|Making Up Is Hard To Do
Author: Googlemouth PM
Post 2.15, "Burning Down The House." After betraying Maura's confidence, Jane strives to earn back her trust and friendship. Maura struggles against the resentment she still carries. Friendship/Angst with a side of Romance. Co-authored with AdmHawthorne.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Friendship/Romance - J. Rizzoli & M. Isles - Chapters: 8 - Words: 35,906 - Reviews: 155 - Favs: 58 - Follows: 102 - Updated: 05-13-12 - Published: 05-03-12 - Status: Complete - id: 8082296
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
This is the final chapter. Thank you so much for coming with us on this journey. We hope you've enjoyed it as much as we have.
Chapter 8: Night and Day
Confusion grew, along with a vague sense of loss. What had just happened? Maura had tried so hard to reassure Jane, and she'd been so careful about her words, making up for last night's slip. The reassurance had not only not worked, but had seemed to cause Jane even greater distress. Worse, she'd kept moving around, turning away. Maura could not follow the minutiae of Jane's facial expression under such conditions; she had no way of being certain whether Jane was angry, scared, sad, or... Well, no, happy was almost assuredly not on the list of possibilities.
Jane had said the magic words, hadn't she? She'd been agitated in the extreme, ranting, but she had said them. Had she meant them, or was it just an unusual moment of synchronicity between an unthinking rant and a bout of serious wishful thinking?
Maura sighed. She would not know until she could ask Jane. That was that. No more hinting, no more coyness, no more edging sideways like a crab. There was nothing for it but to speak her thoughts and ask her questions directly, and, if she had misjudged the situation, accept the embarrassment that would come with it. It was unfortunate timing, given that they had only just made it back to solid ground in their friendship, but she would have to trust in the strength of them.
She set herself to cleaning the kitchen, making the bed, and completing her morning grooming and dressing. She had, after all, promised Jane that she wasn't going anywhere.
Down the stairs, out the door, down another set of stairs, and Jane was on her way to anywhere that Maura wasn't. She fumed, she mentally ranted, and she looked anger-crazed enough for the people sharing the sidewalk with her to give her a wide berth as she stomped by.
Around the corner, across the street, down an alleyway, and she found herself at the park. She stopped walking and looked around, taking in the bright green foliage, clear blue sky, and quiet morning.
The scene was surprisingly settling.
Taking a seat on a park bench, she watched the people around her, letting her mind settle and go blank for just a bit. She'd thought too much already. She needed the mental break.
The park was her favorite place to people watch. Everyone came to the park, and you never knew what interesting story you might be able to watch unfold. Not far from her, there was a family - mom, dad, and child - playing with a Frisbee. The little girl's laughter pealed through the air, but it was just background noise to Jane.
Elsewhere in the distance, two joggers were making their way up the trail. The men looked as though they might be racing each other. One would get ahead and the other would make an angry face and push to take the lead. As soon as one was in the lead, the other would fight to take over. It was a silent battle of wills, physical endurance, and testosterone.
Jane laughed at the them. If they would learn to keep pace with each other, they'd be able to last longer, get a better workout, and probably not want to die from exhaustion by the end of their run. It always irritated her how men seemed to need to prove they were the best. They always need to prove that they're number one, the top dog, the alpha ma...
She sat up from her bent over position on the bench. Who was she kidding? She acted just as poorly as most men. She was just as guilty of trying to be the alpha male... female... pack leader... Whatever. The point was, she had a need to be the one in charge, to be the best.
That's how she managed to be the youngest detective on homicide. She was the best, and she didn't let anyone forget it. She was the alpha of her family within her generation, only bowing to her mother as a show of respect, but not truly allowing Angela to be in charge. She was even the leader in her group of friends. Everyone looked to her for final approval on plans. Everyone, that is, except Maura.
Maura was always the different one. In truth, the doctor was the one person in Jane's life that Jane willingly gave control over to, which is why this morning had exploded. The detective in her had asked a straightforward question. Was Maura serious when she said she was interested in Jane? Maura, in her typical manner, had answered with a non answer, and the alpha impulse in Jane, the need to be the one in control, had sent her off in a rampage because what she heard was, "I hope you find a guy like me so you'll be happy", which was not the answer she wanted to hear.
Jane felt out of control of the situation, and that feeling was unacceptable to her, which is why she had stormed off.
Had it been anyone else but Maura, Jane would have remained in her apartment and fought to gain that control back, but it was Maura. The last thing Jane wanted to do was fight with Maura again. She didn't want to give up control completely to the other woman, but she didn't want to be completely out of control either. She wanted... balance.
So what had Maura actually said?
Now that Jane was calmer, she leaned back on the bench and replayed the morning again. This time, she approached the conversation with a true detective's eye, and what she saw there made her want to smack herself.
"Nothing to do but go back, hope she's home, and eat a little crow," she mumbled as she stood up and walked back to her apartment, finally ready to find balance. At least, she hoped she would be able to find balance. "We'll see."
Jane slowly opened her apartment door and stepped inside. The bright light from the outside streamed in from the windows where Maura had pulled the curtains back and the shades up. The room was blessedly cool, and she was relieved to find the honey brunette busily attending to something in the kitchen.
She closed the door behind her, locking it, before turning back around to awkwardly put her hands in her pockets and shift her weight where she stood. Instead of moving into the living space, she remained by the front door as she gathered courage. In the end, the only thing she could manage to say was, "Hey."
The door opening had alerted Maura to Jane's presence, but she didn't turn around until her knife stopped moving, and a row of evenly sliced tomato lay on the cutting board. She even set down the knife and rinsed her hands first, giving her time to come up with something to say. As she turned, Maura looked as though she had something on her mind, but the sight of Jane took the words away again, and all that came out was an echo. "Hey."
"Listen, I... um... you," Jane winced at her lack of words. "I'm glad you're still here. I wanted to apologize for walking out like that. I shouldn't have done that."
"No, that was fair," Maura replied as she removed Angela's apron and folded it to set aside. "I ran, metaphorically speaking, so of course you did, too."
A look of surprise crossed Jane's face as she took in that remark. "Well, okay, fair enough." Moving into the kitchen, she stopped a few feet from Maura, making certain there was distance between them. "So, what now? I mean, I ran off ranting like a lunatic, and I said a bunch of stuff. What-" she glanced around her, looking anywhere but at the doctor, "What did you hear?"
The diminutive woman leaned slightly back against the counter, mimicking what most people would consider a pose of relaxation. "Enough to know that I shouldn't have taken the route that I took." Her lips pursed as she considered her options, how much to edit. "I was tired last night, and I said something I shouldn't have said. We just got us back. I shouldn't have voiced that thought."
"Okay," trying valiantly not to look as deflated as she felt, Jane crossed her arms about herself and walked over to the wall beside the hallway. She leaned against it, keeping her eyes on the floor. "Do you want to pretend like everything from last night to about three seconds ago didn't happen? I don't know if I can do that, but I guess I could try." Her frown grew. There was no question, based on her body language, that she was shutting down and preparing for whatever the worst was about to be.
Autumn-hued waves jostled one another as Maura shook her head and repeated, "I should not have voiced that thought." She gave a head-tilt, this one beckoning Jane to hear the emphasis, and interpret it. "But once I did, I shouldn't have tried to explain my way out of it. We just got back together as friends. I should have trusted that friendship enough to speak the rest of what was on my mind.
"I do want..." She trailed off, took a deep breath, and tried again. "I want you to be happy. I want you to have what you want and need, whatever that is. Even if it's a guy who's like me... instead of me."
"Yeah, we're just going to keep doing this, aren't we?" Shaking her head, Jane finally looked up. "Every time I think I can say this, I feel like I'm about to have a panic attack," she rolled her eyes.
"Then let me say it," Maura broke in, albeit softly, leaving the kitchen and coming to stand closer to Jane. Within arm's reach, but not so near as to crowd. "I didn't tell you that for the sake of this moment. I told you that to correct what I said before you left.'
She moved to lean against the wall next to Jane, her foot, still bare, came up to rest on the wall behind her as she leaned, using its location as the reason for standing near instead of granting a bit more space. "You deserve someone to love you, who can be everything that you need. That's what I said, isn't it? What I meant..." Maura took another deep breath. "Last night you said you wanted a guy version of me. If that's what you want, then that's what I want you to have, and I would get used to seeing that. And if what you want from me is to be your best friend, while you... I suppose, use me as a template for a man that could be the rest of what you're looking for, then I'll consider it flattering, and it will make me feel good. Until you find him, and I have to see him in your life instead of me."
Jane groaned. "Yeah, you didn't say it." Swiping a hand over her face, she stared ahead of her instead of looking to the side where the smaller woman was propped up next to her on the wall. "Thing is, I meant what I said when I was ranting." A humorless chuckle escaped her. "Some people are honest drunks. I'm an honest... I don't know... ranter." She shrugged. "I don't want to date a guy like you, Maura." Dark brown eyes shifted back down to the tiles of her kitchen floor. "I never have. Even before everything that's gone down over the past couple of months, I... well, you've always been," she stopped talking.
Breath becoming more shallow, the normally in-control detective bent over, placing her hands on her knees and forcing herself to take in big breaths of air before she started again. Like ripping a bandage off, she forced out the thought before nothing would come out at all. "I want to date you."
Finally having said it, she let out a huge sigh as she allowed herself to slip down to the ground. She sat with her back against the wall, knees pulled up to her chest, and arms wrapped around her legs. Her eyes stared, unseeing, in front of her. Slowly, because her mouth had trouble forming the words, she said, "I cannot believe I got that out."
Maura stood, stunned, for several seconds even after Jane had sunk to the floor, but once she could move again, she dropped to her knees right beside her friend and enfolded the wiry woman in her arms. "This is why you're a cop and a hero, and I'm a lab nerd," she whispered, not quite able to get her voice past her own throat at first. "You are so brave."
Jane countered in a stiff voice. "I am so scared I can't feel my face."
With one more strong squeeze around Jane's shoulders, Maura sat back on her heels, still quite close, and used one soft finger to nudge under her friend's chin. "It's still there. Look at me?"
Her own features demonstrated amply her admiration for Jane's courage, compassion, and deep affection. "Ask me again."
Swallowing down the lump, Jane stared dumbly at the other woman for a very long time before she parted her now dry lips and asked in a cracking voice, "Ask you what?"
"Anything," Maura replied, looking more open than she had in the longest time. "Everything. I won't prevaricate anymore."
The lanky woman considered the offer for a time, eyes closing as she pulled her face away and leaned her head back against the wall. "I'm going to ask, but just let me down gently, okay?" She took in a deep breath and finally asked the question they were both dancing around. "Are you interested in being with me in a..."
"Yes," Maura broke in as Jane faltered over terminology. "I am. Very."
"I hate it when you do that." Despite the chastisement, Jane chuckled. "In a romantic way was what I was going to say, and, given your need for precise terminology and my need for personal reassurance right now, I think I would feel a lot better if you said yes to the entire question." She opened her eyes and turned her head to make eye contact. "So? Are you really interested in being with me in a romantic way? Not just friends. Not just friends with benefits or something like that? But, I mean, you know, in an exclusive, we'll give this a try, kind of way?"
"Yes. I like you as my friend. I love you as my best friend." Maura's hand reached to sweep unruly curls back from Jane's face once more. "And I want you as my girlfriend. Or something else that doesn't sound quite so high school. I just... got scared, when the subject came up so soon after... the... difficulties. I was going to wait a lot longer, but I can't just keep letting you think I don't want you. I do. Do you know how hard it was to just let you go to sleep last night?"
"Torture," Maura replied with a smile of sheepishly remembered anguish. "I wanted to tell you, and I wanted so much to be able to hold you. But then I thought about how wrong it could go, and how I'd have to go home and feel terrible and awkward all over again, and maybe lose what we'd just started rebuilding. It scared me so much that I couldn't make myself take that chance."
"Fair enough." Jane let go of her legs and straightened them out in front of her, resting her hands in her lap. "I was honestly too sleepy last night to realize what I'd said. This morning in the shower, however, it all kind of hit me." She shrugged. "Sometimes I'm a little slow." She paused for a moment to gather her thoughts. "You know, this is going to be awkward if we let it. I really don't want to let it, but I'm not really sure how to not be awkward around you. You," she blushed, "sort of make me feel like a teenage boy with his first crush. I don't even know what to do with my hands anymore. It's... weird." She winced. "Sorry."
"Give them to me," Maura offered, rising to her knees and taking Jane's hands to pull the taller woman and herself to standing. She did not let them drop, but stepped a tad closer to be within prime hugging range. "I'm glad you're not a teenaged boy." One of her own hands, then the other, turned within Jane's to begin a series of very light, kind strokes along Jane's palms, down the inner edge of each finger to the tip, waking up the nerve endings to make their clumsiness slink away in defeat. Then she took one to give it a light but thorough massage, including but not limited to the scar tissue at the center; then the other.
Finally, Maura took each of those hands in hers, placed them around her own waist, and wrapped her own arms around Jane's shoulders as if to slow-dance. "Better?"
"I think I forgot how to breathe," was the only answer Jane could muster. Eyes large, body rigid, she made an attempt at moving. But her hands remained where Maura had placed them, and her body seemed to not want to cooperate. "I never realized how tiny you are." She made a face at her own awkward sentences even as Maura smiled at them. "I mean, I'm glad you're glad I'm not a teenaged boy?" She winced. "My brain isn't working really well at the moment, sorry. How about... yes, that's better, but I think I really need to sit down on the sofa for a little bit because I'm feeling a little light headed."
Maura replied by stepping away, sliding her hands down Jane's arms, and catching up the other woman's hands to lead them towards the sofa. "So am I. But, you know... I didn't have a panic attack, and you haven't so far, either. We're still okay."
Jane took a seat. Dazed, she processed again. Everything seemed to take much longer than normal for her wrap her mind around. As Maura took a seat beside her, she slowly turned her head. "No, I am not okay. The last time I was this weird, I wound up with a hickey and the quickest lesson in makeup application I've ever had from a drag queen at the all night drugstore down the street from the house."
She shook her head. "Best ten minute lesson I ever learned." She chuckled, mind falling into the story as way of pulling out of the moment for a bit. "I was so sure Ma was going to kill me that I panicked and ran out of Chris's house as soon as I realized I had a hickey. I ran straight for the drugstore. I lucked out that there was just the cashier there, who happened to be a this really large, very loud, very obvious drag queen. She took one look at me, and said, 'Girl, your momma's gonna be all kinds of up on you if you don't cover that thing up. Come on, and let me show you what you need to do."
She gave an honest laugh. "It was one of the luckiest breaks I ever had as a teenager. Ma never figured it out. She was just excited that I was starting to get into wearing makeup. You know how she is," she mimicked her mother. "Jane, be a girl."
Shrugging, she ran a hand through her hair, shaking the curls to loosen them a bit. "Have I ever told you that story before?"
Maura's head shook. "No, but I'm glad that you had that assistance. I'm also glad you're who you are, even if you're not the same kind of girl that Angela thinks she wants you to be." Her eyes followed the other woman's fingers as they tousled those wild locks of hair, then returned to Jane's eyes. "I know you're nervous. I am, too. But are you truly not okay? Because if you're not, we don't have to... do or be anything that you aren't ready for."
"I'm okay." At Maura's questioning look, Jane rolled her eyes and took the other woman's hand in her own. "I am. I'm just lost. What do we do now? I'd say we should go on a date, but we sort of do that anyway, and, before you say it, I realize they weren't classified as dates so it probably doesn't count, but still," she shrugged. "There is a lot of stuff I'd like to do and some things I'd rather wait on. I just don't want to do or say the wrong thing and be back to spending nights alone at my place with nothing but Jo and a box of pizza to keep me company, you know?"
"That's not going to happen, Jane. I want you to be with me. I don't care if we're here, or at my place, or out somewhere, or just working late at the precinct, but I want to be with you." Fingers shifted, and Maura transferred claim of both of Jane's hands into just one of hers, leaving the other free to smooth the ringlets back from her face. "There's a lot I want to wait for, too. And there are some things I think we've waited for long enough. I'd like to take you on a proper date, for starters. One where we both know it's a date. You'll put on something that makes you feel gorgeous, and no, it doesn't have to be a dress. I'll pick you up, bring you something sweet or some flowers. Open doors, pull out your chair. Pick up the check without you fighting me for it, because you know I want to treat you. What do you think?"
"That people are going to be really confused about our general roles in this relationship, and I have just the dress in mind." With a small smile gracing her face, Jane couldn't help but add, "You know, when everyone finds out about this, they'll just assume I'm the guy."
Maura only chuckled. "Assuming there's a guy in an all-female relationship is like assuming that one chopstick just has to be the fork. I don't care about other people's confusion. It will simply be due to the heteronormative assumptions of modern Western society, and anyway, they're not the ones dating you."
She took a moment to pause, then added, "You know, there's something else I don't want to wait for anymore." Hazel eyes drifted down her friend's... girlfriend's... face. No, not drifted. Sauntered. Lazily, taking their time and their ease, until landing on Jane's lips.
Finally, a true Rizzoli smirk settled in as Jane leaned in. "That's on my to-do list, too," she whispered before moving in and placing a gentle kiss on the lips of the other woman.
What Maura thought was going to be a sigh of relief and released tension - at last! - was neither. It was all she could do to just let herself be kissed chastely, without intensifying it. She was the first to pull back, but the expression on her face left no room for interpretation: she had wanted that kiss, wanted it to still be going on, and only stopped at the last instant when she still could. "God," she exhaled.
"Jane's good for right now, but I'll take 'God' for later," the detective winked.
Maura nodded, but with feeling. "I have no doubt."
Chapter title taken from a song by Cole Porter.
For those who have asked in reviews, PMs, and so on, yes, we were taking a break. We are good friends and enjoy writing together, but once in a while a person needs to take a break, learn on their own, and then come back to the partnership and share their growth, so both can benefit from it. Since we're back in harness together as writers, we thought it fitting to make this a "back together again" fic. Thank goodness our separation was for good reasons, not like Jane's and Maura's! We hope to continue writing together, separately, and with others. We learn more that way, and I personally think the fics will be better going forward because of what we've both been working on over the last few months.
With love for all things Rizzles,
AdmHawthorne and Googlemouth