Maura watched in anticipation as Lucas slowly regained consciousness. They had given him a sedative after he was tasered, to ensure he wouldn’t wake up while they moved him, but he was finally groaning his way towards awareness. She wilfully kept a victorious smirk off her face as she saw his confusion and momentary panic as he realised he was tied to a chair.
She kept her face impassive and controlled as his eyes focussed on her. She slowly walked towards him, her arms crossed, and stopped a few meters away.
She remained silent for several agonising seconds before speaking in a level and strong voice. “Hello, Agent Lucas. Welcome to our humble home.”
His eyes predictably flicked around the room, trying to work out where he was. Maura stepped back slightly, pointing out landmarks calmly. “We’re in an abandoned factory, miles from any neighbours, so don’t worry about anyone hearing us.”
She walked over towards the others, who were all staring at Lucas with equally impassive faces. “You remember my friends? We have Korsak, Jane’s partner, who you nearly buried in a building. We have Nina, who you tried to use to cover up your own incompetence before nearly driving her off the road. She has some nice cuts and bruises to thank you for.”
Lucas tried to speak, the drugs still addling his system. Maura stepped aggressively towards him, her tone silencing him with its cutting timbre. “Don’t be rude. Let me introduce everyone.”
Lucas flinched at the stormy look on her face, nodding slowly. She stepped back, her voice returning to its unnatural calm. “Then we have Susie. You assaulted her, threatened her, broke her jaw, crashed a car she was in, had her stabbed twice, and got her suspended unfairly from work. You see the bruises and bandages still left on her from your unprovoked attacks?”
Susie’s expression grew more hostile, her hands moving restlessly over a control box she was holding.
Maura’s voice dropped to a threatening growl. “And in case you’ve forgotten who I am, let me remind you. You dropped a building on me. You stabbed me. You shot me. You tried to destroy my reputation. You had me tortured. And most importantly, you took my family away from me.”
Maura let that sink in for a moment, before pointedly looked at the box in Susie’s hands, turning back to Lucas with a pleasant smile. “See the device Susie’s holding? It’s a control unit for a useful device we put together just for you. Did you notice the plate you’re sitting on?”
Lucas looked down at the two metre square piece of metal that his chair was positioned in the centre of, and Maura couldn’t help but be pleased at the fear that flitted across his face. “Good, you see it. That plate is hooked up to the onsite transformers that are still functional. Did you know a factory this size needs 3kW motors to run some of the machines? Do you know how much voltage you need to run a 3kW motor, Agent Lucas?”
His eyes met hers, silently pleading, although his face scrunched into a falsely confident mask to cover his fear. His eyes were clear, the drugs lingering in his system swept away by his adrenalin and fear.
Maura smiled sweetly. “Do you know what that level of voltage does to the human body? I do. You see, I’m a medical examiner. It’s my job to know what killed people. I’ve seen people killed hundreds of different ways. I’ve seen the effects of the pain they endured before they died. I know all the most peaceful ways to leave this earth.”
Maura’s face fell into a determined frown, her arms crossing again. “And I know all the most horrific ways to kill someone, Agent Lucas. I’ve seen the work of the most vicious serial killers in the world. I’ve studied their psychological profiles. I’ve talked with their victims.”
Maura’s lips pulled into a familiar smile as she pulled out an ice pick from her pocket, her fingers gently caressing the instrument. “And I believe you know who my father is. He’s one of my most prolific patrons. I’ve learned a lot from him, about what happens to people who mess with family.”
Lucas’ smirk had dropped, and his hands were gripping the arm rests of the chair reflexively. Maura turned away, letting him sweat for a moment. She could hear him straining against his restraints, testing the limits of his confinement.
She slowly turned back to face him, her eyes boring into his. She walked right up to the edge of the plate, leaning towards him threateningly. “Now, Agent Lucas. The reason you’re here, and so far intact, is because we would like you to help us with Frankie and Jane Rizzoli. Let’s start with Frankie.”
Lucas regained some of his bluster, but the underlying fear was still evident. “I’m not telling. Maybe he’s alive, maybe he’s not.”
Maura smiled in relief. “So he’s alive. Thank you for the information. We’ll discuss his location and safe return later.”
Lucas frowned. “But I didn’t say anything!”
Maura smirked, her head tilted condescendingly. “If he was dead, you’d have been pretending he wasn’t to try to get some leverage. Since he’s alive, you’re trying to gloat.”
Lucas’ frown deepened, the agent obviously frustrated with himself. “Well you know I have other agents on my side! They’re probably rounding up anyone else you’ve ever met right now! If they don’t hear from me, they’ll start killing people!”
Korsak stepped forward. “Actually, everyone we care about is currently on their way out of the state. They’ve all been instructed to disappear unless they see on the news that your entire organisation is finished and we are all safe. So you can save the threats, we know you’ve got nothing on us.”
Lucas glared at the ex-detective. “How did you end up in on this? We had you under surveillance!”
Korsak chuckled, sending an amused glance at Maura. “Apparently you need to tighten your net. These ladies have been sending me messages attached to stray dogs for the last few days. I’ve got so many new four legged friends I may need to buy a second house.”
Nina and Susie were valiantly trying to keep a straight face, and Korsak realised he was ruining the mood, becoming more serious. “Now why don’t you direct your attention back to the lady with the ice pick, tough guy.”
Maura cleared her throat, drawing Lucas’ attention back to her. “Now, we need to talk about Jane. We know exactly what you’ve done to her, and we know you can fix it. You can release her from her programming. Now are you willing to help us?”
Lucas’ lip curled into a sneer. “I’m not helping you. She’s mine, and I plan on keeping her!”
Maura’s expression turned dark. “Yours? What do you mean she’s yours?”
Lucas clearly didn’t hear the warning in her voice, chuckling as he replied. “It was the arrangement I made when I agreed to be an agent. I’d work for them, she would be mine. I thought I’d lost my chance when she destroyed the place and disappeared, but then you gave her back to me. I never did get a chance to thank you for that!”
Maura practically snarled back. “And what made you think you had any claim on her?”
Lucas laughed in her face. “Because she needed to be taught some respect! She strolled around the district like she owned the place, and we all knew she wasn’t that good! She just used her looks and her charm to get into homicide, and then mooched off other cops to make herself look good. She draws the attention of a couple of serial killers and she’s suddenly the golden detective, Saint Rizzoli, can do no wrong! She thought she was too good for the rest of us, so she needed to be taught a lesson! And I did it! I brought her down to a more suitable level! She’s nothing now!”
Maura felt large hands grab her and prevent her from lunging at Lucas. She spun angrily to see Korsak staring at her with warning in his eyes, cautioning her from making a reckless and dangerous mistake. She glanced over at Susie to see that Nina was restraining her similarly, both of their faces outraged.
Maura took a calming breath, concentrating on uncurling the fists she had unthinkingly formed. She closed her eyes, willing a veneer of serenity back into place, before looking at Korsak again. He nodded at whatever he saw on her face, releasing her arms and stepping back into his position. Maura could see his jaw clenching, and knew that despite his outward appearance, he was seething inside just like the rest of them.
Maura turned back to Lucas, his obnoxious smirk rankling her once more. “You need to understand how things stand, Agent Lucas. You have no claim on Jane Rizzoli. You never had a claim on Jane Rizzoli. What you have done is despicable, inhumane, and disgusting. You have completely destroyed her life, and your motivations are as ridiculous as they are abominable. You are a poor excuse for a human being, and you deserve worse than anything I could do to you.”
Maura was about to continue when Lucas interrupted. “And why do you care so much? She was just your friend, why does it even matter?”
Maura stared at him in disbelief. “Just my friend? You think Jane was ‘just’ my friend?”
It was Lucas’ turn to stare in disbelief. “What, were you two hooking up or something?”
Maura growled in anger before starting to speak, her shoulders tensing as she paced with barely suppressed rage. “What Jane and I had goes beyond a casual friendship. That was well known to anyone who spent more than a minute with us. But that does not mean that we were sexually involved.”
She breathed for a moment, letting some of her anger go in favour of reason. “We chose to be each other’s closest friend. She stood by me when I discovered my true parentage, whenever I doubted who I was, every time I needed support. I stood by her when serial killers wanted to destroy her by harming everyone she’d met, when the job got to be too much, when she needed someone but couldn’t bring herself to ask. We saved each other so many times, in every way possible. We shared a bond closer than many married couples experience, because we knew we were each other’s soulmates.”
Lucas made a dismissive scoffing noise. “Soulmates? As if. You can’t be ‘soulmates’ and just be friends. It sounds like you’re in denial.”
Maura stopped pacing and leaned in again, her anger returning quickly at his insulting tone. “Now this may be something that your misogynistic mind cannot comprehend, but for your own sake, please try. It is entirely possible for a person’s most important relationship to be with their dog, or their mother, or their turtle, or their colleague, or even their best friend. A relationship can have meaning because the participants find something they needed, rather than something they thought they wanted.”
Lucas looked completely confused, so Maura tried again to explain, using a more factual basis to lay the groundwork. “Human beings are capable of experiencing many different types of relationships. Our society tends to encourage us to conform to tightly defined norms, but the truth is that most relationships are more complicated than that. Some people engage in romantic relationships that have no physical component whatsoever, and are completely fulfilled. Some people’s primary relationship is built entirely on attraction and satiation, but they feel no emotional connection to their partner. Some people never experience a paired relationship, preferring to love everyone in their lives unselfishly and with no expectations of exclusivity. We tend to honour and legitimise relationships built on attraction more than one based on mutual emotional connection, but the people involved in non-idealised relationships would say that their reality is more beneficial than one fitting cultural expectations. My friendship with Jane is the perfect example of a deep and pure relationship that most people just can’t understand.”
Lucas scoffed again, his expression still confused. “You’re just trying to justify some weird fixation you have. I bet you’ve never had a real relationship, and that’s why you’re confused!”
Maura bristled, but gathered her thoughts, trying to make him understand. “I myself have engaged in relationships built on attraction, as I believed I would eventually find a partner that would fulfil me in other ways. However, the reality is that all my past romances pale in comparison to the connection I share with Jane through our friendship. That bond was built over years of shared experiences, of late night conversations, of dinners in front of the TV, of drinks at our favourite bar. We’ve been through traumas, both together and apart, and helped each other through it. We’ve had our disagreements, but each time we work out that we’re better as a pair, and we get past it. It’s not a simple pairing based on chemical attraction, or a casual friendship based on convenience. It is a complex emotional entanglement that has permeated my entire being, colouring the way I see the world, and the people around me.”
Maura sighed, her yearning to have Jane back in her life stronger than ever. “I miss Jane terribly, with everything I have, and I have felt her absence since the moment you took her away from me. She is the reason I am the person that I am. She is the reason I get up in the morning and try to make a difference. She is the reason I care. She makes me brave.”
Maura fixed Lucas with a steely gaze, conviction blazing in her eyes. “She is the love of my life.”
Lucas looked bewildered, and glanced around at the others in the room. None of them blinked an eyelid at Maura’s declaration, all of them staring back at him in full support of everything Maura had said. Susie looked particularly proud of her friend for putting into words the depth of the bond that she had observed for years.
Lucas turned to Korsak, the disbelief clear in his scoffed question. “You don’t really buy that, do you?”
Korsak simply smiled back, the certainty clear in his voice. “I have no doubt that everything she just said is true. I’ve watched the two of them together for years, and I watched Maura after Jane was taken. I’d be very careful of what you say to this woman, since you’re the one that took Jane away from her.”
Lucas seemed to take that on board, and tried to tone down the disdain in his voice as he spoke to Maura. “Is that why she was listening to you in her Mode One state? Because you’re best buddies?”
Maura had pondered that conundrum at length, and decided to answer, as much for her sake as to satisfy his curiosity. “From what I’ve read in your files, the techniques used to turn Jane’s mind against her family and friends were specifically targeted to each individual, based on her depth of feeling for them. Since that information came from you, and you severely underestimated what Jane and I mean to each other, the treatments designed to make Jane think I’d abandoned her probably had the opposite effect. The images of me that you showed her were so incongruous with everything she knew about me, her mind rejected them as the subterfuge they were. She decided that I was the only one that hadn’t abandoned her. She knows I could never do that, and she managed to hold on to the memory of our friendship and use it to protect some of her own personality, despite your abuse. I became the exception to all of your rules, the loophole that helped Jane stay sane no matter how hard you tried to break her.”
Maura almost smiled as she remembered Jane wordlessly conveying that she still remembered her, that she’d never forgotten. “Somehow, in the midst of all the rewriting and confusion, her mind accepted me as another authorised handler. I always was one of the few people that could tell her what to do, and that may have been a factor in how her mind coped with the chaos. Her real feelings for me got mixed up with her programmed obedience to a handler, and when she saw me after escaping the facility, she followed my commands as she would any other controller. However, after a brief period of being exposed to familiar and safe experiences, her real self started to re-emerge. I believe she would have stopped blindly obeying my commands very soon, if you hadn’t forced your mission activation onto her.”
Maura paused, pushing down a surge of anger. “And when your damn program is no longer holding her hostage in her own body, she’ll have all the time she needs to find herself again.”
Lucas looked back at Maura, his confidence obviously shaken, but his pride still making him stubborn. “Well, I don’t care what claim you think you have on her I’m the one she’s bonded to, I’m calling the shots. And there’s nothing you can say to make me let her go!”
Maura just shook her head sadly. “Well, that’s a shame. Your cooperation was the easy way, but it’s not the only way.”
Lucas’ face fell. “Yes it is! An agent has to be involved to cancel a mission! There is no other way!”
The smile that spread across Maura’s face mocked him mercilessly. “Of course they wouldn’t tell you about their fail-safe, it would make you nervous. But do you really think they trusted people like you enough to leave such a valuable asset in your control with no backup plan?”
Lucas’ eyes narrowed, his expression showing how accurate that assessment was. Maura pushed her advantage. “There are actually three ways to end a mission scenario. One, complete the mission. Two, be ordered to stop by the assigned agent.”
Maura grinned, spinning the ice pick in her fingers again as she turned to Susie. “Do you want to tell him the last possibility?”
Susie smiled at Lucas, wiggling the control box. “Three. Kill the assigned agent.”
Lucas jerked against the restraints, shouting out denials as he instinctively tried to get free. He was panicked now, and desperate. His eyes flicked between his four captors, searching for any sign of weakness, and not finding any.
Maura was about to press their advantage, hoping to finally break him, when the roof above them caved in. She jumped sideways out of the way as beams and sheet metal fell haphazardly, cutting her off from Korsak and the others. She fell next to the electric plate, and she heard a loud thud as something heavy hit the deck.
Her head whipped up to see not-Jane crouching next to Lucas. He was frantically ordering her to get him out of there, his hands pulling against their bindings again. Not-Jane straightened from her crouch, snapping the restraint closest to her. Lucas grinned at Maura as not-Jane reached for the other one.
Maura screamed out as loud as she could, hoping the others were okay. “Now Susie! Hit it now!”
Immediately, not-Jane stiffened, an invisible current immobilising her and pinning her in place. Lucas froze, watching in horror as his rescuer was disabled. As the power shut off and the body beside him collapsed to the floor, his shock turned to bewilderment as he realised he hadn’t been electrocuted.
Maura sighed in relief before getting slowly to her feet. She could hear Korsak checking on the other two with a calm voice, so it seemed as though everyone was alright. Her heart jumped into her mouth and her feet felt rooted to the ground as she looked at the crumpled figure lying not two steps away on the de-energised plate.
The nannite mask had vanished, leaving the bald and scarred woman Maura knew as the real Jane. She was moving restlessly, the electric shock inflicting some damage as expected, but Maura knew it would only take seconds for the healing nannites to repair her body. Maura felt her knees go weak in relief as she saw Jane raise her head, her brown eyes filled with thanks as they met Maura’s.
Maura smiled happily for the first time since being shot, her voice choking up. “Jane? Is it you?”
Jane nodded, a small relieved smile appearing on her lips. She started shakily getting to her feet, her limbs still impaired after the electric shock. Maura heard Nina let out a cheer, with Susie and Korsak joining in, but she couldn’t take her eyes off Jane.
Lucas looked at Jane in disbelief, his disgust clear in his voice. “But how? You said she’d only revert if I died….”
Maura couldn’t help the smug grin spreading across her face. “We may have misled you slightly. There is a third way to deactivate a mission scenario, but you were right, the organisation wouldn’t sacrifice their agents. A subject can be wiped of their current mission by an electric current set to a particular frequency and voltage. Fortunately, we were able to get the parameters from the records and rig up the transformers in this factory to deliver the precise shock that we needed. You were just the bait.”
The look on Lucas’ face was priceless, but Maura was too busy watching as Jane managed to get to her feet. She stood for a moment, getting her balance back, before shuffling towards Maura.
Smiling softly, Jane put out her hand, reaching for Maura’s cheek, which was now shining with tears.
Suddenly Lucas snarled in rage. “Subject 163, activate the charge again!”
Jane abruptly jerked, her body going rigid under the assault of electricity. Maura screamed, her hand reaching out for Jane until she realised she couldn’t touch her. Maura heard a crash from near Susie, and the current shut off. Maura lunged forward and tried to catch Jane, but the weight of her body surprised her and they both tumbled to the ground.
Lucas used the distraction to release his other restraints, leaping from the chair and breaking into a run away from his captors. He shot a scathing glare at Maura over his shoulder before he ran through an open doorway and was gone.
Jane was gasping and writhing on the floor, her body obviously damaged by the unplanned second shock. Maura was crying desperately, her hands cupping Jane’s face as she twitched uncontrollably.
Nina rushed over, handing Maura a jacket to put under Jane’s head. “Is she okay?”
Maura shook her head helplessly. “I don’t know! What happened?”
Nina put a hand to her head in disbelief. “Susie. Somehow they got to Susie. When Lucas yelled that command, she hit the button again without hesitation. Korsak tackled her and she snapped out of it, she’s beside herself with guilt right now.”
Nina sighed in frustration. “She must have been a subject, but we didn’t find her name in the files. We checked for all our names before we came up with this plan, I don’t know how we missed it!”
Maura grabbed Jane’s shoulders, which were starting to shake uncontrollably. “It doesn’t matter now. We need to help Jane.”
Nina nodded. “What can we do?”
Jane’s eyes opened, meeting Maura’s panicked eyes with a fearful but accepting look. Despite the tremors that were passing through her whole frame, she lifted a hand and gently touched Maura’s face, brushing away the free-flowing tears.
The sweet gesture only made Maura sob harder. “I don’t know!”
Nina realised that Maura was beyond panicked, and made an effort to speak calmly. “Okay, Maura, why isn’t she healing? The nannites should have started to reverse the effects of electric shock by now.”
Maura froze, realisation ploughing through her in an unstoppable soul-crushing wave. “The fail-safe. One shock disables the current active mission program, two shocks wipes the entire memory of the hub. It’s a last resort in case a subject’s nannite code is corrupted beyond repair and they need to reload the software from scratch. Oh, God, no, Jane!”
Nina didn’t quite get it. “So we just need to reload the software, right? I think there was a copy of the code in Jane’s file, I can get it.”
Maura nodded, but her voice was still hopeless. “We have the software, but we also need a sample of untainted DNA from the subject prior to injection with nannites. The nannites subtly change a subject’s genetic code, making it impossible to use as a baseline. We need a sample from Jane from before she was taken, or the nannite code won’t work.”
Nina’s mouth fell open helplessly. “So…what do we do?”
Maura grabbed Jane’s trembling hand, her eyes never leaving her friend’s heartbreakingly resigned eyes despite the cascade of tears blurring her vision. She whispered quietly, her voice as defeated as her spirit. “I don’t know.”