“I hate to ask, but could you go pick up my car?” Maura glanced through her eyelashes at Frost, trying to gain enough pity for him to do the errand for her. He sighed, grinding his shoe into the ground. Maura smiled inwardly, knowing that it was his sign of resignation.
“Why’d you need this, again?” Frost was trying vainly to find excuses to not do the useless task, and rightly so. Maura didn’t really have a legitimate reason, but seeing Rizzoli again so soon would make her world feel too surreal. Serial killer, garage mechanic. The two just didn’t seem to go together.
“The guys there are creepy.” Maura settled for the truth. She had been truly unnerved by the mechanic who had breathed heavily and smelt of cheap cigarettes. “He wouldn’t leave me alone, and I really don’t want to go back.”
Frost nodded understandingly. Most of the police personnel regarded Maura as the epitome of ladylike behavior, and having harassment directed at their favorite examiner brought out the protective instincts in almost all of them. Frost finally sighed and swiped the keys out of Maura’s pleadingly outstretched hand.
“I’m only doing this ‘cause you saved my life.” He ribbed, trying to conceal the real reason why he was acting like a whipped puppy. He half-grinned, still showing that he was sincere about the thanks.
“Great!” Maura exclaimed, a smile lighting up her face. Frost sheepishly grinned. “Ask for Rizzoli, she’s supposed to be working on it.”
With a last nod, Frost exited the fancily decorated office. Maura sat back, exhausted. She had returned to work the day after the incident, unwilling to abandon one of her havens. The more worried of her friends had protested, but she had waved off their concerns. Just being at the morgue calmed her.
All too soon, another intruder entered her office. Maura blinked once again and glanced up at the visitor, the picture of poise once again. Korsak was just closing the door, a vial daintily clutched within his left hand. Maura eyed the vial nervously. Could it be a lead?
“Hey, Doc!” Korsak greeted casually as he shuffled forward. He grinned widely as he held up the vial, a single dark strand within. Maura’s blood froze, feeling as if it had crystallized and pierced her tissue. Cold sweat immediately broke across her back, a chill sweeping through her body. “Got a lead that could end this.”
“What is it?” Maura tried to be calm, but her hand shook slightly as she reached out for the vial. She shouldn’t be feeling so much sympathy for a killer. Rizzoli was a sociopath, that much was clear.
“It’s a hair. Found at the scene, on the bed in the room you were found.” Korsak was proud, puffing his chest out. The case that had been stumping the homicide branch for months could be coming to an end. Yet even with the joy she should’ve been feeling, Maura’s insides twisted uncomfortably.
“I’ll run it through the lab myself, and then the system. I’ll get the results up to you as soon as I can.” Maura knew she had no other choice. She was the Chief Medical Examiner, and it was her duty to capture the criminal that was Rizzoli. And yet, she couldn’t keep out of her mind the sight of the true laugh Rizzoli had released the other day. Joy had been written across the sharp features, dark hair cascading down a lithe back, mouth parted, lips chapped and–
“Doc?” Korsak’s voice broke through her reverie. “Thanks for doing it yourself, but be careful. Personal grudges suck up your life. I’ll leave it here?”
Within a minute, he had silently left the sample on her desk and exited the room. It seemed he was busy with other things as well. Maura stared at the single, dark hair in the vial that could end Rizzoli. Send her to jail for life. With a sigh, she stood and plucked it off the table, determinedly striding out of the room.
“Jane! Watch out!” Frankie’s voice was overwhelmingly loud, and didn’t help at all his elbow slammed into her nose. With a sickening crunch, something popped out of place. Frankie groaned and tugged his older sister upright. She was holding her nose, her expression screwed up with pain.
“I-I o-okay, this is bad. Tilt your head back” Frankie stammered, leading his older sister inside the house. He grabbed the first towel he could see, some flowery thing his mom had gotten a while ago. He held it up to the nose that was now bleeding profusely, and tried to staunch the flow. Jane batted his hands away, holding the rag to her face. Angela Rizzoli walked into the room, before immediately swatting at Jane.
“On the good towel!” She protested, haplessly buzzing around the injured girl, trying in vain to get her to relinquish the cloth. Jane groaned as the Rizzoli matriarch plucked the towel away from the injured nose and loudly exclaimed at the amount of blood already soaked in. Frankie chuckled quietly, before silencing himself as the older sister glared at him. Angela handed Jane a paper towel soaked with cold water as she continued complaining.
“How do you always manage to turn Sunday dinner into a circus, every week?” She focused all her ire on Jane, while Frankie shifted in the background.
“Me?!” Jane protested, glaring at her little brother over her mother’s shoulder. Frankie raised his hands in surrender, and tried to get his Ma’s attention.
“It’s my fault. I did it.” He tried to defuse the situation by relocating the blame, and Jane pointed at him, clearly agreeing.
“Yeah! It’s his fault!” She complained as she staunched the flow of blood with the towel that had been dyed pink.
“No, I know you didn’t mean to do it.” Angela waved off the accusation against her middle child, and Jane threw up her hands in disbelief.
“So, this is my fault!” She exclaimed.
“Look, I tell you all the time, don’t roughhouse with him!” Angela Rizzoli sympathetically glanced at her son, before glaring at her daughter. Looking at the uncooperative expression on Jane’s face, she groaned dramatically before turning her back. Jane pulled out her phone from her pocket as it buzzed, quickly scanning the text before standing up.
“Got to go, garage needs me.” She knew that she should’ve quit this job. Maura Isles knew where to find her if she so wished. She was taking a giant gamble with this. Angela reentered the room, looking scandalized.
“Going to work? Your pa is going to be here any minute!” Her face was a picture of disappointment and protest.
“Duty calls.” Jane simply replied, before striding towards the door. She smiled at Frankie before gently pushing his chest. “Later, jerk.”
“I’m sorry.” He called as she walked out the front door. Jane’s voice wafted back from outside, playfully lilting.
“No you’re not!”
Frost glanced around at his greasy surroundings before coughing discreetly. The pair of legs that were laying beneath the car jerked in surprise, before the owner pulled himself out. A tall, lean, and tan mechanic climbed up from the ground, towering over Frost. His hair was dark and curly, and he looked to be Italian. He seemed to have a smirk permanently plastered on his face.
“Hey.” He had an annoying twang to his voice, and one side of his mouth always remained tilted up. “I’m Giovanni. What can I do for you?”
“I’m here to pick up a car.” Frost stiffly replied. The casual slump of Giovanni’s shoulders reminded him of a hunched over bear. “A Maura Isles.”
Giovanni’s eyebrows rose, and the other side of his mouth tugged up to form into a giant smile. His eyes immediately zoned out.
“Yeah, that chick that came by the other day? She was hot.” He reminisced, seemingly lost in memories. Frost sighed.
“Well I need her car.” He recanted impatiently. His suit was becoming crinkled in the oppressive heat of the garage.
“I ain’t the one working on that. Rizzoli’s the one you lookin’ for.” Giovanni commented. He smiled again. “She’s hot too.”
“Where can I find her?” The conversation – if it could be called that – with the mechanic was dragging on far longer than Frost would prefer. Giovanni seemed to be lost in his own world of hot girls, but at least hopefully he knew where he could get Maura’s car.
“She just clocked in. Go check in the next slot.” Giovanni jerked his head at the small doorway that apparently led to another small garage. Frost stretched his shoulders a bit before walking over. This errand was becoming a chore. He stuck his head in, but the room was empty. Maura’s expensive car was sitting in the middle, but the garage door was closed. He glanced around, noticing a small office door on the other side of the car.
“Uh.. Rizzoli?” He called out into the emptiness. It echoed, bouncing around him. Rizzoli was an Italian name, wasn’t it? Within a few seconds, someone stepped out of the office. Frost did a double take.
“Jane?” He was surprised. The girl he had met at the bar the other day hadn’t seemed like the hands-on type, but what did he know? He hadn’t even had the time to call the number she had given him. She looked equally startled.
“Barry?” She replied in just as incredulous tone as he did. “What’re you doing here?”
“I’m here to pick up Maura’s car?” He lamely plucked the keys out of his pocket and jangled them. Jane stayed near the door of the office, looking a bit awkward.
“I-I okay. I’ll open the garage door for you, it’s all set.” Jane seemed out of balance, confused, a little like a wild animal dumped somewhere other than it’s natural habitat. The two had little else to say to each other, but Frost could feel her eyes on him as he climbed into the car and revved the engine. Everything was in place, and he edged out onto the street as the garage door opened in front of him. Finally, this favor could end.
He glanced back at the opening, and Jane was standing outside now, still staring quite intently at him. He nervously waved a little, before opening the window just a crack.
“If you’re up to it, how about dinner?” Courteous down to the core, Frost didn’t just want to leave without another word. Jane’s face cracked into a smile that didn’t reach her eyes, before shaking her head a bit.
“I’m busy the rest of the week. I’m taking the bad shifts because the boss it out for my blood. Maybe some other time, Barry.” She spoke quickly and efficiently, and as Barry pulled away, his mind already on other thoughts, she strode quietly back into the garage.
Jane Rizzoli liked to think that she was in control. Her natural personality was tempestuous, and arguments were her forte. Yet the cold, calm feeling of manipulating the strings was like a rush to her, making her heady with the potential. She couldn’t count all the times Maura Isles had made her lose that. The blonde doctor had seen right through her, all her carefully crafted façades. What was this now? Sending the man she was going to kill right to her doorstep, to pick up Maura’s car.
The man was obviously oblivious. He had smiled, invited her out for dinner. He didn’t know that she had been waiting in his room the other day, waiting for him to come home so she could kill him. Maura Isles had told no one who Jane Rizzoli really was, and this gave her an unimaginably large amount of power over Jane. With a word, she could destroy everything Jane had built since she had left academy.
This left Jane with a dilemma. Would she destroy the one person who could reveal her, or trust her? The answer was obvious. Kill her. It would be easy. The doctor was not a target in the investigation, and her home wouldn’t be protected. All it would take would be a jimmied lock and a knife. The doctor had seen her, looked into her eyes. She was too dangerous to live. Jane desperately tried to latch onto that reasoning, but her motivation slipped away. She couldn’t kill Maura Isles.
“Maura!” Frost called as he entered the morgue. The blonde doctor looked up curiously. No new cadavers had arrived, and it was rare for the detective to come down unless it was about a case. Her unspoken question was answered as the detective raised his hand and showcased her car keys. “I got your car from the garage.”
“Thank you, Frost!” Maura smiled widely. There was one less problem, and those seemed to be piling up and drowning her. Jane Rizzoli was digging her claws into Maura’s life, and it would be unstoppable unless she cut it now. Frost dropped the keys into her open hand after he crossed the room.
“Why didn’t you tell me Jane worked there?” He continued. Maura was startled by the continuation of the conversation. She hadn’t expected any complications.
“Jane?” She repeated numbly. Why did Frost know.. That night in the bar! She had forgotten, and she couldn’t believe how awkward it must have been for Rizzoli to look into the eyes of her saved victim. “Rizzoli?”
“How do you know her full name?” Frost asked curiously. His intelligent dark eyes were scanning Maura’ s face. “I didn’t even know her last name until today.”
“I..” Maura’s brain was scrambled. This changed so many things. Her usually perfect memory blanked as she tried to figure everything out. “Her boss called her that. Rizzoli.”
“Well, why didn’t you tell me?” Frost pressed on. Maura stumbled back against a cool metal table. His continued questioning was putting her in an increasingly bad position. It was nearly impossible for her to completely lie. Semi-truth was always the best.
“I was going to..” Maura started. Her brain was screaming at her. Yes, why didn’t she? Why was she protecting Rizzoli? “It slipped my mind. I completely forgot when I sent you to get my car.”
It was all she could say without breaking out in terrible hives. Frost still looked suspicious, but his eyes softened. Maura was obviously unsettled by something, and it wouldn’t accomplish anything by pressing her even more.
“It’s okay.” He finally relented. Maura breathed out in relief. Rizzoli was complicating her life to new heights. A sudden thought struck her. Protecting Rizzoli was direct intervention with a police investigation. She could go to jail for simply hiding the information she had. A cold sweat broke up her neck and back. Why was she taking these chances?
“Thank you, again, for bringing my car back.” Maura forced a smile, and Frost slightly smiled back. In the aftermath of an awkward questioning, he slipped out of the room and headed up to his own workplace. Maura remained stationary, ignoring the cut-open cadaver that she was supposed to be inspecting. This could jeopardize her whole life. Would she turn Rizzoli in or not?
Korsak turned the corner, apparently having just missed his partner. Maura welcomed him in, still on autopilot while thinking furiously about what she should do.
“Got that DNA off the hair yet?” He asked this innocent question, but it stirred a whole different dilemma within Maura’s head. She was sure it was a match with Rizzoli. While Korsak looked on questioningly, Maura tightly nodded before waving over one of the orderlies.
“Has the DNA been extracted from the hair yet?” She asked, a dreadful feeling settling in the bottom of her gut. The orderly glanced at Korsak, before continuing.
“Not yet. At best it’ll be ready tonight, worst, tomorrow morning.” The orderly nodded curtly once more, before crossing over to the lab on the other side of the glass doors. Maura released a breath she hadn’t noticed she had been holding.
“Looks like we’ll have to wait a little longer.” She tried not to let joy creep into her voice. Rizzoli was still out there, potentially killing others, and here she was, protecting her. Korsak nodded, looking disappointed, before jumping a bit as his radio crackled.
“We have an incident on Sector 825, we need backup. It looks like homicide.” A voice buzzed out of the small grill. The two stared in surprise at each other. Was it another victim?
“I got to go. You’re welcome to come, doc. We might need our CME.” Korsak was all business, hastily heading for the doors. “See you there.”
Maura stared at the doors that swung closed after the detective left, her mind working furiously. She couldn’t lie, and if anyone asked about the DNA samples with the orderlies directly, her entire operation would come crashing down. There was only one thing she could do. Her hand shook as she reached for the phone.
“What does it look like to you?” Frost asked as Korsak entered the scene. The detective stood over the body, hands on his hips.
“It’s the same MO.” Korsak replied. They stood in silence for a while as CSU buzzed around them. “Something’s different.”
Frost nodded affirmatively. The body lay splayed out in the bedroom like normal, a flower clutched to its chest. Something seemed out of place. Korsak knelt to examine the body at a more personal level.
“Frost, look at this. I figured out what’s different.” He confided after a moment. He pointed at the flower clutched to the victim’s chest.
“It’s not a red rose. It’s a white freesia.” The two detectives stared at the flower. The past 21 victims, not counting Ross, had all been consistent. What had changed enough for the flower to have switched from red rose to a white freesia? A clack of heels alerted them to Maura’s arrival.
“Preliminary notes?” She requested as she snapped on latex gloves.
“Same MO, but the flower is different.” Korsak answered for them both, and Frost merely nodded alone. Maura paused for a second, the gears turning, before she turned and looked at the body for the first time. She made cursory glances at the rest of the body, the lacerated throat, before looking at the flower.
“A white freesia.” She breathed quietly. Having a MO shift was a big matter when a sociopath is involved. It meant a mental shift.
“Do you know what it means?” Frost asked. Red roses indicated love, which is why they thought the serial killer was picking up girls at bars. The killer had loved the victims in their own, sick way.
“White freesias indicate trust.” Maura replied after a pause. What was Rizzoli playing at? Asking Maura to keep her secrets hidden like this.. It was ridiculously brazen. “It’s a popular flower between lovers.”
“Is there someone she could be communicating with? Someone who knows her secrets?” Frost was nearly talking to himself, but his words punctured Maura to the core. In fact, there was someone Rizzoli was communicating with, someone who knew her secrets. Her. Maura Isles was mentally harboring a criminal.
“I’ll get the guys to take the body back to the morgue. Can you perform the autopsy ASAP?” Korsak took charge, worriedly looking at the shellshocked doctor and his pensive partner. He waved over some CSU personnel, explaining what needed to be done. Maura peeled off her gloves. She couldn’t do the autopsy in front of everyone. Her world seemed to be boxing in around her, the room enclosing her in heavy, cloying guilt.
“Yes.” Maura simply replied for Korsak’s benefit, as he led her to her car. Maura trusted her body to drive as her mind drifted on the mess she had gotten herself in. Rizzoli’s dark eyes seemed to be watching her every move, but what could she do?
As she pulled up in front of the station and entered, she decided something within herself. She might not be able to help them directly, but she would do what she could without catching Rizzoli herself. She headed up to the homicide workplace, and approached Frost and Korsak, who were standing in front of a clear board with photos plastered across it.
“There’s something wrong with the pattern. This victim seems different.” Frost was saying as Maura walked up. Korsak nodded in agreement. The photos of victims were scattered across the large board, most of them with no connections to the others.
“The most recent victim was blonde.” Korsak traced the photo of the girl they had identified with the driver’s ID in her back pocket. “The last was blonde too. Isn’t there something weird about that?”
“The ones before were redheaded.. Brunette.. blonde.. colored hair.” Frost’s eyes narrowed. “There were no consecutive colors before. Why blonde, why now?”
They finally noticed Maura was quietly standing there, observing the going-ons.
“Doc, how are you doing? You feeling fine?” Korsak inquired. Maura flashed a fake smile, before staring at the board again. The last victim had been young to middle-aged, blonde, with a white freesia attached to her. There were a lot more meanings to this victim than Maura had originally attributed. The victim, was in fact, very similar to Maura. Well-off family.. A doctor.
Maura didn’t mean to, but her breathing was nearly uncontrollable. Fast and heavy breaths were rushing in and out of her lungs as she connected the dots.
“The victim is nearly identical to me.” She finally managed. Frost grabbed Maura’s shoulders.
“Breath!” He concernedly shook her gently as she tried to get her hyperventilation under control. Rizzoli was sending a very dire message.
“I have to get down to my lab.” She shook off his hands. Frost and Korsak watched her as she rapidly made her way out, wobbling just a bit on her heels. She couldn’t stand to be around people right now.
She leaned against the wall of the elevator, the coolness of the metal seeping through her expensive clothes. It brought her some levity to reflect upon the recent events. Rizzoli was sending her a message. It would be so easy to kill her, Maura knew that. She couldn’t have guards without a reason, and Rizzoli had killed so many, what would stop her from killing more?
She stepped out, semi-composed, and strode towards her office. A black body bag lay on the dissection table, the latest victim. Maura couldn’t stand to see the body so soon, the blonde hair and the ugly wound opening her throat. With a practiced movement, she flicked open the door and stepped into the dark room. She hit the switch by the door, expecting an empty room.
“Your security sucks.” Rizzoli’s eyes took in Maura’s body in seconds, the lean killer leaning on her desk. “They should at least check who’s coming in.”
Maura’s heart jumped madly, the shock sending her body into overdrive, cold sweat beading, frozen blood coursing through her veins.
“You shouldn’t be here. They don’t know I know you.” Maura forced out. Rizzoli seemed like a dream, a nightmare, sitting here in her very office, casual and lovely.
“And why is that?” Rizzoli was toying with her now, stepping closer, heat radiating across the small space between them. “Why haven’t you told them, Maura Isles?”
Maura wanted to close her eyes, wish it all away, hide forever, but she knew she couldn’t. She had done this to herself. She had led herself into this train wreck.
“I don’t know.” She whimpered, the words emerging like scared mice from her throat. “You need to go.”
“You’re the one who invited me here, remember?” Rizzoli’s voice was darkly humored, raspy and delicious, a soothing anthem to Maura’s ears. “I did what you asked.”
“You don’t need to stay. Please go.” Maura pleaded, her insides a twisted mess of fear and helplessness. She squeezed her eyes closed, terrified beyond belief. A soft sensation brushed her cheek, and she shivered. Rizzoli’s other hand brushed against her neck, feeling her thrumming pulse.
“For you, Doctor.” Rizzoli quietly spoke, the sound filling the silent room. Maura reached her hand up, feeling like she was moving underwater, as she grasped the stem of a flower. The heat in front of her disappeared as the door softly opened and closed. Certain that Rizzoli was gone, Maura finally opened her eyes and brought her hand down from her cheek.
A white freesia was clutched in her tightly clenched fist.