It's past midnight, closer to one, when Maura hears the car in her drive. She stands slowly, taking a deep breath, reminding herself how stressed and frantic Barry had sounded on the phone, reminding herself that she has tons of room…reminding herself that she is doing a good thing.
But even braced for it, she is not ready for the sight that greets her when she opens the door. There's Barry Frost, the detective she works so closely with at the precinct, and standing next to him…
"This is Jane," Frost says, gesturing unnecessarily. "Jane, this is Dr. Maura Isles."
She is tall, long and lithe, with dark hair and deep, dark brown eyes. She has a sharp angular jaw, that Maura realizes is currently clenched against…pain.
She's in pain, Maura realizes, and it quickly becomes apparent why. Although Frost is loaded down with several duffel bags, Jane is also carrying what looks like a bundle of blankets in her arms. It takes Maura a moment to realize that it is a child.
"Come in," she says quickly, stepping aside, "Come in, you all must be exhausted from the trip." As the party moves past her into the hall, two sleepy green eyes peer curiously at her from the folds of the fabric on Jane's shoulder. Maura feels her heart speed up a little.
"Ma," quiet and tremulous, it still makes Maura start. She looks down to see a little girl holding tight to the belt loop of Jane's jeans.
Two children. She had been told there would be two. Of course, Frost told her, but being told is very different than seeing, than actually having them in her house, under her roof. And watching these three move into her kitchen, practically dragging themselves, Maura feels out of her depth for the first time in her life.
"Ma?" The little girl calls again, and Jane reaches one hand down to pull the child closer to her hip. "Hush," she says quickly.
Maura works hard to swallow a gasp. The entirety of Jane's hand, up into the wrist and where is disappears under her sleeve, is black and blue.
The other hand, supporting the younger girl in her arms, is just as bruised.
"Thank you," Jane's voice is deep and hoarse, and Maura looks up into her face, and realizes she's been caught staring.
She feels herself flushing. "It's not a problem at all. Not at all…Would you like to see your rooms? I'm sure you're immensely drained."
Jane glances at Frost, who nods once. Jane nods too, and gently, looking like it takes every muscle in her body, she bends to set the little bundle of blankets down on the floor."
"Nuumph," the bundle protests, but Jane is already straightening up, reaching for her duffle. Without a child on her hip, Maura can see Jane in full, and she takes in the broad muscled shoulders, and the narrow hips and long legs before looking away.
"I'll show you to your-" Maura begins, but Jane speaks over her, quick and brusque
"We can manage," she says lowly. And to the taller child, "your sister."
The little girl wraps an arm around he blanket heap that is her sister, eyes closed, asleep standing up.
"Jane let me," Frost begins, watching Jane heft a duffel bag to her shoulder with a grimace. But it quickly turns into a glare.
"I said I got it," she snaps, though she instantly looks regretful. "Go home, Frost. Get some sleep."
She turns to Maura, and her eyes sweep the doctor once, like an opening act.
Maura opens her mouth, finding she has to clear her throat. "It's…excuse me, it's the second and third door on the left, down that hall," she gestures. "The bathroom is the first on the right."
A nod, and Jane turns away. "smalls," she says, and the two children follow after her, trudging like they've been walking for a hundred years.
They watch the little family disappear down the hall, at the first door, Maura watches Jane toss the duffel inside and then turn to lift the smaller child with a faint grunt. She straightens and their eyes meet for the space of a second. And then they turn, and disappear.
Maura turns back to Frost. She feels exhausted and they haven't been here ten minutes. She looks at her watch; it reads 12:57am.
"I'm sorry we're so late," Frost's voice in the silence makes her jump. What is it about the night that seems to amplify sound, she wonders. "There was a bit of trouble getting out of NYC…Layover was a huge hassle. We should have driven."
Maura gestures that he should sit down, he looks like she feels: wrung out and exhausted. "It's fine, it's fine," She says quickly, holding up a coffee mug. Frost nods appreciatively. "The little one looks about dead on her feet."
Barry nods, looking gloomy "Zoë. Yeah, she's only three."
Zoë. Maura files the name away for later. The papers had mentioned the children, of course, but it hadn't named them, or given their ages. One of the perks of having some pull with the media, she supposed. "That's a long trip for a little girl."
"Long trip for anyone, really. Getting them out of Illinois was a nightmare. Reporters, supporters, opposition…lots of stops."
They are silent, watching the coffee drip steadily into the pot, and Maura frowns a little, realizing that she did not offer the woman anything to eat or drink. How unwelcoming.
But Frost takes her expression as discomfort. He speaks down at the table, apologetic. "I'm sorry, Doctor. If they had anywhere else to go-"
She cuts him off at once with a wave of her hand. "No, Detective Frost, it's fine. Of course it's fine." She wonders if it will be true if she says it enough.
Frost is shaking his head. "As soon as I find somewhere else-" he begins, but Maura curtails him once more.
"Barry…take as long as you need. I have plenty of room. And they look like they need a couple days to…decompress."
"Jane and I came up through the academy together," he says this like he hasn't heard her. "Her kids are my godkids, and I-" He holds his hands out, looking a little bit lost.
Maura wants to take one of his hands, but she resists, wondering if they are at that level yet. "I understand," she says firmly, and he looks at her hopefully. She smiles, "of course I understand."
"She's the best Detective Chicago ever saw," he says this like she's argued, like she's going to change her mind. "And when she gets back on her feet, Boston will be lucky to have her."
When she gets back on her feet. Maura tries not to think of the injuries that Jane has sustained, or the psychological trauma that must have gone along with them…not to mention the loss…
To the detective she says, "Yes, I've read up on her…She's quite extraordinary."
Frost smiles, permission to speak more, to give her a little bit more information. "She's like a sister. They were both like sisters…If there was room with me…if she could handle stairs."
Maura shakes her head again, growing aggravated. "Barold! I have told you repeatedly that-" But a deep, rough voice makes Maura stop dead.
"Barold…it's been a while since anyone's called you that, Frost."
Both Maura and Frost turn towards the voice. Jane is standing in the doorway that leads into the hall, leaning against the frame. Without a toddler on her hip, she stands a little straighter, although Maura still thinks she looks pained. Her hands, with their deep purple and blue bruises are shoved into her jean pockets.
"Detective Rizzoli! I didn't hear you come in!" Maura's voice is too high and too loud, but her nerves do not let her stop to correct his. "Are you alright? Did you find the rooms satisfactory?"
The brunette doesn't answer right away. Her eyes slide carefully over the doctor in a way that makes Maura feel like she's being turned inside out and examined.
"Jane," the brunette says slowly.
A shrug, "Just call me Jane, alright? I'm not a detective," her face slips into hard impassivity. "Not right now."
Frost holds out a hand. "Aw, Jay, c'mon…" She turns her steely eyes on him and he falters a bit. "Y-you'll get back…you've just gotta-"
But she shakes her head and he falls silent. Maura thinks she could command an entire precinct with just a shake of her head and a look. She suppresses a shiver as deep brown eyes find hers again.
"Maya's thirsty." Maya, Maura tells herself, the oldest then…six or seven by the looks of it. "I was just wondering if I could grab a cup…"
Maura snaps back to the conversation. "Of course, Detec-" She catches herself as those penetrating eyes flash. "Jane….here, I got some special at the store today. The sales woman said that the most popular for girls is something called The Wonder Pets, so I got a couple." She pulls out a set of plastic cups from under the cabinet, pink and purple and brightly colored. She holds them out without thinking. "I hope they're okay…."
Jane stares, her spine stiffening almost imperceptibly. She looks down at the cups in the doctor's hands with something like fury, and Maura has to physically will herself not to take a step backwards. The detective looks…fearsome.
"I-I can exchange them…certainly," Maura curses herself for stuttering.
Jane doesn't make any move to take the cup. Her eyes are clouded and unfocused, her jaw tight, working over and over, like she's chewing words she doesn't want to say.
"Jay," Frost's voice is quiet, but firm. He stands, coming over to where Maura is still holding the cup out. He takes he from her and holds it out further. "Jane," he says a little louder. "Maya wants a drink?"
Jane seems to snap herself out of whatever trance she's in. Her face softens an inch, though she still looks a bit formidable. She unsheathes one hand from her pocket and reaches out, and Maura has to fight not to stare. Each long and delicate finger is deep blue with bruising. She wraps them around the cup like it's made of glass. Or like her fingers are. Maura swallows.
When Jane speaks, she doesn't meet the doctor's eyes. "Yes…and, no…No, thank you, Doctor. There's no need to return them." She pauses, and then, "they are…well they are perfect." She turns back towards the door, and Maura resists the urge to ask her to stay, to offer her coffee too. "I'll get out of your hair."
"Maura!" the doctor is not aware that she's called out until Jane turns to look at her, one dark eyebrow raised in confusion. "Call-call me Maura…please," she says quietly, and for a moment there is silence. Jane seems to be contemplating.
"Maura," the brunette says softly, nodding, like she's filing it away, and the doctor feels her fingers tingle slightly, though not with fear…not exactly. Maura smiles, hoping to ease some if the hollowness in the dark eyes that are surveying her, and she thinks that maybe the woman looks a little more relaxed as she heads back away from the kitchen.
She turns away from the place where Jane has disappeared to see Frost smirking at her.
"Well played, doc."
Maura doesn't take the bait. "Did you see her face? Barry-"
Frost cuts her off, stepping closer, his face serious. "She's been through hell, Maur," he pauses here, as if trying to decide how far he wants to go into it. Not far. "Hell. You read the papers. They didn't report a quarter. Just give her a bit of time okay?" He waits until she nods before continuing. "I'll check up on you guys tomorrow. And you'll see me at the precinct every day. Just call me if you need me."
Maura glances at the empty hallway Jane has disappeared down, hating herself for the question she knows she has to ask. "She's not…dangerous."
Frost scoffs, looking disgruntled. "Of course she's not, Maura, do you really think I would ask you to house someone dangerous?"
Maura shakes her head, already ashamed. "No, of course not, I just…" An image of Jane's face as she'd taken the cup flashes through her mind again, and she looks up at Frost.
He sighs. "She's hurt, doc. She's really proud, and she's really hurt. She'll stay out of your way, and she'll get back on her feet, and then she'll be gone."
And this is both comforting and devastating, though the doctor could not begin to explain why. Frost stands up and heads towards the front door and Maura follows him, glancing back over her shoulder as she does.
"You call if you need me," Frost is saying, "or Korsak. He trained her. She knows him too."
It occurs to Maura that Frost is stressing that she call people that Detective Rizzoli knows. She nods, and he grips her arm. "I'll see you tomorrow. You're doing a great thing for them. Thank You."
Maura tries to smile, realizing it might be a grimace. "Drive safely."
She watches the young detective down the front walk to his cruiser, and then turns back into her front hall, shutting the door quietly behind her.