thegirl20: (Jane/Maura: hands)
[personal profile] thegirl20
TITLE: Tonight I wanna do some drinkin': Chicken Soup
AUTHOR: [ profile] the_girl_20
FANDOM: Rizzoli and Isles
PAIRING: Jane/Maura
SUMMARY: Jane wants to take Maura to the zoo.
DISCLAIMER: Don't own 'em.
SPOILERS: Set after 'When the gun goes bang, bang, bang' (ep 1.10)
AUTHORS' NOTES: Part of a series based on this prompt: Jane/Maura, from the first meeting to where they are now (together or on the verge of it, idc) via the drinks they drink (each meeting should have some sort of beverage). Follows Coffee and Wine.
AUTHORS' NOTES 2: People have been commenting on how they like the fluff and the banter in this series. Well, there isn't much of either in this one. But there are two other fluffy ones under construction at the moment, so I do guarantee a return to fluff very soon :)

“I love you.”

It was the ninth time Jane had told her she loved her. It was the ninth time her heart had broken.

“I love you too, Jane.”

She replied that way every single time, even though she knew that Jane’s brain chemistry was significantly altered by the quantity of drugs she had in her system. She knew that Jane had no idea what she was saying. She knew that Jane would never remember any of these conversations. But Maura would. She would remember every single one as long as she lived.

“I wanna take you to the zoo.”

She smiled and blinked away tears, stroking Jane’s face with her thumb. This was a new one. She sat forward in the hard hospital chair, leaning more heavily on the side of the bed.

“I’d like to go to the zoo with you.”

Jane shifted, her glazed eyes met Maura’s briefly.

“I’d take you to see the elephants. You’d like the elephants.”

The slurred speech made Maura think of nights at the Robber, after too many drinks. Jane’s cheeks would be flushed and her eyelids heavy. And she’d flirt shamelessly with Maura and trip over her words and laugh at herself. Maura was experiencing a physical ache in her chest, so strong was her longing to see her like that again. Instead she had spent the last ten days sitting by a hospital bed, watching Jane become weaker as she fought to recover from the trauma of her self-inflicted gunshot wound and then fought off various infections and complications from her surgeries. Jane was a fighter, but Maura just wanted her not to have to fight anymore. Maura wanted to cry every time she looked at the pale face of her friend. The pallid skin and dark eyes made for a haunting picture.

“I like elephants.”

Jane’s fingers twitched on the bed and Maura took hold of her hand and squeezed gently, allowing her thumb to sweep over the scar on the back of it. Maura brought Jane’s hand up to rest between them, linking their fingers together.

“They’re smart. Like you. You’d like ‘em. Never forget.”

Jane’s eyes were drifting closed and Maura knew she wasn’t going to be awake for very much longer.

“We’ll go to the zoo when you’re better. I promise. We’ll see the elephants.”

Maura added the zoo to the various other activities she’d promised Jane they’d take part in. It was silly, but Maura felt like it gave Jane something to look forward to in her moments of lucidity. It certainly gave Maura something to cling to.

“’re prettier than elephants though...”

Maura laughed softly. “Why thank you, Jane. You really know how to pay a girl a compliment.”

But Jane was unconscious again. Maura lifted their joined hands and pressed the back of Jane’s hand against her lips as she spoke.

“You just concentrate on getting better, okay? Let me worry about the elephants. I’ll take you to India and we can ride on an elephant if that’s what you want to do. Just...just get better. I need you to get better.”

Maura had read studies on the impact of positive thinking on recovery. She had been sceptical at best, because although they all claimed fantastic results and irrefutable evidence, none of them were carried out under conditions that afforded validity to the data gathered. But now she was willing to try anything to increase the speed of Jane’s recovery.

“She asleep again?”

Maura looked up to see Jane’s mother coming into the room. She lowered Jane’s hand back to the bed and nodded.

“She was awake for a little while.”

Angela walked around to the opposite side of Jane’s bed, laying a paper bag down on the table that stretched across it. She stooped to kiss Jane’s forehead and brush away some stray hairs from her cheek.

“Hi sweetie,” she whispered. “I hope you’ve been behaving for Dr Isles.”

Maura’s lips quirked into a smile. “She has. And please call me Maura. I’ve asked you to a number of times.”

“And yet you still insist on calling me ‘Mrs Rizzoli’ which makes me feel ancient and gives me horrible flashbacks to my mother-in-law, may she rest in peace, though I doubt she’s anywhere other than in the fiery pits of hell right now.” Maura’s smile grew as Angela’s colourful mode of speech filled the room and made it feel warmer, less sterile. “So when you start calling me Angela, I’ll see what I can do about calling you Maura. And that bag is for you, as if you didn’t know it by now.”

Angela had been bringing Maura meals at the hospital since she found out Maura hadn’t eaten anything other than saltines for the first four days of Jane’s confinement. Maura had protested vehemently to begin with, until Angela assured her that cooking helped her. It made her feel useful. It gave her something to do. Maura could relate to that. She’d never felt so useless in her life.

Maura had agreed to let Angela cook for her, and Angela had agreed to stop trying to persuade Maura to go home to sleep. Frost and Korsak had brought in the overnight bag that Maura always kept packed in the morgue in case she had to pull an all-nighter. When she’d worn the clothes from the bag, they’d brought her a succession of Boston PD garments in a variety of sizes. Eventually she’d called Bass’s sitter and arranged for Frost to pick up some of her things from home.

“Thank you, Angela.” Maura stressed the name as she reached for the bag.

“There’s some chicken pot pie in there, and a salad, and some pudding for dessert. Oh, and a thermos of soup for later.”

The smell as she opened the bag was heavenly. It was real, home-cooked food. Cooked by someone’s mother. She took out the various containers and sat back down next to Jane with the chicken pie and a fork.

“I keep hoping that...” Angela bit her lip. “That maybe the smell of my cooking will make her feel better.”

Maura offered her a sad smile. “Perhaps it will. I don’t believe anyone has ever studied the effect of familiar smells on recovery, never know.”

Maura ate in silence while Angela carried on a one-sided conversation with Jane about the local neighbourhood gossip and passed on well-wishes from various family members that Maura had never heard of and told her how Frankie was driving her insane by lying on the couch and ringing a bell for attention all day. By the time Maura was finishing the pudding cup, Angela was sitting in the chair across Jane’s bed and watching her eat. Maura got up and tidied away the containers, and still Angela’s eyes followed her.

“Thank you, Angela. That was delicious, as always.” She sat back down and covered Jane’s hand with her own, her eyes flicking over her face for any minute change. Angela started speaking and drew her attention away from Jane.

“You know, Carla Talucci is my best friend in the whole world. Known her since we were in kindergarten together. Been together through thick and thin.” She glanced down at herself. “Well, neither of us is likely to see ‘thin’ again, but still.”

Maura had no idea where this was coming from. But she knew the required response to people discussing their weight.

“That’s...nice. And you’re not terribly overweight, Angela. Most people gain weight later in life, particularly if they’ve borne children.”

Angela shook her head with a soft smile. “Only you could call somebody fat and not make it sound like an insult.”

Maura’s mouth dropped open and, for what felt like the millionth time that week, wished that Jane were awake to stop her from saying these inappropriate things.

“I didn’t! I was very careful not to sa-“

“Maura, my weight isn’t the point I was trying to make.”

“Oh, I...” Maura decided to leave it. If she tried to apologise further, she’d only most likely end up insulting Angela More. “You were talking about your friend.”

“Yeah, Carla. Like I was saying, I know what it is to have a best friend. As much as I’d like to think I would take a bullet for Carla, I’m not sure that I would. As much as I like to think I’d sit by her bedside for ten days straight, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t.”

She looked pointedly at the way Maura had linked her fingers with Jane’s. It almost made Maura want to pull away, but she didn’t.

“Mrs Riz...Angela. I...Jane and I...I feel...”

Maura was unaccustomed to not knowing what to say in any given situation. Maura had never discussed her feelings for Jane with anyone. Including Jane. She had assumed Jane had not either. And yet, here was her mother, seemingly completely aware of whatever was going on between them. Maura thought of a million possible responses to what Angela had hinted at. But in the end, she didn’t have the energy for denials or deflection. She just looked at Jane’s mother with tear-filled eyes.

“I’ve never seen my Janie as happy as she is when she’s with you. I’ve never heard her talk about anyone the way she talks about you. When she gets better, the two of you need to talk. Talk about whatever you need to talk about. But love is love, Maura and when you find it, you gotta hold on to it.” Maura still couldn’t find any words, but Angela wasn’t finished. “So when she’s better, you hold onto her, got it?”

Maura squeezed Jane’s unresponsive fingers.

“When she gets better I want to hold onto her and never let her out of my sight again.” She laughed a little, a few tears escaping and running down her cheeks. “Isn’t that ridiculous? And definitely impractical.”

“No, it’s not. I feel that way all the time. When she was born and they put her in my arms, that’s what I thought to myself. I thought ‘Jane, I am going to watch over you every minute of your life because you’re too precious to let anything happen to you’. But they grow up and move out and...well, look what happens. Two of my babies ended up here with holes through them...what does that say about me? I can’t keep them safe...”

Maura was shaking her head.

“Angela, your children ended up here because they are good, brave people who care about doing what is right. Jane put herself between Frankie and a gun...between me and a gun...because she would rather take a bullet than see anything happen to either of us. You raised her to be that way.”

Angela sighed and looked at Maura.

“I know. And I wouldn’t want to change her for the world.” She sighed again, rubbing Jane’s shoulder gently. “But sometimes I just wish they were still my tiny little babies.”

Maura stroked Jane’s cheek.

“I love her.”

It felt good to say it. Liberating. Because she knew that Angela was awake and aware and would remember it.

“I know, honey. She loves you too.”

“I know.” Maura said. “She wants to take me to the zoo.” And that’s when the tears came in earnest.

Angela rounded the bed and bundled Maura into her arms, rocking her back and forth. Maura clung to her as tightly as she could. She wasn’t sure how long they stayed that way, a mother needing a daughter and a daughter needing a mother.

When they parted, Angela kissed Maura’s forehead. “When she wakes up, we’ll both work on keeping her safe, how about that?”

Maura nodded, wiping at the tears that kept falling. Angela moved away a little to allow her to compose herself and went back to speaking to Jane.

“You hear that, Janie? We’re both gonna keep you safe. And it’s gonna drive you crazy. And we don’t care.” Maura smiled as she dabbed at her cheeks with a tissue. Angela bent closer to Jane’s head. She lowered her voice, but not by much. “And if I were you, I’d hurry up and get better, ‘cause I think you got some hot lovin’ coming in the not too distant future.”

“Angela!” Maura gasped, laughing in spite of herself. Angela winked at her, a very Rizzoli wink, and kissed Jane’s cheek.

“Okay honey, I gotta get back home in case Frank has confiscated Frankie’s bell again.” She gathered up the containers she’d delivered Maura’s dinner in and left the thermos of soup on the side table. “I know my Janie’s in safe hands here. You’ll call me if anything changes.”

“Of course. And...thank you.”

“No need to thank me. And don’t forget to take care of yourself while you’re sitting here. No point in you getting sick too. That’s why I brought you my chicken soup. It’s better than any medicine. And I hear it’s good for the soul.”

“Well, leaving aside for now the arguments for and against the existence of such a thing as a ‘soul’, I believe that ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul’ is a book series of inspirational sayings rather than a medicinal property of the actual sou-“

“Maura, drink the soup.” Angela paused, a faraway look on her face. “I always told the kids that it was magic soup when they were little. And that the special ingredient was ‘love’. Even labelled one of my jars of herbs ‘Love’.” She laughed. “Janie never believed me, but Frankie was nineteen before he realised there wasn’t really love in my soup.”

Maura smiled. “I’m sure there’s love in all of your dishes, Angela.”

Clearing her throat, Angela gave Maura another kiss on the head. “Drink up. It works wonders, I promise you.”

And then she was gone. Maura lifted the thermos and removed the cup from the top before unscrewing the lid. She took a moment to inhale the aroma from inside. She poured a generous portion for herself and settled back down to watch Jane as she sipped the soup, both hands wrapped around the warm plastic cup. As the liquid made its way down her throat, she imagined she could feel the warmth spreading in tendrils through her arterial system. She knew it was impossible, but the taste and the scent seemed to wrap around her and comfort her.

“Hey, Jane?” She knew she wouldn’t get a response. “Everything’s going to be okay.” For the first time since the shooting, it didn’t feel like a platitude or a lie. It felt like the truth. “You know why? Because we’ve got magic soup and you’re taking me to the zoo. And things are always okay at the zoo.”

She sipped the soup and wondered if she was imagining the smile that had appeared on Jane’s face.
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