Don't Speak

Chapter 9

After Jane and Lucas left Maura couldn’t help breaking down and sobbing. She had no concept of how long she lay there, chest heaving, sobs clawing their way past a constricted throat, tears soaking her pillow.

Maura was finally jolted out of her misery when an equally miserable Susie Chang walked into her room. Susie didn’t comment on Maura’s tears, having obviously been crying herself; she simply pulled a chair next to her bed, gently grasped Maura’s hand and sat down. The comforting gesture set Maura off again, her tears quieter now but just as sad.

Susie’s face was showing the results of Lucas’ assault. Her skin was a mottled mess of blues, reds and purples, with a bandage concealing part of the damage. Her jawline was swollen and misshapen. The clinical part of Maura noted that the bandage indicated a simple, small break in Susie’s jaw, which wouldn’t require wiring or surgery. Susie would be very sore for a few weeks, but she would recover with little or no ongoing issues.

The extent of her emotional damage was more difficult to determine from a visual inspection. Maura had never seen her friend so defeated. Susie was hunched in the chair, the arm that wasn’t occupied with gripping Maura’s hand tucked defensively around her own torso. Maura could only guess what Jane had said or done to her under orders from Lucas.

Unable to think of anything to say, Maura simply squeezed the hand in her grasp and continued to cry silently.

The pair sat in silence until the nurse came in. She checked Maura’s vitals, a slight frown ghosting over her features as she looked over the history for the last two hours.

She leaned over Maura with a concerned look. “Is everything alright Doctor Isles? Your vitals seem to have spiked about an hour ago.”

Maura was concentrating so hard on preventing herself from flinching at the nurse’s proximity, her position so similar to the one Jane had adopted while torturing her, that she almost missed the question. When Susie squeezed her hand she realised a response was expected.

“I’m fine!” Maura almost winced at how panicked she sounded. She cleared her throat and tried again. “Sorry. I’m fine, thank you. I probably got a bit emotional when I was talking to the detectives about the incident, but I’m fine now.”

The nurse’s expression had turned sympathetic at the mention of the incident that had caused Maura’s injuries. “I can understand that. I hope they catch the woman who broke into your house, she sounds like she’s pretty dangerous!”

Maura gave her a weak smile, which apparently convinced the nurse that she agreed. The woman bustled around for a few moments before leaving.

Susie watched her go before turning back to Maura with a worried look. Maura sighed, closing her eyes to think for a moment. “I think we need to play along for now Susie and agree with his version of events; give him no reason to come after us. We’re not exactly in a position to disprove anything he says.”

Susie’s face fell before she nodded. Her shoulders somehow slumped even further, her hope that Maura might have a plan dashed.

Susie sat with Maura until a nurse came and gently requested that she return to her own room. Maura watched her go without a word, not knowing what to say to make the situation better.

The following night was one of the worst of Maura’s life. Her gunshot wound was sending stabbing agony through her shoulder as she had pleaded with the nurse to dial her medication down to the lowest possible level. She remembered all too well the battle against physical addiction to pain medication and had no desire to repeat that experience. She also knew she needed a clear head to try to make sense of the last few days. Since the pain made sleeping impossible, she used the night hours to think.

Her first impulse was to give in and start feeling sorry for herself. After all, her former best friend had just invaded her hospital room and tortured her, the man responsible for her injuries and possibly the whole situation had walked away victorious and she had no plan whatsoever for how to fix any of her current problems.

She had discovered early on in her life that her logical mind struggled to understand strong emotion. It had a tendency to sneak up on her and overwhelm her at the most inconvenient moments. The magnitude of the reaction was often proportional to the amount of time she had been suppressing her reaction to a traumatic event before allowing herself to feel. She could clearly recall several incidents of a suppressed emotional hurt causing her to burst into tears in public settings, leading to further embarrassment.

Since she was alone in the hospital bed, instead of fighting the urge to wallow in her feelings she indulged the impulse. She had another really good cry, allowing herself to feel everything in as raw a form as she could take. She had learned over the past few years that the fallout from attempts to minimise the effects of emotions within herself had only increased in magnitude, as evidenced by her breakdown, so she instead tried to open herself to them completely in an attempt to get through the anguish as quickly as possible.

She forced her thoughts to revisit every aspect of the last few days. She remembered her frustration when Jane had returned, but not been herself. She felt the confusion she experienced during Frankie’s visit, and the betrayal she felt when she realised he was somehow involved in Jane’s trauma. She recalled the panic she felt when Susie was propelled into her house, immediately followed by Lucas.

She gasped at her body’s painfully involuntary flinch as she relived the violent events that followed. Jane being dragged away, the fear on her face as Lucas overpowered her, the return of the passive Jane, the one Maura had been battling to get past to find the real Jane. The pain of being shot was a secondary concern to the panic she had felt at being taken out of the fight; to the knowledge that she might be unable to help Jane.

She had been desperate when she yelled out orders at Jane, trying to get her to defend herself. The idea of forcing Jane to do anything was repugnant to her, especially after how Jane had reacted to being forced to stop attacking Frankie, but Maura had been out of options.

It hadn’t mattered in the end. Lucas obviously knew what had happened to Jane, because he knew exactly what words to say to her to force her to obey him. When he had activated some sort of mission mode Jane had completely changed, both in physical form and in personality.

Maura’s heart wrenched at the memory of the split second between Lucas giving the order and the transformation beginning. Jane had looked at Maura, and the expression on her face told Maura that she knew what was about to happen to her. She knew she was about to be changed, and that the real Jane would be gone, subject to Lucas’ will. She knew Maura wouldn’t be able to help her.

She had looked terrified.

Looking back now, Maura felt awful for seeing Jane go through that ordeal, but it also gave her some hope. It was clear that the Jane she was dealing with now was a stranger. She had no memory of their friendship, but more than that; she showed no sign of the compassion and care that characterised the Jane she remembered. She also showed none of the humour, the critical thinking, the mannerisms or the passion that made Jane the person she had been. Her speech had been stilted, with clear sections that were obviously copying word for word something that Lucas had told her to say. It was blatantly obvious to Maura that she was Jane in body only. It was also obvious that she would do anything that Lucas told her to do without hesitation.

The fact that Maura had seen how inhuman Jane was acting made the acts of torture she was subjected to slightly less soul shattering than they would have been if Maura had believed it was really Jane that had done it to her. The pain had been excruciating, but Maura didn’t felt betrayed or hurt by Jane, she only felt anger towards the person she knew was truly responsible; Lucas.

After she had stewed and cried and agonised for hours, Maura had a headache in addition to the pain in her shoulder. She was exhausted, she was extremely thirsty, but she was also feeling slightly better. She had managed to process at least some of what had happened, and she was ready to come up with her next move.

The most empowering thing that Maura knew was that there was nothing she could have done differently in all of this. That was the one thing she had always been able to cling to. She had done everything to look for Jane, she had welcomed her into her home and tried her best to understand what had happened after Jane found her, and she had done everything she could to protect both Jane and Susie from Lucas. In fact she was proud of herself for standing up to Lucas, even though she had been stuck in a hospital bed about to pass out.

That surety helped put things in perspective. There was no logical requirement to second guess the actions she had taken, there was only a need to figure out what to do next.

Her first priority needed to be to protect Jane and Susie as much as possible. It seemed as though Lucas was going to a fair bit of effort to ensure his reputation and position at BPD remained as it had been before his disappearance, which meant that he most likely intended to stay in Boston. Since he had brought Jane to the hospital, Maura also surmised that he intended to have Jane return to her old life in some form. There were still too many people in the hospital who would know Jane from her multiple previous visits, so he must have already told someone about Jane’s return.

Maura was unsure why Lucas hadn’t simply killed her and Susie and come up with a cover story. It would be a lot easier than going through all this effort to make them both comply with his wishes. She didn’t think it was a matter of morals; Lucas had clearly shown that he had no problem violating someone’s personal rights, especially with his treatment of Jane. He also didn’t seem to be squeamish; Maura remembered that he already had several ‘justified’ police shootings on his record.

She thought over any behaviour of his that she had observed in his time at BPD. He had always been a proud member of the ‘boys club’; making jokes about the women in the building, engaging in borderline sexist and harassing behaviour, dismissing opinions that weren’t in line with his own Neanderthal thinking. He also had a tendency to brag, as well as exaggerate his own abilities while belittling other people’s skills and contributions. Maura was honestly surprised that he’d managed to make it through the ranks to detective with the attitude he had displayed. His work had been shoddy and incomplete, and she knew that he had one of the lowest closure rates in the state.

She suddenly realised that she may have stumbled on the answer to her own question. Lucas had a need to feel important and superior, which he naturally wasn’t. He would take great pleasure in being able to outwit Maura and Susie and get away with it. He would also derive great satisfaction from seeing someone as strong willed as Jane subject to his will.

Maura’s stomach rolled again as she thought about how much control Lucas currently had over Jane. She resolved to find a way to get her away from him as soon as possible, to limit the damage done.

She fervently hoped that Lucas had informed BPD of Jane’s return already. This would ensure that she was kept at the station answering questions until her family was contacted. Once Angela knew that Jane was back, she would make sure Jane wasn’t left alone for the next week, which should keep her safe from Lucas. Maura resolved to contact Angela as soon as she could to ensure she knew about Jane’s return. At this point Maura knew she couldn’t tell Angela what was really going on, but she should at least be made aware that her daughter had been found alive.

The next thing Maura needed to decide was how to act around Jane and Lucas. Her immediate concern was whether to go along with the cover story invented by Lucas and parroted by Jane. She had told Susie that it would be better to go along with it, and after further consideration that still seemed to be the most prudent course of action. It would appeal to Lucas’ sense of superiority if he thought he’d won, and hopefully that would divert his attention away from Maura while she looked for a way to help Jane.

Which led Maura to contemplate her biggest problem. How to help Jane.

She didn’t have any real idea of what had been done to her; she could only speculate based on her observations. That wasn’t going to be enough to break whatever brainwashing or programming that was making her compliant to Lucas’ commands. Maura had seen enough to know that someone had used trigger words to force Jane to behave in certain ways, and unless Maura understood those triggers and exactly what they did, she would be unable to get through to the real Jane.

The silent Jane she had been interacting with hadn’t been able to offer up any new clues. She had no new names to investigate, no new locations, no physical evidence to examine.

Maura was starting to despair again when she realised there was one new piece of information.

Detective Lucas.

He obviously knew where Jane had been. He must have been involved in the process somehow in order to know the control words for Jane. He had also referred to himself as ‘Agent Lucas’ when he had activated Jane’s programming, which suggested he worked for the people who had taken Jane.

Now she just had to figure out how that helped her.

Then she remembered: Lucas had disappeared without notice for around two months before suddenly turning up in Maura’s house yesterday. He hadn’t informed his partner or his boss that he was going anywhere, he had simply failed to turn up for work one morning.

If Maura could somehow trace his movements, she might be able to get a lead on where Jane had been.

She realised she could also look into his movements before his disappearance. If he had been involved in this since before Jane’s disappearance, it was possible he might have visited the location she had been held.

Maura smiled for the first time since talking with Frankie the morning before. Finally, after all these years, she had something to go on. She had a lead to chase.

She had hope that she might find some answers.

The sound of the door opening startled Maura into attempting to sit up, which she immediately regretted as a new pang of pain emanated from her shoulder. The nurse saw the grimace on her face and hurried to her side, gently assisting Maura to lie back down. After checking Maura’s vitals she muttered something about stubborn patients and walked back out.

Maura glanced at the clock in her room, realising it was time for first round at the hospital. She had gotten through the night without succumbing to the need for painkillers. She couldn’t help smiling again.

After a few hours the door swung open again and a timid Susie Chang walked in and sat down, her position and posture identical to the day before. She was dressed in the clothes she had been wearing the day before, which implied that she had been released from the hospital.

Susie’s hand found Maura’s again and squeezed passively. Maura smiled and squeezed back more assertively, before she pulled on Susie’s hand to get her attention. Susie’s eyes snapped up in surprise.

Maura couldn’t help smiling. “Don’t worry Susie. I have a plan.”

Despite the swelling, Maura could still see the relieved smile that blossomed on Susie’s face.

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