DISCLAIMER: All things Rizzoli and Isles belong to Tess Gerritsen, Janet Tamaro, and other entities. I'm altering their realities for fun, not profit, as I own nothing and have the credit report to prove it.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To mf.vinson[at]gmail.com
Questions of Identity
I feel so lost tonight. As a scientist, as a physician and pathologist, I am well versed in the workings of the human form, down to the cellular level. I have seen the multitudes of ways in which humans destroy themselves and each other. Their bodies show me death, and I work backward into life. Archaeology fascinates me that way. Begin with bone, and from it comes a whole person, who broke an arm or leg as a child, who suffered from these diseases, who did this sort of work, but essential questions remain unanswered. I've always questioned my identity. The debate between nature and nurture always raged in my mind. I did not know, and now I am not sure how I feel about knowing my biological history. My adoptive parents loved me in their fashion, but I was an accessory to them. I am grateful for all they gave me, the extraordinary opportunities that brought me here, and so to her.
She sounded panicked when I called her, and now I am waiting for her to arrive. Shaking. Wondering whether my dissociative tendencies are primarily biological or environmental. I am certain he is watching, waiting until she is here. He may stay even after that, but I trust her to protect me far more than him. I cannot be responsible for another's death, or I am exactly like him. I took the forensic law courses, and know that my foreknowledge of a murder makes me an accessory. A murderer, just like the rest of my biological family, the one I daydreamed and wondered about, people genetically programmed to be antisocial. People like me. They will not tell me how many people Patrick Doyle murdered, or Colin's criminal record. They will not tell me anything except that they will keep me safe.
And they cannot.
I am so cold and so confused. He would not tell me anything about my mother. It wouldn't be fair to her, he said. As if it's fair to me to not know. I ache to know how badly my genes are tainted, whether the study of death was ever my choice, whether I can ever escape the depression that chases me as long as I can remember. Is it fair to ever think about a relationship or children, knowing what I do? How can my friends... That stops me, too. Are they really my friends? Will they be after this? That's their job, the one I help them with, catching the bad guys. My mind chases every question it devises, and finds no answers, and I don't know what to do. I've always had answers or known where to find them, but those I seek aren't yet detectable as chemical or electrical signatures in the brain. As exciting as the research is, it is in its infancy. There may be no answer in my lifetime. Does that mean I will always have to wonder, always have to worry about what I might do? I'm certainly capable of making a body disappear without leaving forensic evidence.
I don't see her coming, even though she hurries to me and puts her arms around me, talking extra quickly like she does when she's worried or excited or happy. "Did he hurt you? Are you all right? What happened? I was so worried."
The whole time, she's moving us inside, up the stairs.
"Please say something."
I thought I stopped shaking, but my voice says otherwise. "I'm a monster."
"No. No. No, Maura, no."
We're in front of her door, and she opens it. She tries to put me on the couch, but I follow her to the kitchen. She gets me a glass of wine, puts it down and takes my hands, the counter between us. "Listen to me," she says. "You are not a monster. You don't voluntarily hurt people. You don't take things that aren't yours. You can't lie."
I can't stop my tears. I want so much to believe her. Somehow she has me in her arms, rocking me a little, and I know I'm safe from anything on the outside. "He's a murderer," I hiccupped. "And my brother was a con artist and he won't even tell me about my mother. Is she in prison? Did he kill her?"
"You aren't them, Maura," she says fervently. "And if you want to find your mother, we will find her. But you aren't them."
I pull my head back so I can look at her. "Who am I?"
She smiles a little, and pushes my hair back, and wipes my tears. Kisses my forehead. Picks me up, and I hold on. She carries us back to her unmade bed, lays me down, takes off my shoes. I watch her remove hers, the jacket, her badge and gun and belt, and she gets in and moves close. She pulls the quilt up over us. "You'll feel better in the morning," she counsels.
When I crawl into her arms, she's waiting. "I don't understand."
"I know. It's all right," she reassures, and kisses my head. "Breathe with me."
I don't understand this, either. She is so tender with me and so gruff with everyone else. She sounded desperate on the phone.
"C'mon, Maur," she coaxes, and rubs my back.
Somehow, sleep comes. In the morning, waking beside her, I feel better.
It's not at all rational. I have the same questions and fears, but with her holding me, they are not all-consuming. I don't understand that, either. This morning, I feel abandoned by intellect and overwhelmed by emotion.
Tears start again. I hate that I cannot control them, hate that I wake her. For a heartbeat, I hate that she won't let me go, and in the next, I am grateful that her arms tighten around me.
There has been so much more than I have had time to process. I'm not certain whether Jane understands that, but she isn't shushing me or trying to make me stop crying.
I had a brother. Had. I knew nothing about him until he turned up in my morgue. I had a brother. I will never know more about him than I know now, his vital statistics, the cause and manner of his death, the trail that led to information I wish now I didn't know. Evidence of my genetic connection to another is a sheet of paper containing nearly identical bars of DNA, and a conversation I wish I never had.
She hasn't said anything, which is unusual. I know she is awake, remains alert as my tears reach their natural end.
I hear a buzzing noise, and one hand moves from my back. "Sorry," she whispers, and answers, "Rizzoli."
I hear a male voice on the other end, but cannot decipher what's being said.
"Yeah, that's good. We're gonna be late Get your own damn coffee Yeah, later."
"Why are we going to be late?" I ask without moving.
"Because we need to be." She kisses my head and returns her hand to my back.
"I don't understand."
"It's all right."
"No, it's really not." I push myself up so I can see her.
"It is, Maura," she soothes. "You don't have to understand everything the second it happens." Her hand slides up my back, over my shoulder, and she very gently tucks some hair behind my ear. Her face shows concern, compassion, empathy, affection, and worry. For many seconds, affection is at the forefront. "You wanna talk about it?"
I don't think so, but words begin pouring out. I put my head on her chest and tell her everything that happened, every detail. Because it's Jane, I tell her that it made me feel frightened, impotent, and tainted. I tell her about the phone he gave me, and I feel her brief shift from friend to investigator and back, and keep talking until I am back to the questions that I cannot answer and will not go away.
Through it, she listens. I cannot see her face and have no idea what she's thinking, or why she hasn't interrupted with questions.
"I don't know who I am," I conclude, and wait.
"I do," she says softly. "You're kind and gentle and patient. You treat every victim with so much respect, way more than most of them probably ever got while they were alive. You're brave and honest and you treat everyone fairly. You're generous with your time and your knowledge and your money. You're one of the nicest people I've ever known, and the best medical examiner Boston's had."
I am surprised and embarrassed. Jane rarely speaks so clearly about how she feels, and I am more surprised when she continues.
"You're not like them in any way, and even if I didn't know you, I'd know that because you're asking these questions. They don't. They can't think that way. There's nothing wrong with you just because you aren't like everybody else. You're the best friend I've had in my life, and I am grateful every day that you're here."
Her voice cracks, and I wish I could see her face, but I don't want this to end, and I don't know what to say, and I start crying again.
This time, she makes a joke. "Guess I won't need a shower this morning."
I giggle, and sniffle, and suddenly, it's just the morning after another sleepover. The tension is gone, and I feel drained, and when she doesn't try to get up, I let her heartbeat lull me near sleep. I hear and feel her voice sometimes, talking softly on the phone, I suppose, but the words are distant until she says my name.
"You feel like gettin' up?"
"No," I reply childishly. I like it here, with her holding me, especially after all that happened yesterday. I am so glad she wasn't there when they came, because they would have hurt her when she tried to stop them from taking me.
"I'll make French toast," she offers.
I chuckle. It's a wonderful, if hollow, attempt at a bribe. Her French toast is delicious, but I'm certain her refrigerator is nearly empty, and any bread she has is covered in mold. "Have you been to the store lately?"
"Sh-crap. Uh, I'll buy French toast."
"You make coffee while I get a shower, and we'll have breakfast on the way."
"Deal." She doesn't move, although after a few seconds, she asks cautiously. "You all right?"
I nod, although she can't see it, and say, "Yes," because I am, with her.
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