A/N: And here is the attempt at a fix. Thanks again to Socks for the beta, Kate for coming back and helping me, and a thank you in advance to any Guest or unsigned reviews. You guys are the greatest!
"Idiot. Idiotidiotidiot!" Every punch of her taped fists against the heavy bag sends a lightning bolt of pain up to her elbow. Penance. Though, instead of the Act of Contrition and two Rosarys, she's following her own bastardized version of Hammurabi's code: a heart for a heart. This pain for Maura's. Jane knew what Maura meant those two months ago, when the blond cornered her in the BPD breakroom.
I see the way you look at me, and I...I want to know if you feel about me the way I feel about you. I think I love you, Jane.
Of course, she had played it off in nervous laughter, responding that she loved Maura too, especially if the ME had the tox report from the case they'd been working. They had been in the breakroom for fuck's sake. But as soon as the words had left her lips she'd wished that she could have stuffed them back in again. She'd broken Maura; snuffed out the hesitant hope alight in those green eyes, and in turn tore her own heart in two.
And now she has no idea how to fix either of them.
Two months of riding with just the boys in her cruiser. The lack of Maura's perfume and insistence on NPR. The sight of Maura's reddened eyes at a scene, the stilted conversations, the lack of physical contact. Hail Mary, full of grace, how much longer should she keep doing this?
Jane tears the tape from her hands, the adhesive satisfactorily pulling from half-healed abrasions causing a couple to re-open and bleed. She flexes her fingers, reveling in the raw burn as she walks back to the locker room. She pushes through the door, running headlong into Maura as the blond heads out to the treadmill. They stand motionless for what feels like an eternity during which she tries to commit every detail of Maura's face to memory: hollowed cheeks, furrowed brow, dead-flat eyes. All because Jane is a coward. Beautiful, brave, sweet Maura, whom Jane was able to protect from everyone but herself.
"Excuse me, please"
And then the moment is over and Maura pushes past her without a backwards glance. Jane's hands clench into fists and the fire takes her breath away.
Penance, when what she's seeking is absolution.
It starts with music, with words that Jane can feel but will not come to her lips nor pen. So she steals that what suits her. A verse in blue fountain pen on a white notecard.
I know I left too much mess and
destruction to come back again
And I caused nothing but trouble
I understand if you can't talk to me again
And if you live by the rules of "it's over"
then I'm sure that that makes sense
She hopes Maura hasn't forgotten her backslanted scrawl like she, herself, has almost forgotten how Maura's smile is dimple-punctuated.
Jane leaves the card on Maura's desk, propped against a chocolate kiss she found hiding out in the corner of her desk drawer. Maura is at lunch, but not alone. Frost or Frankie or Korsak or her Ma, all taking turns, all sent to watch over her in loco Jane-is.
Now she can only wait. And wait. And pace. And then Frost arrives, initials-embossed envelope in hand. MID. The paper is smooth and she traces the scrolling letters in the same manner she wants to smooth the tiny frown that has taken up residence between Maura's arched eyebrows. She flips the envelope over and before she can slide a nail under the angled flap, Frost's hand covers hers.
"Don't let her get away. You would regret it for the rest of your life." His brown eyes steel-soft, flick across her face once before he turns and leaves her, wordless and shaky, to go to Cavanaugh and beg the day off. She is too afraid to open the note here.
At home, she stares at the creamy cardstock, the responding verse in Maura's meticulous handwriting, perfectly centered.
A mighty pain to love it is,
And 'tis a pain that pain to miss;
But of all pains, the greatest pain
It is to love, but love in vain.
She folds the card into fourths and tucks it behind the picture of her and Maura sitting in the morgue sink that she keeps tucked into her wallet. She wants to show Maura that nothing she did was in vain, especially not gracing Jane with her love. She sits on her couch with her iPod, going through song after song, looking for the one that speaks to her and for her at the same time. It takes just a moment before the album cover catches her eye.
She pulls her phone from her pocket and thumbs a message to Maura as she pulls on her jacket and whistles to Jo. It is something she would have never felt compelled to ask before she ruined everything. But she has to start somewhere.
Can I wait for you to come home? At your house?
The only thing that's normal about the situation: she doesn't wait for a response.
They sit in uncomfortable silence, Maura in stocking feet, leaning against the granite countertop and tapping her nail against her wineglass; Jane coiled spring-tight, long fingers shredding the label she'd carefully worked free from her beer bottle. All the words that she'd rehearsed in the car, all the clichéd phrases, every emotion that had bubbled over as she sat in the driveway waiting for Maura to come home, all of it gone in the face of dark-circled eyes and mumbled greetings.
But Maura had not said no.
So Jane had waited in her car in the drive, begging the air for forgiveness, pleading Jo for another chance, caressing the steering wheel with all the tenderness she'd wanted to bestow on Maura.
And now, nothing.
She hears Frost's words echo in her ear, and she realizes she's losing. Her name sounds wrong at the angle it falls from Maura's lips, sounds like Byron and Ian and not-any-more and more than anything she wants to panic. But again it is music that saves her, and she blurts out the line before she allows herself to think.
"You make me live."
"What?" This is a look Jane recognizes. It's that polite confusion that Maura wears when Jane has said words that she understands but cannot connect, so the brunette pushes on.
"It's you, you're all I see."
Again, puzzlement but now with creeping frustration. "I realize you're speaking English, but you are not making any sense.
"Maura," Jane hitches in a deep breath and pours every ounce of regret she has into her words and eyes, "I'm sorry..."
But Maura's face goes blank as she retreats to the safety of Dr. Isles, where she's hidden for the past two months. Jane's hands, held and rubbed and loved by Maura for years, know what is happening before her brain and they jump from the counter and entangle themselves with Maura's fingers.
"Maura," Her throat is dry and scratchy and breaks on the R, "You're the best friend that I ever had."
"It's not enough anymore, Jane." Maura's response is cool and clipped, the tone she used to take with the entire homicide department when she first started working at the BPD. Jane almost smiles, caught for a moment in the memory of when that tone changed, before coming back to where they are now. Dr. Isles and Det. Rizzoli.
"I know. It's a song, Maur, and it was us." She keeps the fingers of one hand firmly tangled with Maura's, but gestures in Rizzoli grandiosity with the other. "I've been wandering round, but I still come back to you. In rain or shine, you've stood by me, girl." She brings her hand back down and wraps Maura's between her own.
"You know I don't –"
"I do. I do know you prefer Beethoven to Queen," Jane offers a full-blown smile despite the nervous butterflies in her stomach. Maura doesn't smile, but her face softens and she lets Jane continue to hold her hands. Two months ago, Jane would have known exactly what to say to make Maura smile, so she goes with her gut. "That song, it was us. But it's not anymore."
"Oh, and why is that?" Jane thrills at the hint of inquisitiveness in the question and the minute tightening of Maura's fingers in hers. She has not lost her. Jane bites her lip to stop the euphoric laugh that threatens to bubble out of her throat.
"Because I found another one."
"Oh?" Now the curiosity sparks in gold-green eyes, and Jane leans forward eagerly as Maura continues. "Are there words in this one as well?"
"Yes. That's what makes it us. The words." She sees the flash of uncertainty cross Maura's face before the blond schools it back. "But I'm not going to play it for you until I tell you what is sung."
She unfolds herself from the barstool and tugs Maura around the island and over to the couch. She can see that the smaller woman is still hesitant, still afraid to open up all the way, so Jane doesn't push. She sits in the corner and lets go of Maura's hand so the blond can decide where she's most comfortable. Jane smiles openly when Maura sits close enough for their knees to touch.
"Can I hold your hand again?" Maura nods and stops fidgeting with her ring so Jane can lace their fingers together. "Thank you. Thank you for letting me come here and thank you for hearing me out."
Finally, a smile. "Are you going to sing, Jane?"
"No, um, more like a dramatic reading. I want you to know this comes from my heart." She sucks in a deep breath and smiles nervously as Maura squeezes her hand. Jane wants desperately to look right in Maura's eyes as she says the verse, but her gaze rests on their clasped hands. "You're like a mirror, reflecting me. Takes one to know one, take it from me. You've been lonely…we've been lonely, too long."
She swallows and looks up to see a singular tear pull itself from Maura's glistening eyes and roll slowly down her face. Jane clears her throat against the sudden tightness and reaches up to brush away the moisture with the pad of her thumb. She cannot stop herself from running it along the shadow under Maura's eye until both close and the blond hitches in a breath. Jane starts again, this time her voice thick with emotion. "Let me in the walls you've build around. We'll light a match and burn them down. Let me hold your hand and dance 'round and 'round the flames in front of us."
There is silence again, but this time it's easy. Both women breathe deep to collect themselves, with Jane the first to speak. "Can we have that breakroom talk again? Please?"
Maura sniffs and nods, then pulls herself up straight and stares right into Jane's heart. "I used to see how you looked at me, and I wanted to know if you felt the way I feel about you. I love you, Jane."
Jane notices the subtle shift of tenses and bites her lip to stop the little gasping sob that tries to leap from her throat. She just nods for a moment, then tips herself forward to rest her forehead against Maura's. "I did, yes…and I do." She very gently brushes her lips against Maura's and then moves to whisper in her ear. "There isn't a song in the world that expresses what I feel about you, so I think we'll have to make our own music."
Maura smiles and leans farther into Jane, wiggling until Jane wraps her tightly in her arms. Jane feels Maura's lips move against her collarbone. "So long as there are no words…"
Also...I used some song lyrics. Duh me. I don't own those. Thanks to Queen and The Civil Wars for being fabu with words and helping Jane speak.