There is a shipwreck between your ribs. You are a box with
fragile written on it, and so many people have not handled you
And for the first time, I understand that I will never know
how to apologize for being
one of them.
What It Took To Understand, Shinji Moon
As you may have assumed from the summary, this is a fic revolving around Maura being abducted. It is not, however, related to the abduction case that has appeared in season six (as you will soon learn from the dates of events in this story). I began writing this long before that appeared in the show; if you're looking for a fic relating to that certain disappearance, then this is not the one for you. Other than that, have fun reading! This is my first multi-chap fic for the fandom, and I hope you all enjoy it. Major tw for abuse.
September 21st, 2015
They find Maura two hundred and ninety two days after.
It is not Maura they bring home.
The woman Korsak leads out of the basement is a small, timid thing. Her soft fierceness has dissipated from her core, replaced with hunched shoulders and eyes that won't meet Jane's when she offers her a blanket. It's orange, and ridiculous, and she waits for Maura to rattle off a fun fact about the effects of the blanket on shock. That warm, soft voice she's been yearning for like honey on her wounded hands –
The woman accepts the blanket slowly. Hands upturned, waiting to be submissive. Jane flicks her gaze over to Korsak, who only nods, urging her on silently. So she takes a small, dizzying breath and sets the blanket in her hands. They're pale, slim, too slim – her wrists reedy and knuckles too obvious. Painfully, they retract with the blanket, letting it slip open so that she can pull it over her own shoulders with mechanical movements, eyes empty as she stares at the gun on Jane's hip.
Jane can't resist. It's been so long since she's seen her. Too long. Had begun to believe – maybe – she wouldn't see her again.
She steps forwards, allows her fingers to drift across the lacerations littered across Maura's chin. At the touch, she whimpers, closing her eyes, and Jane steps back immediately.
"Maura," she murmurs, and the woman's eyes stay closed. "It's me. It's Jane. I'm not – I'm not going to hurt you."
There's silence between them. Around their small bubble CSU works at sweeping the crime scene, others barking orders for members of the public to stay behind the yellow tape, some glaring at the press that are drawn to this moment with their cameras and dentist approved white smiles. She just – wants them to go away. Wants it to be her, and Maura, and a long, slow hug and words like I missed you and I thought you were dead and I don't know what to do without you.
Paramedics rush past her, knocking her shoulder lightly and she bumps into Korsak. He steadies her with one hand and she turns to him with questions on her lips, ones that won't make a sound, only to find the same ones shrouding him.
"I'm going with you," Jane insists, tracking the paramedics as they begin to lead Maura away from her. They disappear from her sight as a crowd of CSU pass her and her chest tightens, and she shoves them aside to catch up, her chest only relaxing when she spots the paramedics and Maura again.
It stops her in her tracks as Maura glances over her shoulder. Meets her eyes for the first time. They're bloodshot, the bags beneath them dark and bruised while cuts adorn her cheekbones; red and pink and pale. Multiple hues dating the same tragedy and Jane takes a moment to really look at the woman in front of her. The one she's been searching for so long now – has photos of everywhere, dreams of her face in her rare moments of sleep, her last known movements burned into the back of her eyelids. This isn't the same woman she'd been looking for. The woman she'd cried for was bubbly and bright, verged too often between the lines of annoying and adorable.
This woman hunches beneath the blanket, hands pale as they grip it tightly. Her lower lip wobbles as Jane stares for too long, strands of dirty, greasy hair falling against her cheek and tangling in her eyelashes.
"No," she repeats again, a harsh and strangled sound. Raw. Jane's eyes flick down to the fresh bruises painted across her neck.
It stills everything within her. Has to close her eyes and count down from ten and breathe before she can answer.
"Okay. Okay, I'll – " She'll what?
Opens her eyes, finds Maura staring at her feet.
"I'll see you later Maura. Okay?"
Maura doesn't say anything, lets the paramedics lead her away as they insist that they need to get her to a hospital immediately. And Jane –
She lets her go.
Words leave her after that as she steps down into the basement Maura had been held in for the past nine months. Korsak looks back at her and sighs as she takes in the room.
It's filled with people working the scene, but she can imagine what it had been like with its sole occupant. The floor is grimy, a carpet that might once have been white but is now a dark grey, interrupted with red stains that make Jane's stomach flip. With a sharp intake of breath she looks away, at the bed in the corner, metal frame pushed up against the wall. Oddly, the mattress is covered in silk sheets, a gold-cream comforter – it is this one thing she picks up on, instead of the bright red stain that blooms in the middle of the bed (so much blood, Maura's blood – ). She imagines Maura, alone, tucked under them, afraid in this concrete box. No light except for the one light bulb swinging from the ceiling, but the switch for it in the hallway upstairs.
She takes a sweep of the rest of the room. Books. Fancy, hardback ones with names like Tolstoy and Hemingway imprinted on them. Some medical ones, too, and she moves towards them, lets her gloved hands run over the dog eared covers. Maura would never let her books grow into such a condition.
Under the stairs, there's a toilet that looks like it's never been cleaned, a small brown-stained sink next to it and a showerhead poking out from the wall. No curtain. No privacy.
Cameras. In every corner of the room.
The tears spring hot and instant to her eyes but she fights them. Not now. No more crying. Maura is safe, and on her way to the hospital, and she will never have to go through this again.
"There's no windows," she states after clearing her throat.
Korsak appears beside her, staring at the showerhead too.
"Sick bastard. Left her alone with books and this."
"He's going away for life," Jane growls. "If not, I'll put him down myself."
There are three suspects and every one of them makes her sick.
Jane curls her hands into fists, feeling her scars throb as she stares at their mugshots. The Matthews family.
The first photo on the murder board is of the eldest. The father, Jacob Matthews, a sixty-seven year old white man with vacant eyes and a white wiry beard brushing his sternum. After looking through his file, she finds he's been accused of sexual assault, battery and intent to supply. It's surprises her that she's never heard of the guy before, but she has no time to focus on that.
Jacob Matthews's wife, Maria, had died five years ago, but she's left a son and a daughter behind. The eldest being the daughter, a twenty-nine year old woman with cheekbones that could cut stone and eyes the darkest shade of brown she's ever seen. Melissa has no previous charges, but plenty of them have been made and later dropped. No doubt her father's interference. Damn, is there no-one in the force that won't take a bribe these days?
The younger sibling, Kyle, is only twenty-five. He looks exactly like this father – eyes far away in his mug shot and lips twisted into a half-grin. She feels her stomach give way staring at the photo, so she finds his file, reading endless lists of charges made against the guy. Intent to sell, like his father, but also armed robbery – even that charge has been dropped. Either these guys knew people in the force, or they have one hell of a lawyer.
Kyle is the owner of the property in Connecticut that they'd found Maura hidden away in. Narcotics had been trailing him for three months, waiting for a chance to raid him hoping to find evidence of a meth lab in this second house of his. They'd seen his sister, Melissa, visit the household regularly, and had no doubt that the father – the ringleader of the family – was involved in the dodgy dealings going down. Finally, they'd caught wind of Kyle making a deal downtown, and while half of their team rushed out to arrest him, the other half attained a warrant and stormed his house.
They hadn't found drugs.
They'd found Maura.
Constance Isles is the last person Jane expects to find in the hospital corridor.
"Detective," she rises from her seat and embraces her, making Jane stiff with shock. "Thank you. So much. For finding her."
Jane swallows past the lump in her throat and fights the urge to throw the woman off of her. You didn't care when she was around, she wants to yell. You shouldn't have had to lose her to see how much you need her. They're the right words for the wrong person, however, and she lets the moment pass with guilt burning a hole in her lungs.
"How is she?"
Constance clasps her hands in front of her. "They haven't told me yet. I only arrived here five minutes ago, the earliest flight had been two hours after your call. They keep telling me they're running tests, but other than that, I've received no information about my daughter."
Jane spots the nurses reception desk at the end of the hall and squeeze's Constance's elbow. "Gimme a moment."
The nurse sees her coming and Jane flashes her badge, making the nurse sigh. She supposes she must get this a lot.
"I need information on a woman brought in here a couple hours ago. Maura Isles. She's part of an active case we have going."
The nurse hesitates briefly, but Jane refuses to soften her glower. After moments of tense silence, the nurse turns to the computer, typing as slowly as humanly possible.
"She's still with doctors undergoing several tests, that's all the information I have at the moment – "
"Well what tests? When will she be done?"
The nurse frowns. "I'm sorry, detective. I fail to see how that's relevant to your case. We'll contact you when Miss Isles is lucid and ready to answer any questions you may have."
Growling, Jane shoves away from the desk and storms back over to Constance, where she relays the information that the nurse provided her with. The woman deflates, sitting back down and staring at the blank walls opposite them. Jane curls her hands into fists by her sides and fights the urge to let this anger free through violence. Two hundred and ninety two days. Nine and a half months. Since she last saw Maura, heard Maura's laugh, listened to her nerdy facts. All this time, she'd been an two hours away, in another state. And now she's being kept from her – she's probably on the same damn floor – and Jane's just… she's just…
She failed her.
Constance frowns when Jane sits beside her. "I imagined you'd be leading the manhunt."
The reminder that their suspects got away make her scars throb. "Feds took over the case. They crossed state lines, so… They gave me access to some of their investigation, but they politely threw me out before I could get too deep into it."
"I pictured you as the argumentative type, detective."
"Yeah, well," Jane watches as an elderly man attached to IV shuffles from his room. "I knew where I'd rather be."
She wishes that she had known.
The last time she had seen Maura, it'd been the coldest month of the year. December, and she'd narrowly avoid tripping on ice whenever chasing after a suspect. Almost twisted her ankle once, and Maura would always insist she needed to be fare more careful in the colder weather. As the day Maura disappeared came and went, Jane began to ache for that nagging – for someone to make sure she was always keeping herself as safe as she could.
December third. 2014. She'd visited Maura's house after a case for a movie and drinks (Maura had attempted to make her try mulled wine). She can still recall every small detail about that last moment they had together – the taste of the beer, the soft wool of the blanket covering their bodies, the way Maura's hair tickled her shoulder. Normally, she'd have forgotten the moment. It'd just be an inconsequential memory, tucked somewhere in her subconscious and never tapped into again.
But the next day, Maura hadn't turned up to a crime scene. She couldn't be contacted. Jane went to her house, and the door was wide open – signs of a struggle in the chipped wood of her doorframe, the spilled trash right outside.
Jane had been the last one to see her.
For months, she hadn't been able to sleep. When she wasn't working, she was investigating Maura's case to the best of her ability. When she needed to sleep otherwise she wouldn't be able to function, she'd stare at her ceiling and relive the memory.
Maura had forced her to watch a movie Jane had been less than excited about. French, with English subtitles. Too fancy. They'd curled up beneath a blanket on the couch, Maura with mulled wine and Jane with a beer (three weeks after Maura had disappeared, Jane had realised it was her favourite brand. Maura always kept it in her fridge, anticipating Jane's visits. It was something she'd never noticed about the medical examiner before, and had really wished she'd had the time with her to appreciate the sentiment behind it).
It had started raining halfway through the movie. She remembers, because she'd stopped paying attention to the movie. She'd known Maura could tell she was only pretending to pay attention, but her friend hadn't called her out on it.
Afterwards, Maura's eyes had been drooping. Barely awake. As her breathing deepened, the ends of her hair had brushed against Jane's shoulder, her arm.
"You're tired," Jane observed. "I should go."
"No," Maura murmured. "If I go to sleep now, my REM cycle won't be fully complete when my alarm is due in the morning, meaning I'll have a bad quality sleep."
"I'm sure your REM cycle would appreciate the extra time. C'mon," she'd nudged Maura, whose head had fallen back against the couch as her eyes fluttered closed. "Maur."
Her head lolled to one side. "It's extremely unhealthy to – "
"Ignore when you need to sleep. Jeez, Maura, stop making me the responsible one here."
That'd made her laugh. A soft, sleepy chuckle that had haunted Jane for months. She'd known that, wherever Maura was, that same gentle sound wasn't being created. She'd never wanted anything so desperately as to find her and make her laugh that way again – happy, and trusting.
"Okay. You're right," Maura had caved and accepted Jane's hand to help her up, lifting the blanket with her. "Oh, Angela asked if we'd have lunch with her tomorrow. She's looking after TJ."
"Sure, if we don't get a body. What time?"
"Well, lunch is typically – "
"Maura. What time?"
Maura had huffed, glaring. "Twelve."
"Twelve it is."
They hadn't made it to that lunch.
Had she known it was going to be the last time she'd see Maura for two hundred and ninety two days, she would've made their quiet moment last forever. She wouldn't have left that house so easily, would've made sure Maura locked all of her doors and windows and waited on her couch all night to make sure that no-one could get to her. Or she would've just said something – something to make the moment important, to show Maura how much she cared, to show her that she would never stop looking for her. That she needed her in ways she was too afraid to admit.
"Family for Miss Isles?"
Jane's head snaps up at the sound of the doctor's voice. Constance is already on her feet.