DISCLAIMER: Rizzoli & Isles and its characters are the property of Tess Gerritsen, Janet Tamaro and TNT television network. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Written as a birthday present for the amazingly talented Fewthistle. Special thanks to two very wonderful and generous friends, Maxi and Deb, for volunteering to beta this tale and for smoothing out the rough edges.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Working Out the Kinks
Jane Rizzoli was one tough cookie, always had been. She'd grown up with two brothers in a fairly tough neighborhood and was considered by all to be a one hundred percent, dyed-in-the-wool, card-carrying tomboy: playing cops and robbers and cowboys and Indians anything that involved using a pretend gun, knife, or bow and arrow climbing the occasional tree and playing ball with the neighborhood boys and always being chosen first, no matter the sport. She'd even come up with the idea of being all-time quarterback when she'd entered junior high and her mother had forbidden her from playing tackle football any longer. The guys on the block hadn't even argued when she'd instituted the no rushing the quarterback rule, either. They were just thankful to have her superior passing skills still available to them until she officially retired on her own terms, sadly the day after her beloved Patriots were beaten in Super Bowl XX.
What she was most proud of, however, was that she never once let her guard down around anyone and never, ever, showed any sign of weakness or physical pain from any of the injuries she'd sustained from early childhood to the present. So, today, it was with great humility and a whole lot of bruised ego that she had to give in to her latest injury and heavily favor her right leg. It was literally killing her to have to show any discomfort, but then, so was her leg.
"You're limping," Maura said with a frown as she looked up from a computer screen filled with the latest in optimal performance running gear. She'd already chosen an aerodynamically designed running suit and was bound and determined to find footwear that Jane would agree to try. Her friend had already dissed her so-called 'duck' shoes and pooh-poohed on scientific research that had proven the barefoot strike pattern to be much less stressful but, if they were going to continue running together - and Maura saw no reason why they wouldn't - she wanted to find the perfect matching outfit, right down to the most important feature for any ensemble: shoes.
"Yes, I am, but at least I've moved up from hopping. Do you know how long it takes to get showered and dressed on only one leg?"
"I imagine it would take at least 25 percent longer than usual," Maura answered in all seriousness. She continued in that same vein. "Is this residual effect from yesterday's marathon run?" She gestured to the leg that was not holding up Jane's weight.
Jane just looked at Maura. "No, it's from running in my sleep." She paused long enough to give her best 'duh' expression. "Of course, it's from the marathon."
Maura didn't seem to take offense and instead focused on the problem itself. "You didn't take in enough water and electrolytes," she stated simply. "Your muscles are letting you know about it."
"Well, I wish they'd find a less painful way to express themselves," Jane grumbled. "Whispering would be so much nicer than this loud screaming." And that was exactly what her calves and hamstrings had been doing for the past eight hours. Thankful that her left leg didn't hurt nearly as bad as her right, she was still quite certain someone could play an entire string concerto in any key using only the backs of her legs.
Maura spared a quick glance around the room and smiled when she didn't spot a single co-worker. Perfect for her idea. "Come with me," she said in a tone that brooked no argument, or rather should have brooked no argument had she been speaking to anyone other than Jane.
"Where?" Jane asked and firmly planted her left foot on the ground. Her right foot kept its already tentative position, barely touching the floor next to its counterpart, but it did its damnedest to appear just as stubborn.
Maura pulled out a drawer and removed a neatly folded surgical gown. "I can alleviate some of your muscle soreness," she promised as she crossed the room and knelt down beside a cabinet next to her refrigerator. She reached inside the storage compartment and began to root around on its top shelf.
It was Jane's turn to glance around, only she suddenly seemed extremely nervous, almost to the point of paranoia. "Um, Maura, I really don't want to take anything. I'm sure the kinks will work themselves out in a couple of days," she said apprehensively, hoping that no one would walk in when Maura was offering her some kind of miracle drug. The department didn't take kindly to the use of strong prescription drugs unless it was absolutely necessary, and sore muscles as painful as they were didn't qualify as such in Jane's book.
"Jane, you can barely move, and it is only going to get worse," Maura pointed out, although it wasn't really necessary. Jane was very well aware that the second day after was always the worst; she'd certainly experienced it enough times.
"I won't have to run after bad guys tomorrow; I'm off," Jane replied, already planning a day of lying around, moaning and groaning, and swearing that she would never again open herself up to something that had the potential of putting her through this much pain. She knew, though, the minute Maura batted those long eyelashes and asked in that sweet, innocent tone of hers that she'd give in, but only after a decent period of obligatory bitching and complaining, of course.
Maura ignored Jane's refusal of help and stretched her arm toward the back of the shelf. Smiling, she grabbed a glass container and pulled it free of the cabinet. "Found it," she reported as she pushed to her feet.
"Found what?" Jane asked warily. Whatever Maura held in her hand definitely didn't contain pills, but Jane still had no intention of using the mystery cure. Besides having no idea what was actually inside the dark brown bottle, it had also been stored way too close to the refrigerator where Maura kept dead things.
"My homemade herbal recipe," Maura replied somewhat distractedly as she studied the nearby stainless steel table. She wasn't sure it had been disinfected since the Stewart autopsy, but figured Jane would refuse to lie down on it even if it were brand-new and had never been used. "I know," she said out loud, "let's go to the supply room. We can use the table in there." Quickly sweeping past Jane, she headed for the door at the other end of the room, fully expecting her friend to follow.
Jane opened and closed her mouth several times and even glanced over her shoulder to see if there was anyone around who could explain to her what Maura intended. After a few moments, however, she realized no one on earth could possibly know what her friend had in mind.
"Jane, c'mon," Maura called out from behind an opened door. All Jane could see was her friend's head poking around the solid wood surface.
"Maura, I don't want " Jane let her words trail off when Maura ducked back on the other side of the door. "Shit," Jane grumbled as she struggled to put one foot in front of the other. Standing still had only exacerbated the pain and stiffness in her muscles, and she groaned aloud as she limped toward the supply room. She seriously considered taking the rest of the day off, but first, she had to find a way to let her friend down gently.
"Ready?" Maura met her at the door and slipped between Jane's arm and her left side, snaking an arm around her friend's waist to allow Jane to lean on her, if need be. "I've got everything ready," she explained as she took small steps and slowly helped Jane move to the table next to the far wall.
Jane bided her time and let Maura have her way as she tried to figure out how to get out of this latest predicament she'd inadvertently gotten herself into. She studied the wooden table and noted the surface had been cleared off and layered with towels. Damn, she thought, I must really be slow. Maura had time to get everything ready, whatever everything was.
"Okay," Maura said once they'd made it to the table. "I'll give you a few minutes to change into your gown and then I'll be back." Sliding out from underneath Jane's arm, she hurried from the room before Jane could offer a single word of protest. The injured woman had been too distracted by the low lighting, the gown lying on the stack of boxes next to the table, and the ominous dark bottle to act quickly enough to stop Maura's fast exit. She grudgingly slipped into the gown and reached for the bottle, looking over her shoulder as she removed the lid. Her head jerked back hard enough to give her whiplash when she got her first whiff. "Ugh, what's in this stuff?"
"Rubbing alcohol and comfrey, mullein, and mint leaves for starters," Maura stated as she re-entered the room and closed the door behind her. She pulled up short at seeing Jane still fully clothed underneath the surgical gown. "You'll need to take off your pants."
Jane's head whipped around faster than it had when it had tried to get away from the awful smell emanating from the brown bottle. "Excuse me?" If her eyebrows could've scaled higher than her hairline, they would've moved well beyond Jane's thick dark hair.
Maura pointed at Jane's black jeans. "Your pants, you'll need to take them off. I can't treat you with them on."
"Treat me?" Jane's voice scaled an octave and her eyes finally tracked to the putrid smelling bottle. "Oh no, you're not putting this stuff on me." Her mind couldn't quite make it past the thought of the contents actually touching her skin to settle on just how those contents would need to be administered.
"Jane, be reasonable. I can help you," Maura said in her best doctor voice. It didn't seem to matter that all her other patients were dead. "Now, please, take off your pants."
Jane looked down at her legs and couldn't see the black of her jeans until she scanned to her mid-calf. Even if she took them off, the gown would still cover most, if not all of her injured muscles. "What good will that do?"
"Well," Maura started and moved further into the room. "Once you get on the table, I can move the gown up to the injured areas. You'll still be fully covered in case someone should walk in."
And that was the moment Jane realized just how Maura intended on 'helping her'. She looked down at Maura's hands, her ungloved hands. Maura planned to rub in that smelly liniment with her bare hands. Those fingers that Jane had always been so fascinated with were going to be touching her, sliding up and down the backs of her firm, slick legs. Jane swallowed hard. "Um, Maura "
"Does your mother know how badly you're hurt?" Maura interrupted, quickly changing the subject. She even had the audacity to tilt her head and wear a blank expression. Jane would have never believed that Maura would resort to blackmail to get her way if she hadn't seen and heard it with her own ears and eyes, although, with Maura, she really couldn't be totally sure that it hadn't just been one of her friend's typical out-of-the-blue questions.
"You wouldn't " Jane studied her friend's face and, for once, it was unreadable. Maura couldn't lie, but it was apparent that she'd been working on her innocent look. "Okay, fine, but that smell better damn well wash off," Jane said in a huff as she thrust the bottle into Maura's hand and reached under her gown to unfasten her jeans. They slipped down her legs and pooled at her feet. Maura looked down and grinned.
"Did you forget something?" she asked as she stared at Jane's booted feet.
Jane put her hands on her hips. "No, I'm too sore to bend over and my calves hurt too bad to use my feet to work them off," she admitted, figuring a lie wouldn't do her any good at this point.
"Here, sit on the table," Maura suggested, patting the solid surface. "I'll take off your boots and pants, and then you'll just have to turn over and get comfortable."
Jane grumbled and complained, but finally complied and, after a couple of awkward and painful moments, she was bootless and pantless and lying on her stomach. The gown, however, was still very much in place and covered most of her body. If she was going to come up with a way to keep Maura's hands off of her, now would be the time.
"Maura, listen Shit! That's cold!" Jane practically leapt off the table. She didn't even want to think about how cold the liniment would have been had Maura stored it inside the refrigerator.
"It'll warm up," Maura promised as she began to rub the ointment along Jane's right calf. "It's naturally cool and I'm sure the low temperature of the room, along with being stored away from the light, chilled it some."
"Some?" Jane complained half-heartedly, after all Maura did have her hands literally all over Jane's lower extremities. Her calves were heating up just fine and the rapidly warming liniment had very little to do with it. She suppressed a moan as Maura worked the herbal mixture into her other calf.
"Okay, let me apply some to your hamstrings and give the liniment time to work its way into your gastrocnemius," Maura said as she grabbed hold of the hem of Jane's gown and began to roll it up the length of her friend's long legs. She couldn't help but admire the toned and well defined muscles from Jane's calves all the way up to her thighs. Allowing her hands to glide up the back of Jane's right leg, giving warmth and steadily increasing pressure, she lost herself in the rhythm and admired each perfectly delineated gastrocnemius, each sweet knee crease, and the long, graceful sweep of biceps femoris, semitendinosus and semimembranosis. Suddenly, her eyes stopped sharply as she realized she was about to gaze wondrously at her friend's gluteus maximus. 'Her friend', she belatedly remembered and guiltily let her eyes drop back down to tight hamstrings. The muscles in question suddenly bunched and coiled as if Jane were readying to jump up and flee and Maura was reminded of the sleek panther she'd seen on the only school trip she'd ever attended. The jet black cat had paced back and forth in her cage and it was definitely a female; Maura had checked - watching the onlookers closely and studying the spectators, much like Maura had been analyzing the gorgeous feline and its smooth, fluid movement. She'd been so enamored of the cat and had asked so many questions that her teacher had refused to take their class on any more field trips.
Maura flattened her hand against the back of Jane's thigh to still the other woman, but the socially-challenged doctor had no idea what turmoil lay beneath her palm as Jane screwed her eyes together tightly and fought against her instinctive desire to flee.
After all these years, Jane now understood the meaning of Limbo. She could literally feel the warmth of the heavenly light shining down on her face and could almost touch the hands reaching out to her while, at the same time, she felt herself jerking away from the intense heat that licked at her heels and the bony fingers that desperately grabbed at her feet. If Sister Mary Margaret had made an analogy between Limbo and this exact type of situation instead of trying to explain the concept with just a broad definition, Jane would've scored 100 on her eighth grade Catechism final.
"Just try to relax," Maura said, lowering her voice as if she were speaking to her giant tortoise, Bass. "Touch therapy has been proven to be one of the best stress relievers because it invigorates not only the body, but also the mind and the soul." She gently poured more of the liniment, now onto the back of Jane's left leg, beginning an upward massaging motion, lifting her hands when she reached the top of Jane's leg and moving them just above the back of her friend's knee to repeat her action over and over and over again.
"Massages clear the passage towards the harmonious function of one's mind and body, thereby unifying the two elements," Maura continued her explanation, pausing an extra moment at the top of Jane's leg. There was no unification of the two for Jane as her mind completely shut down and her body took over.
The celestial light on Jane's face began to dim as the demons got the upper hand, and she felt herself being dragged toward the depths of Hell, but just before she was fully immersed in the scorching fire, Maura changed tactics and Jane was left hovering over the flames.
"I bet your Iliotibial bands are quite painful, too," Maura said as she stepped toward Jane's feet and positioned her forearm on the outside of her friend's leg. Starting at Jane's ankle, she slowly moved upwards, putting only minimal pressure on the side of Jane's right leg. She lightly eased over her friend's knee and added more pressure as she continued her upward movement. Maura first sensed and then felt the palpable tension. "Jane, what's wrong?" She didn't understand. The liniment should have eased her friend's tense muscles, not caused them to seize up more tightly.
A full minute passed before Jane slowly rolled over onto her back, taking care not to let her gown ride up any higher. She didn't say a word mostly because she didn't have any at that moment that weren't totally inappropriate and beyond borderline crass and just looked up at her friend.
Maura stared down at Jane with a mix of concern and confusion. She studied Jane's flushed face and noted a light bead of perspiration forming above her friend's lip. Dark eyes were dilated and had turned as black as coal, but it was the less than subtle swipe of a wet pink tongue across too dry lips that sealed Maura's initial diagnosis without her ever having to go out on a limb with one of her educated guesses.
"Oh," she said in surprise. "Oh," she repeated in a much more pleased tone as a wanton smile spread across her face.
"Do you think we can continue this at your place?" Jane finally found an appropriate response. Her voice lowered and sounded decidedly more gravelly than usual, making her intent crystal clear even to her sometimes slow-to-catch-on friend.
Maura hurriedly reached for the screw-on cap and snatched up a towel to wipe her hands. "I'll bring the liniment."
There was definitely more than one way to work out kinks, and Maura intended to try every single method and position she'd ever seen, heard of, or read about until she was fully satisfied that Jane had been completely and thoroughly treated for all of her ailments.
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