DISCLAIMER: Rizzoli & Isles and its characters are the property of Tess Gerritsen, Janet Tamaro and TNT television network.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This fic was written for Bardicangel, who generously bid on a fic I offered for the Queensland Flood Auction. She requested Rizzoli & Isles and indicated that she preferred angst/hurt/comfort fics. Not my forte, but I tried my best to keep my usual fluff and humor at bay. Thanks to Deb for the vote of confidence.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To darandkerry[at]yahoo.com
Chaos was something Maura Isles didn't do well. She liked to be in control, liked to have the ability to manipulate all the variables in a scenario if it became necessary, and preferred, if possible, to have safety protocols in place to ensure a favorable result. Today, she had none of those. Today, she'd been anything but in control.
"Maura," Vince Korsak said sharply, having finally resorted to calling the medical examiner by her first name when she hadn't responded to any of his other attempts to refer to her as Doctor Isles or simply Doc. He forced a smile and held out a small stack of folded clothes. "Here, I managed to snag a pair of clean scrubs for you. Why don't you go to the ladies room and change?"
Maura stopped her pacing and turned toward the detective, looking at him momentarily as if she had no idea who he was. Recognition slowly set in and brought with it the reason why she'd been walking aimlessly back and forth in front of a set of windows on the surgery floor of Massachusetts General Hospital.
"Has there been any word?" she asked tentatively, torn between her desperate need to know Jane's condition Frankie's, too - and being terrified of what Korsak might have to report. She'd tried to stay in the waiting room with the family and all the detectives and policemen but had had to leave after only a few minutes. She wasn't a people person in a good situation, much less one as horrific as this one. The thin air in the room had made it difficult for her to breathe and all the voices talking at once had sounded like a swarm of bees had settled inside her head. She'd had to go and find someplace quiet, somewhere she could think and reorder her thoughts, where she could try to make sense of what had happened. All she'd managed, however, was to go back over the day in her mind, before all hell had broken loose, and wonder if there was anything she could have done differently to prevent the gunmen from taking over the building or at least have been in a position to call for help before the phone lines had been cut and cell signals jammed.
Korsak shook his head and muttered something unintelligible about hospitals and hating to wait. "Not yet," he replied, his frustration at not knowing what was going on with Jane and Frankie bubbling to the surface. He took a deep breath and worked to tamp down his annoyance that there'd been no updates as of yet. Maura needed him right now; he'd never seen her so out of sorts. "C'mon, let's walk this way." He gestured to a narrow, dead end hallway up ahead and was pleased when she started forward without protest.
The two walked solemnly in tandem: Maura taking the lead, her thoughts still a jumbled mess and Korsak following just a step behind, silent and uncharacteristically unsure what to say. It had been the same when Jane had returned to work after Hoyt had kidnapped her the first time. Whenever she'd reach for something, he'd see the wounds from the nails Hoyt had driven through them, and he'd clam up and have to walk away.
Maura stopped in front of a door etched with a familiar figure of a stick-woman and turned to reach back for the scrubs Korsak still carried. She frowned when he didn't readily hand them over.
"Um, you might want to wash up a bit first," Korsak suggested and nodded toward Maura's outstretched hands. "I'll wait out here and hand you the scrubs when you're ready." He watched quietly as Maura's gaze left his and tracked to her hands.
Her eyes grew wide and her jaw went slack. "Oh," was all she said as she stared down at the red stain that coated her hands and then at the dark splotches on her dress. "Um, I'll just go wash my hands," she stuttered as she struggled to regain some semblance of control. "I'll be back in a second," she told Korsak, quickly spinning on a heel and pushing against the ladies room door with her hip. She slipped inside and was relieved to discover a small room with a sink and toilet and no stalls. Not bothering to lock the door no one would get past Korsak she headed for the sink and turned on the faucet, cupping her hands underneath the running water.
The clear, clean water that left the tap swirled a light red in the basin before it ran down into the drain, the drastic difference in color leading one to believe that it couldn't possibly be the same water. Maura watched, mesmerized, as the water transformed from colorless to a reddish tint with her hands as the catalyst for the extreme change. Her gaze locked on the drain and the red water being washed away. Blood. Jane's blood.
Her breath hitched and she reached out for the soap dispenser, pumping frantically until her hand was nearly overflowing with anti-bacterial white foam. She plunged both hands back under the water and began to scrub vigorously as the dam finally broke. She sobbed softly as tears streamed down her cheeks, keeping a steady pace with the running water.
Freshly dressed in a set of blue scrubs, Maura strode down the corridor, looking every bit as if she belonged there; the only part of her attire out of place was her camel-colored sling-backed heels. She paused at an intersection of the hallway that would take her to the waiting room where she'd promised Korsak she would rejoin him but chose instead to continue forward. She just needed a little more time alone.
Spotting a bank of elevators, she headed toward them and stepped into a car just as its doors were closing. She nodded at a woman and her young son and then turned her attention to the elevator's panel. '1' was already highlighted and she figured a breath of fresh air would do her some good. A soft ding signaled their arrival to the ground floor and she stepped back and allowed the other passengers to disembark before she followed. A gift shop was to her left and she turned in the other direction, figuring an exit to be nearby. Her next steps faltered and she came to a full stop, staring across at a set of closed doors tucked away in a small nook.
Maura glanced left and then right, fully intending to find some other place to hide away from prying eyes. She knew a lot about religion, but she wasn't a particularly religious person; she was a scientist. She was also, however, a curious individual by nature and that was why - she told herself later - she moved toward the doors, pushed inward, and stepped inside, seeking the sense of peace and calm everyone else had always claimed they'd found in a holy place of worship. She was surprised when it washed over her almost immediately, as if it were part of the walls that surrounded the room; a peaceful place of rest and meditation in the midst of all the hustle and bustle of the hospital just outside its doors.
Stepping further into the room, Maura was drawn in by the beauty of the stained glass windows. Patterns of foliation wound around the bottom and top figures in each window, forming a figure eight design and linking all the windows with a common motif: The Tree of Life. One particular window, its glass sections resembling the petals of a rose, appeared to connect the color scheme of all the other windows, its rich, smoldering greens and blues and its brilliant touches of reds, oranges, golds, and whites making it the dominant note of color. It was so breathtaking in its beauty and elegance that Maura never noticed the door opening behind her.
"Maura?" Angela said as she moved beside the medical examiner. She daubed at her damp, swollen eyes with a handkerchief.
"Mrs. Rizzoli," Maura replied, her tone laced with surprise, although if she'd thought about it, Angela's presence in a chapel would be expected and perfectly normal. Maura's? Not so much.
"I didn't get a chance to thank you for saving Frankie Junior. Vince told me what you did," Angela said, her voice breaking slightly. "Jane, too. He said " she paused and swallowed a half-sob. "He said that if it weren't for you, neither one of them would've made it to the hospital."
Maura looked down at her freshly scrubbed hands, the earlier red stains now a healthy shade of pink. "All I did was to insert a needle into Frankie's chest cavity and use a syringe to remove trapped air caused by tension pneumothorax. It only worked temporarily and I had to put in a tube to drain the blood from his lungs. Jane " she stopped long enough to take a shaky breath. "All I could do for Jane was to cover her exit wound and apply pressure on her entry wound." And plead with her not to die, she kept to herself.
Angela just nodded, having no idea as to what most of Maura had said; she just knew that whatever it was that the medical examiner had done could have very well saved her children's lives. "Would you like to pray with me?" she asked, offering her hand.
"I'm not Catholic," Maura replied, knowing it wasn't a prerequisite in a case like this but hoping it would suffice to excuse her to go find some other place of solace.
"Please, come sit with me?" Angela asked softly, so atypical of her usual brash, 'take no for an answer' tone. Her hand still extended, she wiggled her fingers in invitation. Maura reached out and grabbed hold. Angela's hand was warm and comforting, while Jane's had been so cold and unresponsive when she'd held it in the ambulance.
Maura allowed Angela to lead her to the front pew and was surprised when the older woman didn't let go of her hand but simply sat and waited for Maura to settle down next to her. The two sat, side-by-side, neither woman saying anything for several minutes.
"You know, my other son, Tommy, was supposed to come home today. We were going to throw him a welcome home party," Angela said softly. "I thought his phone call informing us that he wasn't coming was going to be the worst part of my day." She glanced over at Maura. "I guess I was wrong."
Maura just squeezed Angela's hand and smiled sadly.
Angela sighed and looked back toward the altar. "I have nightmares sometimes. Horrible dreams. First, it's Jane who gets shot; other times, it's Frankie. Sometimes the nightmares alternate and sometimes they don't. I can tell you one thing, though," Angela said, a sob breaking free. "Never, NEVER have I dreamed of the two of them getting shot at the same time."
"Statistically speaking," Maura began, not able to shut off the analytical part of her mind; the sight of tears welling in Angela's eyes, however, brought it to a screeching halt. "Um, I mean "
Angela patted the back of their joined hands. "That's okay. I know what you meant. It's the same thing I'd tell myself when I'd wake up in a cold sweat. Guess statistics can be wrong."
Maura just nodded, fearing that anything else she might say on the subject would be worse than bringing up the statistical improbability that Jane and Frankie could be shot on the same day and at the same crime scene. She opted for a much-needed distraction for both of them.
"I bet Jane, Frankie, and Tommy were a handful growing up."
Angela's sniffle turned into a light chuckle. "Have I ever told you about the time Jane convinced Frankie that there was a talking mouse living in our attic?" Angela said with a smile. "I think Tommy may have helped out in the plan, too. You see, there really was a mouse up there and all Jane had to do was "
The door to the chapel opened to the sound of soft laughter and the nurse who'd entered had to smile. Shaking her head, she walked up to the front and stood next to the first pew.
Angela's smile fell from her face and she leapt to her feet. "Yes, I'm Angela Rizzoli." She gripped Maura's hand tightly and tried not to choke on her fear.
"I just wanted you to know that your son is out of surgery and is doing just fine. Your husband has gone in to see him for a few minutes, so you can get a firsthand report from him."
Angela exhaled the breath she'd been holding. "Thank God!" she smiled at Maura and then turned back to the nurse. "What about Jane? How's she doing?"
"Well, it was touch and go for a while, but they've just finished and she's on her way to recovery. You can probably see her in about an hour or so," the nurse reported and watched as the color drained from Angela's face. She moved to assist the other woman, but Maura had already reacted and had helped Angela back into the pew.
"You okay?" she asked, her own hands shaky and her heart feeling as if it would beat free of her chest. Jane was alive.
"Yeah, just happy is all," Angela replied, squeezing Maura's hand weakly. She felt like a newborn colt, all raring to go but feeling wobbly and unsteady.
The nurse smiled. "I can probably sneak you in to see your son, too, if you'd like."
Angela grinned back at the young woman. "Yes, I'd like that very much, but do you think you can give me a few minutes? There's something I need to do first."
"Take all the time you need," the nurse said in understanding. "I'll be upstairs when you're ready." With a parting nod, she turned and walked back down the aisle, disappearing through the chapel's doors.
"I'll meet you back upstairs, too," Maura said as she moved to stand, but Angela's grip kept her from going anywhere. Apparently, the older woman's strength was returning.
"Would you stay with me while I say a prayer of Thanksgiving?"
"Sure," Maura said, sitting back in the pew while Angela reached down to lower the kneeling bench. She gave Maura's hand one last squeeze.
"Our girl is going to be okay," Angela said, smiling brightly as let go of Maura's hand and eased onto the kneeler. Bowing her head, she began to pray.
Maura looked up at the rose window as a single tear slipped down her cheek. "Thank you," she whispered softly under her breath.
It was eerily quiet, the only sounds the occasional beeping and hissing coming from the various monitors and machines set around the room. Jane lay unmoving in the hospital bed, looking so pale and weak, not at all like her usually strong and confident self. When Maura had first arrived in ICU, she'd half expected Jane to sit up and make a joke about how some stupid little gunshot could knock her on her ass. She'd smiled at the thought.
Maura knew she was lucky to be here, sitting next to Jane's bed and watching over her friend. She'd flashed her credentials an hour or so ago and had been ever so grateful that no one had bothered to read the fine print. Looking over her shoulder, she scooted her chair closer and studied Jane more carefully, first with a clinical eye, and then with one that was purely personal and selfish in nature. Her eyes had been opened to new world of perspective. She knew she had feelings for Jane but, until today, she'd never realized the depth of those emotions.
When Bobby had grabbed Jane and pulled her from the room, Maura had cried out and had only waited seconds to follow. Bursting through the doors of headquarters into a bright sunny day, she'd felt the breath leave her body as she'd watched Jane being dragged down the sidewalk, a gun pressed to her head. Maura could see the fear in Jane's eyes, not for herself but rather for her brother. She'd heard Jane's plea for the others to just shoot, that Frankie's life was in peril, and had then watched, disbelievingly, as Jane wrestled the gun around and pulled the trigger. The bullet had ripped through both of them. Maura had raced down the steps and to Jane's side, desperately needing to tell her that she would be okay, that Frankie would be okay, and that she loved her but, by the time she'd gotten to Jane, she was unconscious and all Maura could do was work as quickly and efficiently as possible to try to save her life.
Maura reached out and brushed her fingers across the back of Jane's hand. She smiled at the warmth she felt and eased her hand underneath Jane's, letting it rest inside of hers. She gently threaded her fingers through Jane's as Angela's parting words right after she'd made Maura promise to stay with Jane during the night and call if there was a problem - pushed their way into her thoughts.
"The only things in this life that you really regret are the risks you didn't take," Angela had said, looking her directly in the eye. Without another word, she'd kissed Maura lightly on the cheek and turned to walk away. Maura had just stood there, completely dumbstruck.
A light groan pulled Maura's attention fully on to Jane and off the risks she was seriously contemplating. She pushed to her feet, her hand still entwined with Jane's. "Jane?" she whispered softly.
Another groan and Jane struggled to open her eyes. One, then two, looked up at Maura. "God " was all she managed to say.
"Don't talk, Jane. You were shot," Maura said, wanting to yell at the other woman for sacrificing herself but knowing now wasn't the time. "You're in ICU; your surgery was successful."
"Oh yeah," Jane grunted, closing her eyes in pain. "I shot myself." Her eyes instantly snapped back open. "Frankie? Bobby?"
Maura squeezed Jane's hand. "Frankie's going to be fine." She moved her free hand to Jane's shoulder and rubbed lightly. "Bobby didn't make it."
Jane swallowed and nodded. It was probably for the best. Bobby would never survive being locked up. She opened her mouth to ask another question, but Maura pressed a hand against her lips to stop her.
"You need to rest, Jane. You can ask your questions, later," Maura directed gently. She eased her hand away from Jane's mouth, her fingers tingling from the ghost of a kiss that had been pressed against them just before she'd pulled away.
"Okay, sounds good," Jane slurred, already beginning to slide back into sleep. "You be here when I wake up?"
"Yeah, I'll be here," Maura promised with a smile. Shot, drugged, and drowsy, Jane was still as beautiful as ever.
"'K," Jane mumbled, her lips crinkling up into a smile. They went lax seconds later as she drifted into a sound sleep.
Maura pushed a stray lock of hair from Jane's face. "I'll definitely be here," she repeated softly. She'd been given another chance, and this time around she'd have absolutely no regrets whatsoever.
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