All three women were stunned at the sound of a coffee mug shattering loudly against the wall. Maura and Nina stared at Susie, astounded at the outburst from the usually reserved woman. The young scientist simply glared at the wall for a moment, her expression furious, before she moved to the kitchen to get a cloth.
Nina gaped at Maura questioningly, to which Maura could only shrug. She had no idea that Susie was so upset about the situation, but it seemed that there were hidden depths of strong emotion being concealed beneath Susie’s quiet exterior.
The two were still frozen in shock when Susie returned and started cleaning up the broken shards, talking agitatedly as she worked. “We need to figure out where he went in the industrial district. He probably wouldn’t have bombs in his car when he was at BPD, so it stands to reason he would have gotten them from someone when he went there.”
Susie’s business-like tone snapped Nina out of her stunned stupor. She shuffled through her files, pulling out two maps and putting them side by side on the table. “I lost him going into the district at this intersection, and found him again coming through this one. The route he took into the district was circuitous, like he was trying to avoid being followed, but once he came back out he went straight to his destination.”
Nina pulled out a third map with a red line drawn along one of the roads. “That puts the place he was coming from somewhere on this road. There is a six block section along this road with no cameras. He could also have come from one of the streets that feed into this main street. It’s too much ground to cover, we need more information to narrow it down.”
Susie had finished cleaning up the spilt coffee and pieces of the smashed mug, depositing the remains in the kitchen before returning to the couch and looking over Nina’s maps. Maura was still staring at her in amazement, unable to believe the strength of her friend’s feelings. She knew Susie had been unfailingly loyal to her and wanted to help Jane, but she hadn’t realised how angry she was.
When Susie sat next to her, Maura quietly put a hand on her arm, the gentle squeeze attempting to convey her thanks. Susie glanced over quickly, a small smile finding its way across her lips before she returned her attention to Nina. Maura allowed herself to dwell on the warm feelings Susie had brought out for a moment before also turning her attention to the matter at hand.
Nina was shuffling through more pages, oblivious to the shared moment. “I didn’t find anything else about Lucas regarding that day, but I just realised something. He went to that building hours before you guys even showed up. With what we know about his connection to Jane, that says to me he knew you were going to be there.”
Maura sat up a bit straighter, realising Nina was correct. “We had discussed going there the day before, at Jane’s desk. There were people around in the bullpen, but it didn’t even occur to me that one of them must have been involved.”
Nina frowned as she pulled out a stapled pile of paper, talking as she flicked through the pages. “It looks like it occurred to Korsak. He seems to have interviewed everyone in Homicide, trying to work out how someone had known you would be there. He even checked the records and videos to see who might have been there to hear your conversation. Nobody claims to have heard you guys discussing it, and as far as I can see they all have alibis for the whole morning.”
Maura flicked her eyes over the list of people, not taking long to find a likely candidate. “Crowe. He was there.”
Susie snatched the list angrily, flicking over to his statement. “He has an alibi, but we all know he is friends with Lucas. He could easily have told him where you guys would be.”
Nina glanced between the two fuming women uneasily. “Now don’t forget, we need evidence here, not speculation. This is all circumstantial at best.”
Maura sighed, running her free hand through her hair in frustration. “We don’t need proof! We aren’t trying to get Lucas arrested, we’re trying to help Jane! I don’t really care at this point whether he gets away with what he’s done, as long as Jane is safe from him and back to being herself again!”
Nina was surprised, but to her credit didn’t argue. “Alright, that changes things I suppose. I can look into Crowe’s movements around the same time, see if he met up with Lucas at some point.”
Maura nodded, suddenly tired again. It had seemed like they were making progress, but knowing that Lucas was responsible for the bombing didn’t help them find out what had happened to Jane afterwards. Susie started flicking through various files, starting to look frantic and flustered.
Nina saw the dejected look on Maura’s face, and decided to inject some structure into their discussion. “Okay guys, we need to clear off this table. I want to put together a timeline of everything we know, to make sure we’re on the same page.”
Maura’s head shot up at the authoritative tone, hearing the same determination she had heard multiple times from Korsak, Frankie or Jane when they were entering focussed detective mode. Nina rose from her seat and started organising files, which got Maura moving to help. Susie stopped her fruitless search and assisted in the efforts to impose order on their scrambled case.
After around half an hour, the three had managed to assemble a rough timeline on the table. Maura and Susie stood back, giving Nina the floor to guide them through the ‘case’ and hopefully find some leads to finally follow.
Nina paused for a moment, gathering her thoughts, before she moved to the start of their construction of facts. “Okay. As far as we know, the first thing to happen was Jane and Maura deciding to go to the building in the bullpen on Wednesday. We have a list of people known to be in the general vicinity who could have overheard your plans. I have some following up to do there, to find out if Crowe met up with Lucas, but honestly it may be a moot point.”
Nina paused, seeming to consider whether to mention something, before barrelling on. “Maura, why did you guys go to the building? The reports don’t really elaborate on why you were in an empty building.”
Maura sighed, wrapping her arm around her body protectively. “Do you remember the case involving an assassin, where Jane ended up saving a young girl? That building was where it happened.”
Nina frowned. “I remember the case, it was my first one with BPD. But why did you guys go back there?”
Susie made a noise of dissent, shaking her head frantically, but Maura took a deep breath and explained. “It wasn’t widely known, but Jane was pregnant at the time. When she was shot, or possibly when she was hit with a pipe in the stomach, she lost the baby. The loss hit us both hard, Jane obviously most of all, but we didn’t really talk about it much after it happened. That Thursday was the anniversary of her losing the baby, so I suggested going back to mark the day. I thought it might help her get some closure, even though she insisted that she was fine. I knew I needed to do something to mark the day too, I didn’t think I’d properly addressed my own feelings about it all. Going to the place where it happened seemed like the best way to address the issue, since Jane was terrible about talking if prompted, but there was a chance she’d talk about it if she was taking me through the events like a crime scene.”
Nina nodded, obviously wishing she hadn’t asked since Maura now had tears in her eyes. Susie moved to Maura’s side and gave her an awkward sideways hug, which elicited a small thankful smile.
Instead of dwelling on the sad circumstances that existed even before the disaster, Nina moved on. “Right, so we have someone finding out you guys were going to be in the building at a certain time. The next day, we have Lucas leaving BPD around an hour after arriving, going somewhere in the industrial district and retrieving what we assume to be the two bombs that blew up the building, then setting those bombs. He then leaves the building and returns to BPD.”
Nina grabbed a pen and scribbled some notes. “I need to see if Lucas left BPD again. If he went back to the building, or somewhere else, it could show up on a camera and give us somewhere to look.”
Susie glanced at Maura before asking a difficult question. “Can you also check into what Frankie was doing that whole day? We’ve come across some, uh, circumstantial evidence that he might be involved.”
Nina’s eyebrows shot up. “Frankie? As in Frankie Rizzoli? Jane’s brother?”
Susie nodded regretfully, not offering any further explanation. Nina huffed out a harrowed breath, but scribbled down the note.
Maura used the time Nina and Susie had spent speaking to regain control of her emotions. “Okay. Next we have Jane and me leaving BPD together.”
Nina nodded, hearing the determined tone of Maura’s voice and taking that as a cue to continue on. “You arrive at the building at around 1:30pm. At 1:45pm BPD receives a bomb threat against a building belonging to the Connelly group. Korsak knows you guys are in one of their buildings, and immediately tries to call you, but due to the lack of cell coverage in the area he can’t reach either of you. He immediately leaves to get you, calling in backup at the same time.
“The backup arrives at the building at 1:53, but before they can start looking for you, the first bomb goes off. The officers hold off on entering until the bomb squad arrives three minutes later. Korsak gets there around four minutes after the bomb squad. The squad is still assessing the situation when the second bomb goes off at 2:14. The second bomb collapses the front of the building, which forces the rescue team to reconsider their entry until a structural engineer can assess the stability of the building.”
Maura’s had gone completely stiff, her eyes staring blankly as she remembered the last moments before the world had collapsed on her. “Jane and I were in the basement. We’d retraced her steps from the day she’d found Tasha, then taken the elevator down. She showed me the phone she’d managed to wire together to call for help. When we got to the basement, she showed me where she’d taken him by surprise. She was re-enacting the encounter when she noticed something flashing against the base of a column. I don’t know how, but she knew it was a bomb.”
Maura took a shuddering breath before continuing. “She grabbed me, and pushed me away, shielding me with her own body. I felt the explosion, and my head collided with something solid. That’s the last thing I remember before waking up in the hospital. Jane saving me.”
Susie’s mouth was pressed together in a thin line, her anger obvious to see. Nina was struggling to remain impartial as well, despite not knowing Jane or Maura particularly well. Knowing they had been set up to die by one of their own was horrifying and difficult to accept.
Maura stayed silent for several agonising minutes, her residual guilt over the circumstances of her survival tormenting her as always. She had always known that Jane was protective of her, and had already thrown her own safety aside many times to save her, but when Jane had actually sacrificed herself, the guilt had almost destroyed her, and had pushed her to go past the limits of her normal endurance and sanity to try and make things right.
Maura took a deep cleansing breath, acknowledging that she would never stop feeling guilty for her part in what had happened to Jane, before determinedly shaking off the effects of the memories. “Nina, what happened next?”
Nina cleared her throat, glancing back at the notes on the table. “Right. So the structural engineer was taking ages to turn up, and Korsak was sick of waiting. He disobeyed the orders of the incident commander and went inside. He had guessed that you guys would be in the basement, so he managed to find you pretty quickly. You were under a pile of concrete and debris, near a collapsed wall. Fortunately you had avoided being hit by any big pieces, but there was a piece of metal stuck in your leg and you’d been hit by lots of smaller fragments, especially on your head and arms. You had a massive bruise forming on your head, which was most likely where you had been hit and knocked out.”
Maura nodded, the injury list consistent with what she remembered. Her hand dropped unconsciously to the still tender scar left behind on her leg. She realised that the tension and prolonged period of standing up was starting to make the old wound ache, so decided to sit down while they went through the rest of the events.
Nina continued warily, watching Maura carefully in case she needed a break. “Korsak managed to dig you out and carry you up the stairs to the EMT’s. If he hadn’t you most likely would have bled out from the leg wound before the rescue team got to you.”
Maura nodded again, remembering the doctor informing her of how much blood she’d lost. She knew she owed Korsak her life, and had never felt like she’d thanked him enough.
Nina picked up a map of the building. “Korsak wanted to go right back in and look for Jane, but by then the engineer had arrived and the rescue team had a plan to enter. They went into the basement, but couldn’t find Jane. They looked everywhere that was still accessible, but eventually concluded that Jane must be under the collapsed wall and roof. They started clearing the debris, but there was so much damage that they needed to reinforce the roof and the floors above before they could continue. It took four days to completely clear the wreckage, but they still didn’t find Jane.”
Maura closed her eyes, remembering her own actions. “I checked myself out AMA, because I knew Jane had to be still down there. I thought I could help them figure out where she was, since I had been with her when the bomb went off. I couldn’t understand where she had gone. I remembered she was behind me when the explosion occurred, so logically she should have landed on top of me or right next to me, not several meters away under a wall. I was so frantic at the time, it was days before anyone managed to make me understand that there were two separate explosions, which could have explained how Jane and I ended up in different locations.”
Susie remembered how desperate and stubborn Maura had been at the time. “She didn’t let the searchers stop until the entire basement was clear, and they still didn’t find Jane.”
Nina put down the building plan and grabbed the next file. “Eventually the investigators concluded that Jane must have gotten out somehow. Nobody could imagine her walking out and leaving Dr Isles if she was in her right mind, so the assumption was that she was injured and confused. The search was expanded to nearby hospitals, shelters, churches, anywhere that might take someone in. I remember searching through hundreds of hours of camera footage from the area, but we never found any sign of her. Eventually the investigation was called off. Jane had just disappeared.”
Maura glanced around the room. “I kept searching, obviously, but nothing ever turned up. I had entertained the possibility that she had been taken, since it was the most likely explanation for how she was moved from the basement, but I could never find any motive.”
Nina nodded, then opened the file in her hand. “The next event of note is the disappearance of Detective Lucas. He simply failed to turn up at BPD one morning, with no notice or clue to his location. Nobody links his disappearance to Jane’s, since they didn’t know each other well and there is no evidence of any connection.”
Maura looked at Susie searchingly. “We suspect that Jane may have escaped from wherever she was being held around the same time.”
Nina frowned, then sat down, pulling out a sheet of paper and locating a date. “I can try looking at some surveillance from the traffic cameras near the industrial district that day, to see if he went there. The team investigating his disappearance wouldn’t have known to look there, so if he was on a camera somewhere they might have missed it. If he was going to the place they were keeping Jane, it might give us a way to narrow the location in the camera dead zone.”
Nina scribbled a few notes on the pages, then returns to her narration. “Okay, so finally Lucas turns up with Jane, at BPD, receives a call from you guys, and comes over here.”
Maura and Susie’s heads snap around in unison, their expressions defiant. Susie manages to speak first. “That’s not what happened. That’s their story, but it’s nowhere near the truth.”
Nina’s eyes flicked between them, realising she wasn’t going to like the next part of the story.
Maura cleared her throat before cautiously starting. “Now, I realise this story is going to sound completely ridiculous. I just ask that you keep an open mind, and remember all the evidence you’ve seen so far.”
Nina had an incredulous look on her face for the next half an hour as Maura explained everything that had happened since Jane turned up on her doorstep. Susie elaborated on the events at the lab before she had been taken by Lucas, trying to make the tale sound more plausible.
Finally the saga was finished, and two anxious women stared at Nina, waiting for a response.
Nina glanced around at all the files that Maura had gathered over years of fruitless searching. Her eyes flitted over the sling still wrapped around Maura’s shoulder and Susie’s discoloured face. Her eyes lost focus, her expression thoughtful.
Eventually her fingers closed around the file she had brought. “I’m going to go home. I need to get in early to start some unauthorised surveillance. I don’t want Cavanaugh to catch me and start asking questions.”
Maura let out a breath in relief. “So you’ll still help us?”
Nina grinned, standing energetically. “Does Korsak like cat videos? Of course I’ll still help! I don’t think either of you is crazy enough to make up a story that nuts, it has to be true.”