“WHAT, MAURA? I'M IN THE SHOWER!” Jane shouted, wiping dried blood from her forehead with a damp washcloth as she tried to shampoo the worst of the mess out of her long brown hair.
Although there was enough room in the shower for two (if the bathers didn't mind getting a little cozy), they had opted to take turns cleaning up. Jane's argument was that they would never come back out of the shower if they went in together, which would be embarrassing all around when they finally met back up with their new friends. Maura, who disliked waiting for anything, especially while she was covered in food, was very unhappy with this executive decision. She had been trying to change Jane's mind by complaining through the bathroom door for the past several minutes.
“I'm very uncomfortable!” The medical examiner called back, swinging her feet as they dangled over the side of the mattress. She had stripped off her ruined clothes and slipped the hotel staff a Benjamin in advance to take care of the stains, but her hair and skin were still coated in God knows what, and she really wanted to join her lover in the shower. The towel she was seated on protected the covers, but it didn't make her feel any cleaner.
Jane was unsympathetic. “Wait your turn. You lost the coin toss.”
“But bacterial colonies can double in size every 9.8 minutes under optimal conditions!”
The detective debated turning up the shower to try and drown out Maura's voice, but knew that it was a lost cause. The medical examiner would find some other way to be heard. “You aren't covered in bacteria, just food,” Jane hollered, scrubbing the skin of her left arm rather violently with the soaped-up loofah Maura had insisted on bringing along for “exfoliation purposes”.
“Humans are always covered in bacteria!” Maura shouted, sounding more than a little desperate. Without her clothes, the hotel room was very chilly, patches of her skin were stained with wine, and there were breadcrumbs in her hair. Those conditions were completely unacceptable. “Jane, please?”
Imagining Maura's disappointed frown was too much for the brunette, and Jane wisely decided to forfeit this battle. Bickering with Maura about who got to use the shower first was not at the top of her list of priorities. Besides, what kind of sane person said no to having a naked Maura in their shower? She heaved a sigh and began looking around for her razor, figuring that she might as well shave since she was all lathered up anyway. “Fine... get in here.”
A few moments later, a very happy (and very naked) blonde doctor hopped in next to Jane underneath the warm spray. “It took you four minutes and twenty seven seconds to realize that arguing with me is pointless,” Maura informed her, stealing the loofah that Jane had been using and trying to clean the worst of the mess from her freckled skin.
“Isn't love supposed to be about sacrifice?” Jane asked, pausing mid-way up one thigh to examine her lover's bare form.
“Oh, what a sacrifice,” Maura teased, making sure to give Jane a good view of her breasts. “Here, turn around, you missed a spot on your back.”
“Oka- Aah! Maura – That's not my back...”
The medical examiner, who had taken the opportunity to grab two handfuls of Jane's vulnerable and particularly delicious behind, tucked her chin over Jane's shoulder and purred contentedly in the detective's ear. “Hmmm. I know. I'm a doctor, remember? I've studied human anatomy extensively.”
Jane swallowed, her throat feeling strangely dry despite the water raining down on them. “Uh... I don't suppose you want to teach me?”
“Mmm. All right, but I don't think you'll find this lesson in any medical textbook...”
“I told you to hold still...”
“But it hurts...” Alex Cabot complained, flinching as Olivia continued combing the last of the salad out of her hair. It still needed to be washed, but they didn't want to clog the drain with spinach leaves and dressing, and so they had made use of a small trash can to get rid of the larger chunks.
“It's your own fault,” Olivia said firmly. She hadn't gotten too dirty in the first place, but poor Alex was an absolute mess. “You should have stayed under the table with me.”
“Coward. Ow! Did you have to do that?”
“Unless you want to be a cabbage patch kid for the rest of our vacation, yes,” Olivia insisted. Since Alex was the one who had started (or at least escalated) the food fight, Olivia didn't feel too bad for her. The lawyer had gotten her just desserts. In fact, she was wearing them. There was a streak of pie on her right temple.
“Did Petrovsky have a good laugh at me?” Alex asked as Olivia brushed the last of the salad from her hair, disposing of a shredded carrot and shepherding the naked, slightly cleaner attorney into the bathroom.
Olivia couldn't help but smile at the memory of Petrovsky's merriment. She would never be able to look at the Honorable judge with a straight face again. “I think she was laughing at everybody. She plotted this, you know.”
“It doesn't surprise me,” Alex muttered, bending over to pull the stopper and filling a bath. “Since most of the salad is out of my hair, would you like to join me for a bath instead of a shower? I feel like soaking with some bubbles...”
The detective felt her heart soften. The thought of her naked lover, tempting pale skin covered only by bubbles, probably had something to do with the shift in Olivia's mood.
“But won't we be late?” she asked, not really protesting as Alex dragged her towards the bathroom.
“Probably,” the attorney admitted. She shot Olivia a salacious grin over her shoulder as she adjusted the stopper and let the tub fill with steaming water. Testing the temperature with her hand, she let out a contented sigh and tiptoed over the side. “I don't think it will matter, though.”
“Why not?” Olivia asked, running her hands briefly under the tap at the sink to remove some dressing before following her lover into the tub.
“Because I have a feeling that we won't be the only tardy ones in the group. I'll bet you anything you like that Serena and Abbie are doing the same thing right now...”
Olivia grinned, deliberately misunderstanding as she poured a glob of body wash into her hand. “What, taking a bath?”
For the next several minutes, cleaning up was postponed in favor of more pleasurable activities.
“Well, look who finally showed up,” Serena teased, waggling her eyebrows at Alex and Olivia when the pair finally arrived at the hotel lobby. They were holding hands and there were several suspicious marks on both of their necks.
“I told you we had time for a quickie,” Abbie said in a stage-whisper.
The shorter blonde snorted and rolled her eyes at her girlfriend. “I didn't want to be late! Alex must not be as good at saying no as I am.”
Olivia laughed. “You've got it all backwards.” She gave Alex a hip bump, which her lover responded to with a glare. “I'm the one trying to get this octopus to keep her hands to herself.”
“So, did y'all have a nice shower?” Abbie asked, her Texan drawl especially prominent. “I reckon so, since Alex looks about as happy as a gopher in soft dirt.”
Alex hoped that the flush spreading across her cheeks and down her neck could be attributed to the hot shower she had just taken and not to the ‘gopher' comment. “That's none of your business, Abbie.”
“Why so shy, Cabot? You usually talk about Olivia like she's some kind of sex goddess or somethin'.”
Unfortunately, that reminded Alex of the encounter she and Olivia had just shared in the shower, and she felt her eyes begin to glaze over, completely forgetting to offer a response. “Mmm...”
Abbie snorted. “Okay, either the sex you and Olivia had was really hot, or really embarrassing.”
“Wait – what?” The strange comment immediately brought Alex back to the present. “Where did you get that idea?”
“You're blushing. Ooh, I bet it was embarrassing! What happened?”
“Nothing happened,” Olivia said flatly, really not wanting to get involved in this conversation. She had a feeling that it would end badly for her. “Since Alex never learned to share things in Kindergarten like the rest of us, I never got to use the blow-dryer, and you can obviously tell that we were in the shower.” The detective gestured at her hair, which was still stringy and dripping onto her shoulders.
Alex decided to ignore all three of them and lean against Olivia's shoulder, partially hiding her face in her lover's slightly damp shirt. “Okay, now I know she's embarrassed,” Abbie said triumphantly. “What happened? Did Olivia accidentally smack her own ass instead of yours and scream like a little girl?”
“No! God, what is wrong with you?” Alex groaned, not bothering to lift her head.
Even Olivia had to object to that comment. “Hey! I don't scream like a little girl... and my aim is just fine, thanks.”
Abbie ignored her and continued goading Alex. “Did Olivia make you wear a costume? Oh, please tell me she made you wear a costume! You brought a suitcase as big as all hell and half of Texas, so...”
Finally, Serena decided that she had heard enough. “Honey, stop teasing, I think Alex is going to pass out. Let's just go. We're already late to meet Jane and Maura.”
“Don't get your cows runnin'! We'll get there when we get there. Besides, I bet Jane and Maura can occupy themselves just fine.”
“Hey, Maura, slow down, will ya?” Jane called out as she hurried down the sidewalk, trying to catch up to her girlfriend. The medical examiner had shorter legs and was wearing heels, but she wasn't going to let those inconveniences stop her from setting a record pace. Unknowingly, the Boston detective decided to echo Abbie Carmichael's phraseology – “we'll get there when we get there.”
Maura slowed her pace as requested, but only slightly. “According to my cell phone, we are already twenty two minutes late. I hate being late.”
“Then you shouldn't have started something you knew you couldn't finish in the shower,” Jane pointed out, unable to resist a smug grin. Her apparent irresistibility an hour and a half earlier was a big ego boost, and unlike Maura, she didn't really mind being late, especially since they were on vacation.
“You should have protested more.”
Jane snorted. “Yeah, right... A beautiful, buxom blonde throws herself at me in the shower and I'm supposed to say no?”
“As alliterative and flattering as that description is, it doesn't change the fact that we are now twenty four minutes late,” Maura said.
Despite her strenuous pace, Maura didn't even seem to be winded, and Jane was slightly envious. “Christ, how do you balance in those? I can't even walk in high heels, and you're sprinting in them!” Jane blurted out.
Jane rolled her eyes, but any further comments were lost when they arrived at their destination. Since they were staying at separate lodgings, Jane and Maura had agreed to meet the four Manhattanites at a bar midway between the two hotels. Actually, Maura had arranged for them to stay at a ‘Bed and Breakfast', which was really the second floor of someone's home, but Jane didn't care much for semantics. A pair of old queens owned the place, and they had taken to calling her “butch” instead of addressing her by her name.
Noticing that Maura had paused in front of the door, Jane took on the role she had been typecast in and held open the door. Maura rewarded her with a dazzling smile that made her chest ache and her palms sweat. Somehow, that smile never lost its brilliance for Jane. “Thank you.”
Jane gave a mocking half bow and waved her in, but turned when she heard a familiar voice shouting her name. “Hey, Rizzoli! Behind you.”
Looking over her shoulder, Jane lifted her free hand in greeting as Olivia and Abbie approached with their respective blondes in tow. Alex was lingering towards the back of the group, which was unusual based on the behavior she had observed over the past two days, but Jane decided not to comment. “Hey. I'm glad we're not the only ones that are late. Maura was spazzing out.”
The medical examiner rolled her eyes. “I was not...”
“Says the woman who power-walked over here,” Jane muttered under her breath.
Serena glanced down admiringly at Maura's high heels and let out a low whistle. “Nice.”
“Sorry we're late, ladies. Cabot was riding high and didn't want to get off the saddle.” Alex aimed a smack at her friend's head, but Abbie had become adept at dodging Alex's blows over the years, and it failed to land.
“Quite all right. Jane and I were similarly delayed.”
Making sure that she was out of arm's reach from Alex, Abbie turned to give Serena a pout. “I'm the only one that didn't get any!” she complained, gesturing at their friends dramatically. “We had time to–”
Serena covered her girlfriend's lips with a finger. “Shush. I'll make it up to you later, but only if you don't spend the rest of the night whining.”
That made Abbie's eyes light up. “Can w-”
“I said shush! Come on, let's go in before Jane turns into a very good looking doorstopper.”
“She is good looking, isn't she?” Maura joked. Even after two days, the similarities between Jane and Abbie were still astonishing. “I still find it hard to believe that they don't share any family history.”
“Naw. I'm Irish and Scotch, and judging from your last name and the way you put away food, I'm guessing Jane's mostly Italian.”
“One hundred percent,” Jane confirmed. Realizing that they were blocking the entrance to the bar, the six women headed inside with Olivia in the lead and Jane bringing up the rear.
Twenty minutes later, everyone was well on their way to being intoxicated. They were crammed around a table meant for four (because Jane and Olivia liked having a view of both doorways), and there were multiple conversations going on simultaneously. Jane and Abbie were arguing about whose mother was the most domineering and intrusive, Serena was trying to catch the bartender's eye for a refill and redirect her lover's hand under the table at the same time, and Alex and Maura were comparing their respective detectives' partners while Olivia tried to ignore them.
“So, what the hell are we going to tell people when we get back?” Olivia finally asked, redirecting everyone else's focus onto her. There was a moment of relative silence as they all thought about it. “Munch kind of overheard the food fight...”
“Really?” Alex's milky complexion became paler than usual as she considered that.
“Yep. Oh, Carmichael, he told me to tell you that you've got Aggie Fightin' Spirit or something.”
“Oh no,” Serena groaned, “don't get her started...”
Jane laughed. “Sounds like this is all your problem, Benson. There are no witnesses to tell everyone back home what I did this weekend...”
“Eh. I don't care if you tell Korsak and Frost that I got in a food fight with a judge's niece and met a long lost twin.”
The smirk that Maura gave her lover was positively evil. “But you'll care if I tell your mother.” Jane sank back in her chair, going even paler than Alex, which was hard to believe, considering her dark complexion.
“No! Ma doesn't need to know about any of this.”
“You have to admit, it makes a pretty good party story,” Serena offered. “I wonder if Petrovsky will tell anyone?”
Alex groaned. “My professional reputation is ruined.”
Jane had no sympathy for her. “Who cares? My entire life is ruined if my Ma finds out about this!”
“Are you sure this is a good ide-”
Alex's question was interrupted by a loud shout, followed by an impressive splash that spattered her legs with water droplets. “Abbie,” she hissed, careful not to raise her voice, “put your clothes back on and get out of there! Do you want the hotel security guards to catch us skinny dipping?”
Tossing back strands of damp hair little mermaid style, Abbie spread her arms out and grinned. “We're payin' a fortune to stay here, might as well get some use out of the damn pool. Besides, all the important bits are still covered, so it ain't skinny dipping.” She gestured at her bra and underwear, which she had thankfully kept on.
“And we're not in high school,” Alex snapped, rolling her eyes and folding her arms over her breasts.
“How's the temperature?” Jane asked hesitantly. She too had stripped down to panties and a bra, but she was still standing on the edge of the pool, eyeing the water hesitantly and dipping her toe in to stir the surface.
“Not bad once you get used to it,” Abbie lied, teeth chattering. The pool was closed for the evening, and the heat had been turned off.
Serena sighed, starting to unbutton her blouse and letting down her hair. “We might as well,” she said, giving Alex a shrug when her friend started to protest. “Abbie will hold it over our heads if we don't... and we are technically guests...”
“We're not,” Maura pointed out, her desire to join her friends in the pool warring with her desire to follow the printed sign that clearly stated: ‘NO SWIMMING AFTER 11 PM. HOTEL GUESTS ONLY.'
“Aw, c'mon, Maur,” Jane urged. She had managed to wade part way down the steps, submerged to mid-thigh, but wasn't brave enough to duck under yet. “Live a little.” She waggled her eyebrows. “You've already been in a food fight today. How much more trouble can you get in to?”
“Considering that we're hanging out with Abbie? A lot.” Since Alex had taken over the role of ‘responsible stick in the mud', Olivia felt free to be adventurous this time, and started unzipping her jeans. When she noticed Alex's eyes dart down to check out her legs, she knew that she had made the right decision. After wiggling out of her clothes until she was down to a tank and underwear, Olivia made a beeline for the diving board.
“How good are you, Benson?” Jane asked, wading in up to her hips in order to get a better view of Olivia through the dark. The pool lights were still turned on, but they were dim since the swimming area was supposed to be closed. Olivia answered by testing the recoil of the board, launching off the edge, and throwing her arms over her head in a perfect swan dive. Even Alex, who was still fully dressed and definitely not thrilled with the idea of trespassing, had to smile when Olivia emerged, one bra strap hanging off of her shoulder and her hair piled on top of her head like seaweed.
“Maura, show them one of your dives!” Jane bellowed, only quieting her volume when Serena kicked water at her from the edge of the pool.
“I don't know... Maybe Alex is right. Isn't this a little juvenile?”
Jane doggy paddled over to the edge of the pool, propping her wet elbows on the concrete and looking up at Maura. “Did you ever go skinny dipping when you were a teenager?”
“Well, no, but–”
“Then now's your chance!” Jane tugged on Maura's ankle, dripping water over her shoe. Surprisingly, the ME didn't complain. “Come on. You're a great diver. Do that flip thing.”
Maura carefully unbuttoned her blouse and folded it on one of the plastic lounge chairs, kicking off her expensive shoes and wiggling her toes, enjoying the new freedom of movement. “Oh, all right... Backwards or forwards?”
“I like it backwards!” Abbie hooted, doing a fist pump that splashed water into Serena's hair. Her girlfriend retaliated by grabbing the side of the pool and kicking furiously, sending spray everywhere.
“Argh, hey!” Olivia muttered, wiping her eyes. “You got me with that, Serena... Alex, why aren't you in the pool?”
“Because I'm not as drunk as you are,” the blonde retorted, tapping her foot disapprovingly. “Maura, you're going to ruin that set if you get in the water.”
During the argument, Maura had stripped to her underwear, which was not practical for swimming and left very little to the imagination. The medical examiner smiled, her cheeks dimpling. “Carpe Diem, Alexandra. Would you like to see me do a backwards pike? I think the board is elevated enough.”
Alex gave up, offering a shrug as she fiddled with the top button of her shirt. “Sure. Go give Olivia a run for her money.”
Hearing her name through the water, Olivia's head broke the surface. “What?” she asked, kicking over to the shallow end where Alex stood observing. “I was showing Abbie how long I could hold my breath.”
“Watch.” Alex pointed at the deep end of the pool, where Maura was swinging her arms forward and back as she tested the springboard beneath her feet. Serena floated next to Abbie and tapped her shoulder so that she could watch too.
Ignoring the five pairs of eyes following her movements, Maura bounced three times on the board before launching herself off and folding at the waist, bringing both legs between her arms in a perfect reverse pike. Unfortunately, her bra did not appreciate the collision with the water, smooth as it was, and tangled itself around her upper torso. Jane and Abbie laughed while Olivia and Serena politely averted their eyes. “No more dives for you, I think,” said the Boston detective, swimming over to help Maura fix her top.
“That was very good, Maura,” Alex offered, still hovering by the side of the pool.
“You have no excuse to stay out of the water now,” Maura said, shaking her hair back and double-checking to make sure that she was covered again.
Olivia kicked over to Alex. “She's right. Don't make me come out and give you a hug...” Alex realized that her girlfriend's threat was serious. Olivia was stubborn, and once she decided to indulge her childish side, she went all the way. “I will make you get in this pool.”
With atypical reluctance, Alex pulled off her skirt and kicked her shoes away. “Yeah, Cabot!” Abbie cheered, “take it all off!”
Alex shushed her friend, placing an index finger against her lips. “Be quiet. I don't want to get in trouble. Lord, I can't believe I'm doing this...” When the blonde finally shrugged out of her shirt, crossing her arms to pull it over her head, Olivia realized the true reason that Alex hadn't wanted to strip and get in the pool. She had never thought about it before, but besides Alex's doctors, she was probably the only one who had seen the scars left behind by Alex's gunshot wounds in recent years. Although Alex rarely judged others for their appearance, she did have a vain streak when it came to her own.
The atmosphere suddenly became tense as Alex turned around to put her folded clothes on an empty beach chair, revealing the streaky, raised scarring on her back. No one said anything.
Finally, Jane spoke up. “Damn,” she said, holding up her palms, “yours is way more impressive than mine! I feel kind of inadequate now...”
Alex's carefully blank face cracked as she started to smile.
“Wait, what?” Abbie blurted, pretending to look confused as Alex swung her legs over the side of the pool and slipped gracefully into the water. “I was staring at her legs. Ow! Serena!”
“Polo,” three separate voices echoed as Serena waved her arms around, eyes closed tight.
“This game is too loud,” Alex said from where she was treading water just beneath the diving board. “Someone from the hotel is going to catch us.”
Abbie splashed at her from a few meters away. “You're no fun.”
“Shh!” Olivia was sitting on the side of the pool, feet dangling over the edge. She kept her arms wrapped around herself, but the water evaporating from her skin was making the chilly night seem even colder.
“Won't Serena find them if they keep talking?” Maura whispered in Jane's ear. The two Bostonians were standing next to each other near the steps in the shallow end. “The object of the game is not to get caught, so–”
“Then why are you talking?” Jane whispered back, ducking her head under the water and swimming over to another spot.
Serena paused on her slightly crooked trail over to the diving board where she had last heard voices. “Fish out of water!”
“Damn,” Olivia grumbled, using her arms to push herself back into the water. The detective swam to the center of the pool and ducked her head under, holding her fingers up to simulate a countdown from ten.
Maura waded over to Jane's new spot and tucked herself against her lover's side, silently appreciating the way that Jane's wet undergarments clung to her. “Did you know that after Marco Polo brought the sacred oil of Jerusalem to Kublai Khan, he didn't permit them to return home for almost fifteen years?” she asked, watching Olivia's fingers.
“Kublai Khan? Wasn't he some emperor guy?” Jane asked just as Olivia's head broke the surface. The New York detective lunged in the direction of the noise, beginning a rather athletic chase that lasted half the length of the pool while Alex and Serena tried to avoid the worst of the splashing
When Olivia finally caught Jane's ankle, the new ‘it' began sulking. “That wasn't fair,” she pouted, backstroking to the center of the pool. “Maura tricked me.”
Maura held her hands behind her back and gave Jane her most angelic smile. Meanwhile, the triumphant Olivia returned to the arms of her lover, tucking her chin over Alex's head and embracing her from behind. In the water, the fact that they were the same height was less noticeable.
“Cold, love?” Alex asked, watching as Jane began chasing Maura instead of counting to ten. The normally composed medical examiner squealed when Jane hooked an elbow underneath her knees and lifted her up, carrying her towards the steps.
“Hmm? Not really, why? ... Oh.” Olivia coughed and pulled back so that her breasts were no longer pressing directly against Alex's shoulder blades. The damp material of her bra didn't leave much to the imagination.
Alex caught Olivia before she floated away and gave her a soft peck on the lips. “I wasn't complaining.”
Having overheard the conversation, Serena stuck two fingers in her mouth and let out a wolf whistle. “Oh, shut up,” Olivia muttered. “Abbie's a bad influence on you... Abbie?”
The Texan was staring into the darkness with a strange expression on her face. “Did you see that?” she asked, pointing around the corner of an open gazebo-style building with some wooden tables and chairs.
Jane and Maura stopped their impromptu water wrestling match. “See what?” Jane asked, kicking over to the others.
“There it is again.” This time, all six women saw a column of light from around the corner.
“Is that a flash light or a cell phone?”
“I told you not to be so loud, Serena–”
“I wasn't loud,” the shorter blonde protested. “Besides, this was your idea!”
“Fuck me backwards,” Abbie stated as the pale face of a young uniformed man peeked out from around the corner. “What should we do?”
Jane's eyes darted nervously from side to side. “Break for it?” she asked, standing slightly in front of Maura in an instinctive effort to shield her. The medical examiner put a hand on Jane's arm.
“We would look ridiculous running through the hotel in wet underwear,” she pointed out.
“Excuse me,” the young guard said, stepping out from around the corner and taking a few steps towards the pool. “The hotel pool is closed,” he stammered, gesturing at the large printed sign. The poor man had obviously never encountered a situation like this before on the job, and his eyes were as large as dinner plates.
“What should we say?” Serena asked, looking from Olivia to Abbie. Olivia was blushing so violently that the color showed up despite her tan complexion. Abbie just seemed amused by the situation.
“Here,” Alex interrupted, “let me handle this.” Breast stroking over to the nearest ladder, she climbed out of the pool, glancing down to make sure that her underwear was in the right place. The attorney waved the stunned security guard over and headed for her clothes.
“Ma'am, you and your, uh, companions really should...”
Instead of offering an apology or explanation, Alex simply reached for her purse. Shaking her fingers to try and dry them a little, she opened her wallet and pulled out a fold of bills. “How much until you stop seeing those five half-naked idiots over there?”
The guard looked down at the bills, then back at Alex's face, trying not to be too obvious when his eyes paused in the middle. Still, he couldn't help a quick peek. From where she was watching, Olivia decided not to call him out on it. She couldn't really blame the kid, since she had done the same thing for years before she and Alex started dating. She had never been lucky enough to catch Alex in nothing but a wet bra, though.
Sensing the man's hesitance, Alex pressed two twenties into his hand. “Is your eyesight getting blurry yet?”
Two more twenties followed. “Good boy.” Alex folded the stunned guard's fingers around the bills and reached for her clothes. “Now, I don't think there's any need for you to mention this to anybody, right?” she asked, pulling on her shirt even though she knew that the water would soak through.
“N-no, of course not. I mean, mention what?”
Satisfied that they weren't going to be reported to the hotel manager, Alex beckoned to the other five women. “Come on. Get your drunk asses out of the pool and put your clothes back on.”
Reluctantly, the rest of the group abandoned the safety of the water and climbed back onto cold, dry land. “This sucks,” Jane muttered, fixing the strap of her underwear and searching under a beach chair for her shoes. The security guard was still standing there watching them, and it made her slightly uncomfortable. “At least he's having fun.”
“He seems stunned to me,” Olivia chipped in. She sounded surprisingly cheerful for a police officer that had just been caught skinny dipping after-hours.
“Is this what the Walk of Shame feels like?” Maura asked. The other four turned and gave her identical strange looks.
“Maura, where did you hear about the Walk of Shame?” Jane wanted to know.
“Frost told me that–”
“I take it back. I don't want to know what Frost told you. Abbie, I think this is your shirt...”
“Thanks, Jane. Hey, Benson, why are you grinning like a fool?”
Olivia's grin didn't leave as she pulled on her pants and went to work on her socks. “Because Alex didn't think about her scar.”
Jane's first day back at work the following Monday was a nightmare.
“Hey, Rizzoli! You go get ‘em, stud!”
“Heard you banged five chicks at once on your vacation! Leave some for the rest of us, huh?”
Jane Rizzoli nearly spit out her coffee, choking back her mouthful of the liquid at the last moment and swallowing awkwardly. Nearly crushing the Styrofoam cup with the strength of her grip, she hastily set it down on Barry Frost's desk, trying to ignore his wide grin.
“I liked the taller brunette the best,” one of the patrol cops just getting off duty said, giving Jane a congratulatory slap on the back. The detective nearly fell over.
“What a rack!” one of his buddies added. Jane recognized him as one of her brother's friends.
Several voices decided to chime in with their own opinions.
“My favorite was the blonde with the dimples-”
“The one with the killer legs? Me too.”
“No, the other one-”
“And holy fuck, was one of those other chicks your long lost sister or something?”
Catcalls followed Jane as she ran from the squad room, stumbling blindly into the elevator and jabbing the ‘close door' button. Alone at last, she let her head fall back against the wall and closed her eyes.
After a moment of silence, she pinched herself on the upper arm. Nope, not a dream. This was real. Maybe she should have listened to her Mama and gone to Mass more often, because she was certain that she had just entered the ninth circle of hell.
Brushing past a few more people when the elevator finally stopped, Jane power-walked around the corner and down the hall towards Maura's morgue, terrified of her lover's reaction and hoping that she would arrive in time to minimize some of the damage. To her relief, she saw that Maura was alone when she caught sight of her through the glass walls surrounding the autopsy room. “Thank God,” she muttered, the first words she had spoken since arriving through the front door.
She entered the morgue without bothering to knock. “Maura, the guys – I mean... everybody...” Jane's eyes widened with sudden realization, then narrowed in anger. “Abbie!” There was no other explanation. Somehow, Abbie Carmichael had managed to play the worst kind of practical joke on her from all the way in DC. “Abbie got pictures!” Jane blurted out. “And she-”
“Lower your voice, Jane. Your color looks terrible,” Maura said serenely. She continued the task she had been engaged in before Jane entered the room, wiping down the autopsy table with disinfectant. “From what I understand, Abbie paid our peeping young security guard an additional sum in exchange for some candid shots from his cellular phone. Then, she sent them to your brother and let him draw his own conclusions.”
“Frankie?! I'm going to kill him...” She knew that Frankie would take any chance he could to get back at her after that blind date she had set him up on with the drag queen... Their escalating prank war had caused Jane more than enough headaches in the past, but none like this. “How did she even find out how to contact him?”
“I assume that she purloined your cell phone at some point during breakfast the following morning and wrote down his phone number...” Jane opened her mouth, then closed it again, unable to find words to express her complete and utter disbelief.
“What I don't understand,” Maura continued, “is why you are so upset. Isn't boasting about sexual encounters, real or imagined, a part of the male bonding ritual? Besides, successfully mating with multiple females should raise your status among the group.”
“You make us sound like chimpanzees or something! And I didn't ‘mate successfully' with anybody!” Jane threw her hands in up frustration. Maura simply raised her eyebrows. “You don't count,” the detective added flatly.
Maura tightened the corners of her mouth in order to keep a straight face. “I will pretend that I did not hear that last sentence.”
Jane sank into the nearest chair and buried her head in her hands, groaning pitifully. Feeling sorry for her lover, Maura made her way over to the place where Jane had collapsed and began massaging her shoulders. “Don't worry about it,” she said, working out one of the knots behind Jane's shoulder blade with both thumbs. “Frankie and his friends are police officers, and cops always have each others' backs. I'm sure their teasing isn't malicious.”
“Says you.” A sudden thought struck her. “Oh God, Maura, you were in those pictures! What if they get out on the Internet? They could ruin your career. They could-”
Maura chuckled. “Give Frankie the benefit of the doubt. He isn't stupid. What would you do to him if he actually gave away copies of the pictures?”
“Kill him,” Jane answered automatically.
“Exactly. I'm sure that he is still in possession of the originals.” For Frankie's sake as well as her own, Jane definitely hoped that Maura was right.
“How can you be so... lassiez faire about this?” Jane stuttered, borrowing one of Maura's terms.
Maura smiled. “Just think of them as reminders of a very entertaining weekend. Besides, I never got in trouble or lived dangerously as a teenager. I rather enjoyed the experience.”
“I'm gonna have so much damage control to do...” Jane groaned.
“You are welcome to try, but I have a feeling that the Legend of Jane Rizzoli is only just beginning. By the time the story is finished, you will have satisfied ten gorgeous women all by yourself, leaving us naked, basking in the afterglow with sweat-slicked skin and smiles on all our faces... like a Sultana with her harem of love-slaves.” Maura licked her lips, and Jane turned around to give her lover a strange look.
“Christ, what's wrong with you?” the brunette asked, but she couldn't manage to sound completely upset while Maura was looking at her like that.
“Oh, I was just imagining being your personal body slave,” the medical examiner purred, leaning down to nip Jane's ear as she continued her massage. “Although I certainly object to you having a harem, I must admit that I find the rest of the idea rather appealing.”
“Munch! Give them back or I'll strangle you.”
The gray-haired detective clutched the printouts protectively to his chest, shaking his head and dodging away from Olivia by spinning his desk chair. He had recently purchased a new one, citing his ‘bad back' as the reason, and it was far nicer than any of his colleagues'. “Never.”
Realizing that Munch would not be intimidated by threats of violence, Olivia tried a different tactic. “I'm a frumpy, middle-aged woman, John,” she said, folding her arms over her chest and frowning down at him. “Aren't there enough buxom young things for you to look at online? I'm not far from fifty.”
That was stretching the truth a little. Olivia was closer to forty than fifty, but a few more years would shift the balance.
“Age is irrelevant,” Munch insisted. “Besides, you know that you look at least a decade younger than you are.”
The compliment did not soothe Olivia's temper. “My girlfriend is in those pictures, and no one is supposed to look at her but me.” She made another grab, but missed. Munch had surprisingly quick reflexes.
“I hate to be the bearer of bad news, Olivia, but I think every single person at One Hogan Place and at the Courthouse has ‘looked at' Alex at one time or another. Can you blame them?”
“But not in her underwear.”
“No, probably not. But I'm sure they would, if given the opportunity.”
Olivia gripped the back of Munch's chair, spinning it around and forcing him to face her. He shoved the pictures underneath his legs where she couldn't reach them, and she grimaced. “Give me the pictures,” she said, “and I won't murder you for changing all my ring tones.”
“Why not murder Abbie?” Munch suggested. “She gave them to me.”
“Oh, trust me, I'm going to kill her too. I'm counting on Alex to get me off.”
Munch smirked, and then started laughing hysterically. Olivia moaned as she reviewed the words in her head. “Not like that, you pervert! Give me those!” Reaching for a corner that peeked out from underneath Munch's knee, she tried to tug the print-outs loose, but only succeeded in wrinkling them.
“Hey! Don't ruin my collection.”
“Collection?” Olivia's eyes narrowed. “Munch, I'm serious. Give me those pictures before I tell Alex that you have them.”
That finally got through to the reluctant detective. While Olivia might bluster and threaten, Alex was truly dangerous if you got on her bad side. With a heavy sigh, he produced the papers and handed them over to Olivia, who immediately headed for the bathroom. She was taking no chances with the paper shredder. Knowing Munch, he would probably find a way to tape them back together.
Glancing both ways to make sure that Olivia was gone, Munch fiddled idly with the flash drive in his pocket, only to feel eyes burning into the back of his neck. “Hand it over, buddy,” Elliot Stabler said, clapping a large hand on Munch's shoulder from behind.
“Hand what over?” Munch asked, trying to play innocent.
“The copies,” Elliot insisted. “Do you think I'm stupid?”
With another heavy sigh of loss, Munch pulled out the treasured flash drive and relinquished it to Olivia's back up. “This is a crime against humanity,” Munch insisted. “A conspiracy of the vilest sort.”
“Yeah, yeah. I'm just looking out for you, John. Do you really want to mess with Cabot?”
“Guess not,” Munch admitted sulkily. “Oh well, I suppose I'll always have my fond memories...” And the encrypted e-mail on his laptop...Continued in Part Four
Return to the Annex