Maura awoke with a start, instantly realising there was a hand on her shoulder shaking her back to consciousness. Her eyes snapped open to find Jane’s worried eyes inches from her face.
Maura realised her chest was heaving and her breath was burning her throat. She must have been screaming in her sleep again. This was another occurrence that had become commonplace after Jane’s disappearance, but this was the first time anyone had been around to witness it.
Maura closed her eyes and focussed on her breathing for a moment before reaching out reassuringly for Jane’s hand. “I’m sorry, I’m okay Jane. I was just having a nightmare.”
When Maura opened her eyes it was to find a disbelieving look on Jane’s face. Maura took another few calming breaths. “Really, I’m fine. I just….I’m fine.”
Jane frowned, clearly not convinced. After another moment of searching Maura’s expression Jane backed off, returning to the position against the wall that Maura had seen her take up the previous morning.
Maura flopped back down in bed, suddenly feeling how tense her body was in the wake of her nightmare. She had hoped that the dreams might fade now that Jane had returned, but apparently that wasn’t to be the case. There were too many unanswered questions surrounding their current situation.
As Maura thought about looking at the time on her phone, a knock sounded at the front door. Jane immediately tensed, moving into a defensive position between Maura’s bed and the door. Maura grabbed her phone hurriedly, realising with a jolt that it was after seven. Frankie must be here; he knew she usually got up early, even on weekends.
Maura quickly pulled on some clothes, muttering as many reassuring words as possible to Jane before instructing her to stay in the bedroom, despite the fact that she was battling within herself to remain calm. Jane seemed to be struggling to obey that command; her desire was clearly to stay with Maura and protect her. Maura patted her shoulder reassuringly before closing the door and making her way to the front door.
Taking a deep breath, Maura braced herself before opening the door. Calling Frankie over had been the most logical course open to her, but the tension that had started with her nightmare was only increasing at the thought of interacting with Frankie. She was committed to see this through however, so she swallowed her apprehension and opened the door.
Sure enough, Frankie was standing on her doorstep. She invited him in, moving to the kitchen.
“Thanks for coming Frankie, can I get you some coffee?”
Frankie nodded, settling onto one of the kitchen stools to wait. Maura bustled around the kitchen, occupying her hands while she tried to work out how to broach the subject of Jane delicately.
When she placed a cup of coffee in front of Frankie he frowned at her shaking hands. “Okay Maura, why am I here? Vague doesn’t even begin to describe your text last night. Are you in trouble? I didn’t see you at work yesterday.”
Maura sighed, again noticing the lack of concern resulting from that observation; her absence from work had become too common an occurrence to alarm anyone. Jane’s return was causing her to re-examine her life through the filter of her friend’s memory, and she was finding the results less than flattering.
Deciding to just get to the point, Maura stilled her hands and tried to speak evenly. “Something has happened. I’m going to tell you, but I want you to promise that you’ll hear me out. Can you do that?”
Frankie fixed a contemplative gaze on Maura. He had done his best to stay supportive of her over the years since Jane had gone missing, but their friendship had been strained several times by Maura’s continuing refusal to accept that Jane was gone.
Frankie had looked for Jane harder than anyone to begin with, but there came a point after around six months of fruitless and heartbreaking searching where he had accepted her loss. He had wanted to stop, to accept the inevitable, but Maura hadn’t let him, because she was determined to keep looking.
He eventually grew angry with Maura when she continued to keep his mother’s hopes alive long after he thought it was time for her to try to move on. They had exchanged harsh words on several occasions, and it was only Angela’s interference that had allowed them to rebuild the shaky truce that they still maintained.
Maura realised that this tension between them would make it hard for Frankie to believe the truth she was about to share. She needed to try to keep him as calm as possible so that he wouldn’t spook Jane, but surgical precision in conversation was something she’d never possessed.
Frankie took a sip of his coffee before cautiously responding. “Am I going to like whatever this ‘something’ is? Or are we about to have another disagreement?”
Maura smiled tentatively. “You’ll like it once you believe me. What it is…”
Frankie stood up warily. “Is this about Jane? Because you know I’m done talking about that. She’s gone Maura, and there’s nothing either of us can do to change that.”
Maura gasped at Frankie’s sudden movement, not expecting him to react so defensively before she’d even started to explain. Frankie seemed to take her surprise as a guilty confession and stepped forward aggressively. “No Maura! I’m not letting you put ma through this again! She has finally started to move past this!”
Maura put her hands up defensively. “Please, let me explain. This time is different!”
Frankie’s face contorted with rage, his temper snapping like a dry twig. “How is it different? How is it ever different?”
Maura stopped trying to be gentle. “She’s in my bedroom!”
Frankie’s face froze. He clearly hadn’t been expecting anything like that to come out of Maura’s mouth.
After several seconds of gaping at Maura, Frankie spun around angrily and headed for the bedroom. Maura scrambled to follow him, the kitchen counter getting in the way and delaying her. She caught up with Frankie just as he threw the door open and stomped into the room.
At first glance the room looked empty. Frankie was spinning back towards Maura, presumably to yell, when a hand suddenly grabbed his throat and lifted him into the air. Maura let out an inarticulate yell as Jane slammed Frankie into the wall, her face a mask of hatred. Her breath was rasping out of her throat, her body rigid with such a volatile mix of negative emotion that Maura couldn’t determine if Jane was acting out of fear, rage or pain.
Frankie was clawing at the iron grip that held him, his face quickly turning red, his feet kicking at empty air as Jane held him a foot off the ground with one hand. Maura rushed into the room, tugging uselessly on Jane’s arm before her brain caught up with her body.
“Jane! Let him go! Now!”
Jane’s eyes flicked to meet Maura’s, revulsion and rage meeting panic and fear. Jane’s grip suddenly released, allowing Frankie to drop to the ground, but Jane didn’t back off. She remained looming over Frankie, her body poised to attack again, but her eyes stayed fixed on Maura, waiting for permission.
Maura grabbed Jane’s hands, tugging her away from Frankie. “Jane, back off! He’s not a threat to either of us. Please calm down!”
Jane reluctantly moved away from her brother, her eyes still fixed on Maura with something that looked like betrayal. Her body hadn’t relaxed at all; she was quivering with the effort of suppressing her violent urges.
When Maura had managed to get Jane a sufficient distance away from Frankie she dropped her hands. “Now, stay right here. Don’t move.”
Maura spun back to Frankie, her hands reaching gently for his abused neck. Frankie was crumpled on the floor, but he was moving and moaning which was a good sign. He groaned when Maura’s fingers touched his neck, but managed to swat her hand away and struggle to a sitting position.
Frankie’s dark eyes zoned in on Jane, who was still bristling and glaring. Maura moved into his line of sight, trying to determine if he was injured.
Frankie frowned at her and managed to speak, his voice croaky but audible. “What the hell Maura? That’s not Jane, it’s some crazy freak!”
Maura closed her eyes in annoyance before fixing him with a stern glare. “Obviously this wasn’t how I wanted to tell you. You need to believe me Frankie. This is Jane. She’s been held somewhere for the past four years and experimented on. She has been through an incredible trauma. But she is Jane. She is your sister, Frankie.”
Frankie simply scoffed. “You’ve really lost it this time, Maura.”
He pushed her away and gingerly stood, leaning against the wall for balance. “My sister wouldn’t attack me. My sister couldn’t hold me up with one hand. This is some drugged up freak that has somehow convinced you that she’s Jane. When are you going to accept that Jane’s gone?”
Maura’s temper started to fray, her voice growing desperate as she stepped into Frankie’s personal space. “She isn’t gone! She’s right here! Talk to her, look at her properly!”
Frankie glanced behind Maura, taking in the sight of the bald, scarred woman still poised to pounce at him. “No, I’m done with this. I’m done with you. Don’t even think about talking to ma about this Maura, I mean it.”
With that outraged declaration Frankie turned and pushed past Maura out of the room. Maura hadn’t been expecting the move and was knocked off balance. As she regained her footing and ran after him, she heard the door slam with a foreboding finality.
Maura stuttered to a stop, staring at the closed door in disbelief. Despite the many disastrous scenarios she had considered, she hadn’t even entertained the possibility that Frankie wouldn’t believe her.
She also hadn’t considered that Jane might try to kill him.
Maura took a few moments to compose herself before returning to Jane. Her friend’s reaction to Frankie had been so violently different to anything Maura had observed up until this point and she had no idea what had set Jane off. It would be hard to figure out non-verbally, but Maura was determined to try.
She entered the bedroom cautiously, unsure of Jane’s mood. She found Jane still standing in the position Maura had ordered her to stay in, her shoulders still hunched in readiness. Her face had settled into a less hostile expression, but Jane was clearly still feeling threatened and betrayed. Her eyes bored through Maura as soon as the doctor entered the room, questions and accusations readily apparent.
Maura almost took a step back when she read Jane’s body language. “Jane, what is it? Why did you try to hurt your brother?”
Jane didn’t budge at all.
Maura crossed her arms. “Jane, I need you to explain this. Do you remember Frankie?”
Jane looked even more betrayed as she nodded.
“You remember him. Do you understand that he is your brother?”
Jane nodded again, anger starting to make its way through her features.
“Okay Jane, I see you’re angry. Are you angry with me?”
Jane squirmed a little before nodding, her fists clenching.
Maura was taken aback by Jane’s response. “Because I asked him here?”
Jane flexed her fists, shaking her head.
Maura’s brows twitched in confusion. “Because I told him who you were?”
Jane’s arms started to shake slightly with the muscle strain. Her head shook again, her eyes starting to plead for understanding.
Maura thought back over the confrontation, realising the moment that Jane had first looked betrayed. “Was it because I stopped you?”
Jane nodded. Maura gasped at the implication.
“You’re mad at me because I ordered you not to kill Frankie? He’s your brother, why would you want to hurt him?”
Jane’s face strained in frustration, her inability to communicate easily obviously distressing her almost as much as whatever she was trying to convey.
Maura took a breath to calm herself and tried to return to simple questions Jane could answer. “Did he do something? Is that why you want to hurt him?”
Jane nodded frantically, her fists bumping against her sides as she became more agitated.
Maura was blindsided by Jane’s answer. She knew that Frankie could never hurt his sister intentionally, and certainly not in any way to provoke such a severe response.
“When did this happen? Was it before you were taken?”
A shake of the head.
“After you were taken? But…that’s not possible. Frankie hasn’t seen you since you disappeared, he spent months looking for you. He couldn’t have…”
Jane was pleading again with her whole expression, this time for Maura to believe her.
Maura didn’t know what to think. She knew that she couldn’t believe Frankie had seen his sister in the last four years, but she also didn’t think it was possible for Jane to lie about something like this.
Seeing the obvious turmoil on Maura’s face seemed to unsettle Jane. Her face clouded over, becoming blank and unreadable while remaining hostile. Her posture closed in, her arms moving back to her sides and her spine straightening.
Maura saw the change and realised her mistake. “Jane, I’m not saying I don’t believe you, please don’t pull away. I’m just confused.”
She moved over to Jane and tried to put a reassuring hand on her arm. Instead Jane shrank away from her touch, still not moving from the spot she had been ordered to stay on.
Maura saw the flinch and pulled her hand back in shock. She realised she needed to try to make Jane understand that she was still on her side.
“Jane, I’m sorry I ordered you to do something you didn’t want to do. You can move if you want to.”
Jane instantly stalked out of the room, her disappointment and anger evident in her stride. Maura stared after her in surprise, amazed that Jane had finally taken independent action. This behaviour was different again from anything else she’d seen; she was acting like Jane would when upset, but her rage was directed at Frankie of all people.
Maura suddenly panicked when she realised that she didn’t know where Jane might go and quickly followed her. She was surprised again when she found Jane stopped in the middle of the living room staring at the door.
As Maura moved to grab Jane’s arm again, an insistent knock sounded from the front door. Maura froze, her hand hanging in the air. Jane spun towards her, a look of panic on her face. Maura touched her shoulder reassuringly, trying to convey trust and safety.
Maura opened her mouth to speak, but was interrupted when the door was thrown open and Susie was propelled through. She tripped and fell painfully at their feet. Jane whirled to face the unknown intruder, placing herself protectively between Maura and the door yet again.