Maura blinked dumbly as she looked at Jane’s hands. Apart from a few smears of drying blood they were unmarked, no sign of the deep cuts she had seen only minutes earlier. She put down the tweezers, turning Jane’s hands over several times to ensure she hadn’t simply been mistaken about the location of the injuries. She then carefully probed every inch of skin on Jane’s hands with her own shaky fingers, again feeling the movement of the implants but not finding any evidence of fresh wounds.
Maura looked at Jane’s face, her expression frozen between wonder, confusion and fear. Jane was frowning at her in concern, seeming to not understand Maura’s reaction. Maura glanced back at Jane’s hands again, still unable to believe what she’d seen.
Maura dropped Jane’s hands, her gaze shifting to the bloodied towel. She opened it, finding the two shards of glass that she’d seen stuck in Jane’s fingers. They were both rimmed with blood, the drying liquid dark and sticky. Clear evidence that Jane had been bleeding.
Maura glanced at her own hands. Maybe her mind had gotten confused and she had been the one injured.
There was no sign of injury there either. She flexed her hands, feeling no pull or twinge that might indicate a cut.
Maura’s suddenly shallow breathing hitched when she felt a gentle hand touch her trembling ones. Her eyes shot up to meet Jane’s. She found worried brown eyes as Jane leaned forward, clearly trying to offer Maura comfort despite not understanding the source of her panic.
Maura wasn’t quite done freaking out yet. “Jane? What just happened?”
Jane’s brow furrowed. Maura took a calming breath before continuing. “Your hand. There was glass in your hand and you were cut, but now you’re completely healed. What happened? How did that happen?”
Jane looked at the glass shards on the table, her face clearing as she understood Maura’s question. Before Maura could react Jane reached over and picked up one of the pieces, drawing the sharp edge across the back of her other hand. Maura gasped as blood bubbled out of the fresh slice, automatically reaching for the gauze still laid out on the table to stem the flow.
As she moved to cover the wound Jane gently but firmly grabbed her hand and stopped her. With an insistent look Jane drew Maura’s attention back to the wound.
She watched in fascination as the wound slowly closed before her eyes. The tissue knitted itself back together, sealing the wound and stopping the blood flow within seconds. Within a minute the wound had completely healed without a trace.
Maura’s mouth hung open in shock. This level of cellular regeneration was far beyond anything she’d ever seen or heard of. But she couldn’t deny what she’d just witnessed.
Maura suddenly sprang off the couch and started pacing, her hands wringing together in agitation. Jane watched her movements with unease, clearly unsure whether she had done something wrong.
Maura’s mind was churning. This shouldn’t be possible. She had kept up to date on all the latest medical journals, and there were no procedures, treatments, medicines, drugs, herbal remedies, anything to explain this. It was possible to regenerate tissue in a laboratory setting, in a petri dish, but that process required protein baths, power sources, nanotechnology, monitoring, none of which were present in her living room. She had never come across any mention of a technology that would allow the process to occur unaided within an individual.
However…Maura’s mind flashed to the implants under Jane’s skin. The foreign objects she had felt in her abdomen, on her skeleton, in her head. She hadn’t been able to determine their function; perhaps this was it. Self-healing, almost instantaneous, for….what?
A field operative?
No, it didn’t make sense. A field operative for some secret organisation would need to be able to fit in with society, and Jane’s physical appearance made her stand out. She couldn’t function without anyone with her either, she required too much constant instruction.
A lab rat?
Again, this seemed implausible. Simple experimentation wouldn’t lend itself to her healing ability being contained within her body. It would be more cost effective to leave whatever functions were controlled by her implants outside of her body, via some kind of machinery. The cost of miniaturising the technology, optimising it for implantation, ensuring the patient survived the procedure, planning to prevent rejection, ongoing maintenance of the implants and integrating the function of all the implants would make the entire process unsupportable in a testing setting. Also if they needed to test whether a new life-saving technology could work they could ask for volunteers, do it out in the open, not resort to kidnapping detectives. Whoever had kidnapped Jane definitely expected more out of her than a body to experiment on.
Maura looked back at Jane, suddenly feeling ill. Her earlier conversation with Susie had made her think of the behaviour of a soldier. The conditioning, the obedience, it made sense if someone was trying to create compliant troops who didn’t ask questions. A person with Jane’s current communication skills would be useless from an operational perspective in a social setting, but would be perfect in a warzone. She would obey and fight or die without any argument, and with this enhanced biology she would most likely come back to do it over and over again. The disgust Maura felt at this concept pooled in her stomach as if she’d swallowed several rare earth magnets that were tearing her insides apart.
Although she was only guessing, Maura felt an unsettling chill permeate her being at the thought of Jane being turned into a soldier, forced to act out orders from some shadowy organisation with unknown motives. It defied her ability to comprehend; how could any human being do this to another? And why Jane?
She felt her desire to protect and help Jane magnify exponentially. Whatever had happened over the last four years, Maura was here now and she was going to make sure nobody abused Jane again.
Maura took in Jane’s expression. She was completely back to being Jane again, her face worried but still allowing Maura the space to think. The theory that Jane emerged under familiar conditions was looking more plausible by the minute, as all of Maura’s dearest memories of Jane were of the times she had been comforted by her friend’s reliable support, just as she was providing now. She never pressed her further than she needed to, she didn’t force her to talk; she was just there for her.
Maura knew she needed to say something. “Jane it’s okay, I’m okay. I was just surprised. Let me clean up your hands, and then I’ll clean up the kitchen, and then I’ll call Susie and see if she’s found anything.”
Maura remembered she hadn’t finished her beer and retrieved it from the kitchen, carefully wiping Jane’s hands clean before passing her the bottle. “Here Jane, why don’t you have the rest of this. I’ll be back in a few minutes.”
Jane smiled as Maura handed her the open beer, sending Maura a thankful look before putting her mouth to the bottle and taking a sip. The smile widened as her eyes slipped closed in bliss. Maura couldn’t help smiling as well.
As she moved around the kitchen cleaning and disposing of the destroyed bottle the smile quickly fell off her face. The implications of everything she’s seen were beyond troubling. She knew she had been right not to tell anyone about Jane; the amount of resources that had to have been expended on Jane made her a valuable asset to someone, and there was no chance they wouldn’t come looking for her.
So what was the next step? They needed to know who had done this so they could keep Jane safe, but unless Jane could tell them who had kidnapped her there was nothing to go on. If there had been any evidence Maura could find she would have discovered it years ago.
Maura still clearly remembered the weeks just after she had lost Jane. She had checked herself out of the hospital after only three days, against medical advice, to coordinate the search effort she had initiated. The pain in her leg became agonising after only hours of walking on it, but she ignored it, took some painkillers and kept on going. She sent investigators back into the collapsed building multiple times, using every forensic tool at her disposal to analyse the scene, desperately looking for any clue. They had found the place where Maura had been found, the puddle of Maura’s dried blood an obvious marker. The piece of steel that had pierced her leg was gone, but the pieces of concrete that had blackened her face and arms were still present. They had dug through the remains of that wall painfully slowly, shoring up the integrity of the building to prevent further collapses. Maura was almost hysterical by the time the debris was cleared; she was terrified that they might be digging their way to Jane’s crushed remains.
But they had found nothing. Only splatters of blood near where Maura had guessed Jane would have fallen. There was no body, there were no signs of an escape route. The investigators couldn’t figure out where Jane had gone, and nobody was willing to speculate on whether she was alive or dead anywhere near the frantic medical examiner.
Maura had decided that Jane must be alive. Logically if she was dead she would still be there, so she would operate under the assumption that she was alive. She started organising search teams to find her. They checked homeless shelters, hospitals, parks, anywhere she might have gone. Her family checked her house several times a day, Angela kept watch at Maura’s house, Frankie drove around all of Jane’s favourite places constantly, all to no avail. Jane was gone.
After three weeks Cavanaugh stopped the official search. Although Jane had disappeared while on the job, the lack of evidence and progress meant he couldn’t justify the strain on their resources any longer.
Maura instead used her own resources. She hired a team of private investigators, she contracted an engineering firm to analyse the incident, she even went to Rondo and organised a network of his contacts to keep an eye out for the missing detective. None of it gave her any news. She was still distraught, feeling like nobody else was looking. Feeling like nobody else cared.
Three months after Jane’s disappearance she was put on forced leave. She had been spending so little time at work that the BPD needed to hire another ME to keep up, and her own injuries hadn’t healed properly since she wasn’t resting properly. Angela had been looking after her and trying to get her to slow down for months, but Maura had been ignoring her. In desperation Angela went to Cavanaugh, pleading with him to do something. His only option was to appeal to the governor to ‘encourage’ her to take some personal time.
Without the distraction of her job Maura had been able to arrange the investigations to run without her constant input. She was also able to stay off her still recovering leg, allowing it to heal. She would always have pain in it, since her constant use had reduced the efficiency of the scarring process and left permanent damage, but she knew that she couldn’t have done anything differently. She needed to put her energy into finding Jane, and there was no way she could have rested knowing there was anything else she could be trying.
Angela still came by every chance she got, cooking meals for the overworked doctor and ensuring she rested as much as possible. She hadn’t given up on Jane either, she just didn’t have the same resources and connections as Maura to keep looking. Maura appreciated the support, although she became frustrated with Angela every time she insisted that another sweep of a park or another test result could be looked at later, after Maura had looked after herself.
Jane had always put Maura’s wellbeing ahead of her own; Maura couldn’t do any less in return now.
After a month Maura returned to work. She kept the search going as long as she could, before there were simply no new leads to investigate. She left no stone unturned, entertaining wild theories and assumptions only to find nothing. She kept the private investigators on her payroll, insisting they kept their lines of inquiry open, but the search was over. Unless something fell in their laps, Jane was gone.
Maura stopped her memories before they wandered too far. She knew that there was nothing more to find in any of the reports. She had gone over everything too thoroughly.
If they were going to get any leads on what had happened to Jane, it needed to come from her. She needed to remember.
It would be so much easier if she could talk.
Maura looked down at what she was doing. Sometime during her musing she had finished clearing the mess from the beer and had started cleaning the kitchen in earnest. She was currently scrubbing out the sink with great vigour. She hadn’t even noticed switching tasks, she didn’t really remember putting the glass in the bin or putting away the mop. Occurrences like this had become common place for her, with her mind wandering after Jane with no regard for what it was meant to be focussing on.
But now she was meant to be focussing on Jane, and on what to do next. Maura mentally shook herself out of her funk and returned to problem solving mode. She put away the cleaning supplies and moved back over to the couch. Jane was still carefully enjoying her beer, drinking it much more slowly than Maura had ever seen. Maura couldn’t help but smile at the sight of Jane looking so content for just a moment.
Maura resolved to continue exposing Jane to familiar things, but she suspected that she wouldn’t get a real breakthrough alone. She needed to bring in Jane’s family.
Angela was out of the question at this point. She had reluctantly accepted that Jane was gone a year and a half after her disappearance, finally allowing the BPD to have a memorial service for her. It had almost broken the strong woman to lose one of her children, but she had managed to get through it and resume her life eventually.
Tommy was also not suitable. He was too emotional; it was likely his reaction might scare Jane or make her worse. Also he and Angela weren’t well known for subtlety, and Maura needed to ensure Jane’s safety by keeping her a secret.
Frankie was the only choice. He had proven in the past that he could keep his cool under pressure and he would agree to protect Jane by concealing her presence. He also had the closest connection to Jane, and had the best chance of reaching her in a positive way.
Her decision made, Maura grabbed her phone. She noticed that a significant amount of time had passed since Susie had left; it was now after eight. Frankie would most likely be either at the Dirty Robber or already home.
She sent a brief text to Frankie, asking him to come over tomorrow morning. She deliberately left out the details of what she wanted, not sure if any communication methods could be trusted to be secure. Although she didn’t know if anyone was looking for Jane she didn’t want to take any chances. After five minutes he sent back an affirmative reply. Maura smiled, knowing she would be happy to see him as well. The Rizzoli family had done their best to continue to look after her in Jane’s absence, but she knew she made it difficult and was grateful that they kept trying.
Next she sent a text to Susie, asking how her night was going, again leaving no details. Susie apparently caught on to the sentiment, sending back a vague text about unfinished tests and a promise to finish them tomorrow. Maura sent back a thankful reply, asking her not to overdo it. She knew how much Susie still went above the call of duty to try to help her, and was careful not to abuse that aspect of her friend’s work ethic. Susie sent back an assurance, saying she’d finish within the next hour and be back in the lab at seven.
Maura returned to Jane, noting she had finally finished the beer and was now scrutinising the bottle as if trying to determine its secrets. Jane heard Maura approach and looked up at her happily, her face light and optimistic.
Maura couldn’t help smiling back. “I think we should have something to eat. Does pizza sound good?”
Jane enthusiastically smiled at the mention of pizza, her whole face lighting up. Maura couldn’t help feeling encouraged; the passive Jane hadn’t made an appearance for nearly an hour.
The pair passed the rest of the evening in comfortable silence, enjoying the pizza while watching a movie. Maura had loved the feeling of slipping back into their old routine, with Jane present and herself for the entire night.
Finally they made their way to bed, the sleeping arrangements identical to the previous night. Maura got Jane into the bed with slightly less awkwardness, but Jane still didn’t look entirely sure or comfortable. Maura’s hand quickly found Jane’s again, needing to feel a physical anchor to her friend to assure her rapidly drifting mind that this day was real.
Jane was here.
Jane had some kind of accelerated healing ability.
Jane had been abused greatly, leaving her with horrendous physical, mental and emotional scars.
And someone was most likely still after her.