Prometheus Chapter 48
The wood of the door felt rough against her skin.
The night closed in, an oppressive shadow that settled solidly around her shoulders, and Maura realised in that moment… nobody knew where she was.
"Jackson, I'm coming in."
She reached for the door handle, but the door swung open without effort…
…and Maura froze….
Standing in the middle of the debris, gun to their temple, was-
Maura started with a gasp and a hiss, the ghost of a touch dissolving from her hairline.
Dark brown eyes swam into view as Maura blinked herself awake, finding herself eye level with Jane, who was crouched in front of her. A thin blanket had been draped over her body, its coarse fibers scratching the skin of her arms and neck, and Maura could feel the mid-bar of the couch digging into her hip. The fingers of her right hand were numb from where her arm was trapped underneath her, stiches pulling at her neck.
Maura rolled onto her back and grimaced, clenching and unclenching her fist several times to encourage blood flow to her limb. She could feel the pace of her heart in her ears, and squeezed her eyes shut for a moment, willing herself to calm.
Opening her eyes again, Maura noticed for the first time how Jane's left hand hovered, just out of view, resting on a cushion just above her head.
"It's.. nothing." She answered, voice too quiet even for her own liking.
"It seemed like something."
Maura shook her head.
"It was just a-" She stopped. Dream? Memory? Both?
Maura turned toward Jane, watching the way Jane's eyes landed on her face, concerned and searching. Jane's dark hair fell loosely across her shoulders, softening the angle of her jaw. Even with the obvious shadows under her eyes she looked a far cry from the night before. Almost… unburdened…
She shot Jane a small smile.
"-It's just been a long couple of days."
Maura watched Jane process her answer for a moment; the tilt of her head, the way her eyes flitted between both of Maura's, as if deciding whether to push any further or let it go. Finally, Jane nodded, pushing herself away from the couch and rising to her feet. Maura wasn't sure, but she thought she felt the brush of fingertips through the ends of her hair before Jane's arm fell back to her side.
"Sorry I missed the game." She said, squinting up at Jane, who scoffed and tossed her hands outward dramatically.
"Don't worry," Jane shook her head. "-you definitely didn't miss anything." Stepping away, Jane retreated to the armchair and slumped into it with a whoosh of air, remote in hand. "Thank god I know the next six hours are worth it." She muttered.
Maura rubbed her eyes and sat up, twisting her body to rid her lower back of the ache that had settled there thanks to less-than-average cushioning. Jane had returned her attention to the television, soaking in the previous game's commentary from the sports reporters with a dark scowl.
She stared down at her hands, The dream didn't surprise her; there had already been so many parallels between Jackson and Jane and her experience with both of them, that it was only a matter of time before the two converged in this way.
Maura could vividly remember her pleas to Jackson that night, the ashen look on his face as he stared at her, surrounded by more broken things than Maura could have counted. And then there was Jane last night….wordlessly sagging into the chair furthest from the couch, quiet and still as the baseball game flickered on the screen, eyes haunted and jaw set.
They hadn't spoken again that night, and all of the questions that whirled in circles through Maura's mind about what, and why remained painfully unanswered.
Pinching the bridge of her nose Maura ran her free hand through her hair, scratching at her scalp. She needed more coffee, at the very least.
When her hands dropped away, she found Jane's eyes on her again, and yet again Maura became acutely aware of how that felt…
"Coffee?" She asked, gesturing at the empty mug at Jane's feet.
Jane nodded, slowly, and the muscles of her jaw worked for a moment before she frowned. "I can get it-" She started, but Maura pulled herself upright and crossed the space between them in two strides, holding out a hand.
"I'm making some anyway."
Jane handed Maura the mug with a whispered thanks. Making her way to the kitchen, Maura paused at the doorway, glancing back over her shoulder.
Jane looked back at her.
"Thank you, for waking me."
Maura was pouring the last of the water into the mixing bowl when she heard movement over her left shoulder, and turned to find Jane leaning against the doorframe, arms crossed over her chest.
"Your timing is impeccable." She said.
Jane gestured with her chin to the spread of ingredients beside the stove.
"Pancakes?" You didn't strike me as the type."
Maura shrugged, trying not to be distracted by the specific type Jane had struck her as, and continued beating the mixture in the bowl cradled in the crook of her arm.
"I prefer buckwheat and buttermilk it's true," She said, "But... There was flour, and eggs, and sugar, and several-" Maura set the bowl down on the counter, and gestured vaguely in the direction of the kitchen island. "-things that one could add to a pancake as a condiment. Here-" She unclipped the coffee pot from the hot plate and poured the fresh brew into Jane's mug. Jane straightened, stepped into the kitchen and took the cup from Maura's outstretched hand.
"Ma used to turn them into rabbit faces." She said. "Complete with… ears-" Jane lifted her free hand above her head, wiggling her fore and middle fingers for effect. Maura smiled and shook her head.
"Mothers have all sorts of ways to make food more interesting for children." She offered, and looked back at Jane only to find the other woman raising an eyebrow.
"I was 18."
Perhaps it was Jane's answer, or the mental image of 18 year old Jane rolling her eyes as Angela presented a set of bunny-shaped pancakes, or even simply the pure absurdity of their situation, but Maura suddenly found herself chuckling, and she didn't miss the flash of innocent amusement in Jane's own eyes, the way a small smile slowly spread across Jane's face.
Maura reached behind herself to pick up the bowl and resume mixing, peeling the dried flour from the edges of the bowl and folding it into the middle of the batter, before repeating the motion. Jane quietly sipped at her coffee, her eyes drifting past any and all of the spaces in the medium-sized room.
"How… is she?" She asked, after a long silence. Maura glanced up to find Jane fidgeting with the sleeve of her hoodie, fingers still clasped around the mug in her hand. "Ma, I mean." She clarified, softly. "And Frankie… With all this-"
Maura paused, and placed the bowl down carefully onto the bench beside the eggs. She picked up her own mug, if for no other reason than to give herself something to do with her hands.
"Your mother is… upset. Of course." She answered. "She blames herself for… what happened."
Jane shook her head, straightening and lifting the coffee to her lips.
Maura tilted her head. "I think he's angry too, Jane. They're your family. They feel they should have protected you better."
Jane scoffed, a paper-thin exhale that held more behind it than Maura knew Jane would have wanted her to see. It was one of the many new ways Maura was learning to navigate around this Jane, this fragile but growing independence.
"Your mother… gave me some things to give you." She said. When Jane's eyes darted to Maura's and held, Maura held up a hand. "Just some clothes. She thought you might like them. They're by the front door."
Jane's shoulders lowered slightly, her lower lip disappearing between her teeth, and she nodded. But behind it, Maura could see the escalating tension; the way Jane's fingers gripped her mug that little bit too tightly; the squareness of her stance – able to turn on her heels on a whim.
Maura wasn't ready for that. Not yet.
"So." She said, switching on the front hot plate and slicing a thick piece of butter into the frying pan that sat atop it. "Want to tell me what I missed in the baseball, and see how far this batter goes?"
It turned out, Jane had many choice words to say about the right-handed pitchers who started game three, and the poor execution of any given name on either team that resulted in what Maura learned was the lowest scoring game of the series. And from the beginning to the end of Jane's rant about an unfortunate individual by the name of Eovaldi, who was at best a traitor or at worst a double agent for the very team the Red Sox were playing against, Maura had managed to build a sizeable collection of perfectly-sized pancakes that even she had to admit, could have belonged in a cooking magazine, if not for the garish teal crockery.
Maura brought the two plates – now piled high with pancakes – to the kitchen island, where an assortment of condiments was collected between them.
Jane glanced down at the plate, up at Maura, and with a look that bordered somewhere between mischief and self-consciousness, picked up the maple syrup in one hand and a salt-shaker in the other.
"You… wouldn't." She said, narrowing her eyes.
With something very close to what might be considered a flourish, Jane applied both in liberal portions, a challenge in her eyes.
"That's… I'm not even going to tell you how unhealthy that is." But Maura was laughing in earnest now, Jane cut off a corner of her first pancake and stuffed a sizeable chunk into her mouth with a shrug, syrup dribbling from her lips.
It was reflex really, for Maura to reach out.
Jane's chin fit perfectly between her fingers as she brushed the excess Maple Syrup away from her skin. Jane slowed her chewing, eyes softening as a smile unlike anything Maura had seen spread across her face. Suddenly realizing what she had done, Maura snatched her hand away, a searing heat of embarrassment immediately rushing to her cheeks and pricking the tips of her ears.
"I'm sorry." She said, "I didn't-"
"Don't apologise." The words were spoken so gently, it only made Maura's discomfort worse.
Instead she turned all her attention to her breakfast, busying herself with the jar of raspberry compote she'd fished from the back of one of the cupboards. After several half-hearted attempts, she finally popped the lid off and spooned a generous amount onto her plate.
Maura's knife slipped through three pancakes in one go, resolved not to add any more to the conversation. After all, it wasn't like they didn't know how to be silent in each others' company, if the last twelve hours were anything to go by.
It seemed, however, that Jane had a different idea.
"So… what happened in Chicago?"
The question was worded more abruptly than the sentiment behind it, nevertheless it took Maura aback, and she clenched her fingers around her fork, stilling it. She looked up just as Jane stuffed a (mercifully smaller) piece of pancake into her mouth.
"You… might need to be more specific." She said, aware her tone was possibly a shade away from friendly, and flashed a weak, conciliatory smile at Jane instead.
Jane, for her part, regarded Maura a moment with a tilted head, then shrugged.
"Whatever you want to tell me." Jane rested her elbow on the table, her fork swinging from her fingers, before blowing out a sigh. "Come on," She waved her fork in the air. "You have two-hundred pages on my life. I know barely nothing about the woman who's been more determined than I was to save it."
The words settled more heavily than Maura would have liked. However, the conversation was a distraction, so she blew a breath out from between her lips, 8 uygfdxzand stabbed at her pancakes instead.
"I… was engaged."
Jane's chewing stalled completely this time, and she swallowed, looking up, a little more than curiosity flashing behind her eyes. "Oh?"
Maura pressed her lips together tightly, before shrugging.
"His name was – is - Ian… he was a surgeon at Northwestern. He.." She shook her head. "He was caught stealing drugs from the hospital."
If there had been a sound for Jane's voice this time, it would have been a bass instrument in a chorus. It shot in an odd flicker down Maura's spine; so very intrusive but not in a way that distracted from the flow of conversation.
"Yes." She pushed the remaining pancake through her syrup in a perfect isosceles, before biting down on her lower lip. "We went to Africa together. He was…extremely passionate about giving them access to medicine they otherwise wouldn't have had."
"Is that so bad?"
Maura's hand stilled. God, how many times had she asked herself the same question, in the hours that had followed their argument.
"It is when it's illegal." She looked up. "And there were illegal… dangerous… drugs involved."
Maura shrugged one shoulder, her best show of nonchalance she could muster. "I should have seen it coming." She said.
But Jane shook her head, a little more vehemently than Maura remembered from her.
"No." Jane's voice was solid. "If there's one thing I've come to know about you," She said, "-you see almost everything coming that's possible to be seen." She pushed the last small slice of pancake around her plate, ducking her head before adding, "-Even things that aren't."
By the time Jane's eyes had risen again, they had softened… warmed… and had Maura not known it to be anatomically unlikely, they seemed… lighter, somehow.
"I confronted him about it one night, and he-" She shook her head, fingers tangling absently in the thin gold chain around her neck as Jane brought the fork to her mouth. "He was desperate."
Jane froze mid-chew.
"There's a restraining order." But Maura shook her head. "It's alright, Jane." She said. "In the end, I was wrapped up by association and it was advised that if I wanted to continue to practice medicine, that I'd need to move somewhere out of the eyes and reach of the medical board."
"And you came to Bedford."
Maura nodded. "I came to Bedford."
"And your first day, I-"
Maura could see the clench of Jane's jaw, the way her body stiffened, blinked, and for a moment Maura expected her to turn around and leave the room. Finally, a loud breath left her and Jane placed her coffee down on the island.
"I have… these dreams, memories... I'm not sure." She said, worrying at her lower lip. "I-" She paused, and Maura was struck with the sudden urge to reach forward, to slip off her stool and step into Jane's space if not just to…
"-I used to think they were dreams. I used to-" Jane's breath caught in her throat, an odd sort of hiccup that fell softly but no less tellingly. "Last night-" She started, then stopped again, eyebrows furrowing and eyes squeezing shut.
Maura reached across the table, her hand landing on Jane's forearm.
"Jane…" She whispered, "Hey-"
"They're not." Jane breathed, and Maura watched her whole chest expand with the effort. "They're-"
"It's possible they're not." Maura said, gently. She felt possible was kinder than likely.
Jane's eyes bounced open again and she shook her head, her free hand raking through her hair.
"I need… I need some time." She choked out, and Maura's fingers tightened around Jane's arm in reassurance.
Jane shifted off the stool, slipping out of Maura's grasp until she was standing, hair messy on her shoulders and fingers bunched together as she glanced furtively around the kitchen. Maura stood and stepped quietly around the table, enough that she was in reaching distance of Jane but not so far that she would have been placing herself between Jane and the door.
"Thanks for having breakfast with me."
Jane's eyes were so far away, and as much as Maura wanted to help - wanted to stand in the way of everything that haunted Jane - she also knew there had already been so many lines crossed the previous night and this morning she walked a tentative path.
Jane blinked, blinked again, and when she turned Maura thought she could see the demons dancing at the frayed edges of Jane's mind.
"I'm sorry." Jane murmured.
Taking a deep breath, Maura stepped forward, her fingers tangling with Jane's and squeezing, before releasing as Jane stepped past her, and Maura turned over her shoulder.
A/N: She only needs a moment...
A/N 2: And yes, there really are two chapters left. Plus an epilogue. So technically three. Why do I say this? Because they're written - not edited but written. We're all going to be done by the end of July, folks.