Disclaimer: Oh, no, I don't own these characters, but I wish I did! Thank goodness for Tess Gerritson, and TNT who actually own them and do such an amazing job we can't help but get involved all the time :)
Rating: T - it's not written yet, but I know this is going to be a dark, dark one. Triggers galore.
Pairing: Oh for goodness sake, I can't write anything but Rizzles, but this will be slow, slow slow. So if that doesn't work for you, hit BACK.
Author's Note: This is AU. And yes it is the start of something new, but my annoyingly insistent muse started beating me with it two days ago, so to keep me focused on Puzzles my compromise was to start this monster. So here's a long-ish first chapter, let me know what you think, if it's worth building on, because I see it rearing its ugly head over the next several weeks unless someone says stop!
Also, I always try to employ a level of research into anything I write but I do admit to not being an expert on this topic, so I apologise if I am not completely accurate, but I invite you to employ some imagination :)
She glanced out of the window. The browns, greens and yellows of the fading fall blurred into one long smudge along the highway, punctuated every so often by flashes of white road posts or the occasional sign.
The woman tucked a lock of hair back behind her ear and shifted in her seat, feeling the cool leather against the back of her knees. It occurred to her to wonder what her parents would think if they knew what she was doing now – they were always supportive of her pursuits within the medical profession, but in a place like this? She wondered if it might be better not to tell them at all. After all, they were in Europe and hadn't visited in years – it would be easy enough to keep from them, even if she was unable to lie.
"So, you from around here?" The driver asked.
Much of the trip had been silent, save for the occasional attempt – like this one – to engage her in conversation. Each time she had provided just enough information to end it.
"I'm from Chicago." She answered.
"Chicago? Seems like an odd job to transfer to."
He seemed nice enough, but she was focused on other things. She certainly understood the comment, and he wasn't the first. When she had told her colleagues at Northwestern Memorial about the transfer, they had regarded her with a good deal of surprise and for those who cared, a good deal of worry.
This wasn't a place for the faint hearted. And although being a qualified trauma surgeon, she had still only recently completed her residency and and even then was at least three years younger than her peers, which meant in a place like this it would be difficult…. And was guaranteed to be dangerous.
But she had accepted the offer. Dangerous or not, she needed the opportunity to get away from her current life. And that was the imperative above everything.
She jolted out of her reverie with a start. "I'm sorry?"
"I just asked, why you wanted to transfer here."
Sighing, she turned away from the window, lacing her fingers together in her lap. "Chicago wasn't for me." Was all she said.
"Well, don't mind me saying, but this place isn't for you either." She looked up to the rear view mirror to see the deep wrinkles of an older forehead, hair faded white and skin tone well-weathered. He was studying her carefully. "You want to get out of there as quickly as you can."
She returned her attention to the scenery flitting by. The beginnings of a large, orange structure was coming into view ahead, and the woman found herself fidgeting with her hands. She looked down and frowned. She never fidgeted.
"It is only a six month contract."
She didn't know why she chose to share that piece of information, perhaps verbalising it made the daunting nature of her destination a little less so.
"Be sure they hold you to it."
As they approached, the faint blur around the structure materialised into two solid sets of rolled barbed wire that was mounted on top of two enormous fences, one inside the other. The car rolled towards a tiny building with a boom gate across the road. This was the first check point, and she found herself smoothing the material of her skirt in anticipation.
The guard at the gate glanced at the licence plate, waved at the driver, and motioned them through. By the time they reached the second gate, reality had set in with a force that drove her heart into her mouth.
There was no going back from here.
A figure came into view near the entrance to the building. He was younger than she expected, handsome, dark hair only barely peppered with flecks of grey. He stood with his hands clasped in front of him, and the moment the car pulled up alongside he reached forward to open the door.
Taking a deep breath through her nose, she curled her fingers around the straps of her handbag.
The door opened, and slowly, carefully, she extricated herself from the warmth of the sedan into the cool November air.
"Welcome to Bedford Hills." The man smiled warmly, and reached out a hand in greeting. The doctor smiled despite herself – his countenance made her feel relaxed – an oddity in a place like this. "I'm Barold Frost, in personnel. But you can call me Barry, or Frost, either is fine."
"Dr Maura Isles." She said, taking his hand. "I thought… I was to be meeting the warden?"
"Mark Jameson, yes.. he-" A shadow passed over Frost's face for a moment, it was only a fleeting one and immediately it was gone, and the smile was back in full. "He wasn't able to make it, asked me to show you around-" His grin widened and he wiggled his eyebrows. "But you're a lot fancier than the doctors we normally get around here. His loss!"
There was something about his charm that was remarkably… disarming. She wasn't threatened by it, nor did she find it inappropriate. It was… comfortable. She gratefully accepted his assistance.
"I know you have a lot of things you're going to want to get caught up on, but Jameson wanted me to show you the infirmary first."
"Of course." She said, and then to the heart of the matter. "How many...inmates...are housed here?"
"853, currently." He led her through the front doors, past what appeared to be several administerial offices, then off to the right of the building. "It is the largest maximum security prison for women in the state of New York."
"I am aware." She said simply. "And the former resident doctor is… on leave?"
"Dr Pike. Yes…" he paused at a door that appeared to lead out into a recreational area. "Apparently, it was the stress."
She found a smirk draw upon her lips as she followed him. If that wasn't motivation enough…
"How long have you been here, Mr Frost?"
"Barry-" He corrected, guiding her past another building, then pausing at another door. "9 years." He said. "Longer than most of the people here." He threw her another grin "But as my wife says, it's a living, and I feel like I'm doing good." Then pushing the door open, he gestured for her to step inside. "We're here."
The entrance to the infirmary was, in the Doctor's opinion, no different to the entrance to a regular cell block.
"The main treatment area is down the corridor." He said. Then smiled. "I've been told, it's the closest thing to a normal ER that doctors get."
Maura nodded. Her attention however was drawn to empty rooms to her left and right, complete with hospital bed fit-out, but empty, and for all intents and purposes, locked.
"What about these?"
"Oh, they're for the inmates who… need to be kept separate." He said, "Control room keeps the doors locked, so there's no risk. There are four of them." He motioned to the small panel just to the left of the first door. "You will be issued with an access card so you can enter and exit as you need."
"I see." Was all she said, until she moved past the first set of doors to the second. "There's someone in there."
Lying uncovered on a bed was a woman, in the distinct orange attire of the prisoners of Bedford Hills, a number coolly displayed in a holder across the door; 6559724. Her head was turned away from the door, a dark mane of hair covering any distinguishing features. She was slim, and by Maura's assessment just less than a foot taller than her. Her hands were by her sides, and Maura noticed the thick leather straps encasing her wrists and ankles.
"Who is she?" She asked.
Frost shifted on his feet. "Umm.. I'd avoid that one. At least until you can be briefed.. properly."
The doctor glanced at him in surprise, then back at the figure on the bed. "She's restrained?"
"She has to be. Last orderly nearly lost an eye when they attempted to inject her."
"Inject her?" She asked, incredulously. "With what?"
"Sedatives." He shrugged. "It's the only way she can be treated."
The doctor scoffed. "How exactly can a patient be treated when they're too sedated to tell you what is wrong?" She placed her hands on her hips, "Why is she in here?"
"Usual story, got into a fight. A stray fist made it through and she stayed down. A bit unusual for her I must say."
"Where is the other prisoner?"
Frost motioned with his head over to the main area of the infirmary, where two additional beds were occupied. Maura followed his gaze. One had a compression bandage wrapped tightly around her head and a cast on her arm. The other was attached to a respirator, a chest tube clearly visible and in the process of draining bloody fluid away from their thoracic cavity.
"Which one?" She asked
"Oh." She steeled herself and turned back to the window, her expression fading to neutral. This was to be her world, and she needed to become accustomed to it. She crossed her arms over her chest, tapped her toe on the ground for a few moments, then pursed her lips.
"Let me in."
"Doctor I really don't think that's a good idea –" Frost said, his voice low. "She's not the first one you want to be treating in here."
"I'm a Doctor, Mr Frost." She responded curtly. "I don't pick and choose my patients. Now, have the other two been tended to?"
"And this patient has not?"
"Not yet – we were waiting for-"
"Then open the door."
Frost glanced nervously over his shoulder at the security station that controlled the infirmary and shifted uncomfortably on his feet. "It has to be locked behind you." He said. "Regulations for a… class 4 felon."
Maura glared at him. "And how exactly is that going to affect me," She snapped. "With a patient in restraints?"
She wasn't used to these rules. She was accustomed to seeing people in need of medical care and actually doing something about it. The Doctor flushed with anger. Why on earth had she been recommended for this position if this was what they expected?
With a subtle nod of his head, the magnet disengaged, the door unlocked and the Doctor was able to push it open. It swung silently closed behind her, and she knew the faint click was the sound of the lock re-engaging again. It riled against everything she knew.
Slowly, she stepped inside the bare room, delicately lowering her handbag to the floor by the wall. Her eyes scanned the table of implements in front of her just a few feet from the patient restrained on the bed.
The woman made no move to acknowledge her. She took a deep breath. This was not the same world she left in Chicago, she told herself. Back in that hospital, every patient had a life to return to. Here, it was different. These people were criminals. They knew only the confines of the cells that kept them, and the violent world they continued to exist in.
Still, she had a job, and she believed in doing it a certain way, regardless of the patient. That had been her declaration to the man who had interviewed her for this position… don't expect me to change my ideals because these people are what society deems as criminal.
That recollection was what gave her the confidence now.
"Hi there." She said to the figure in front of her. "I'm Dr Isles. And you are-"
Maura took a deep breath, pulling on a pair of thin latex gloves that lay on the observation table beside the bed. Leaning over, she touched the back of her hand to the woman's forehead, observing the angry bruise on her cheek and seeping cut above her eye. At the same time she slipped her fingers under the restraints, curling them around her slender left wrist.
"Your heart rate is high." She stated, matter-of-factly, "And you have a fever. Are you hurt anywhere else?"
"You know, it would make things a lot easier if you helped me out here." She said, "You are obviously effective at defending yourself, judging by the condition of the other two patients I have. I can see the facial lacerations, but your body is telling me you are injured somewhere else, and I would rather not waste my time searching you."
Silence again. And her next six months were laid out for her – this was not what she was used to… she was not used to fighting people to make them heal. She wasn't-
She stifled a gasp at the sound. The voice was not what she expected. It was gravelly and deep, but oddly soft. Maura allowed a small breath of achievement to escape her lips and nodded to the wall.
"Okay, now we're getting somewhere." She said. "I'm going to come around to your side and have a look, okay?"
"Okay." She answered to herself. It felt better. Slowly, she repositioned herself on the other side of the bed, in better view of the woman but still unable to fully observe her thanks to the expanse of hair over her face. She wondered if it was deliberate, and wasn't game to suggest it.
Instead, she bunched her fingers against the hem of the orange prison shirt and pulled it outward.
"I'm just going to lift your shirt here-" She said.
In truth, she smelled the wound before she saw it. Lifting the regulation orange shirt revealed an attempt at a binding around the woman's midsection, tied at the front. The woman tensed when Maura pulled it open – a painful hiss leaving her lips in the first outward sign she had shown of any discomfort, and it took barely a moment after that for the Doctor to understand why. Packed under a folded piece of what looked like bed linen, was a bleeding, festering, open cut, at least two inches across.
"Oh my god," She breathed. "This is- you've been-" Suddenly she looked up to the glass door, behind which Frost was waiting, nervously. "Get an orderly." She demanded. "I need an IV of penicillin. Now." She caught his hesitation and her eyes darkened. "Now, Mr Frost, or we're going to have a much bigger problem on our hands."
Looking again down at the woman, she found for the first time, dark eyes searching her face. Her hair had fallen to the side as she had turned her head, showing skin waxy with fever, the pallour on her cheeks a whitish-grey. Maura rested her hand against the woman's cheek for a moment. It didn't matter where she was. She was a doctor treating her patient. And her patient was in serious trouble.
"Hey, it'll be okay." She couldn't help but say. As if the person was just another frightened woman in her hospital. "I know how to fix this."
As if the person wasn't a killer.
That, was her first mistake.
Reaching back down to her wrist Maura attempted to find a vein that could be used for the IV. But the restraints made it impossible.
"This is ridiculous…" She hissed to herself. "I can't even get a basic cannula in with these on."
With only a second's thought, she unbuckled the restraint.
And that was her second mistake.
"Doctor, NO!" It was all she heard. She felt the back of a heel knock her to the ground, and before she could get her bearings enough to wonder how the woman had escaped so quickly she was being pulled upward by the fabric of her shirt, and shoved against the wall so hard the back of her head exploded with pain as it collided with painted brick. Panic gripped her throat and she opened her eyes, this time staring directly into the darker ones from before, dangerous, deadly, boring into her. Hands were balled into fists around her chest, pushing her backward… so close to her a set of matching scars on the back of each hand were clearly visible, and she wondered fleetingly to herself, if by these hands her life would be snuffed out.
The doctor always wondered what this felt like – when time seemed to slow, before the end. She watched the security room frantically working to release the door, could see the panic on Frost's face as he watched their newest resident doctor, killed by a patient on her first day…
…And she found herself once again wondering, what her parents would think...
Until suddenly the grip at her shirt slackened, the eyes burning into hers rolled back into their sockets and limply, unceremoniously, a black and orange blur crumpled to the ground.