DISCLAIMER: Rizzoli & Isles and its characters are the property of Tess Gerritsen, Janet Tamaro and TNT television network.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

By D.S.


Her calculations were, as usual, accurate; Maura had indeed managed to position all of her new purchases within a mere additional three bags, and without Jane's offer to 'make it fit.'

"Jesus, Maura, do you know how much Delta charges for those?" Jane eyed the stack of designer luggage occupying one of the two beds in the hotel room. "Maybe you should ship 'em."

No, Maura declared, she was not entrusting her excellent sartorial finds to the vagaries of the postal system.

"So you're entrusting them to the vagaries of the airlines."

"I want to wear the Chanton on my date tomorrow," Maura replied. "I think it's quite fetching."

"'Fetching?'" Jane repeated. "If you mean it makes your boobs look big, I have to agree."

"That's what I mean."

"What if he's not a breast man?"

Maura smiled at her silly friend.

"Okay, not likely," Jane admitted. She was silent for a moment, and then added, "Like what?"

Confused, Maura said, "I'm sorry?"

"Like what's the statistical probability that a guy isn't a breast man?" Jane said. "A straight guy."

"I haven't seen any studies," Maura replied honestly. "In my personal experience, it's quite low."

"Hence all the tongues hanging out at you in that bikini . . . ." With an exaggerated sigh, Jane scoped out her less-organized half of the suite. "Guess I'd better get started, huh?"

"We are supposed to arrive 90 minutes before our flight," Maura reminded her.

Jane opened one of her designated dresser drawers and scooped up a pile of underthings, tossing them into her $14.99 Shopko special. That was apparently the extent of her attention span, Maura concluded, as her friend suddenly reached for the remaining Diet Pepsi bottle atop the dresser (Jane's contribution, having declared an absolute prohibition against "paying these bloodsuckers $2.50 for one fucking can of soda" from the mini-bar). "We don't wanna leave this," she said excitedly, snatching up the ice bucket. "Let's drink it before we go."

"All right." Maura would allow her friend a few more minutes to dawdle, and then assist her with her packing. She did not like to be late.

Jane was nearly at the door when her cell phone rang. "Crap," she said, checking the caller I.D. "It's Cavanaugh."

Oh, dear; that was rarely a good sign.

"Rizzoli." As Jane listened to whatever the lieutenant was saying, a perplexed expression crossed her face. "No shit?" she said. "Yeeeeeah . . . . Why not?" She seemed to remember her original goal, and with cell phone in one hand and ice bucket in the other, she awkwardly maneuvered the door handle and squeezed her body through the narrow opening into the hallway. "What do you mean?"

Jane might chastise her, Maura knew, but the odds of someone intruding during the two minutes Jane would be gone were remote, and it would be difficult for Jane to knock if she were still on the phone when she returned with the ice. Although Jane had no compunctions about simply kicking at the door until someone opened it – Maura knew this from experience – it seemed more logical simply to leave the hotel room door slightly ajar for her. Maura opened it, swung the upper lock around, and let the door rest on it.

Her two minute estimate turned out to be ten. "For heaven's sake," Maura said as Jane plopped a half-full bucket of ice onto the counter. "I was beginning to think you had gotten lost."

Not lost, it turned out, but bearing surprising news. "I just got a couple more days," Jane said.


"Cavanaugh says take a few more days." Jane shrugged, seemingly as mystified as her friend.

"The same Lieutenant Cavanaugh who turned down your request earlier?"

"No kidding," Jane replied. "Musta got laid last night."

Guilt, perhaps? Jane should have been granted more than five days in the first place, what with the unreasonable schedule she had maintained for months now.

"I'm due," Jane said.

Maura nodded.

"I've got so much personal time built up, the city'll need a bailout."

"Still, it's rather remarkable for Cavanaugh to do this," Maura said. "Rather human of him." She glanced at her watch. "You should call the airline. Is the department going to pay your transfer fee?" She drew the zipper around the last corner on her bag.

Jane walked quickly over to the bed. "What are you doing?"

Was this one of those rhetorical questions? It was sometimes difficult to tell with Jane. "I need to be at the airport ninety minutes before my flight, remember?" Maura said. "That's why we've been getting ready?" Why one of them had been getting ready, anyway.

"You're leaving?"

"As you were only given five days, that's all I requested," Maura pointed out.

"Seriously?" Jane placed her hands on her waist. "You're seriously leaving me here? What am I supposed to do?"

"What we've been doing," Maura replied. "Lying on the beach, yelling at the television in the sports bar – well, that's more what you've been doing, but—"


"People go places by themselves all the time," Maura said. "I've been on several trips alone." She smiled at one memory . . . Cozumel . . . .

"Come on, Maura . . . ." Jane dropped down onto the bed beside the tower of luggage, causing it to sway precariously. "Hasn't this been great?"

"Yes," Maura agreed. It had indeed been a very pleasant week. "But I'm due back. I only set the schedules through tomorrow."

"But—" Jane jumped up and strode over to the table between the beds, grabbing the stack of brochures. "You wanted to do this . . . ." Apparently she was searching for one in particular. ". . . microgravity thing."

"And you said not unless it came with a microbrewery."

Jane turned back toward her. "Well, you know, I thought about it, and it sounds kinda cool."


"Well, maybe not, but . . . . We could go back to that bar."

"The bar from last night?" They had been fortunate to stumble across it, Maura acknowledged, even if it had been their last night. It was very compatible with their differing tastes, both in terms of alcoholic options and in other respects.

"Those guys were smokin'."

"True, but you did turn them all down," Maura felt obliged to point out. If they were going to sit in a bar talking about men and going home together, they could just as easily do that – and often did – at the Dirty Robber.

"So did you."

Sometimes Jane was rather dense. "What was I supposed to do with them?" Maura replied. "We are sharing a room."

"Oh." Jane was embarrassed. "Geez, Maura, you shoulda said something. I could have . . . I don't know . . . stayed for the double header or something while you did your thing."

Maura shook her head. "I'm not averse to an uncomplicated romantic engagement—"


"—but sex wasn't the point of this vacation." She nearly added, "Hence the fact that I went with you," but that seemed self-evident.

"Oh, come on, Maura," Jane pleaded. "Stay with me."

The medical examiner was torn. She felt uncomfortable being absent from work even the week they had been away. But she had dutifully checked in the first few days and, as Jane had predicted, 'the world hadn't fallen apart because Maura Isles wasn't there.' Further, Maura admitted, it had been rather relaxing, lying on the beach, watching Jane lie next to her, or swim with powerful strokes, or help that boy build a police station sand castle with those little jail cells, and of course she was always encouraging Jane to get more rest. Her friend had experienced no darkening of the nasojugal fold during their entire stay.

Jane grabbed Maura's phone from the table and typed out a text to HR, then handed it to Maura. 3 more days? it read.

"That's rather vague, isn't it?" Maura said. The Human Resources department might correctly assume that she was requesting an additional three days of vacation, but it might also interpret the—

"It's fine," Jane insisted.

At the very least, she should elaborate by—

"Send it."

Maura pressed the button.

She had her answer within 10 minutes – three additional days' vacation approved, and the rest of the week if Maura wanted it. HR would arrange cover. Have fun, it said. Kay.

"Who's Kay?" Jane skimmed the reply. "All I ever get from HR is 'You got your hours in three minutes late.'"

"Short dark hair," Maura replied. "Gold earrings." Jane showed no signs of recognition. "Went to the University of Kentucky? Her family raises horses?"

"How do you know these people?"

"I get around," Maura said." Kay had always been quite nice to her. Perhaps Maura should remind Jane of the idiom regarding catching more musca domestica with honey . . . .

The microgravity seminar was fascinating. Jane would regret falling asleep, Maura predicted; she would have to explain to her friend later all of the technological and medical potential of organic materials developed in zero gravity.

It was such a lovely evening. Maura looked and felt wonderful in her teal v-neck, which even Jane had complimented, and the beef bourguignon had just the right proportions of olive oil and thyme. Surprisingly, Maura was even enjoying the live music, a local band on break at the moment.

Jane leaned across the table. "See anything you like?" she asked.

Considering that, at the moment, Maura's entire view consisted of cleavage, she was uncertain how to reply. "If you're referring to men, I don't think I'll be taking anyone back to the room with me," she replied. She was perfectly content at the moment. "But you're welcome to, if you'd like. I have a book in my purse."

Jane rolled her eyes, and then confided, "I'm not that great at bringing strangers home. It feels kinda awkward, you know?"

Maura nodded understandingly, although one might surmise that the four beers Jane had consumed with dinner would help mitigate such discomfort.

An idea seemed to occur to her friend mid-swig on Lager number five. "You know, we are a thousand miles from home," Jane said. "I suppose we could . . . ."

Maura waited, but no elaboration was forthcoming. Across the room, the lovely named Roadkill launched into another Springsteen cover. "Could what?" Maura asked

"Well, you did suggest once . . . ."

It was rather difficult to hear, particularly as Jane was looking out at the dance floor, and accordingly Maura did not have visual cues from the shapes formed by Jane's lips. She leaned forward and yelled in the general direction of Jane's ear, "Suggest what?"

"You and me . . . ." Jane gestured vaguely between the two of them. "With a guy."

Maura's eyes widened. "A three-way?"

She had not in fact suggested it – she had joked about it, nearly a year ago when they both initially professed interest in Agent Dean. Maura had never mentioned it again, nor seriously contemplated it.

She looked at her friend, picturing Jane nude in Maura's hotel bed, bare shoulders a stark contrast to the dark, ornate comforter. Fantasy Jane was alone, looking up at her; but of course, it was difficult to add a male participant with so many variables as to his potential appearance.

Jane laughed. "That'd be weird, wouldn't it?" she said, taking another swig.

Yes, Maura strongly suspected that it would. Her exposure to more enlightened European attitudes had eased her inhibitions when it came to sex. And Jane was probably the first person in whom Maura placed sufficient trust to even contemplate this type of activity. But that was what also made it so troubling.

Was Jane serious? Her laugh had been slightly nervous, of an 'I'm-joking-but-not-completely-joking' nature. Maura had heard it a few times before.

Of course, the issue would be moot if no candidates in the bar piqued both their interests, and Jane was rather picky. . . . Maura scanned the crowd for prospects. As she had also observed last night, many of their fellow customers were both physically attractive and devoid of patent genetic anomalies. Her gaze landed on one long-haired brunette specimen. Maura liked long hair on men.

She tried to picture him naked in bed. With Jane, also naked. Jane and this man, naked, in Maura's bed. With Maura, naked. Jane, lying next to Maura. Leaning over to kiss Maura . . . . Good heavens – Maura was a bit startled.

Wasn't that sort of thing expected in a three-way? Didn't the women usually . . . spend time with each other? Wasn't that part of the enjoyment for the male participant? Objectively speaking, Jane was certainly attractive, but—

"You're staring," Jane warned her, but it was too late: Brunette was on his way over, three beers in his hands and a smirk on his face. Jane looked from him to her friend. "This guy?" she asked quickly.

There was no time for a reply before the stranger bearing gifts was asking to join them. He had a firm, clear voice, Maura noted. His height and fitness were also appealing traits. She wondered if Jane found him attractive.

Jane scooted over and patted the empty space beside her.

Conversation was a bit stilted, given that, as the band grew more ambitious, patrons were essentially having to shout at each other. Maura was usually quite good with men – with flirting, anyway. It was only after they spent time with her that things became difficult. Tonight, though, she was distracted.

Their guest and Jane had found a common interest – sports, of course – and Maura watched the two of them debate the merits of players unknown to her. As Jane became more animated, Maura tried to picture her friend having sex with this man. It was surprisingly easy; it was only when Maura tried to add herself to the scenario that the image became blurred.

A pause in the proceedings caught her attention, and Maura realized that Jane was looking at her, one eyebrow raised. So, Jane was leaving it up to her. That was unfortunate. Maura would have preferred for Jane to take charge, to grab Matt – or Mack, she wasn't certain – and Maura, and order the two of them back to the hotel room.

Did Jane want this? Her expression seemed to suggest it. Would her friend be disappointed? Was Maura being selfish? Perhaps, but she shook her head anyway. "I'm a little tired," she said, which was not untrue.

Jane patted Matt or Mack on the shoulder, and pushed back from the table. "Thanks for the company," she told him. "We're heading out."

They hadn't talked about it, not even when Maura seemed to perk up after they arrived back at the hotel and they decided to wander downstairs and watch the rest of the game in the lounge.

This morning, with the aid of sobriety, Jane considered how close she had come to potentially screwing up a great friendship. A three-way would have involved her and Maura fooling around, wouldn't it? At least making out a little, if not the whole nine yards.

An image flashed into Jane's brain of her in bed with Maura, and she immediately squelched it. Similar thoughts had occasionally arisen in the past and she had managed to shut them down, even during that damn undercover stint when Maura was shoving her boobs into Jane's face every two minutes.

Jane wasn't into girls, but they did spend a lot of time together, and Christ, Maura was just damn hot sometimes. Half the poor guys on that beach were covering hardons every time the blonde strolled past in that fancy R-rated bikini. Oh, great; now Jane had that in her head, too. Goddamn it. Anyone would have the occasional subconscious tweak about someone who looked like Maura, and that didn't make Jane gay, or even bi, really. Jane had seen it on TV. Still, it was probably for the best that Maura had chickened out last night.

As she resumed toweling her hair, Jane heard through the bathroom door the chime of a cell phone and then, "Maura Isles. . . . Oh, hello, Terry."

Jane paused to listen.

"Elvin Walker?"

Uh oh. Jane wrapped a towel around herself and quickly opened the door.

"I don't discuss specific cases until our findings are complete," Maura said. ". . . Off the record? All right: Excited delirium is an unproven concept. It's not recognized by the American Medical Association or the DSM-IV. In my opinion, it is a diagnosis that has been created or exaggerated primarily to exonerate police and sell product. Most tasing deaths are, in fact, caused by electrical discharge from the taser."

A sinking feeling settled over Jane.

"He's what?" Maura erupted. "I'll call you back. There's been an in-custody death," she said to Jane as she dialed a number. "Terry White says that Jackson is about to issue a report that it was from excited delirium."

"Maybe it was," Jane said hopefully.

"Oh, please." Maura replied. "Remember the Bartoni tasing last year? The manufacturer's 'expert' wanted me to call it excited delirium, but the autopsy clearly showed—Rick? Maura. I've been informed by a Herald reporter that you are about to issue an excited delirium finding on a tasing death."

From the dismay on her friend's face, the tip had just been confirmed.

"You know how I feel about that." Another pause, and then, "No, there hasn't. . . . Yes, I read it. I receive the same material from the manufacturer that you do. The difference is that I don't believe everything I read."

Listening intently to the audible half of the conversation, Jane drew on her bra and panties, then slipped into the nearest pair of slacks and shirt. In that instant, she wasn't sure who she hated more, Cavanaugh or herself.

"I also have to question why I learned about this from the media," Maura was saying. A moment later, she replied, "How would I have heard? Tasing deaths don't make CNN any more." Suddenly, she whirled around and stared at Jane in shock.


Noise in her earpiece regained Maura's attention, and she directed her subordinate, "Don't finalize that report. I'll review the case myself tonight." Angrily, she ended the call, and then turned on her friend. "You knew?"

"That there'd been a tasing, yes," Jane said. Her mind was going a hundred miles a minute, but she wasn't coming up with a good way to get out of this.

"A death," Maura corrected. She didn't wait for a reply. "And you—" She laid a palm against her forehead. "—you . . . . What did Cavanaugh tell you?"

"Erickson tased a perp on meth. The guy died."

Maura was waiting for more, but there really wasn't anything else to say.

"Maura, I'm sorry," Jane said. "I should have told you. I fucked up."

"You lied to me!" Maura countered. "That's not a screw up. Cavanaugh wanted a different medical examiner to do the autopsy." For someone who didn't guess, her friend was doing an excellent job of it at the moment. She looked to Jane for confirmation.

"He wanted someone who . . . 'wouldn't try so hard,'" Jane admitted uncomfortably. "I figured it didn't – I mean, you let other guys do autopsies all the time."

"I make those decisions – not you, and not Cavanaugh," Maura said curtly. "He knew my position on this. All he needed was for you to keep me out of town a few more days." She shook her head. "I don't believe this!"

Jane took a step toward her, but Maura warned her off with a raised hand. Wordlessly, she pressed the concierge button. There was one empty seat on Delta's 4:40 flight, apparently, and no, Ms. Isles didn't mind first class, and yes, she would appreciate it if the concierge made the arrangements with the credit card already on file. A taxi and her luggage would be at the curb within ten minutes? That would be fine.

"Maura, I didn't mean to," Jane began. To what? Everything Maura had said was basically true. "I didn't know all that stuff. I just figured . . . ." It seemed so monumentally stupid now. "Erickson's a good kid, and he's a cop. I'm a cop. It could have been me."

"Jane, if I determine that someone died from deployment of a taser rather than some fabricated medical condition, that doesn't mean the deployment was inappropriate."

That made sense, Jane supposed.

"And for the record: If you and Cavanaugh assumed that I wouldn't overrule one of my subordinates three days after he issued a report, you were very much mistaken."

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Finding her own way back hadn't been quite as easy for Jane; no matter how desperate she was, she couldn't afford a first class ticket. As it was, a ride in coach on three hours' notice would have her on a Ramen-noodle-and-Mom's-cooking budget for the next couple of months.

She headed straight for where she knew her friend would be without calling first. Maura would answer her phone, Jane knew – Dr. Isles was a professional – but this would be better face to face.

As expected, Maura was peering into a dead junkie's chest cavity. She glanced up to acknowledge Jane's presence, but said nothing.

"I'm sorry," Jane tried again. On the flight back, she had tried to come up with something more eloquent, but this pretty much covered it.

"I suppose I understand now how you felt when you thought I didn't have your back," Maura said. "It hurts."


The medical examiner aimed a tiny flashlight at something. "The difference is that I did."

Not at first, Jane wanted to protest, but the last thing she wanted was to resurrect a dispute they had long since put behind them. She understood what Maura was saying.

"My objectivity has never been challenged," Maura went on. "Not even on your cases." She picked up a scalpel. "We spend our off hours together. We sleep together."

Jane glanced at the doorway, although no one was likely here at this hour. That kind of statement, while literally true, could be misinterpreted.

"We vacation together." Maura waved some piece of body part at her. "Yet no defense attorney has ever suggested that I'm biased."

Jane was aware of that.

"Because I'm not."

"I know."

"This little deception you cooked up could have ruined that."

Jane winced. 'Deception' seemed a little strong, but she was in no position to argue the point.

"My position on excited delirium is a matter of record. It could have appeared that I had someone else handle Walker in order to cover for the police." Maura was genuinely upset. "And even worse, you lied to me. You."

Jane waited until she was sure that Maura was through. "If it helps, it was an order," she said weakly. "It'll never happen again, Maura. I promise. I was wrong." When no reply followed, she asked the question running through her head. "Are we okay?"

Maura shook her head. Was that a no, or just a sign of disgust? Jane was afraid to ask.

"We nearly had sex together," Maura muttered.

There was something about her tone . . . . "Did I creep you out with that?" Jane asked.

"No," Maura replied. "I just can't believe you'd go that far."

In her defense, she had been drinking, Jane nearly said, but she wasn't sure that was what Maura meant. "'Go that far' meaning what?" she asked.

"Meaning that I can't believe you would go so far as to suggest a sexual liaison involving the two of us just to keep me away from Boston."

Whoa, what? "No, no, no," Jane said. "That had nothing to do with Elvin Walker."

Maura continued to examine her specimen, but she was listening.

"That was just . . . I don't know. Four beers, I guess. I just thought . . . ."

"You seemed relieved when I said no," Maura said.

"I was scared," Jane replied. "I mean, you and me in bed together. I have a hard enough time—" Hard enough time keeping my thoughts clean around you. Too much information.

"Hard enough time what?"

Jane fumbled for something believable. "A hard enough time taking some guy home I barely know. Having sex with my best friend was freaking me out." That much was certainly true.

"Not exactly 'having sex,'" Maura replied. She folded the subject's skin back into place.

"Oh, yeah? What were we gonna do, put one of those curtains between us like It Happened One Night?"

Maura laughed – a good sign, Jane hoped. "I love that movie."

"I know," Jane replied. "We watched it at your place, remember?" She might get away with changing the subject, Jane supposed, but now she was curious. "Didn't you figure that we'd be . . . ." She waggled her hand.

"Engaging in various forms of foreplay?"

Doing each other, Jane would have said.

"I suppose so."

"Don't you think that would have screwed up what we've got?"

"Not necessarily," Maura mused. "If we hadn't enjoyed it, we could simply have scratched it off the list of your bad ideas." A thought occurred to her. "Or would it be added to the list of bad ideas?"

"And what if we had? Jane persisted. "What if we liked, you know, being in bed with each other?"

"That – hmm."

"See?" Jane said. "I know I'm not your type, but it still coulda happened."

"It probably would."

Uh . . . what? "Excuse me?"

"I believe we would have enjoyed sexual relations with each other," Maura replied. "Don't you?"

Jane was not answering that question.

"I know you're not gay, and I don't consider myself gay, but we have a physical chemistry." Maura drew a sheet across the dead man's shoulders and took off her gloves. "Have you not perceived it?"

"I thought it was just . . . I mean, we spend most of our time together."

"Yes, we do," Maura replied. "And why do you think that is?"

"I don't know."

"We have relatively little in common."

"Hello." Jane pointed at the ex-junkie. "Dead people."

"Yes, which would explain spending time together at work."

"Okay, we get along," Jane said. "That doesn't make us hot for each other."

"No, it doesn't." Maura walked over until she was standing immediately in front of the detective. Jane felt herself grow warm, and made a conscious effort to keep her breathing normal. Maura smiled at her. "I thought so."

Damn it; Maura could sense incriminating reactions like a bloodhound.

"I could kiss you," Maura said. "That might answer the question." She pressed her body into Jane's.

Fuck normal breathing; Jane was practically panting now. She laid her hands on Maura's waist. She was so close, and so hot, and so—

"But I won't." Maura stepped back. "I'm still annoyed with you."

Damn! "Jesus, Maura," Jane breathed. "Any of your dates ever die from blueballs?"

"Epididymal hypertension? No, but did you know that a similar condition can occur in women?"

She knew. Jane sank back against the wall.

At 10:27 that evening, sitting together on Maura's sofa, having consumed some excellent homemade gnocchi (if Jane did say so herself) and a documentary about Stonehenge that didn't suck, Jane discovered that Maura was no longer annoyed with her. Nor was Maura annoyed the following morning when she clutched at Jane's back, gasping into Jane's ear. Nor during a quick lunchtime visit to Jane's apartment that did not involve lunch.

Jane floated back onto the mattress as Maura placed a gentle kiss on her stomach. God, she loved this woman. "I've got your back, Maura," Jane blurted.

"I know."

"You may be wrong about excited delirium, though," she added, "'cause I think I just experienced it."

"Well, then, I'm glad I'm not performing an autopsy on you."

Jane laughed. "You're so romantic."

"This from the woman who threatened to search me for contraband."

"It was for your own safety."

Maura settled back onto the second pillow. "Mmm," she said. "We only have another ten minutes."

Screw that. Jane reached across Maura for the medical examiner's cell phone, stopping for a quick kiss on her way back, and typed out a text. Can I have the afternoon off?

"That should be 'may,'" Maura said. She reached for the device, but Jane pressed the send button. "You sent a grammatically incorrect text under my name!"

"I did," Jane agreed. She leered at the beautiful blonde. "Guess I'll have to make up for it somehow . . . ."

"All right. I think a text from your phone explaining that you sent the previous text from my phone without authorization, except, I suppose, implicitly, the portion of the preceding text requesting time off this afternoon, which I will ratify, would be best," Maura said.

Jane stared at her. "Yeah, I could do that, or I could just fuck you 'til you pass out," she said.

Neither woman noticed the light ping several minutes later from Human Resources. Yes, you can . . . .

The End

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