Don't Speak

Chapter 24

The officers reacted quickly, spreading out to get better angles and cover, all of them still remembering not to speak. Jane froze, her eyes locking on Maura’s helplessly, asking for instructions. Maura hated that look, it told her Jane was slipping towards her passive drone state of mind, but she was completely unable to give Jane any reassurance in her current predicament. Her fingers were scrabbling at his to try to relieve the pressure on her throat, but his grip was too strong.

Korsak stepped forward, lowering his gun as he spoke to Lucas. “Give it up. Those files have been sent to every law enforcement agency within a thousand miles. Your organisation is done. You have nowhere to go. This is all over. Let Dr Isles go, surrender peacefully, and you’ll get a fair trial.”

Lucas simply scoffed. “Sure I will. Just stay out of my way, old man.”

As he spoke, Lucas started moving towards the SUV furthest from the officers, behind the van. He had Maura pulled close to his body, ensuring she was shielding him completely from their line of fire. She could feel his breath lashing her ear as he pulled her along, making her flinch reflexively as she continued to choke.

The edges of Maura’s vision started to grey out, but she kept her eyes locked with Jane. As she was pulled around the side of the van, obscuring Jane and the team of officers from her view, she thought she saw Jane take a hesitant step forward, but Maura couldn’t be sure if Jane was taking action or just mindlessly following the only source of guidance she knew.

They quickly reached the SUV, and Lucas loosened his grip enough to turn Maura towards the door. “Open it, then get in the driver’s side. I won’t hesitate to break those pretty little fingers if you try anything.”

Maura nodded breathlessly, her head spinning as air rushed back through her lungs. She fumbled with the door handle twice before managing to get it open, the weight of the door almost knocking her over. Lucas was still behind her, and grabbed her roughly before shoving her into the seat. He slammed the door and rushed around to the passenger side, giving Maura too few moments to breathe and try to focus.

Before she had time to think, Lucas was in the car and screaming in her ear. “Drive! Now!”

Maura nodded and somehow got the car moving despite her scattered thoughts. She automatically reached for her seatbelt, drawing a derisive scoff from Lucas as she clicked in the clip. They too quickly reached the end of the alley, Lucas indicating for her to turn right. Maura caught a glimpse of Jane standing in the alley, surrounded by running officers, staring after them helplessly as they turned the corner and sped out of sight.

Maura remained silent as she drove, trying to clear her mind and understand how this had happened. The plan had been going so well. Susie had gotten the sample from Maura’s house with no impediment. They had managed to find each other in a secluded street several blocks from BPD. Jane’s systems accepted the sample perfectly, and Maura almost cried when her friend calmly sat up, healed, and looked at her thankfully.

She had practically knocked Jane over with a frantic hug, joined seconds later by a relieved Susie. Jane had sat awkwardly inside the impromptu group hug, not quite knowing what to do. Maura had finally let go with a laugh, then pried a crying Susie off Jane reluctantly, since they had only minutes to get to the morgue. Susie had waved them away tearfully, her part in the plan complete. Since it was too dangerous for her to be anywhere near the agents, she would be leaving town until this was all over. Maura had desperately hoped that the rest of the day went as planned, if only so she could help Susie through the immense undeserved guilt she was still obviously feeling over her part in Jane’s injury.

Maura had then managed to get them captured without suspicion. Jane had sold her weakness and imminent death superbly, while Maura had been able to avoid getting searched, which would have revealed the hidden handcuff key in her belt. Korsak and Nina had managed to get a team of officers together quickly enough. They had followed Jane’s GPS signal to the alley, and Maura had given the cue to start the operation at the opportune moment. The police team had waited as agreed for Jane to disable the agents, since she could manage it without risking injury, and they had all remembered to remain silent to help Jane distinguish friend from foe.

Everything was going perfectly, until somehow Lucas managed to hide from Jane. It was almost as if he’d expected Jane to burst out of the van, since he was hidden well away from all the other agents in a perfect position to grab Maura when Jane was otherwise occupied. Maura recognised that she may have underestimated him. He presented a persona characterised by unoriginality and obedience, which was reflected in his files, but it seemed as though he had learned enough to see their plan, or at least suspect it.

She glanced over at the troubled agent, finding his expression furious and frantic. His eyes were flashing around the street as they drove, random mutterings leaving his mouth as he tried to think. Although he had been lucky and quick enough to grab her, it was clear that her kidnapping was the start and finish of his current plan. From the interactions she’d witnessed with the other agents, it seemed as though he had run out of allies and options.

With her head starting to feel less fuzzy after her near-asphyxiation, Maura decided to try to talk to him. Although she could see that his mental state was rapidly deteriorating, she hoped there was still a sliver of reason within the man.

She cleared her throat, assessing the damage Lucas had done to her throat with his crushing grip, but before she could attempt to speak Lucas started yelling again. “Shut up! Don’t you dare talk to me! This is all your fault!”

Maura flinched away instinctively, the car swerving slightly as she moved. He pressed the gun into her shoulder painfully, his face manic and enraged. “Just drive! Don’t even look at me!”

She nodded, too terrified to try to argue. He seemed to have become completely unhinged, his last shred of patience and reason stripped away.

Maura didn’t expect Lucas to keep talking, but suddenly he was speaking again, his words calm and reflective in stark contrast to his previous outburst. “You know, I had a great life. I was a great soldier, I was a great SWAT member. I took down criminals and saved the day. I was a hero.”

He glanced at Maura, obviously finding something in her expression other than the blind agreement he was after. “Yeah, a hero. You don’t think I’m a hero, do you doctor?”

She didn’t know whether he actually wanted an answer, so remained silent in an attempt to avoid provoking him. He leaned closer, scrutinising her face, before settling back in his seat, the gun still digging into her arm. “I can understand why. The victors never see the defeated as the heroes. The victors get to write the history books. Why do you keep beating me? Why can’t you just die?”

Maura whimpered quietly in pain as he dug the gun in harder, his voice growing angrier the longer he talked. “Why, doctor? You were supposed to die in that building. I stabbed you, and you just wouldn’t die. You somehow escaped, and spent the next four years making my life miserable. And then, when I almost managed to get everything I wanted, you managed to win again. I should have just killed you when I shot you, I should have ignored the others and just killed you. But no, you always survive. And I always lose. It’s not fair!”

He sighed and pulled back, the gun still pointed at Maura. “So, here we are. I have nothing left. Either I give up, and I go to prison for life, or I don’t give up, and I get shot. Great choices, thanks.”

He sat up a little straighter, his expression suggesting he was having an epiphany. “Or I shoot you, and then I give up, and I still go to prison for life. But at least you’ll finally be dead. Bit of a no brainer, really.”

Maura finally looked at him. He seemed resigned, and was clearly about to finish what he’d started four years ago. Her eyes widened as she realised she was about to die.

Maura suddenly jerked the wheel to the left, throwing Lucas back into the door frame with enough force to make him fall half off the seat. She hit the accelerator, swerving the car through the oncoming traffic, off the street and into a construction site. The car crashed through a safety fence, then headed for a newly built concrete wall. Just before impact, Maura turned off the ignition to disable the airbags. She knew her only chance of survival was if Lucas came out of the imminent crash worse off than her, so she hoped that her seatbelt would be enough to save her from serious injury.

The impact threw Maura forward violently, her chest protesting as the belt locked, while Lucas flew into the dash shoulder first. The momentum of the car carried it through the wall and sideways into a pillar, the second impact sending the vehicle into an uncontrolled spin. The tyres squealed as Maura tried to regain control, but the car smashed into another wall heavily, the right side crumpling inwards as the wreck finally came to a stop.

Maura tried to breathe and instantly found herself coughing, her chest feeling crushed. The seat belt was cutting into her front painfully, and every spot it touched was throbbing. Her head was fuzzy again, and as she cautiously put a hand to her forehead she felt the sticky presence of blood. She probed carefully, finding a gash where her head had hit something.

Moving slowly, she twisted her head to look for Lucas. She saw his crumpled form still in the passenger seat, his arm sitting at an unnatural angle and blood streaming from his nose and cheek. As she watched, the man began to stir, groaning and shifting uncomfortably.

She instantly panicked, knowing that even injured he could still easily kill her. Her hand found the seatbelt clip easily, but the belt was jammed.

She slipped the top loop of the belt over her head, realising that the belt had locked with just enough room for her to squirm free. As she lifted her right leg, she felt a stabbing pain emanate from her ankle, but she ignored it and worked herself free in seconds. Her head was spinning wildly from a combination of the concussion she suspected she had and the pain of forcing her injured body to move, so she paused and took a moment to breathe.

Glancing at Lucas again and realising he was about to wake up, she frantically grabbed for the door handle and shoved with her shoulder. By some miracle, the door opened without protest, making Maura fall out of the vehicle ungracefully and painfully. Her ankle screamed again, but she resolutely pushed the pain away and struggled to her knees, crawling away from the wreckage as fast as possible.

She made it to a nearby pillar and crawled behind it before allowing herself to rest. She glanced around the dark room, realising they had crashed into the lobby of what looked to be a hotel under construction. The walls were all in place, as were the concrete structural pillars positioned around the room, but the floor and walls were still bare concrete, with various tools and materials scattered around the space. She took a moment to be grateful that they hadn’t crashed through an occupied building before gathering her strength to continue crawling away.

As she reached the next pillar, halfway to the front wall they had crashed through, she heard Lucas regain consciousness with a bellow of pain. A string of violent cursing followed, which made her whimper and huddle behind to the pillar. She realised that if he was able to walk, he would be able to catch her, since her ankle was clearly broken and useless. She pulled her limbs in close to her body, deciding to hide and hope that their backup found them before he found her.

She closed her eyes and focused on steadying her breathing. It quickly slowed from the breathless panting she had been doing involuntarily, allowing her to hide in the blanket of silence and darkness.

Lucas seemed to have extricated himself from the car, as she heard another string of curses and a loud thump. There was more shuffling, presumably as he regained his footing, and a chilling click as he checked his gun and readied it.

Lucas started laughing, his voice gaining an edge of insanity as he began moving. “Come out, come out, wherever you are, doctor! Don’t play hide and seek, it’s rude!”

He continued to laugh, his steps sounding shaky but inexorable as he moved through the echoing room. “Come on, you’re too polite to be rude! You’re prim, and proper, and fancy, and rich, and a BITCH!”

Without warning a gunshot echoed through the space, making Maura jump. She clapped a shaking hand over her mouth to dampen the sounds of fear that threatened to escape. After a few seconds she realised she wasn’t dead, and there was nobody else in the room. Lucas had apparently fired at nothing, probably trying to scare her into revealing her position. The knowledge that she was still undiscovered didn’t prevent violent tremors of terror from cascading through her aching body.

The room was silent for a moment before Lucas laughed again. “Aw, come on, don’t be like that! Look, I’m sorry, I’ll put the gun away, and we’ll talk about this. You like talking, right? It’s all you do, talk, talk, talk.”

Lucas sounded like he was getting closer, and Maura was on the verge of panicking. Opening her eyes, she could see a shaft of light which showed her the path to the outside, but she knew she’d never make it before he found her. She didn’t want to die like this, crumpled against the bottom of a pillar in a random construction site, but her body had betrayed her, and she found herself out of options, out of hope, and out of time.

Without warning, he stepped around the pillar she was hiding behind, a grim look on his face. “There you are. My great nemesis, helpless and alone. The genius doctor, brought down by a simple car accident. By a simple guy.”

He sighed dramatically, pointing the gun at her face. “Any last words, doctor?”

Maura thought about everyone she would like to say goodbye to. She wanted to thank Angela for being a second mother to her. She wanted to make sure her parents knew she loved them. She wanted to tell Hope and Cailin that she wished she could have known them better and built a real relationship. She wished she could talk to her team at BPD and make sure they knew they were the best group of colleagues she could have asked for. She yearned to tell Vince, Nina and Susie how much their support and help meant to her. She wanted to tell Frankie that she was sorry for ever doubting him, and to look after his sister.

And Jane…she had so much to tell Jane. She had everything to tell Jane. She wanted to be there for her, to help her recover, to watch her reclaim her life, to witness her reuniting with her family. To thank her for the wonderful life Maura had experienced because of her. To tell her that despite the cost, Maura would have done it all again to save her.

But all her words were for the people she cared for. None of them were of hatred, or defiance, they were all of happiness and love.

So Maura, for once in her life, had nothing to say. She simply shook her head, closed her eyes and let a single tear roll down her face with a resigned smile.

Instead of the expected gunshot, a thump and a clatter were followed by a scream of pain.

Maura’s eyes snapped open in amazement. She saw Jane holding Lucas’ arms behind his back, her arm blades extended after using them to knock the gun out of Lucas’ hands. He was struggling to pull away from her. A few drops of blood trickled down his arm, but it looked like Jane had been aiming for the gun, not his fingers. Jane’s eyes were locked on Maura, frantically asking if she was okay, and despairing as she took in the blood covering Maura’s head and the shallow breaths she was straining to take.

Maura gasped at the sight of Jane protecting her. Somehow Jane had overcome the blockades of her brainwashing and decided to rescue Maura, without anyone ordering her to do it. Maura tried to speak, but her throat had closed over and she was finding it hard to breathe, her chest feeling tight and heavy.

Her eyes were drawn to Lucas as he shook the drops of blood off his hand. He glared at Maura with murder in his eyes, still violently struggling against Jane’s iron grip. “Let go and get out of my way, Subject 314! That’s an order!”

Maura’s eyes snapped to Jane’s. She saw her shoulders slouch as the indoctrination compelled her to obey. Her hands lost their grip on Lucas, allowing him to stumble away. He grinned victoriously, clumsily drawing his knife and turning to face Maura.

Jane hadn’t taken her eyes off Maura. The scarred and pale face showed the depth of the battle she was waging within her own mind. Maura could see the strain as Jane desperately tried to hold on to her sense of self, fighting to ignore everything she’d been conditioned to believe for four years and remember the woman she once was.

Maura wished she could speak, and reassure Jane when she needed to hear it most. She knew there was such boundless strength within her friend, if she could only believe it and overcome the insidious thoughts that had been forced upon her. Instead, Maura smiled reassuringly as Jane’s searching gaze scanned her face, conveying all the trust and support that had always been a part of their friendship.

Jane’s expression turned questioning, almost asking permission to believe in herself, to allow herself to accept Maura’s certainty as her own. Maura nodded, and mouthed ‘Jane’, hoping to remind her that she was not a subject, she was a person, one who was sorely missed and loved.

Maura saw the moment Jane won, and gasped as she saw her Jane emerge from the confusion and doubt, the confident wry smile telling Maura everything she needed to know.

A determined mask spread over Jane’s face as she stepped defensively in front of Lucas and pointed her blades at him warningly.

He stopped his approach, looking at Jane in disgust. “Move! I’m ordering you to get out of the damn way, you pathetic robot!”

Jane simply widened her defensive stance. “No.”

Lucas’ shocked face mirrored Maura’s as they heard Jane speak, breaking the most impenetrable barrier in her mind and overcoming her greatest fears. Maura smiled uncontrollably, overjoyed at the clear sign that Jane had won her mind back. The surprised expression from Lucas only lasted a moment, rapidly deteriorating back into rage as he realised that Subject 314 was gone and only Jane was left.

With a manic wordless cry, he charged towards Maura, ignoring Jane, his knife lifted above his head. Jane barely had time to brace herself before his body crashed into hers and forced her backwards towards Maura, who threw her body to the side as they barrelled towards her.

Concrete chips rained onto Maura as their bodies hit the pillar. She shut her eyes reflexively as her shoulder hit the ground, sending a wave of pain rippling through her whole body. Trying to frantically gasp in some air, she forced her eyes open again fearfully.

Lucas coughed weakly, blood trickling from his mouth. He pushed back from Jane, who was still leaning on the destroyed pillar, a surprised look on his face, the clean knife falling from weak fingers. He staggered back a few steps, attempting to glare at Maura again, but his eyes were glazing over and his stare lacked any bite. He closed his eyes, frowning in exasperation and defeat, before collapsing to the ground and lying still.

Maura’s eyes lost focus for a moment when she realised Lucas was dead. He had impaled himself on Jane’s blades, almost as if he didn’t care about his own survival any more. After hearing his enraged and manic ranting, it seemed probable that he hadn’t.

Her eyes snapped back into focus, but it felt like she was staring down a long tunnel. Two worried eyes were at the end of it, a welcome sight. Maura felt a warm weight on her face, and realised Jane was touching her cheek again. She tried to smile and return the gesture, but the inexorable pull on towards unconsciousness was too strong, and she helplessly allowed herself to drift into the silence.

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