Title: Silent Night
Fandom: Rizzoli & Isles
Category: A bit of Christmas fluff (R/I)
Word Count: About 3,000.
Notes: I wrote Christmas fic. Yep, surprised myself as well ;-) Set pre-season one and post-Hoyt. Huge thanks toferoxargentea for sterling beta work (as ever) and to laurel_hardy for spotting my budgie and replacing it with a parakeet! Hope everyone has a safe and peaceful festive season x
Feedback is always welcome.
Disclaimer: Don’t own a thing. Please don’t sue me.
~ ~ ~
~ ~ ~
~ ~ ~
The glass bowl smashed as it hit the tiles on the kitchen floor. Vicious little shards skittered in all directions, glinting in the spotlights like a particularly festive booby trap.
“Son of a fucking bitch.”
Standing barefoot in the middle of her kitchen, Jane Rizzoli closed her eyes and slammed her hand onto the top of the unit. The pain made her mutilated nerves sing, so that for a minute she almost felt normal again. All too soon, though, the sensation dulled to a distant throb and the tingling that had persisted in the tips of three fingers returned to its usual strength.
“Son of a bitch.” The curse had lost its vehemence, coming out more in despair than anger. She fumbled with the handle of a small brush, her usually dominant left hand reduced to a weak claw that could only be persuaded to grip after several hours of careful and agonizing therapy. She managed to get a hold on the top of the brush instead and slowly swept a path through which she could walk. The heel of her right foot prickled and began to bleed sluggishly, but she escaped otherwise unscathed.
The bottle of beer Korsak had opened and dropped a straw into hours earlier still sat sweating on her coffee table, right beside the painkillers she wasn’t taking and the antibiotics that she had almost finished.
“Fuck it,” she muttered, and closed her lips around the straw. Froth, muted fizz, and warm, bittersweet beer filled her mouth. It tasted wonderful and she felt the tension begin to ease from her muscles. Snow pattered quietly against the window, a growing heap of it gathering on the sill. The storm had taken everyone by surprise, shutting the city down and dividing families. For Jane, it had been nothing short of a blessing.
A sudden knock on her door sent her jolting back against the sofa cushions. Her pulse raced, conspiring with the beer and her empty stomach to make her head spin. The bottle of pain pills fell to the floor when she reached for her gun, but she managed to lift the weapon, even though she knew she would never have the dexterity to fire it. The knock came again, slightly less forceful this time, as if the delay had made her unexpected visitor wary. She limped to the door, holding her gun loosely by her thigh, and peered through the peephole. Her mouth was too dry for her to swallow properly, but that was only partly the reason that words failed her when she recognized the figure in the hallway.
Even distorted through the glass, Maura Isles looked the picture of Christmas cheer. Snow was melting rapidly on her hair and the fur collar of her scarlet jacket, her cheeks and nose were flushed with cold, and she was struggling to keep hold of two large bags. Jane carefully set her gun on her bookshelf, and then used her chin and the side of her hand to manipulate the lock so that the door swung open.
“Hey,” she said, more than a little bemused. She held her hands out unthinkingly to take part of Maura’s burden from her, before lowering them again when she realized how futile a gesture it was.
“Merry Christmas, Jane.” Maura kissed her on the cheek and hurried inside as Jane toed the door open fully. It closed with a reassuring thud, the lock snicking into place. Jane folded her arms and leaned against it, studying Maura as she set her bags down and shrugged out of her jacket. Maura made no comment about the glass on the kitchen floor, but just stepped carefully through it and hung her jacket on the back of a stool so that it would drip onto the tiles.
“Korsak or Frankie?” Jane asked, as Maura walked back toward her.
“Frankie,” Maura admitted.
Jane nodded; if she had been a gambling woman, she would have put her money on her little brother. “I would’ve gone,” she gestured to the window, “but the storm…” Her voice trailed off. She was too weary to make her excuses sound plausible. Instead, she turned her attention to Maura. “How the hell did you get here, anyway? Hitch a ride on the big guy’s sleigh?”
Maura laughed, taking Jane’s arm and steering her over to the sofa. “I have a friend who owed me a favor. A friend who owns a particularly large and, I might add, impressive SUV. We made it to within two blocks of here.” She shrugged. “I walked the rest of the way.”
Horrified, Jane took the time to look at her properly. Her boots were ice-clad and sodden. The thick material of her pants clung to her legs, and she was starting to shiver.
“God, Maura. Get those boots off. I’ll grab you some dry clothes.” Jane glowered at her bandaged hands. “Or maybe I’ll show you where they are and you can grab them.”
As soon as Maura’s boots were on the mat, Jane ushered Maura into her bedroom. “Help yourself,” she said. “Chiffon and lace in the top drawer, taffeta in the second.”
Maura smiled. “And sweats?”
“Top, middle and bottom drawers,” Jane conceded with a sheepish grin.
“I’ll be right out.”
Jane waited for the bedroom door to close, and then jogged into her living room and kicked a wastebasket to the side of her coffee table. The pizza box was too large to fit into it so she pushed it under the sofa. Soda cans and junk food wrappers soon filled the basket to bursting. She was on the verge of stomping the garbage down when she heard Maura clear her throat.
“Ah,” Jane shuffled her feet like a guilty child. “Busted.”
The concern on Maura’s face was obvious. “Jane, what’s going on?”
“Nothing,” Jane answered quickly. “What do you mean?”
Maura sat beside her on the sofa and pulled out the pizza box, which she propped against the wastebasket. Then she picked up the bottle of pain pills Jane had overlooked.
“You’re not taking these.”
It wasn’t a question, so Jane stubbornly set her jaw and didn’t answer.
“So I’m guessing you still have a lot of pain.” Maura gently took hold of Jane’s left hand. “You’re only four days post-surgery, Jane. You were given this medication for a reason.”
“I’m fine. I don’t need them.”
“Can you squeeze my finger?” Maura asked quietly, setting her index finger along Jane’s palm.
Jane stared at her hand until the tears in her eyes made it blur and shimmer. She could barely even feel Maura’s touch; there was no way she could exert any pressure of her own. She shook her head, a soft sob escaping her when Maura stroked the tips of her fingers.
“What are you doing to yourself?” Maura whispered, her hands moving to the messy tangle of Jane’s hair. Abruptly, she seemed to come to a decision and pushed herself up from the sofa. “Come on.” She held her hand out.
Jane made no attempt to move. “Come on where?”
“Into the shower.” Maura’s hand was still there, her determination unwavering. “I’ll find you some clean clothes. Then we can have something to eat that hasn’t been delivered in a cardboard box.”
Jane hesitated, torn. She felt filthy. She found it so hard to dress that she was still wearing the sweats she had slept in, and she hadn’t been able to bathe properly or wash her hair since leaving the hospital, but pride had made her brusquely refuse her mother’s offers of assistance.
“I have to keep these dry,” she said at length, holding her bandaged hands aloft. But she knew that was only part of the reason and she chewed on her lip before meeting Maura’s gaze. “I can’t…” Her voice choked off, tears trickling down her face. “I can’t do anything,” she whispered.
Maura knelt in front of her and set her hands on Jane’s wrists. “Let me help you, then,” she said simply, and smiled when Jane finally nodded.
~ ~ ~
The outer bandages were as stained as the clothes Jane was wearing. Maura snipped them away and then carefully examined the sutured wounds they had been protecting.
“These look good, Jane. No sign of infection, they’re healing cleanly.”
Jane forced herself to look at her hands. The central wounds where Hoyt had driven his scalpel through flesh, bone, tendons, and nerves had been extended by her recent surgery to repair the damage he had wrought. Her fourth surgery in three months, it had left her more exhausted then she could ever remember being. When the snow had stranded her away from her family on Christmas day, all she had felt was relief.
“Arms up,” Maura said, lifting Jane’s sweater over her head when she complied. For days now, Jane hadn’t bothered to wear a bra, and after her t-shirt had gone the same way as her sweater she made no attempt to cover her nakedness.
“Here.” Holding out a pair of surgical gloves, Maura didn’t seem at all fazed either. She helped Jane ease her hands into them and then sealed the wrists with tape. She nodded, apparently satisfied with her own ingenuity. “Perfect. That should keep them dry. Can you manage the rest?”
“Yup, I got them,” Jane said, resting her gloved hands protectively on her sweatpants.
“Okay.” Maura paused with her hand on the door. “Shampoo’s uncapped and I took the liberty of putting gel on your sponge for you. I chose coconut,” she added with a smile.
Jane couldn’t help but grin. “Thank you.”
She waited for Maura to leave, and then wriggled out of her pants and stepped beneath the shower. After a cough and splutter from the pipes, warm water started to pound against her back and shoulders. It soaked her hair and sent it spiraling across her eyes. Feeling better than she had in weeks, she nudged the dial as hot as it would go and lifted her face to the spray.
~ ~ ~
Wrapped snugly in a dressing gown, Jane sat on her bed and tried valiantly not to fall asleep as Maura brushed her hair.
“I wouldn’t be surprised to find birds nesting in here,” Maura said, her fingers easing out a knot close to Jane’s scalp. “Or maybe a squirrel.”
Jane smiled drowsily. “I did hear chirping yesterday, figured it was the parakeet upstairs, but now I wonder…” She sniffed suddenly, her stomach rumbling at the same time as her mouth began to water. “Oh God, what is that smell?”
Maura made a non-committal noise. “Supper,” she said evasively. “You hungry?”
“I am now.”
“Good.” Maura patted the worst of the damp from the ends of Jane’s hair. She set the towel aside and reached for the bag of dressings the hospital had supplied. “Let’s get this over with, then we can eat.”
She removed the latex gloves and Jane experimentally touched her bare hands together. “They feel so weird,” she murmured.
The only people who knew the full extent of the damage were her surgical team. She had refused to share the gruesome details with any of her family or colleagues. The exception to that was Maura, who on her first visit to the hospital had lifted the notes from the bottom of the bed and, after only a little persuasion, carefully translated the impenetrable medical terminology into something that Jane could understand. It had become a routine for them after that, and Jane knew she was making progress, even if she felt no further along than she had been that night in the Emergency Room.
“This,” Maura indicated the swollen, discolored skin at the base of Jane’s fingers, “this will all get better, Jane. The swelling and bruising will reduce and you’ll start to feel the benefits of the surgery.”
“You promise?” The words had passed Jane’s lips before she could stop them. She shook her head in apology, not wanting to force Maura to answer, but not sure she could bear if it Maura didn’t.
“I promise,” Maura said without hesitation. “You’ll be good as new in no time.” She pressed a kiss to Jane’s fingers. “And I don’t know if you know this about me, but I can’t lie…”
~ ~ ~
The living room was dark when Jane stepped into it. She furrowed her brow in confusion, but Maura was already moving to the far side of the room, gesturing for Jane to stay still.
“Close your eyes.”
Jane obeyed, the promise of food making her compliant.
She blinked in surprise and then again at the brightness. Multi-colored lights were wrapped around the spindly branches of the little tree Frankie had decorated for her. In the window, Maura had hung strings of silver and gold, and the snow made their glow even more intense. The dining table that Jane rarely used had two places set on it – a full range of cutlery for Maura and a spoon for her.
“How long was I in the shower for?” she said, amazed at how quickly Maura had managed to transform her apartment.
“Takes a while to get rid of a week’s worth of dirt,” Maura replied lightly. “Now come and eat.”
~ ~ ~
“What is it?” Jane took another bite of potato and continued to speak with her mouth full. “What’s on these that makes them taste so damn good?”
The potatoes had obviously been pre-roasted and then reheated in her oven, but they were unlike any she had ever eaten. Swirling red wine around in her glass, Maura smiled indulgently. She took a sip before answering.
“The secret is roasting them in goose fat,” she said. “My mother, my adoptive mother, always insisted they were made that way,” she continued in an upper-class English accent, “and it does make awfully good spuds.”
Jane grinned, chasing a sausage wrapped in bacon around her plate. “Slippery little fucker,” she muttered and then sighed in relief when Maura stabbed it with her fork.
“Pigs in blankets, also à la English tradition.” Maura guided the sausage onto Jane’s spoon for her to nibble at. “Constance Isles may have been an absent mother but her Christmas dinners were truly spectacular…”
~ ~ ~
Jane curled her legs up and leaned her head against the sofa. The Percocet she had taken buzzed pleasantly through her bloodstream. For the first time in over a week, the pain in her hands had settled to a tolerable level.
“I didn’t have chance to buy you a present,” she said, as Maura arranged the blanket across her knees.
Maura ran her fingers through a strand of Jane’s hair, smoothing it away from her face and tucking it behind her ear. “This was one of the best Christmases I can remember. I don’t need a present.”
“Really? You must’ve had good Christmases, Maura. Pigs in blankets and all that.”
Steam rose into the air as Maura blew on her cup of coffee. “My mother was too busy playing hostess to pay me any attention. In the morning, I would open my presents with my nanny and her daughter. Christmas dinner was prepared by the cook and the kitchen staff. When it was ready, the children ate at a different table to the adults.” Her tone told Jane that she wasn’t looking for sympathy, but she smiled gratefully when Jane nestled closer to her.
“I’ve had a perfect Christmas,” Jane told her, fighting to stifle a yawn.
Maura fixed her with a look. “How much sleep have you been getting recently?”
Jane didn’t answer straight away. She stared out the window at the snowflakes drifting past the glass, until the awful memory of Hoyt’s face faded into nothing and her chest no longer felt as if it were being crushed. “Hard to sleep sometimes,” she said hoarsely.
Maura nodded in understanding. The lamp dimmed as she adjusted the switch, and then flicked off completely, leaving only the tree lights and those at the window. In the apartment next door, Mrs Mason – ninety-four years old and mostly deaf – was listening to a carol concert, and classically trained young voices were carrying the sound of Christmas through the walls. Without thinking, Jane reached for Maura’s hand, cradling it in her palm when she remembered that she couldn’t hold it. It was enough, though. Enough to let her take a deep, relaxing breath. Enough to let her close her eyes.
~ ~ ~
~ ~ ~
And now for our regularly schedule pimpage for anyone who might be interested in reading some original f/f fiction by me… My first novel, Snowbound (written under the pen name Cari Hunter), is now available to buy at Bold Strokes Books (paperback and e-book) or over on amazon.com \o/ Perfect reading for these cold, dark winter nights!There’s an lj/author’s blog here and BSB have the first chapter up as a preview here