Jane meets Eliot Spencer first. He’s got a mean swing and is easy to flirt with and she finds his growly southern drawl charming. The bar fight that sparks their introduction is more fun than she’s had in the last seven months cracking safes all across South Asia.
“So, you’re from Boston?” Eliot asks, pouring them each a shot of whiskey back at his place.
Jane smirks, adjusting the ice pack she’s holding to the left side of her jaw so she can knock back the whiskey. “Born and raised.”
“What brought you back?”
- - -
She meets Alec Hardison next. And while it’s definitely not a pleasure, it certainly is interesting.
“Who the hell are you?” Alec demands as soon as he walks into the apartment and spots her sitting at Eliot’s kitchen table. His eyes take in the fact that she’s wearing one of Eliot’s shirts and little else and he looks ready to burst a vein.
Jane quickly swallows the bite of omelette she’s just taken. It’s delicious and she hates not getting to savor Eliot’s creation the way it deserves, but she needs to defuse this situation. “Jane. You?”
“Alec.” Ah. The boyfriend Eliot had gushed over last night. “Where’s Eliot?”
On second thought, Eliot can handle this himself. Jane has places to be.
“I’m going to kill him,” Alec says, before storming off towards the bathroom.
Jane gets dressed and slips out while Eliot and Alec are shouting about trust, the exact definition of “harmless flirting”, and how “she spent the night on the damn couch, Hardison, so will you stop losing your fucking shit already”.
- - -
Jane doesn’t meet Parker so much as encounter her.
She’s casing her current target when a lovely blonde knocks into her and nicks her wallet. Or, well, tries to, but Jane catches the move and grabs her arm, keeping her close.
“If you wanted my number, you could have just asked,” she purrs, into the blonde’s ear.
“Where would be the fun in that?”
“Touché. I’m Jane,” Jane says, sliding her hand down the woman’s arm in a gentle sort of caress before snatching back her wallet.
“Parker,” the blonde says, stepping back.
Wait. “The Parker?”
The blonde shrugs and turns, disappearing into the museum’s crowd. Jane wishes she had time for distractions, because damn. Those legs.
Half an hour later when Jane goes to buy a coffee across the street, she can’t help but laugh. She’s missing fifty bucks and a credit card.
- - -
Jane doesn’t know what to make of Nate Ford except that he’s in her way.
“Ah, I don’t think so.”
Jane raises her gun. She doesn’t want to use it, but sometimes needs must.
“That necklace is going with me, one way or another. Last warning. Hand it over.” Jane flicks the safety off.
Jane drops and rolls, but before she can get her gun back up, Eliot is on her. And unfortunately, given the bar fight two days ago, they both know she’s no match for him. They trade blows and Jane manages to get in one good hit with a roundhouse kick before things go dark.
- - -
When Jane wakes up, she is pleasantly surprised to find she isn’t in police custody. Although, she is zip tied to a chair and Alec is glaring at her again, so… You win some, you lose some.
“Why am I here?” Jane asks.
“As opposed to police custody?” Alec asks.
Jane just stares at him. Since he’s the one taking the lead she ignores the other four standing next to him.
“What’s your connection to Maura Isles?”
“Who’s Maura Isles?”
“You can drop the innocent act, honey,” the British brunette standing next to Nate says. “We know Paddy Doyle contracted you from prison to steal that necklace for him.”
“We also know the Connolly family kidnapped his estranged daughter, Maura, the day before he contacted you,” Eliot says.
“I don’t know what you’re taking about.”
“Guys, this isn’t getting us anywhere,” Nate says, stepping forward and taking a knife out of his pocket. Jane watches impassively as he cuts her ties. “Dr. Isles is an innocent caught between a mob power play. What does Mark Connolly want?”
“Your good cop, bad cop routine won’t work on me.” Jane says, rubbing her wrists.
“Jane,” Eliot says, eye sincere. “Let us help you.”
- - -
While Parker goes to retrieve the necklace, along with a few other supplies, and Alec works on nailing down Maura’s location, and Nate and Sophie start putting together a workable plan, Eliot brings Jane a beer.
“So what made Doyle turn to you for the ransom?”
“He knows my reputation.” Jane sips the beer. “He knew I could get the job done in the given time frame and improvise if things went belly-up.”
“He trusts you,” Eliot says, like it surprises him. “Why does one of the most notorious crime bosses on the east coast trust you?”
“Does it matter?”
“Yeah. It does.”
Jane rolls the beer bottle between her hands as she finds herself suddenly fighting back the tears that have been threatening to overwhelm her since Paddy called her. She’ll let them go when the job’s done. Not before.
“Maura’s my wife.”
“We’re separated.” Jane says, continuing to stare down at the bottle in her hands. “She wasn’t a big fan of the thieving.”
Eliot puts a hand on hers and Jane looks up, meeting his gaze. “We’ll get her back.”
Jane nods. There is no other option.
- - -
The plan’s in place; Jane’s going to make the drop with Nate and Hardison for back up, while Eliot, Parker, and Sophie go after Maura. She’s terrified something’s going to go wrong, that there’s a scenario they didn’t plan for, but she pushes all that fear aside. Maura needs her to be a professional.
Besides, Eliot trusts his team and, strangely, Jane trusts Eliot. Who knew bar fights could forge such deep bonds so quickly?
Jane walks into the art gallery and heads to the second floor abstract exhibit where she’s supposed to meet Connolly’s man.
“Now remember the plan,” Nate says in Jane’s ear. “We need him to implicate Mark.”
Jane glances at the nearest security cam and rolls her eyes. This is far from her first rodeo.
Jane walks to the back corner of the room and takes a seat on the bench hidden from the cameras’ view. Seriously, some places, she thinks, setting down the purse and book she’s holding.
Jane’s eyes widen and she turns. “Frankie?”
“Jane, what the hell are you doing here?”
“What’s going on?” Nate asks.
“What am I doing here? What are –” Suddenly it clicks what he’s wearing: a green tie with a blue pin striped suit. He’s Mark Connolly’s man. Shit.
Jane pulls herself together quick. Nothing matters but the job.
“Jane, answer me,” Nate says.
“This painting would look better in red, don’t you think?” Jane asks Frankie.
“No,” Frankie whispers, eyes going wide and sad.
Jane takes the book out from beneath the purse and flips it open to display the necklace concealed within. “Now that I’ve shown you mine. Where’s Doyle’s daughter?”
“Jane, I… Fuck,” Frankie says, running a hand through his hair. “Why’d it have to be you?”
“Mark ordered you to kill me, didn’t he?”
“Yeah, I take you to Dr. Isles and then I clip you both. But Jane, there’s more going on than you know.”
“Nate, it’s a set up,” Eliot says through the ear bud. “Boston PD and the Feds have the warehouse completely surrounded. What do you want us to do?”
“You didn’t quit the academy,” Jane says. “You went undercover.”
“And you’re the fucking Fox, Jane. Do you know how many warrants there are for you? This is going to break Ma’s heart.”
Like I haven’t done that before, Jane thinks. “Is your game to catch me or take out Connolly?”
“Connolly was the target, but then we got word the Fox was in town and we knew it couldn’t be a coincidence.”
“How much time do we have?” Nate asks.
“When are you expected at the warehouse?” Jane asks Frankie.
Frankie looks startled that Jane knows where he’s supposed to take her, but he glances at his watch anyway. “We have maybe five more minutes to leave before it’ll look suspicious.”
“Okay,” Nate says. “Here’s what we’re going to do. Sophie, I need you to…”
- - -
In the end, Connolly goes down and Sophie – playing the part of the international jewelry thief known only as the Fox – escapes custody. Jane’s identity remains intact and Maura and Frankie go home safe.
Or they would have, if Sophie hadn’t slipped Frankie a note to meet up at Nate’s bar.
“Jane,” Maura says, as soon as she enters.
“Maura?” Jane turns from where she was laughing at a story Parker had been telling and can hardly believe her eyes. She hasn’t seen Maura in nearly two years, not since she asked Jane to leave, but she still takes Jane’s breath away. Even with her hair in tangles and her clothes torn and dirty from four days being held hostage, she’s still the most beautiful woman Jane’s ever seen.
God, Jane wants to go over and hug her so bad.
“Oh Jane,” Maura says, tears in her eyes as she rushes forward and throws her arms around Jane. “I didn’t mean it.”
“Mean what?” Jane asks, clinging just as hard.
Maura pulls back a little, just enough so that their eyes can meet. “I was upset. I never wanted you to stay gone. I don’t care whether you’re a plumber or a thief. I love you.”
Maura nods. “Really.”
Jane smiles, her own pent up tears starting to slide down her cheeks. “I love you too. And I’ve missed you so much.” Then she leans in and captures Maura’s mouth in a passionate kiss.
“Welcome home,” Maura says, when they finally pull apart.
“It’s good to be home,” Jane says.