Maura could feel a panic attack coming on and focussed on trying to calm her breathing. A pain in her hand made her realise that she was still gripping the door, the sharp corner of the wood digging into her skin. She couldn’t tear her eyes away from Jane, who was still looking at her without a flicker of recognition. Maura was completely frozen, her breathing still accelerating without her permission.
Abruptly Angela’s demanding voice cut through the tense moment from the kitchen. “Jane, bring that food in here!”
Jane’s eyes flicked towards the interior of the house, freeing Maura from the stunned state she was in. Numbly Maura moved out of Jane’s path as she entered the house and walked towards the kitchen. Maura took a few moments to compose herself, her anxiety lessening slightly as she realised Jane hadn’t seemed aggressive, or even as if she knew who Maura was. She knew it was unlikely that Jane would hurt her in front of her mother, so she didn’t have any reason for fear. No logical reason. Her subconscious seemed determined to protest that conclusion however, with her hands starting to shake and her breath still coming in shallow gasps.
To give herself a moment, Maura glanced at her phone. She hadn’t actually sent the text she had typed out to Susie, and she quickly decided she didn’t need backup. Susie needed to rest, not baby sit her boss. Maura deleted the message, determined that she could do this alone.
Bolstered by her mental pep talk, Maura finally closed the door, took a deep breath and followed her guests into the kitchen. Angela was rearranging her freezer contents to fit all the food containers they had brought, and Jane was standing next to her dutifully passing items when they were requested. Maura felt another spike of fear when Jane glanced at her, and knew that her instinctive reaction would take some time to pass, if ever.
However, being no stranger to fear, Maura resolved not to let it rule her actions. Putting on an air of normalcy, she sat down on one of her kitchen stools and patiently waited for Angela to finish packing the freezer, taking the opportunity to look at Jane properly.
As far as she could see, Jane looked exactly the same as Maura remembered. There were no new lines on her face, her hair was the same length, there were no new scars or blemishes. It was as if she was a moving version of a photo from four years ago. With a frown, Maura noticed that there were also no scars on Jane’s hands. Apparently her existing scars had been covered up as well as the new scars from her captivity. Jane was wearing a skirt and dress shirt with heels, which all seemed completely out of character. Maura couldn’t remember exactly what Jane had been wearing at the hospital, but she suspected it may have been something similar. She filed away all the odd observations for later dissection and returned her attention to the situation at hand.
Angela got the last container into the freezer with a shove, quickly closing the door before anything could fall back out. “There! Okay sweetie, you should be set for the week for food. I knew you’d have trouble cooking for a while. Did you guys catch up a bit?”
Maura looked at Jane, who was frowning at Angela’s question. Angela saw the look and huffed impatiently. “Really you two! I thought you’d be more excited to see each other!”
Jane looked back at Maura, her expression confused. “I’m sorry, I don’t know who this is.”
Maura gasped. The blatant lie had caught her off guard. Even if Jane was claiming amnesia to explain her absence, everyone knew they had seen each other since Jane’s return when Lucas came to her house. She was desperately trying to ignore the deep hurt she was feeling at the notion that Jane didn’t remember her.
Angela looked confused as well. “Jane, this is Maura. You came here with Detective Lucas to help her, remember? She was your best friend.”
Jane glanced between the two women, still not showing any signs of recognition. She looked back at Maura and gave her a tentative smile. “Maura. I apologise, I’m still having issues with my memory. It’s nice to meet you.”
Maura could only continue to gape as Jane stuck out her right hand and shook Maura’s free hand. Angela was still frowning and glancing between them, her face a combination of confusion and frustration.
Maura decided to try a few experiments. Adopting a casual tone, she walked to her fridge. “Would either of you care for a drink? Jane, I have some beer if you would like some?”
Jane shook her head and answered politely. “I don’t really like beer, but thank you for the offer. I’ll just have some water.”
Maura felt a pang, remembering the ecstatic reaction the bald, silent Jane had shown to the taste of beer. She glanced questioningly at Angela, who sported a knowing expression as she nodded at Maura. It seemed as if Angela had noticed the changes in Jane’s behaviour as well, but she would have even less idea than Maura as to the cause.
Angela grabbed a glass, filling it with water and handing it brusquely to Jane. “Why don’t you two go sit on the couch and catch up? I’ll heat up something for you to eat Maura.”
Maura nodded, noticing that Jane had grabbed the glass with her right hand. She retrieved a bottle of water from the fridge for herself and followed Jane to the couch.
Jane had seated herself at the end of the couch not occupied by a pile of journals and was carefully moving things out of the way to give Maura room to sit at the opposite end. Maura just stood and watched Jane’s movements. Her assertive mannerisms had disappeared, with her movements being more feminine and reserved. She was sitting perched on the edge of the couch, her knees primly together and her ankles crossed. When she finished clearing Maura a seat, she didn’t flop back into her own seat and relax. Instead, she took a ladylike sip of her water, returned it gently to the table and then folded her hands across her lap, patiently waiting for Maura to sit.
Maura realised she had been caught staring and quickly moved to sit down. She relaxed back into the couch, her eyes still scrutinising the stranger sitting across from her. She may look like Jane, her voice may sound superficially like Jane, but her personality was clearly not the one Maura remembered and loved. Maura realised she wasn’t scared of Jane anymore in this setting. She was acting more like a caricature of a secretary than a potential torturer. There was the possibility that this persona was an act, but unconsciously Maura had already started to relax in response to the lack of threatening actions from Jane. Maura realised it was too distressing to think of this person as Jane anymore, despite what she looked like, and decided to call her not-Jane in her head for now.
After a few moments of silence, not-Jane decided to speak, her polite tone grating on Maura’s nerves. “So my mother mentioned we used to be friends?”
Maura glanced at the woman in question, realising that Angela was listening in to their conversation as she cooked. “We were certainly friends. We worked together, we did various activities together outside of work, we talked a lot about various subjects.”
Not-Jane nodded, as if they were discussing the weather. “And what is your job?”
Maura took another sip of water, carefully considering her answer since she was still trying to map out the supposed gaps in not-Jane’s memory. “Has anybody told you about your own job?”
Not-Jane nodded and continued cheerfully. “I was a homicide detective. I remember investigating murders and catching bad guys, but unfortunately I don’t remember any of the people I worked with. However, I still remember all the skills I need to do the job.”
Maura couldn’t resist rolling her eyes. Not-Jane’s response couldn’t have sounded more rehearsed if she tried. It was obvious that the specific gaps in not-Jane’s memory had been created in a way that would allow her to return to work in a timely manner. It seemed likely that her convenient memory loss was intended to excuse her behaviour around the people she was supposed to know, so that when she acted completely out of character they would chalk it up to amnesia rather than something more sinister.
Remembering not-Jane’s question, Maura decided to answer factually. “Well we worked together closely. I am the Chief Medical Examiner. I perform autopsies on the bodies and analyse the forensic evidence, your team investigates the murders.”
Not-Jane nodded again. “And why were we friends?”
That question threw Maura for a moment. Nobody had ever bluntly asked why she was friends with Jane, it had always just been true. As she considered the question, she realised there was one card she hadn’t played yet.
Clearing her throat, she glanced at Angela, who appeared to be concentrating on the cooking, before commencing her story. “I can’t speak for both sides, but I’ll try to explain my side, alright?”
Not-Jane nodded politely. Maura continued, her voice soft and reserved. “I come from a fairly unique background. I was an adopted only child, raised by wealthy parents with obligations all over the world. I was well educated, taught to value propriety, manners and appearances. I have above average intelligence and below average social skills, which gives me a tendency to know a lot of facts and have little idea of when it was appropriate to share them. This combination of things made me very odd by society’s standards.”
Maura sighed, closing her eyes to concentrate, and to avoid having to look at not-Jane’s blank expression. “Since I was a young child, my nature and upbringing compelled me to strive for perfection. I was encouraged to always appear happy, to succeed in every endeavour, and to never show weakness. As a child I would rarely tell anyone if I had a problem, I would attempt to solve it myself with logic and reason. I would always do the sensible thing, which ensured that I never needed help from anyone. Later in life I cultivated a persona of professional competence in the work place, and due to my insatiable need to know things I tended to never think of myself as ‘off the clock’. My distant practical persona became my only persona.”
Maura frowned slightly, coming to the more painful part of the explanation. “While this manner of living made perfect logical sense, it created a social dilemma. Because I seemed so impenetrable, so self-assured, my parents maintained a distant relationship with me, thinking that I preferred to be left alone. Any friends I made never became particularly close, possibly because they were intimidated, but more likely because they felt that I was too difficult to get close to. Or that any attempt to connect emotionally would be unwelcome.
“I only started to understand the reasons behind my isolation much later. You see, many different sources emphasise that it’s a great thing to be unique, clever, emotionally strong, beautiful and motivated, but they don’t mention that the cost of being all those things is loneliness. That is something one realises with experience.”
Maura’s breath caught momentarily as she remembered some of the many times she had learned that painful lesson. She battled on past the growing lump in her throat, her emotions growing more turbulent as she continued. “At the time, I could never understand what I’d done wrong to make everyone keep their distance from me. I tried to be the best daughter I could, but my parents only pulled away further. Whenever I tried to befriend someone, it always felt like I was being tolerated rather than accepted. It was an impression that had been reinforced in every relationship I’d experienced. From a young age, if I ever found myself wanting to be closer to someone, I would attempt to find a way to deepen the relationship, only to quickly convince myself that my efforts would be found invasive and unwelcome. I would abandon the attempt and accept that I just didn’t fit in anywhere, and I needed to learn to enjoy being alone as it was to be my lot in life.”
Maura sighed again, her voice growing thicker aunder the weight of bittersweet memories. “Then I met Jane Rizzoli. She was loud, brusque, inappropriate, rough, uncouth, everything I had always been taught not to be. Our first meeting didn’t go well, and by all logical reasoning we should never have connected as friends.”
Maura had to pause to brush away a tear, smiling shakily as she continued. “But Jane somehow saw me. It was as if every other person I’d ever met had seen nothing but imaginary obstacles around me that prevented all access, but somehow Jane had known they were all illusions and walked straight past them. She saw that, despite all my academic and career success, I was desperately lonely and needed a real friend. She involved herself in my life, and got me involved in hers. She didn’t hold herself carefully away, respecting some fictitious personal boundaries that I don’t remember creating. She settled in next to me and got comfortable. And her acceptance somehow showed others that I wasn’t so unapproachable. I started to make other friends, and feel like a part of something. She was like a gateway into the life I didn’t realise I’d been missing, but once I had experienced it I knew I never wanted to go back to the way I used to be.”
Maura swallowed, determined to finish. “The tragic part about losing her was that I hadn’t taken her friendship for granted. I knew exactly how much Jane meant to me. I knew I wouldn’t be the same without her. But just because I knew what I had didn’t make it any easier to lose it. I tried to make other connections and let people in, but I never felt like anyone understood me the same way that she did. I started feeling tolerated again, rather than wanted. It’s not anyone else’s fault, they all try their best, but nothing can compare with the friendship I once had.”
Maura opened her watery eyes, looking at not-Jane to see her reaction. Not-Jane simply nodded yet again, the dispassionate motion almost breaking Maura’s heart. “Alright, thank you for explaining.”
Not-Jane seemed to be finished with the conversation. Maura felt devastated at her lack of reaction. When the bald, silent Jane had first come to her, it had been instances where Maura had been in pain that had brought the real Jane back to the surface. Not-Jane’s reaction to Maura’s emotional explanation indicated that the real Jane was gone.
Maura, feeling desperate, decided to try one last line of questioning. “Jane, do you remember coming to this house with Detective Lucas?”
Not-Jane looked around the room appraisingly. “No.”
Maura frowned. “Do you remember visiting me at the hospital?”
Not-Jane looked at Maura, scrutinising her face as if comparing it to a mental mug-shot. “No.”
As not-Jane returned to staring at her water glass, Maura glanced at Angela to see her frowning at her daughter in confusion, her eyes red as if she’d been crying. Maura realised she must have heard her story, but was too emotionally drained to mind.
Maura mentally shook herself. Revealing so many of her deepest feelings had been difficult, but it had achieved the goal of exhausting the last trigger Maura knew about to bring the real Jane’s personality out of not-Jane. Since it seemed that the real Jane was gone, or at least buried too deep for her to reach, she needed to focus on finding a way to get her back.
From Angela’s reaction and the information she’d previously gleaned, not-Jane’s memories weren’t lining up with the official story. Maura didn’t believe not-Jane was lying, as far as she knew. It seemed as if Lucas had in fact changed not-Jane’s memories since their encounter in the hospital.
The implications were worrying. Maura had originally assumed that Lucas had been following some kind of plan when he brought Jane back, but the evidence indicated a lack of planning and forethought in everything to do with not-Jane. This was why Maura tried not to assume. The story about Jane’s absence was full of holes, not-Jane’s memories weren’t agreeing with their story, her mannerisms and personality were obviously wrong, and she didn’t seem to be under his direct control. A plan would indicate that Jane’s abduction and return had a purpose, but the current situation indicated a lack of forethought and improvising, which could quickly become dangerous.
The only thing that indicated any semblance of a plan was her and Susie’s suspensions from work. It was possible that even if something had gone wrong at Lucas’ level, the upper ranks of the mysterious conspiracy may still be functioning. This could also be dangerous. If someone in a high position decided that Jane, or not-Jane, was a security risk, she and anyone she’d talked to would become targets.
Angela finally made her way over from the kitchen, holding a steaming plate of something. Pretending not to see the distress on Maura’s face, she spoke in a light tone. “Maura, here’s your dinner. I think it’s time we got out of your way. Jane, can you please wash up your glass?”
Not-Jane dutifully made her way to the kitchen. Angela quickly sat down next to Maura and spoke in a harried tone, her concern for Maura now evident. “Maura, you heard her, that’s not Janie! I don’t know what to do, I was hoping that seeing you might snap her out of it, but now I have no ideas! You have to help her!”
Maura nodded earnestly. “I know. I don’t have a plan yet, but I know she’s not herself. Can you just keep making sure Detective Lucas isn’t alone with her?”
Angela looked determined as she nodded. “Got it. You think he’s done something to her?”
Maura thought about skirting the question, but decided to go with as much truth as she could. “I do. I’m trying to look into it, but I’m not sure who to trust besides you and Susie. I think we need to protect Jane from everyone else until we figure out how to proceed. As you may have heard, we’ve both been banned from entering the BPD, but we’re working on another idea.”
Angela looked forlorn, then started to bristle. “I can hardly believe this is happening. If I ever see that slimy….”
Maura leaned forward and cut her off. “Angela, you can’t let on to Lucas that you suspect anything. You need to stay safe, and that means not provoking him or making him see you as a threat.”
Angela considered for a moment before answering. “That means you too missy. You’re too much like Janie. You’ll throw yourself into danger to protect everyone else. Promise you’ll be careful?”
Not-Jane picked that moment to return from the kitchen. Angela glanced at her and quickly stood up, giving Maura’s hand a squeeze, accompanied by a pointedly stern glare, before dragging her daughter towards the door. “Give me a call if you need anything Maura!”
Her tone had been light, but Maura had heard the underlying tension. Angela had been dealing with not-Jane for days now with no answers, and the strain that it was putting on the woman was starting to show.
Maura slowly ate her dinner, determined not to let her emotions drag her into a depressed state, and thought through her interactions with Jane. It was obvious that her friend was absent from her own body. It had been like talking to a complete stranger. One who was a shell of a human being. All the spark, the personality, the attitude, the drive, was gone. Not-Jane was someone that Maura would never bother to get to know. There was no substance, nothing of interest, nothing intriguing. She was boring.
The whole encounter had actually been quite anticlimactic. At least in the privacy of her own mind, Maura could admit that she’d imagined lots of what-if scenarios for how her first meeting with the new Jane could have gone. She had imagined not-Jane kidnapping her and taking her to have her memory erased, she had imagined not-Jane leading a squad of commandos to kill her, she had imagined Lucas torturing her while not-Jane watched and laughed. She had also imagined her words somehow reaching Jane, seeing the familiar smirk as Jane punched Lucas in the face, seeing Jane lead him off in handcuffs as the whole BPD watched. The reality was unfortunately more confounding, and bleak, and disappointing.
However, meeting not-Jane had made Maura more determined than ever to fix this. She fervently believed, completely illogically and with no supporting evidence, that the real Jane was still buried under the programmed not-Jane somewhere. There was no other acceptable truth. She would meet up with Susie, they would somehow convince Nina to help them and they would find a way to get her Jane back.