DISCLAIMER: Rizzoli & Isles and its characters are the property of Tess Gerritsen, Janet Tamaro and TNT television network. No infringement intended.
SPOILERS: Very tiny references to Episode 2: Boston Strangler Redux, Episode 3: Sympathy for the Devil and Episode 4: She Works Hard for the Money
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Thanks to the wonderfully talented FlyingPeanuts for taking time out of her incredibly busy schedule to beta.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Going to Hell in a Handbasket
Jane Rizzoli stared down at the cell phone she held in the palm of her hand and ran the one-sided conversation she'd just had with her mother through her head. Her laser-sharp mind was quickly able to sift out the unimportant information the dinner menu, the time she was to arrive, and the type of wine she was to bring with her to settle on the single most important thing her mother had said, right before she'd hung up: 'I've invited your friend, Maura, to dinner tonight.'
Her eyes went as wide as the miniature saucers from the tea set she'd received on her fifth birthday even though she'd asked for guns and a football - as her mother's words sunk in, and she flipped her phone closed with a soft snick. "Frost, I'll be in the morgue," she said, hurrying to the door before her partner could even form a reply. He watched her race from the room as if a host of demons were close at her heels and didn't dare try to follow. Just another day at Boston PD.
Jane kept her head down and struggled not to mutter to herself as she briskly strode to the morgue. She'd tried to call her mother back several times, but all she'd heard was an annoying busy signal each time she'd used her speed dial. Only the heavens knew who else had been invited to the dinner party, and the mere thought had her bursting through the doors of autopsy just as Maura was readying to place a brain on the scale. Jane took one look at the slimy-looking organ her friend had cradled in her hands and suppressed a gag. Now she remembered what the fried wheat gluten Maura had had for lunch the other day reminded her of. Swallowing hard, she moved further into the room but made sure not to look at the set of scales and focused on the dead body instead.
"Hey, Jane," Maura said in greeting, having seen the blur that was her friend enter the morgue. "I'm not finished with my findings yet, but I'll let you know as soon as I determine cause of death." She eased the brain into the stainless steel pan and lifted her hands, her gaze locking on the numbered wheel and the black needle that indicated the brain's weight. She frowned at the slightly below normal reading.
"I'm not here about Johnson," Jane replied, her surprising answer drawing a quick glance and a raised eyebrow from Maura, especially with how insistent Jane had been that the star witness in the murder trial of a defendant she'd arrested couldn't have possibly just dropped dead the day he was to testify. She hurried with her question before Maura had time to blink. "Did my mother call you today?" she asked in what she hoped was a calm, completely neutral tone.
"Yes, she did," Maura replied as she turned her attention back on the scales. She gently lifted the brain from the pan and placed it on the table next to the supposed victim's head. "She invited me to dinner tonight."
"Did she say why?" The slightest bit of paranoia crept into Jane's voice, but Maura didn't seem to notice. She was too busy sticking her hand inside the body's chest cavity.
"She said she wanted to thank me for helping her get her car back."
Jane's eyebrows scaled into her hairline. "You? I'm the one who strong-armed that crooked used car salesman into returning her car," she said heatedly. "I even got him to throw in an alternator and floor mats!"
"I'm sure she thanked you for that," Maura said assuredly and yanked her hand free from the body with a slight popping sound. She leaned over the deceased and tilted her head to get a better look inside. Something seemed off.
Jane snorted at the very suggestion that her mother had been thankful to her for anything. "All she said was that she thought she was the only one I talked to like that." There was that tiny moment, though, when they'd shared a snarky smile.
The corners of Maura's lips lifted in a slight grin. "You are really good at intimidation, Jane."
Jane thought about that for a moment. "Yeah, I guess I am." Her confidence bolstered, she refocused on exactly why she'd come to the morgue in the first place. "So, it's just a thank you dinner. That's good." Jane shook her head up and down in a 'that's really good' type of gesture. "I was afraid she was going to try to hook us both up with dates." What she had really been afraid of was that Maura would end up liking the guy her mother had chosen for her friend.
Poking her finger between two ribs, Maura gently rubbed the heart muscle. The surface felt sponge-like. "You're not worried that she's trying to set us up?"
"Set us up?" Jane asked. Hadn't she just said that?
"Together; set us up together."
Jane frowned. "You mean a double date?" She hadn't given her mother enough credit. A double date would be agony for Jane. Not only would she hate every second she'd spend with her date, but she'd have to watch some man flirt shamelessly with Maura.
"Something's not right here," Maura said distractedly. Johnson appeared to have been suffering from internal necrosis, but none of his medical records indicated any such thing.
"You're damned right that something's not right. I'm not going out on a double date with you," Jane said in protest of the completely hypothetical situation. In her mind, however, she'd already begun to believe that her mother was planning on playing matchmaker for both her and Maura.
Maura stopped rooting around in the body's chest cavity and looked directly at her friend. "I'm not talking about your mother fixing us up with two guys and expecting us to double date."
Jane blew out a sigh of relief. "That's good, 'cause I wouldn't go."
"I'm talking about your mother setting us up to go out on a date, Jane." She watched her friend's brow furrow in confusion and, in typical Maura-like fashion, she very candidly stated the more logical conclusion as she perceived it. "As in date each other."
"What?" Jane barely managed to say. Quite impressive for a woman whose jaw had practically dropped to her chest.
"Well, it would be the next natural course of progression. We've technically already slept together," Maura continued matter-of-factly. Jane's face turned as white as the sheet that half-covered Johnson. "Or it could just be a thank you dinner," Maura said with a shrug. "Now, do you think you can find out if Johnson was seeing another physician, a specialist perhaps?"
Jane stared at her friend her gorgeous, smart, sexy friend and nodded. Please God, she thought, let this just be a thank you dinner.
"'Bout time you got here," Angela groused as she removed a pan of lasagna from the oven and slid a loaf of garlic bread onto the vacated rack. "Your friend has been here for half an hour. Frankie Junior is keeping her company in the dining room."
Jane went completely still, the bottle of wine she'd remembered frozen in midair, inches from the counter's surface. Frankie Junior Her mother was setting up her brother with her best friend. This was much worse than any double dating scenario she could have possibly imagined.
"Jane, hurry and open the wine. I'm sure Maura and Frankie Junior would love a glass before dinner," Angela said, handing her daughter a corkscrew and pointing at the wine glasses sitting on the counter. She made a shooing motion with her hands. "Go on."
With a scowl planted firmly on her face, Jane was just able to keep from mimicking her mother's words as she cut around the bottle opening and removed the metallic wrapper. Next, she jabbed the opener into the cork with more force than was necessary and began to vigorously twist the screw into the cork. She was just about to push down on the ends of the corkscrew when she noticed the number of glasses. "Ma, why are there only four glasses?"
"Oh, your father has a meeting and won't be back in time for dinner. It's just going to be you, me, Maura and, of course, Frankie Junior," she said the last with a smile. The same exact smile she'd used when she'd tricked Jane into having dinner with Lieutenant Joe Grant.
"Ma, this is a bad idea," Jane started to explain to her mother how very bad an idea it was but was interrupted by a voice from the doorway.
"Hey Jane, I'd love a glass of wine," Maura said with a smile as she made her way over to her friend. "And that lasagna smells wonderful, Angela." Jane pushed down on the ends of the corkscrew and successfully removed the cork, a giant cloud of worry settling over her head. Maura had been there long enough for her mother to insist that her friend use her first name.
"Thank you, Maura, it's an old family recipe." Angela was practically beaming at the compliment. "I made sure to teach Jane how to make it so that it would continue to be passed down from generation to generation, only I'm not so sure it'll make it past hers."
"Ma, that's a terrible thing to say!" Jane protested indignantly. "Besides, you don't know that."
"What?" Angela wiped her hand on a dish towel and faced her daughter. "Is there someone you're not telling me about?"
Jane glanced at Maura and then ducked her head to hide the sudden flush in her cheeks as she fiddled with the wine bottle. "No, but that doesn't mean there won't be someday." She poured Maura a glass and handed it to her with a smile. "Sorry," she mouthed.
"Yeah, well, someday isn't good enough. You need someone now," Angela said in that good ol' Italian mother kind of way. "But we'll talk about that later." She smiled at Maura. "So, Maura, ready to eat?" She grabbed a couple of insulated pot holders and gripped the pan of lasagna. "Jane, get the garlic bread," she yelled back over her shoulder as she pushed the swinging door open and disappeared into the dining room.
"Maura, I am sooo sorry," Jane apologized to her friend. "Feel free to invent some kind of emergency so that you can leave." She wished she could be so lucky.
"Why would I want to do that?" Maura asked in confusion. If she left, she'd miss out on the famous Rizzoli lasagna. Just the aroma alone made her knees weak.
"You're kidding, right?" Jane asked just as her mother swept through the swinging doors and snapped her fingers.
"Bread, Jane," she ordered and grabbed the empty wine glasses. "The salad is already on the table. Maura, would you mind bringing the wine into the dining room?" Her voice turned gentle and soft when she addressed Jane's friend.
"Sure, Angela, no problem," Maura replied as she lifted the bottle from the counter. She looked from mother to daughter and just nodded. "I'll just go and put it on the table." Careful not to get caught in-between the pair of laser stares, she left the two Rizzoli women alone. Jane immediately launched into a tirade.
"Ma, how could you?" she whispered loudly as she removed the bread from the oven. Turning the dial off, she grabbed a bread holder, lined it with a cloth napkin, and used a pair of tongs to place the bread inside the container. When she turned back around, her mother wasn't there. "Arrggh!" she growled and tossed the tongs into the sink. Straightening her shoulders, she snatched the basket of bread from the counter and marched into the dining room.
"Finally," Angela announced and motioned for Jane to put the bread in the center of the table. "The lasagna is going to get cold."
Jane grumbled under her breath and plopped down in the only empty chair; she snatched her napkin from underneath her silverware and placed it on her lap. It took her a moment to take in the seating arrangement. Frankie was to her left and Maura to her right with her mother directly across from her. She narrowed her eyes. Her mother had made certain that Frankie and Maura would be sitting across from each other, face-to-face.
"Now, isn't this nice?" Angela asked sweetly as she reached for the salad bowl and, right on cue, the phone in the kitchen rang. "Oh dear," she said in mock surprise. "Jane, would you make sure everyone gets some salad?"
Jane glared at her mother as she watched Angela push away from the table and start for the door, a thinly veiled smile painted on the older woman's lips. She handed the salad bowl to Maura and stared at the closed door, her concentration fully on her mother's plan. Let's see, Jane thought, she's going to come back in with some lame excuse about how she and I have to leave immediately, leaving Frankie and Maura alone. They'll make small talk, then move on to work related stuff, and then finally end up telling childhood stories, probably embarrassing ones about me. Jane frowned unhappily until another, even scarier thought entered her mind. Oh God, what if they really hit if off?
The kitchen door swung back open and startled Jane from her thoughts. Just as she suspected, her mother looked as if she was preparing for the role of a lifetime again.
"Your father just called," she started, apparently having already welcomed Maura into the family as a daughter-in-law with the opening line she'd chosen to deliver. "He has a flat and is having trouble getting the tire to come off."
"Perfect," Jane said sarcastically, tossing the napkin from her lap to the table. "I guess you and I have to go and help him change it, right Ma?" She pushed to her feet and took a step toward the door, anger rolling off her in waves.
"No," Angela corrected, "your father asked for Frankie Junior." She stood and motioned for her son to join her.
"Hey, I can change a tire!" Jane defended her automotive skills, seeming to forget all about her mother's plan to leave Maura and Frankie alone.
"And I can't?" Frankie piped in and practically leapt from his chair. Criticizing his police skills was one thing, but insinuating that he couldn't perform a task as simple as changing a tire was a slap to his manhood.
"I can change a tire, too," Maura chimed in with a big grin. Three sets of eyes immediately swung toward her, and she totally misinterpreted the Rizzolis' surprise as amazement that she could change a tire rather than the fact that she jumped right into the middle of a family argument. "It's simple mechanics, really," she added as she looked from family member to family member. No one flinched until Jane resumed the heated discussion as if there'd never been a pause in the action.
"And why do you have to go, Ma?" she shifted the topic to the part of the plan where Angela's presence was needed in the tire-changing scheme.
Angela fidgeted but stayed focus. "I want ice cream." She managed not to cringe at her quick answer. It was way too similar to the one she'd given for her husband and Frankie Junior's absence when she'd arranged for Jane and Joe Grant to dine alone.
"You haven't had dinner yet, Ma," Jane said with a grin. She had her this time. She'd finally get to call her mother on a lie.
"Yes, I have. I ate earlier." Angela folded her arms across her chest and tilted her head, daring Jane to doubt her words. She sized up her daughter's expression and hurried to strike first. "Sue me, I was hungry."
Taking just a moment to bask in the knowledge that she'd so win that lawsuit, Jane took too long with her comeback and, before she realized what was happening, her mother had dragged Frankie from the room, grabbed the car keys from the kitchen counter and left the house. The slamming of the door pulled her from her euphoric haze.
"Um, Jane?" Maura asked, having no experience whatsoever in these types of family dramas. "What just happened here?"
"My mother just made an attempt at another one of her matchmaking schemes, and it backfired," Jane explained as she moved back to the table and spooned some lasagna onto her plate.
"Uh huh," Maura said, playing back the last few minutes in her head. Having nearly perfect recall was certainly advantageous, especially in this particular circumstance. "Who exactly was your mother setting up?" She reached for the salad tongs and scooped up some salad.
"You and Frankie," Jane clarified as she grabbed a slice of bread. She took a bite of lasagna and moaned her approval. "God, this is good."
Maura opted to try the salad first. "So, how exactly was I going to end up alone with Frankie if he left to help your father fix a flat?"
The next forkful of pasta didn't quite make it to Jane's lips. She stared at the lasagna instead. "Maybe you were supposed to go with him. I'm the one who insinuated that Ma was to go along."
"Yes, you did," Maura agreed, "but she didn't say anything otherwise. She never even protested."
"Of course she didn't. She'd have to admit to her plan if she had."
"Her plan that involved her and Frankie leaving to help your father, you mean," Maura pointed out. Things were starting to make perfect sense to her. Angela never intended for Maura to go with Frankie, or Jane either, for that matter.
Jane finally moved her fork to her mouth and chewed on both the pasta and Maura's words. She'd never known her mother to abort a plan so early in the works, and Maura had been right. Angela hadn't hesitated when she'd said that her husband had asked for Frankie Junior. Her mother never even tried to get Maura to go along, either, even when her guest had pointed out how easy it was to change a tire. That was the perfect opportunity for her mother to send Maura with Frankie.
"So," Maura said impatiently, "have you figured it out yet?" She spooned a small portion of lasagna onto her plate and took a tentative bite. "Oh... this is good." She swallowed. "And you can make this?"
"Yeah, I can make it," Jane answered distractedly as she struggled to work out her mother's motives. She just had to be missing something.
"Then you'll make it for me sometime?" Maura asked hopefully, devouring the portion she'd doled out. She reached for the spoon and scooped up a larger serving.
"Sure," Jane kept her answer simple. What was her mother trying to do?
"How about a week from Friday?"
"Hmm, my kitchen is bigger. How about my place?" Maura had already begun to plan their evening. She'd use her best china and crystal candlesticks and turn the lights down low. Maybe by then Jane would have everything all figured out.
Jane pulled herself away from her musings long enough to nod her head. "Okay, it's a date," she said with a smile. A date, she thought, that was it! I was right all along. She turned an ear toward the door, fully expecting to hear the knocks of the two blind dates her mother had arranged for her and Maura, as she poured more wine into their glasses.
The streetlights flew by quickly, but Frankie was finally able to focus on his surroundings. "Where are we going, Ma?"
"To meet your father at Sal's Pizzeria. I don't know about you, but I'm starving." Angela pushed harder on the accelerator. She hadn't had anything to eat since breakfast.
Frankie looked over at his mother and frowned. "But what about the flat tire?"
Angela reached over and took her son's hand. "You sure you want to be a detective, honey?" He just stared back at her in confusion.
"All right. I got tired of your sister ruining every dinner date I've ever set up for her," Angela admitted. "I finally just decided to give in."
Frankie's expression never changed. "Give in to what?"
Angela just laughed and patted her son's hand. "If Jane's as slow as you are, all my work is going to hell in a handbasket, that's for sure," she said under her breath, but she had absolutely no intention of allowing that to happen. Maura Isles was perfect for Jane. She was nice, funny, smart, attractive, and a doctor, for God's sake. Angela would just have to learn to live with the fact that she just happened to be a woman, too.
Return to Rizzoli & Isles
Return to Main Page