Maura heard footsteps walking towards them, and realised Korsak and Susie were approaching. She raised her tear streaked face, seeing shock on Korsak’s face and pure devastation on Susie’s. The poor woman was obviously distraught as she knelt down next to Jane.
Maura grabbed Susie’s hand, drawing her attention before speaking softly. “You didn’t know, Susie. This isn’t your fault.”
Susie let out a loud sob, her courageous attempt for composure shattering instantly. “It is my fault! How could I not know! They had me in that place, they drugged me, they programmed me! How could I not remember? Jane, I’m so sorry!”
Korsak crouched next to her, pulling her into his chest gently but firmly. Susie resisted at first, revulsion and guilt plain on her face. Maura couldn’t start to comprehend how violated Susie must feel, and was relieved when she finally crumpled into Korsak’s arms. He whispered reassurances as she continued to sob, clearly past the point of reassurance.
Maura looked back at Jane, intending to check her vitals, and was surprised to see a pale hand reaching out for Susie’s.
Susie jerked in surprise when she felt Jane’s trembling hand touch hers. She pulled away from Korsak, leaning over Jane and grasping her hand tightly, her downcast eyes frantic and ashamed. “I’m so sorry! I didn’t mean to hurt you, I don’t even remember doing it, I’m sorry!”
Jane lifted her other hand, carefully silencing Susie’s desperate ramble with a finger on her lips. When Susie finally stopped panicking and looked at Jane, she saw a slight smile ghost over Jane’s lips.
Slowly, gently, Jane touched Susie’s temple, then touched her own. Maura smiled as she understood the gesture, and put a reassuring hand on Susie’s shoulder. “It’s okay, Susie. She means that she forgives you, she knows exactly what you’re going through.”
Jane looked back at Maura with a smile, confirming that her interpretation was correct. Maura’s smile turned into a worried frown when she noticed Jane was still shaking, though not as violently as before. She checked Jane’s pulse, trying to assess the extent of the damage Lucas had done.
As Maura worked, Nina stepped forward, her voice subdued as well. “Jane, I want to apologise too. I don’t know if you remember, but I shot you. A few times. And then I smashed you into a truck to get you off my car.”
Maura frowned at her in confusion. Nina helplessly shrugged in reply. “There was a truck with a high enough wheel clearance crossing an intersection in front of me. I lost the canopy of my car, but it was the only way I could get rid of her without letting her kill me.”
Maura nodded, understanding the cuts and bruises on Nina’s upper body now. In the rush to get Lucas to the factory and set up their trap, she hadn’t had time to ask how Nina had gotten away from not-Jane, she had just been grateful to see her in one piece.
Jane was looking at Nina in confusion, her face showing no sign of recognition. Maura realised the problem. “Nina, Jane hasn’t met you since she came back except when her consciousness was being overridden by the program. She probably has no idea who you are.”
Nina’s eyes widened in realisation, before she looked back at Jane. “Okay, well, I’m Nina, nice to meet you. I’m sorry for hurting you, even though you don’t remember it, and I’m going to try to help you, okay?”
Korsak moved into Jane’s line of sight, his emotions being held back by sheer will. “And I’m Vince, your old partner. We’re not letting you die, Jane, so don’t you even think about giving up.”
Jane still showed no sign of recognition, but her expression was slightly friendlier after hearing their reassurances. Her eyes flicked back to Maura, who nodded in encouragement, her hand finding Jane’s again.
Susie sniffed, still miserable and hunched in on herself, before she cleared her throat determinedly. “Okay, we need a plan. How do we help Jane?”
Nina straightened up, realising she’d have to answer since Maura’s face had just dropped into agonised sadness again. “We need to get a sample of Jane’s DNA from before she was taken. The nannite program has been wiped from her hub, and I can reload the basic software, but Maura says we need a clean sample before the program will work.”
Korsak and Susie frowned, both thinking hard. Nina moved to grab her laptop, finding the program in their files as she returned to Jane. Susie stood and walked a few steps away, taking deep breaths to calm herself down. Korsak let her go, realising she needed a moment alone, his compassionate face showing his sorrow over what she and Jane were going through.
Nina typed industriously on her laptop for a few moments, setting up the procedure, before bending over Jane and looking at her questioningly. “Jane, do you mind if I touch you? I need to press a few controls on your hub to get it to connect to my laptop. Is that okay?”
Jane looked at Maura in fear, her eyes asking for advice. Maura squeezed her hand reassuringly, nodding her assent.
Nina smiled as Jane pulled her ruined dress shirt out of the way, giving tacit permission. Korsak’s eyes went wide as he watched Nina carefully feel around the small protrusion in Jane’s stomach, her expression changing from concentration to victory as she found the controls she was looking for. Maura watched the procedure, trying to engage her mind and think her way out of this, but the despair that was threatening to crush her was preventing her usual intellect from functioning. All she could focus on was Jane’s decreasing tremors, and the memory of her body locked in the throes of an electric current she had created. Instead of finding solutions, she was considering all the possible ways Jane could be dying. The electric shock could have caused burns all throughout her internal organs, the implants could be rejected by Jane’s tissues, the nannites could have compromised her body’s ability to oxygenate her blood, the foreign objects in her body could be slowly poisoning her….the list continued to grow the longer Maura considered, and she felt her breathing accelerate as she understood how certain Jane was to die if they couldn’t help her soon.
Returning her attention to the screen, Nina typed for a few more minutes, before carefully placing the laptop on the ground next to Jane. “Okay, the program is loading. It’ll only take a couple of minutes. I’ve set it up so that it’ll activate automatically as soon as we input the DNA sample.”
Susie surprised everyone by suddenly spinning around, her face lit up with an idea. “That’s it! Statute of limitations!”
Four confused faces stared back at her. Korsak was the first to find his voice. “Um, Susie, nobody’s going to charge you with anything, we all know….”
Susie stepped forward, interrupting him excitedly. “No, the statute of limitations for murder never expires! So we have to keep all evidence connected to a murder indefinitely!”
Nina looked between the others, seeing that they were all still lost. “Yes, true. This helps us because?”
Susie waved her hands in exasperation, her face still lit up in exhilaration. “Jane was a homicide detective! Her DNA had to be kept for comparison with evidence in case of contamination!”
Maura gasped, finally grasping what Susie was getting at and feeling hope flood through her again. “BPD will still have Jane’s blood sample stored in evidence! Susie, you’re a genius!”
Maura jumped up, grabbing Susie and hugging her frantically, before spinning back to Jane and grabbing her shaking hand again, gently pulling her into a sitting position. “Jane, we can save you! You’re going to be okay!”
Nina’s laptop pinged out a notification, accentuating Maura’s exclamation perfectly. Nina grabbed the computer, smiling at the result displayed on the screed. “The program is loaded. All we need to do is get the sample!”
The air of celebration was suddenly pierced by an obnoxious ringtone. Four confused faces looked at each other, knowing that nobody had brought their phones, before Maura realised she knew the source. “It’s Lucas’ phone. Remember, we kept it so Jane could trace him here.”
Korsak quickly moved to answer the phone, leaving the rest of the team looking at each other nervously. They heard him answer the phone with a brusque insult, then his steps as he returned to the group, holding out the phone to Maura. “He’ll only talk to you.”
Maura nodded, taking a deep breath before putting the phone to her ear, trying to reclaim the confident mask she had put on in front of Lucas previously. “What do you want?”
She could hear that some of the bluster had been knocked out of the repulsive man’s voice, but the sound of it still made her skin crawl. “I want to trade Mr Rizzoli for Subject 314. You’ve had my property long enough, doctor, I want her back.”
Maura couldn’t help the scoff that left her throat. “How could you possibly think I would ever give Jane back to you? You are never getting near her again!”
Lucas laughed humourlessly in her ear, his patience for bargaining clearly gone. “She’s damaged goods. She’ll be dead inside six hours since you deactivated the nannites that were keeping her alive. Would you trade six hours with her for her brother’s life?”
Maura’s mouth fell open in shock as she spun to stare at Jane. She was still sitting, her eyes fixed on Maura full of resignation. Maura realised Jane had known what her prognosis was, the signs had been there since the second shock. Jane unequivocally expected to die, and soon.
Maura felt her innate stubbornness rising like a shield between her and hopelessness. In a moment of clarity, her intellect finally overrode her scattered emotions and made sense of the situation logically and dispassionately. She suddenly saw all the pieces align in front of her mind’s eye, including missing ones that her grief and panic had obscured, showing her the only way out of this.
She abruptly turned away from Jane, needing all her concentration for the deal she was about to make. “How do I know Frankie is still alive?”
She heard rustling on the end of the line, then angry voices. After several seconds she heard a thump, and Frankie’s voice blasted several choice curses into the phone. She suppressed the urge to yell back, keeping her emotions calm as she waited for Lucas to speak again.
He sounded much more confident this time, his one-sided power struggle with Frankie shoring up his ego. “Now, you know we have him. Are you going to make the trade, or do we kill him now?”
Maura made sure her voice shook and caught in defeat as she replied. “Okay, just please don’t hurt him again.”
Lucas laughed again, his characteristic cruelty shining through. “We’ll meet in an hour, at Boston Common. I’ll text you the coordinates.”
Maura kept her voice high and frantic, hoping that a display of feminine frailty would hide her true purpose. “No, please, can we meet at BPD? In the morgue? Jane was always so happy there, she loved her work, I want her to be able to see it one last time.”
For a moment Maura thought she’d underestimated Lucas’ arrogance and oversold her performance, but then Lucas snorted, his obvious disdain over her perceived show of sentimental weakness his downfall. “You really want to meet on my home turf? You do realise all of BPD is looking to arrest you for evading arrest and engaging in a high speed chase?”
Maura’s heart sank at the revelation that they were being hunted by the police, but didn’t get a chance to react before Lucas smugly continued. “Fine, let’s meet in the morgue. One hour from now. Just you and Subject 314. If I see any of your little band of misfits, Rizzoli will be dead before you can even breathe.”
The line went dead as he hung up on her. Maura lowered the phone, her heart racing. She thought she had everything figured out, but if anything went wrong, it would be all over. The added complication of the BPD’s pursuit was an unwanted addition, but she was sure she could work around it.
She turned to see four expectant faces looking back at her. The trust and belief in her judgement was heartening, and Maura desperately hoped that it was justified. Her actions over the last four years had severely tested the bonds of friendship with these people, and to know that, despite everything, they still thought Maura was worth following was hard to comprehend. She felt a great burden of responsibility at the knowledge that they may be following her to their detriment, but their belief gave her confidence in herself.
Maura looked down at her best friend, dying and defenceless, but fearlessly entrusting her entire being to Maura’s care. Maura was almost overwhelmed with a surge of protectiveness and love, but she didn’t let her emotions rise to the surface, needing to appear unflappable in front of the people whose lives she was about to endanger.
Maura felt a rsense of inevitability settle over her as she resolutely committed to her course of action. “I have a plan. Susie, can you sit with Jane for a moment please?”
She got an eager nod from Susie, who immediately moved over to Jane and started talking animatedly. She was obviously still aggrieved over her part in harming Jane, but was trying her best to present a brave face.
Maura gestured for the others to follow her across the room to speak privately. “Nina, can you please look into the records again and try to work out what was done to Susie? Lucas called her subject 163, so hopefully the record will be the right one, even though the name of the subject was apparently changed.”
Nina nodded, picking up her laptop and typing frantically for a few moments. Maura and Korsak saw the moment she found what she was looking for when she huffed in irritation. “The subject name is given as Susan Long. Her occupation is given as lab technician, it didn’t specify where she worked.”
Maura realised the source of Nina’s frustration, and seeing Korsak’s confused expression offered an explanation. “Susan is a lengthened version of Susie, and Long is an English translation of Chang.”
Korsak frowned, sharing their frustration at having missed the barely hidden clues that could have prevented the situation they found themselves in. “So what does it say about her conditioning?”
Nina had been reading quickly as Maura explained, and now had a cautious smile on her face. “There are no embedded programs or missions. Her conditioning was designed to make her follow any commands given to her after hearing her subject number, then forget everything she’d done once the command is complete.”
Maura sighed gratefully. “So as long as we keep any agents away from her, she’ll be okay. Alright, that makes the rest of the plan easier. This plan isn’t fool proof however, and it will be dangerous. If anyone wants to be left out of it, now is the time to tell me.”
Nina and Korsak both stared back with incredulous expressions for several moments before Korsak spoke. “Really?”
Maura couldn’t help smiling gratefully. “I had to ask.”
After a few minutes of conversation, Maura headed back to Susie and Jane. They were sitting in companionable silence, with Susie looking slightly more at ease. Jane still looked weak, her hands still shaking slightly and her skin pale and clammy, but she still glanced up fondly at Maura when she approached.
Maura smiled at Susie, gesturing for her to get up. “Can you please go talk to the others, they’ll let you know the plan.”
Susie looked instantly panicked. “What? No! You can’t tell me the plan, I can’t be trusted!”
Maura reached out, but Susie recoiled from her touch, her voice growing higher by the second. “No, I don’t know what I’m capable of, I don’t know what I’ll do! You have to keep me away from everyone! I don’t want to hurt you guys again!”
Maura placed a firm placating hand on Susie’s shoulder, her tone warm and comforting. “You didn’t hurt us. Lucas did that to you. He used you. We all know you couldn’t help it. I actually want to apologise for not being able to protect you from this.”
Susie looked confused. “How could you have protected me? We don’t even know when this happened, I don’t remember anything!”
Maura nodded sympathetically. “I know that, and I know it must be frightening and frustrating. I can’t imagine what you must be feeling right now. But once this is all over, we’ll figure out what happened, and hopefully that will help you find some peace of mind. For now, please know that we trust you, and we need you.”
Susie looked slightly heartened by Maura’s words, her mentor and friend’s trust allowing her to regain some confidence in herself. Before she could second guess her actions, she lunged forward and grabbed Maura in a desperate hug. Maura returned the embrace with equal fervour, trying to reinforce the honestly of all the words she had just spoken. They pulled apart with matching smiles, both tentatively hopeful, before Susie walked away to join the others.
Maura turned her attention to Jane, who had been carefully following the conversation. Maura was painfully aware of the deadline they were bound to, which meant she had no time to soften the blow of the conversation they needed to have. Her agitation showed as she started to fidget unthinkingly.
Jane picked up on Maura’s sudden discomfort, her hands curling into fists as she waited. Maura took a deep breath before sitting next to Jane and meeting her suspicious gaze. “Jane, we need to talk about Frankie. Do you remember Frankie?”
Jane’s face contorted through multiple emotions, with fear, anger, confusion and hurt making their presence known. Maura reached out for Jane’s hand, which didn’t uncoil from the tense ball it had curled into despite Maura’s attempt at comfort. Since body language was now Jane’s only language, Maura knew her rigid posture and wary demeanour were practically screaming at her to back off.
Maura continued despite Jane’s quickly assembled defensive wall. “Agent Lucas has Frankie. You probably don’t remember, but Frankie saved us from Lucas, he made it possible for us to get away and try to save you.”
Jane frowned in confusion, her body tensing even more. “Jane, we need to go and save him. Lucas has kept him alive, and he wants to trade you for him.”
Jane’s eyes bored into Maura, the angry accusation of betrayal readily apparent in her fierce glare. Maura grabbed for Jane’s hand, which was snapped out of reach instantly. “Jane, wait, please listen! I know you remember Frankie torturing you, and I know you remember me and everyone else you’ve known abandoning you. But what I need you to understand is that all the bad things you remember are a lie!”
Jane was still staring at Maura untrustingly, her body leaning away from her touch. Maura sighed, realising she wasn’t making herself clear, and decided to try a different tack. “Jane, do you remember when we were in the basement, before you were taken to the facility? Do you remember the bomb going off?”
Jane nodded cautiously. “Do you remember what you did? You pushed me out of the way, you protected me. You saved me.”
Jane relaxed slightly, nodding again. “And then when I was knocked out, Lucas came. He tried to hurt me, and you stopped him.”
Jane’s hand instinctively moved to the scar on her chest, the reminder of the killing blow that Lucas had inflicted on her. Maura felt her throat constrict in guilt as she watched the gesture, but she forced herself to continue. “Yes, that’s right Jane. Now do you remember what happened after that?”
Jane’s brow furrowed in concentration, her expression confused as she stared into space, trying to order her thoughts. Maura gently grasped Jane’s chin, guiding her friend’s unfocused eyes back to her own. “It’s hard to remember, isn’t it? Time seemed to speed up and slow down, places and faces ran together, things seemed real one moment and then imagined the next.”
Jane nodded, her attention intently focused on Maura now. Maura moved her hand to rest on Jane’s cheek, hoping the physical contact would ground her and help in letting her recognise the false memories. “That’s because you were drugged, Jane. Lucas and the people he worked with had you drugged from the moment you woke up. They took advantage of your confusion, and they tried to make you believe things that weren’t true. The thing that you need to understand, is that none of us saw you again for four years. We were never there, we didn’t talk to you, we didn’t hurt you. Not your family, not your friends, not me. We were all frantically looking for you, but you were hidden from us by Lucas and his people.”
Jane’s expression was a heart-breaking mix of hope and disbelief. “I know it’s hard to distinguish the real things from the false memories. But I can promise you that nothing you remember about being hurt by your family was real. You were never abandoned, you were stolen.”
Jane considered Maura’s words for several long moments, before her expression settled into stubborn distrust. Maura felt Jane’s head jerk as she pulled her cheek away, and felt her heart sink at the prospect of losing Jane’s trust.
Maura’s voice started to waver as she continued, her pleas becoming more desperate. “Please Jane, try to remember. Think about the time before you were taken, what your family meant to you. Think about your mother fussing over you because she loved you too much to stop. Think about Frankie looking up to you and trying to be like you. Think about Tommy trying his best so he wouldn’t disappoint you. Think about everyone at BPD depending on you and taking your lead. Do you remember?”
Jane frowned in confusion, her distrust fading as distress took over. She frantically shook her head, and Maura realised that Jane’s mind had been so distorted that even her real memories had become clouded with uncertainty.
Maura reached out for Jane’s hand again, and was relieved when Jane didn’t pull away this time. She held their hands close to her heart, tears starting to appear in her eyes as she begged for some glimmer of recognition. “Do you remember me? We used to be best friends. We spent so much time together. You would often come to my house in the morning, and we would have breakfast before going to work. Or we would go out for lunch and talk about our latest case, usually seeing your mother and getting pulled into some kind of family drama. Or when something was bothering one of us, we would curl up on the couch and just talk for hours, until we were both laughing and having fun, and we’d forget that the world was cruel or unkind, and just enjoy being with someone who understood. We used to trust each other with everything, Jane. Please tell me that you remember me?”
Jane sat completely still in uneasy contemplation for several long moments. Maura could barely see her now past the fog of tears that had overcome her eyes, and she had no idea what Jane was thinking. She had gambled everything on the belief that Jane remembered her somehow, that the woman had not been crushed under the weight of the mental and physical torture she had endured as they attempted to turn her into a monster. If that assumption had been wrong, Maura knew it would crush her as well, and she might as well give up now.
Suddenly Maura felt a shaking hand touch her cheek and wipe away the stream of tears. She closed her eyes instinctively, unleashing more tears to roll across the trembling hand hesitantly brushing her face.
Maura felt the hand leave her face and panicked, but almost immediately felt another touch on her neck. She looked at Jane in confusion, and felt the first stirrings of hope when she saw a smile appearing in Jane’s eyes.
Jane met her gaze with certainty, before directing her eyes to the spot she was touching on Maura’s neck. Maura frowned, not understanding. Jane then moved her hand again, touching Maura’s left calf. Maura frowned again before gasping in understanding and realisation.
She was revisiting all the scars on Maura’s body, signposts of the events that had brought them closer together, and was pointing them all out in order.
Jane remembered her.
Jane’s hand moved again, gently touching Maura’s abdomen at the location of her scar from her kidney removal procedure. Maura couldn’t hold in a sob of relief, her hand tightly squeezing Jane’s where they were still twined together over Maura’s heart. Jane smiled widely, squeezing back as she moved her other hand to touch Maura’s leg where Lucas had stabbed her.
Maura nodded wordlessly, overwhelmed at the evidence that Jane remembered her. She saw Jane’s face grow determined as her hand moved to the last scar, her left shoulder, where Lucas had shot her. Maura could see the anger in Jane’s face as her fingers brushed carefully over the site of the wound, and she understood that whatever else Jane remembered, she knew that Lucas was responsible for a lot of Maura’s pain. The resolve on Jane’s face told her that Agent Lucas would be in serious danger the next time Jane saw him.
Jane’s eyes locked with Maura’s once more, and they shared a long moment of solidarity, acknowledging their past history, noting their past trauma and agreeing that they wouldn’t be ruled by the demons of their past. They had always been an unbeatable team, and they would now stand together again.
Maura swallowed thickly, buoyed by their renewed bond but filled with trepidation over what they needed to do next. “I need to ask you something very important. Do you trust me?”
Jane didn’t hesitate with her answering nod. Maura smiled in thanks, taking a moment to wipe her face clean of tears before asking the question she’d been building towards. “Do you trust me enough to put aside everything your mind is telling you, and believe that Frankie needs to be saved?”
At the mention of Frankie, Jane’s face scrunched in distaste, her memories fighting against her desires, but she finally nodded reluctantly.
Maura couldn’t temper the brilliant smile that spread across her face as she leaned forward, gathering Jane into a warm hug.
Her heart soared when she felt two trembling arms hug her back.