DISCLAIMER: Rizzoli & Isles and its characters are the property of Tess Gerritsen, Janet Tamaro and TNT television network. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: For those non-baseball readers, batting 1.000 means the batter gets a hit every single time he/she comes to bat. A friend suggested I write something new and different to try to entice my muse out of hiding. I couldn't think of anything different, but there's nothing newer than a fandom I've never tried. So
SPOILERS: A 'missing scene' from episode 2, Boston Strangler Redux.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
The morgue was a place of solitude for Maura Isles, the one place where she felt completely at ease and at home. It was a quiet spot where she could put into practice her beloved science and research, sit undisturbed at her computer while browsing and ordering the latest fashion in shoes and clothing, and have chats both professional and personal with her friend, Jane Rizzoli. Today, however, a procession of detectives and patrolmen roamed in and out of the morgue, outnumbering the dead locked away in nearby storage chambers almost 3 to 1 and making Boston's medical examiner more than a little twitchy. She much preferred dealing with the dead than the living.
Straightening the sheet that covered the latest strangling victim, Maura pressed her hip against the autopsy table and watched as officers finally led retired Detective Kenny Leahy from the room. Her hand reflexively went to her neck, and she gently rubbed the area where Leahy had roughly brushed his arm against her when he'd released her from his grip to grab his injured leg. If Jane hadn't been there
"Hey, you sure you're okay?" Jane asked softly as she eased in next to her friend. She ducked her head and studied a red mark on Maura's neck. "Maybe we should have you checked out," she said in concern, reaching out a hand to move Maura's aside. She gently traced her finger over a particularly irritated patch of skin.
Maura suppressed a shiver and swallowed hard; she struggled to force her focus away from the pure wonder that was Jane's touch to concentrate on the whole 'nearly getting killed' aspect. "I wouldn't have been able to stop him," she admitted with brutal honestly, shaking her head at the thought of not being able to properly defend herself. "Even if I did manage to stab him in the leg, I'd have never been able to incapacitate him with a bat. He'd have been all over me before I could even start my swing."
"With your optimal batting stance and classic rigid body collision theory?" Jane said in a teasing tone. She gave her friend a wink and a smile. "He wouldn't have stood a chance."
"I'm being serious, Jane," Maura replied, gesturing toward the bat that once again rested against the far storage cabinets. "There's no doubt that I'd have beat him across the room, but getting off a swing? No way."
Jane opened her mouth to refute Maura's claim, but quickly snapped it shut when she vividly recalled the two times she'd watched her friend handle a bat. First, at the park, where Maura, wearing a form-fitting, water resistant body suit, went through one of the oddest rituals Jane had ever seen before settling into a so-called batting stance, and then earlier in the day, when Jane had handed Maura the bat in the morgue and told her to just swing away. The latter had been just as painful to watch, and Jane had found that she really missed the rather lovely distraction of Maura's skin-tight, ergonomic suit.
"See? You know I'm right," Maura said into the silence. She stared longingly at the bat and sighed. Her quest to create the world's most perfect swing would more than likely have ended in her death.
Jane found her voice. "No, adrenaline would've kicked in. Look how well you did in stabbing Leahy in the leg. It would've been the same with swinging the bat. You wouldn't have had time to think."
"Yes, I would," Maura insisted. "I always think."
"You weren't thinking when you grabbed that scalpel and stabbed Leahy," Jane said assuredly. "You didn't even hesitate."
"I didn't have to hesitate," Maura replied matter-of-factly. "I made certain to stab him in the fleshy part of his leg and avoid any major arteries." She looked at Jane with a confident expression. "Adrenaline doesn't affect my cognitive abilities or my precision. It merely makes me act quicker than usual."
The corners of Jane's lips curled up into a smile. "Then you would've swung faster, too."
"Perhaps," Maura said in partial agreement. "But I'd have still gone through my preparation before I swung. Even if I sped it up, it would've still been too late."
Jane stared at her friend and then at the bat. "Get the bat. I'm going to show you everything you need to know just in case the next person who takes you hostage thinks he's Jack the Ripper."
"Really?" Maura asked excitedly. Her eyes lit up, and she giggled like a schoolgirl as she raced across the room to retrieve the bat. "Where do you want me?"
"Over here," Jane replied, although her mind had conjured up more than a few other locations, none of them involving a morgue. "There's more room to swing," she added as an afterthought, as if she needed to explain why her friend needed to come to her. Jane resisted the urge to shift from foot to foot.
"Okay," Maura agreed, hurrying over to stand beside her friend. She quickly appraised the situation and turned so that her back was to Jane, figuring it would be easier for Jane to manipulate her stance. "What do I do first?"
Jane stepped closer but stopped short of touching Maura, suddenly understanding why she'd kept her distance earlier in the day. "Let's start with your stance," she said, mentally running through the possibilities before choosing one that might best suit her friend. "An even stance may be the best one to start with."
Maura nodded enthusiastically and looked down at her feet. She frowned. "How do I do that?"
"Place both feet approximately the same distance from the plate," Jane started and immediately noticed a glaring problem. She looked around and grinned when she spotted the printer. "Hang on a sec," she said as she crossed the room and removed a sheet of paper from the printer tray. Returning, she knelt down in front of Maura and placed the paper on the floor. "Here's the plate."
Maura smiled at the clever improvisation and began to maneuver her feet. She eased one foot forward and then the other until she was satisfied that their placement appeared to be exactly the same distance away from the plate. She'd have preferred to use a measuring device to assure her accuracy but figured Jane wouldn't like that. "Hey!" she suddenly protested as the mock plate's writing swam into focus. "That's my shoe order!"
"Right now, it's the plate," Jane said, moving back behind Maura. "Now, let's concentrate on your stance. Spread your feet out some." She had to wait several minutes for her friend to refocus and forget about the shoes she'd ordered. "A little more," Jane directed as she moved her gaze from Maura's shoulders to her feet and then grimaced. There was something very wrong with the picture she saw. "Um, Maura? You might want to take off your high heels."
"Why?" Maura asked, looking over her shoulder at Jane. Her friend wore the same expression she had that morning when she'd taken the bat away. "Oh, okay," Maura finally said, not really sure why it mattered what she had on her feet. It was just a simulation.
Jane waited for her friend to move back into position before evaluating her stance again. "A little more."
Maura shifted her weight. "Like this?"
"That'll do," Jane reported happily, although she would be much happier if Maura had taken time to change out of her dress and lab coat and into her tight-fitting, red and black one-piece suit. "Now, angle your front foot toward where the pitcher would be standing."
Maura stared down at her feet. "But you said this was an even stance. How can it be even if one foot is facing forward and the other isn't?"
"Your heels will still be in line with each other."
Jane sighed softly. It was going to take all day to get Maura into the right position, a hardship that would be easier to accept if they were simulating a much more enjoyable type of physical activity. "You'll need to have more weight on your rear foot." She watched Maura nod and shift her weight. "Now, lean slightly forward on the balls of your feet, with your heels only lightly touching the ground."
"If I lean forward, my weight is going to transfer to the balls of my feet," Maura said, her confusion evident in her tone.
"That's right," Jane replied, pleased that her friend seemed to understand the reason for the shift.
"Then why did you tell me to put weight on my rear foot, if you planned to tell me to shift forward? It would be easier to shift forward first, and then transfer my weight," Maura grumbled but did what Jane told her to do anyway.
Jane just ignored her and moved on to the next step. "Your hips and shoulders should be level, with your front shoulder tucked in slightly toward the plate."
This time, Maura wordlessly complied. The directions actually made sense.
"Keep your head steady, eyes level and your chin tucked in on your front shoulder."
"Like this?" Maura asked, contorting her neck and head so that she could rest her chin on her shoulder.
"Don't put your chin on your shoulder," Jane admonished. "Just tuck it in toward your shoulder."
"You said on your shoulder," Maura pointed out as she lifted her chin from its comfortable resting spot.
"I didn't mean on your actual shoulder," Jane grumped. "Just forget about your shoulder for a minute and let's concentrate on your grip."
"You said stance is important."
"Then why would I want to forget about my shoulder?" Maura asked honestly. Batting was much more complicated than she'd thought.
Jane blew out an exasperated breath. "Don't forget about it completely. Just put it to the side for now so that we can work on your grip."
Maura just nodded. She had no intention of forgetting anything.
"Pull your hands about 8 to 12 inches away from your body and on the same plane with your back shoulder." Jane waited for Maura to move her hands forward and backward and backward and forward until the other woman settled on an acceptable distance about 10 inches away. "Bend your elbows and keep your back elbow about 7 inches from your body," Jane instructed, adjusting her usual 6 to 8 inches suggestion to just 7 to save time. "Now, angle the bat midway between horizontal and vertical."
Maura concentrated on all aspects from her foot placement to the bat's and finally settled into a comfortable stance. She maintained the position and waited for further instruction, but none came.
"Jane?" she called over her shoulder, not wanting to lose her perfect stance to turn and face her friend. "What do I do now?"
"Um, you swing?" Jane said with a healthy dose of sarcasm. Sometimes, Maura was like a little girl needing guidance every step of the way - she watched as Maura wiggled her hips deliciously back and forth before taking a swing - and sometimes, Maura was so not a little girl.
"The stance feels good, but the swing feels off," Maura reported after taking a couple of practice swings. Jane hadn't actually noticed her friend's swing, but Maura's stance had looked very good to her.
"What feels off?" Jane asked, her voice lowering to its deepest registry. She stepped closer, fully intending to pay closer attention to her friend's actual swing. At least, that was what she kept telling herself.
"I'm not sure," Maura replied. "It feels kind of jerky."
"Get back in your stance," Jane ordered huskily and eased in behind her friend, leaving only enough room for the thickness of their mock home plate to slip between them.
Maura bit down on her lower lip and repositioned her feet, leaning forward and shifting her weight slightly to her back foot as she lifted her elbows and angled the bat. She shivered when she felt Jane's chin come to rest on her shoulder. "I thought you said 'no chin on my shoulder,'" she whispered softly.
"I said your chin. I'm just a casual observer," Jane replied as she gently reached around Maura and placed her hands lightly over her friend's. "Let's try this together." Pressing her cheek against Maura's and leaning fully against the other woman, she started a forward, exaggerated swing. Both women closed their eyes and went with the motion the slow, body-against-body, limb-against limb motion.
"The swing is too slow," Maura reported her initial findings but didn't make any efforts to increase the speed of the bat. "Leahy would've had plenty of time to retrieve his gun."
"We're just getting started," Jane answered in defense of her strategy. "You have to start off slow and make sure you've got the right technique before you pick up speed." She finished their swing and stretched their arms into a proper follow through. "Ready to try again?"
"By myself?" Maura asked in a tone that clearly indicated that she didn't think she was ready to swing on her own.
"I think you need more guidance." Jane swung the bat back into the ready position. "Don't want you to strike out on your own just yet."
"I thought the whole idea of this exercise was to keep me from striking out. Maybe I should've changed into my softball uniform." Maura gripped the bat tighter and readied for another swing.
Jane chuckled and once again settled her hands over Maura's. "Trust me; in that suit, you'd be batting 1.000."
Maura dared to relax her stance and twisted her head around until she was looking into Jane's dark eyes and slightly dilated pupils. "Oh really? You like it?"
Jane licked her lips. "Oh yeah."
"Then we'll just have to remember that for our next lesson," Maura said with a teasing wink as she turned back around and resumed her stance. She pushed back against Jane and wiggled her hips. "Now, where were we?
Jane moaned in pleasure and readied for another swing. "Practice makes perfect," she whispered as she started their swing, this one even slower than the first and causing their bodies to press together intimately.
Maura grinned widely. She was already batting 1.000.
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