DISCLAIMER: Rizzoli & Isles and its characters are the property of Tess Gerritsen, Janet Tamaro and TNT television network. Law & Order: SVU belongs to Dick Wolf.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Can be read on its own, or connected to the Magnetic Resistance, What Happens in Provincetown, and Denial universe.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To raedmagdon[at]yahoo.com
By Rae D. Magdon
Bass Isles was an unhappy tortoise.
The new people, sounds, and unpredictable movements were loud and scary. The woman holding him wasn't so bad. With her blonde hair and glasses, she reminded him a little bit of His Maura. Perhaps it was also the scent of her strawberry shampoo that made him poke his head out of his shell to catch a glimpse of her. So she wasn't all bad, but she was still not His Maura.
She had taken him to a strange place that smelled different than his home. For once, he was even comforted by the presence of Jo Friday, his fellow captive. The dog was having a grand time, completely oblivious to the danger that was all too obvious to the far more intelligent Testudinidae. Dogs were such silly creatures, Bass reflected as he jumped on the blonde one's lap, trying to lick her face in greeting. They would roll over and show their bellies to anyone and they weren't even protected by a shell! How unwise.
Bass sighed. Not everyone knew that Tortoises were capable of sighing, but they were, and Bass often did so in response to his owner's stranger endeavors. The tortoise, who had been curled up tight in his protective home, cautiously peeked out at the new apartment. Taking in the landscape, he saw the legs of a coffee table and the face of a new person looking down at him. It was another woman. She had brown hair, much shorter than his Jane's, but she was smiling and did not look like a threat. He kept his head inside of his shell just in case.
"Alex, honey?" said the brown-haired Not-Jane. "Why is there a giant turtle in our living room?"
"He's a tortoise, darling!" the blonde-haired Not-Maura corrected automatically.
Not-Jane sighed. Then, she placed a gentle pat on the top of his shell before backing off to give him some space. Bass was grateful for the reprieve. Sometimes, His Maura used him as an educational tool with small children belonging to her friends, and he disliked the overbearing attention they smothered him with. This Not-Jane seemed to respect that he wanted his space right now.
"Hey there, buddy," said the brown haired one. "I'm sorry I scared ya. I'll let you get adjusted. You're only gonna be here for a couple of days."
Bass was comforted by the female's soothing voice. He still wanted His Maura to return, but felt confident enough to stick his neck out of his shell. Jo Friday barked a greeting and leapt onto Not-Jane's lap, covering her cheeks with kisses. "And hello to you too, girl! You're a friendly little thing, aren'tcha?" She giggled, closing her eyes and mouth so that the dog's tongue wouldn't accidentally clean them, too. "Honey, why didn't you tell me we were having a dog and a tur- Tortoise in our apartment today?"
Not-Maura's voice floated in from the next room. "Because you've been at work for the past forty eight hours, dear. When would I have told you?" The tone was gently chastising, and Bass correctly deduced that these two were mates, just like His Jane and His Maura. It made him feel a little more comfortable.
"Well, come in here and meet them," Not-Jane urged.
"I have already made their acquaintance. Poor Maura was forced to bring them here in a taxi. Can you believe it? A taxi shuttling a Tortoise and a pup all the way across Manhattan..."
"And Maura has more money than God, so why shouldn't she take a Taxi all the way across Manhattan if she wants to, tortoise or not?" The brown haired one muttered, keeping her voice too low for her mate to hear. Jo barked, and Bass perked up at the mention of His Maura's name. Maybe that meant she was coming back for him soon. He was not afraid that she had abandoned him, Bass had stayed with pet sitters before, but he was still concerned. Unlike Jo Friday, he also had a better concept of time's passage.
Still brooding, Bass crawled beneath the coffee table, enjoying the confined space, and stared up at the dog and woman. She was being relatively gentle as she wrestled with Jo Friday, so he was confident that this newest pet-sitter would not cause them any harm. Still, he hoped that she remembered his strawberries. They were his favorite.
When the Not-Jane turned to look at him, he bobbed his head in greeting. Hello.
She bobbed her head back, almost as if she understood him. "Hey, I think he likes me," she called out to Not-Maura. "What's his name? He's kind of cool."
"His name is Bass, dear heart. And the dog is Jo Friday. We're pet-sitting while Maura and Jane hop around the tri-state area. It was more convenient than leaving them in Boston, since they'll be in and out while they wrap up this case."
"So it's work-related?"
"I think it's both worth-related and personal, but Maura never gave me all the details," Not-Maura stated as she re-entered the room in a soft bathrobe. Bass paused to admire his slippers, deciding not to duck back into his shell as Not-Jane greeted her with a kiss. Their affectionate behavior confirmed that they were a mated pair like Jane and Maura. Of course, Tortoises never mated for life, but he knew that some humans did, and it seemed to make Maura happy. He didn't mind. He enjoyed having Jane around.
"Long story short, you get to enjoy Bass and Jo's company the next few days." Jo's ears pointed up as she recognized her own name. However, they fell when the name was not followed by 'come here', 'dinner', or 'outside'. "She offered to pay, but I refused to take any money beyond whatever the pets might require... but I don't think we need to buy them anything after all, because Maura left enough supplies to see them through Armageddon, as well as an incredibly detailed care sheet."
"Aw, c'mon, how hard is taking care of a dog?" Not-Jane asked, ruffling Jo's fur. The dog barked playfully. "You feed them, you walk them, you buy some doggie bags, and you play with them... Wait, I take that back. I've seen a lot of idiots in my job over the years that couldn't handle themselves, let alone a dog or a kid." She sighed. "I have a feeling I'm going to be doing the doggie bag walks, aren't I?"
"Not all of them," the other one protested. "I was the one that agreed to take care of Bass and Jo for Maura and Jane. I feel responsible for their care, Olivia."
Oh. So, Not-Jane was called Olivia. Bass tucked that nugget of information away in his memory. Vaguely, he remembered Maura murmuring something about an Olivia, but he had been too terrified to listen to her at the time. That exchange had taken place on the cab ride over, an experience he thoroughly hated.
"I know, but we'll just call it a gut instinct..."
"You underestimate me."
"I just can't picture someone like you picking up after a dog is all, Lex."
Lex. Bass chose to remember that name as well.
"Maura does it."
Olivia-Not-Jane shrugged. "Maura is a medical examiner. I'm sure she's dealt with worse things."
"Are you accusing a former SVU ADA of being squeamish?" Alex-Not-Maura gave Olivia a light kiss before nuzzling her throat. Jo Friday jumped off of the couch and trotted eagerly in a circle around their feet, wanting to be a part of the embrace. They laughed and patted the dog, which made Bass slightly jealous. He was a very attractive Sulcata, and he deserved his own share of attention.
Slowly making his way over to the two women, he settled at their feet alongside Jo Friday, staring up at them dolefully.
"Hey, fella," said Olivia, bending down to give his head a gentle pat, careful to keep her movements slow so that she would not startle him. When he accepted the touch, she scratched lightly at the back of his skull. Bass was content.
"Wow. He must like you, Olivia. Maura said he might not poke his head out for the first day or two. Poor Bass really doesn't like being moved around without notice."
"Without notice?" Olivia repeated, rolling her eyes playfully. "How do you notify a tortoise? By post?"
Bass watched as Jo Friday's tail thumped eagerly on the floor. Yes, dog, he thought to her, we will be all right with these people until Our Maura and Jane return.
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