Maura groaned as she fought her way back to consciousness yet again. She had been on pain medication enough times to recognise the sensations and groaned again, remembering the painful withdrawals she had experienced the last time. She knew she needed to get off the drugs as soon as possible to avoid going through that nightmare again.
She recognised the sounds and smells of the hospital. Her recollection of how she had come to be here was fuzzy, a result of the drugs.
As she finally forced her eyes open she recoiled instinctively. Detective Lucas was hovering over her, his smarmy smirking face mere inches from hers.
Maura closed her eyes against the nausea that suddenly flooded her entire being. The combination of disorientation from the drugs and being that close to the man who had shot her and done…
Her eyes shot open in fear. “Jane! Where’s Jane?”
Lucas shifted closer to Maura, his grin turning condescending. “She’s interviewing Miss Chang. We need to get a description of the woman who attacked you both. She could still be dangerous you know!”
Maura fought the urge to spit in his face, instead keeping her voice steady. “You can’t stop us talking. How exactly do you expect to explain a bullet from your gun ending up in my shoulder?”
Lucas just smiled, standing up to tower over the bed. “Obviously I was trying to hit the intruder. It’s not my fault you jumped in front of her at the last moment. She had already hit Miss Chang across the face and was about to attack me, so I really had no choice but to fire.”
Maura scoffed. “Really? Self-defence from a fictitious intruder? That’s your story?”
Lucas dropped the fake smile. “No, Doctor. That’s our story. Jane is talking it over with Miss Chang now, and then she’ll come and talk to you about it. You chose to do this the hard way last time; why not choose the easy way?”
Maura fought against the effects of the drugs to sit up defiantly, meeting his gaze fearlessly. “I’m not letting you use Jane. Whatever you’ve done to her, I’ll find a way to fix it.”
Lucas pasted another fake innocent look on his features. “Me? Would I do anything to my beloved Jane? She is my fiancée after all.”
Maura jerked further upright in disgust. “Fiancée? She obviously despises you! Before you activated whatever transformation that was, she was desperately trying to get away from you!”
The smile turned cruel. “She doesn’t despise me now. She loves me. Do you know why?”
Maura simply stared hatefully at the loathsome man.
He cocked an eyebrow at her display of resistance before continuing. “Because I told her to. She’ll do anything I ask. Anything at all.”
Maura couldn’t hold back her anger, lunging pointlessly at the arrogant detective. He simply stepped back out of range and crossed his arms mockingly. “And don’t even think about ordering her around anymore. I don’t know why she was obeying your commands before, but she’s imprinted on only me now. You’re powerless.”
Maura certainly felt powerless at that moment. Her body was punishing her for the rash movement, shards of pain from her shoulder overpowering the pain meds while her stomach lurched in protest at the sudden motion. Her mind was reeling, trying to absorb everything Lucas was saying and reconcile it with everything she had observed in Jane, both before and after the miraculous transformation she had witnessed. She grabbed fistfuls of the itchy hospital blanket, trying to ground herself and regain some semblance of control over the situation.
Lucas wasn’t going to give her the chance though. He stepped forward, pushing his repulsive face right up to hers yet again. His breath was foul, a mixture of old cigarettes and coffee. She was forced to clench her eyes shut to concentrate on not throwing up.
Despite her struggle she could still hear his dangerous tone. “Enough games. Are you going to tell the other cops the story I want you to tell, or do you need more convincing?”
Maura forced her eyes open to stare back defiantly.
He glared for a few long moments before stepping back with resignation. “Fine. Hard way.”
With that ominous declaration he turned and strode out of the room, leaving Maura to fall gasping back against the pillows. She lay there focussing on breathing for several minutes, her body exhausted after the brief but draining confrontation.
As she was starting to regain her strength and her breathing evened out, a nurse came in to check her vitals. The woman bustled around, asking the usual questions and taking readings before leaving as abruptly as she’d arrived.
Maura decided to take the opportunity to get up and find out what had happened to Susie. Between the injuries she had witnessed at the house and Lucas’ insinuations, Maura was deeply worried about her friend. She focussed on stilling her body and building up her energy in preparation to move. As she settled and relaxed her mind wandered back to the start of her true friendship with Susie.
The awkward transition from work colleague to friend had happened sometime after Maura’s second mandated leave from work. Maura grimaced slightly as she recalled the circumstances, the whole period being one of the darkest of her life.
She had returned to work after a month of organising the ongoing search for Jane. Although she had managed to plan and set in motion the search, her commitment to her work just wasn’t the same. She had lost the spark that made her enjoy her work.
It wasn’t just Jane’s absence, although the loss still weighed on her. When Maura first walked into her morgue, her steps heavy with the knowledge that the loud detective wouldn’t be visiting and bringing life to the sterile environment, she felt a deep melancholy, but she still felt hope that she would find her friend one day.
No, it was the fact that her faith in her colleagues and humanity in general had been damaged by the events of the last four months.
Despite the fact that Jane was missing, her body never found, the BPD had officially written her off. There was no ongoing investigation, only a cold case. Korsak had continued to push for more resources, but Cavanaugh had apparently been ordered to take everyone off the case and move them on to more important priorities. After only a few weeks Korsak also stopped pushing, accepting the loss and moving on.
The BPD giving up had almost caused Angela to give up as well. She still listened when Maura talked about her latest theories and leads, but she could see that the urgency had left the Rizzoli matriarch. At least subconsciously, Angela had started to accept the reality of Jane’s death.
Frankie and Tommy had followed her lead. Tommy had stopped looking and hoping months ago, deciding that it was better to move on. Frankie was still following leads on his days off, but as with his mother Maura didn’t feel like he was committed to the search. It felt like she was being humoured.
The lack of support and understanding from the people closest to her had crippled her motivation to help others. Maura had always found meaning in her work through the knowledge that she was speaking for the dead. This knowledge had been based on her belief that all people deserved to have their stories heard, to have their lives made meaningful even after they had ended.
With the loss of Jane, her translator between her logical mind and people’s erratic behaviour, she had been forced to evaluate her relationships using her own criteria. Without Jane buffering her from the subtleties of speech and the hidden meanings inherent within communication, Maura had reverted to measuring responses quantitatively. She had found the results less than encouraging.
When she asked for help in her search for Jane, she was rebuffed firmly, told she was holding out false hope, or angrily informed that she was wasting everyone’s time and resources. When she tried to explain her point of view, people rolled their eyes and rapidly exited the conversation, muttering about oversharing and literal interpretation. When she attempted to socialise outside of work and discuss her interests, the conversation would be rapidly steered to a more mundane topic and Maura would be left feeling impossibly isolated from the group.
Without the emotional filter she had previously used when interacting with others, Maura had quickly reverted to her icy impartial persona, only interacting with people when necessary for work. People were no longer potential friends to spend time with; they were emotional time sinks that would occupy her attention and distract her from her goals.
Maura soon realised that she didn’t have the same passion for assisting the dead in finding closure; they had become just another body that someone would forget about in a few months. Instead of being able to imagine a family who missed them and mourned the hole left in their lives, she could only focus on the stark reality in front of her; determine the cause, catch the killer, close the case, move on to the next. There would always be another body, there would always be another murderer. People weren’t wonderful creatures that were the answer to a meaningful and fulfilling life; people sucked.
The only person who had truly seen Maura and accepted her was Jane, and life had seen fit to demonstrate to Maura that people would let her down whether they wanted to or not. It was far more logical to avoid attachment, so her isolation was her own choice rather than the result of more loss.
As Maura grew more disillusioned with her life and her work, she considered simply quitting and finding something else to do with her time. She could take up a pure research position where she could avoid other people and work in solitude. Or she could go back to university and study a new field. One which might give her more satisfaction than continuing to toil at a job she no longer believed made a difference.
Ultimately she had decided to remain where she was until she had a definite result in her search for Jane. She did still care about her, and she felt she owed Jane the decency of exhausting every possible lead. Not only had the detective made her life bearable while she was in it, she had also saved her life by pushing her out of the way of a falling wall, possibly trading her own life in the process. Maura had resolved to at least attempt to repay that debt with either a safe return to her family or a proper burial.
Maura had completely and purposefully drifted away from everyone closest to her, and without her work to ground her in reality she relied on the search for Jane to anchor her, give her purpose and stop her from losing her mind.
She almost lost it anyway.
Around six months after Jane’s disappearance, a body was brought in for Maura to autopsy. She had been out of town when the scene was discovered, so had missed the initial investigation.
When she opened the body bag, she saw Jane lying on the slab.
Maura didn’t actually remember what had happened next. She had woken up in a psych ward under a 48 hour observation order. The doctors had later told her that she had started screaming incoherently as soon as she saw the body, which had not in fact been Jane’s body at all. The woman bore a passing resemblance to Jane, but she was not Jane.
Susie had come running in when she heard Maura screaming and tried to calm her down. Instead of relaxing, Maura had grabbed a scalpel and screamed at Susie to stay away from ‘Jane’. At that point other technicians had heard the commotion and called for backup, the morgue rapidly filling with people all shouting at Maura. Susie hadn’t backed away, and in her broken state Maura had panicked, dropped the scalpel and grabbed her, holding her between herself and the detectives like a human shield.
Maura had worked herself into such a frantic state that she had eventually collapsed, allowing two detectives to restrain her. She hadn’t actually held the scalpel anywhere near Susie, which was the only thing that prevented her arrest, along with Susie refusing to press charges.
Maura had been completely horrified by her behaviour, her logical mind able to recognise that she needed help. She checked herself in to a psychiatric facility immediately to get her head in order.
While she was there, Maura had openly talked to her doctors about everything that had led to her breakdown. Obviously they had spoken about her losing Jane and the toll that had taken, but they had also talked about why knocking over that domino had caused such a chain reaction throughout the rest of her life.
It had taken a lot of hard truths, but Maura left the facility ready to regain her life. She knew it would be a different life than the one she had led before, but she would find a way to make it work.
The first thing she had done was find Susie and apologise for assaulting her. Susie for her part had been completely forgiving, inviting Maura in for coffee and talking with her for hours. They had cleared the air, establishing the beginnings of a real friendship between them outside of their working relationship. Maura had been convinced that Susie cared about her, and allowed the loyal criminalist to thaw some of the ice she had let build around her feelings. It was the beginning of Maura starting to let people back in, although they both knew nobody would ever be allowed as close as Jane had been.
Susie insisted on establishing a Friday night movie night, to ensure Maura wasn’t left alone any more. Despite her more pessimistic outlook on the rest of humanity, Maura had at least found someone she could rely on. As time went on, they developed a friendly companionship, which allowed Maura to find some small meaning in her work again since she was once more working with someone she cared about.
However, she still knew that she would never trust and rely on anyone as much as she had with Jane. The bond they had experienced would be something that Maura cherished for the rest of her life, but she had accepted that she had to try to live her life without Jane. She had decided to try to move on.
Maura sighed. All that work was undone now. Jane was alive, but she wasn’t the Jane Maura remembered. She had been so altered by unknown forces that she may as well be a different person. It seemed as if Maura’s faith in humanity was destined to take a few more hits before this was resolved.
If it was ever resolved.
Feeling slightly stronger, Maura decided to try to sit up. She opened her eyes and gathered her strength, about to move when she heard footsteps approaching the door.
Maura’s breath caught as she saw Jane step through the door. Her swagger was the same as she remembered, but Jane’s steely expression was decidedly different to the kind face Maura fondly recalled.
Maura couldn’t help the hopeful gasp that escaped her. “Jane?”
Jane’s eyes swept over Maura appraisingly, showing no sign of familiarity. “I’d prefer if you called me Detective Rizzoli, Doctor. How is the shoulder?”
Maura felt like she’d been slapped with the impersonal tone Jane was using. “It’s…Jane, what’s wrong with you? Don’t you remember me?”
Jane’s brows inched together in frustration. “Of course I remember you. You’re Doctor Maura Isles, Chief Medical Examiner. We were just at your house. There was a crazy woman there, you and Susie Chang were attacked. You called us for help, we came in and saved you. Unfortunately, Doctor Isles got caught in the crossfire.”
Maura remembered that those were almost the exact words Lucas had used back at the house. Jane was just parroting them back at her, which is why the sentence didn’t quite make sense.
Maura tried another way. “Jane, do you remember what happened before Detective Lucas showed up? Do you remember staying at my house? Do you remember following me home from the park?”
Jane’s eyes glazed over for a moment before her gaze hardened again. “No, I haven’t been to your house prior to today. Lucas told me you were trying to make up a false report about today’s events. He has asked me to convince you to tell the truth.”
Jane moved to Maura’s left side and placed a hand next to her bandaged shoulder. Maura could feel the menace in the position and shrank back slightly, not knowing what to do. She was completely thrown by Jane’s behaviour; it was completely different from both the Jane she remembered being friends with and also from the Jane that had found her two days ago, mute and damaged.
Jane leaned in close to her face to whisper firmly. “Here is the truth Doctor. You and Susie Change were meeting in your house for breakfast. A crazy woman came in and threatened you. You managed to call the station and Detective Lucas received the call, having just returned from a long absence. He and I rushed over to find the woman and the two of you standing near the kitchen. She had already hit Miss Chang and broken her jaw. When we drew our weapons the intruder moved to attack you. Detective Lucas was forced to fire, but you moved into the line of fire and were shot. The woman used the confusion to escape out the front door and we haven’t seen her since. Detective Lucas then called an ambulance while Miss Chang kept pressure on your wound.”
Maura didn’t react to the story, she was still trying to understand Jane’s behaviour and think of something to say to snap her out of it. Her breathing had picked up in pace as Jane talked, reacting to the underlying threat in her tone.
Jane frowned at Maura’s lack of reaction. “Doctor Isles, are you in agreement that this is what happened, or are you still intending to lie about these events?”
Maura still hadn’t thought everything through, but she had to try something. “Jane, you know that’s not what happened. Lucas broke Susie’s jaw, he dragged her to my house and tossed her on the floor. You were trying to get away from him until he did something to you, I don’t understand what. But Jane, he’s using you, he’s evil, he’s…”
Jane cut her off by roughly putting a hand over her mouth, stifling anything else Maura might have said. “You are wrong. John is a good cop. He risked his life to come and find me. I’ve been missing for four years, and he was the only one who cared enough to keep looking for me. He saved me and gave me my life back. I owe him everything. I love him. And you will not be allowed to lie about him.”
Jane gave Maura a moment to think before continuing in a dangerous, low voice. “Now, are you going to tell the truth? Or do you need convincing?”
Maura could only stare back at her with a teary betrayed gaze. Her angry frown was apparently enough to tell Jane that she wasn’t going to cooperate.
Jane put her mouth right next to Maura’s ear. “Fine. Hard way.”
Jane pulled back and without warning pressed her thumb into Maura’s injured shoulder, keeping her other hand clamped over her mouth. Maura’s eyes widened in pain as she screamed into Jane’s hand. The pain was blinding, shooting through her whole body in waves as Jane twisted her thumb and sent sickening spikes of agony through the woman who had once been her best friend.
Maura couldn’t hear or see anything past the burning pain. She screamed involuntarily, her throat going hoarse within seconds. Her limbs writhed under the covers, but Jane pressed an elbow to her chest with crushing force to keep her in the bed.
After what felt like hours the pain stopped. Jane left her hand in place on Maura’s mouth as the broken doctor slumped in exhaustion, rasping air in through her nose, her eyes clenched closed.
A relatively gentle slap to the face brought Maura back to reality and she realised she’d greyed out from the pain. Her eyes snapped open to find Jane hovering over her once again, her eyes impassive and cold. Maura could find no sign of compassion or guilt over what Jane had just done to her. In fact there was no emotion at all; it was as if she was staring into the eyes of a machine, not a real woman.
Jane waited for Maura’s breathing to settle before speaking again, her voice calm and firm. “Now, are you going to tell the truth? Or do you need convincing?”
Maura noticed the repetition again in Jane’s choice of phrase. She knew she couldn’t take any more torture, especially from the woman who looked like her best friend, so she simply nodded, trying to choke back tears.
Jane appraised her for a moment before releasing her mouth and stepping away. “Thank you Doctor Isles. I’m sure an officer will be by shortly to take your statement. I hope nothing impedes your recovery.”
Maura could only tremble and gape at Jane as she turned and strode out of the room. As she watched her pass through the doorway she realised Lucas was standing there, and had probably watched the whole exchange.
His smug expression said it all. He knew he had won.
As he turned and swaggered away, Maura finally let the tears she had been holding in flow freely.