her get involved in our investigation of Lucas. We just need her to keep Jane safe.”
Susie nodded, grabbing her phone and running out the door.
Maura couldn’t help but slump back in the bed. Without Susie around, she didn’t need to keep up her façade any longer. She was exhausted, mentally and physically.
The situation was just so unfair. For four years, she had hoped to find Jane, alive and well. She had reconfigured her life to compensate for Jane’s absence and struggled along, but she knew that if Jane ever came back she would be better. Just by her presence, Jane had always made her better.
The reality was far different than she had imagined. Instead of relief and joy, Jane’s return had brought pain, confusion and uncertainty.
Maura’s exasperation and frustration let the exhaustion press down on her, crushing and suffocating her like the concrete wall that had torn Jane from her. Maura was powerless to stop her mind from reliving that day, the sound of shrieking metal combined with her own desperate screams as vivid now as they were four years ago.
Her shoulder was throbbing sharply, a reminder that stress and movement inhibited the healing process. She resolutely dragged her mind away from the painful memories, breathing slowly to relax her tense muscles. She was only partially successful.
Maura sighed in resignation. If she was going to be any good to Jane, she would need to heal.
Pushing the nurse call button, Maura finally conceded that she needed some pain medication. She would ask for the lowest possible dose, which would hopefully allow her to sleep until Susie came back, or until she heard from Angela.
It took less than a minute after the medication was administered for her to sink into an uneasy sleep.