A/N: Just messing around with style and voice. It's a bit rough, as I haven't found it yet.

Thank you for reading!


Maura is patient.

Jane has so many lines of defense: moats and trenches, walls and fences and Maura is sure that Jane's Über-Ich is tucked away in the middle of a volcano on a small island somewhere in that beautiful mind.

But Maura is also persistent.

Year one spent shoveling backfill, leveling the ground enough that Jane comes to her in the middle of the night and, in a very backhanded way, hands Maura a map: I have never been so scared in my life.

From there the road is rocky, beset on all sides by Hoyt, dirty cops, and Jane herself, all trying to eliminate the destination before Maura can arrive and she is terrified that maybe she never will. So she plays the replacement game: Slucky, Ian(the love of her life she tells Jane, leaving out the previous because Maura thinks it's obvious that she's no longer who she was), even Tommy, because for a moment she's so, so tired and close enough is just that. Then she comes to her senses, realizing all that separates her from Jane is a counter top and a bad $600.00 bottle of wine. …but I love you.

She wields the words like a Bangalore torpedo, but her aim is off (or maybe it's the map) because there is still something standing between them like the soggy, wine-soaked grilled cheese. For once in her life, Maura is at a loss for words because that line always works in the movies.

Grilled cheese becomes Gabriel Dean and Paddy Doyle and Maura digs out all of the trenches she filled because she and Jane (oh god Jane) are no longer speaking, touching, living…it takes Maura's blood and tears(and maybe her soul because the moment the glass bites into her skin she offers it up in exchange for Jane's arms) to build a bridge back to where they were.

After, Maura solemnly swears she is up to all good and the map is clear again, but the something-between-them is now a deployed "boyfriend" and Maura has to be rejected by her biological mother and almost die to feel Jane's arms around her once more. (And it's good that that's enough because she has nothing left with which to barter but her heart and it's really not hers for the trading.) She's almost there, having crossed the expanse of waterway and climbed to the lip of the volcano, and they stand, covered in concrete dust and cobwebs, with their hands clasped as the something hobbles away. The decision is hers right-here-right-now, take that fragile super-ego and carefully (oh so carefully) temper it so that it is strong enough to love Maura the way she wants to be loved and she is -so- close to having everything she wants. But then there's Hope, and the volcano goes dormant and it is cold, so cold.

Maura is now down a kidney, up a sister, and without Jane. Her Jane. The Jane with her presently is scathingly sarcastic (instead of lovingly, Maura can tell the difference), belittling and had no time for Maura until Maura killed a man. She's discovering that it's the extremes that draw Jane to her, that instead of tempering she should have sculpted because it wasn't strength Jane's heart needed, but finesse. Perilous, the perch she stands on now, because while the volcano is dormant, it is not extinct. There are vents of heat that take Maura's breath away: Jane's lips pressed to her hair and her cheek, those long arms linked with hers, that protective hand pulling her back from nightmare after nightmare. She is relieved to know there is still something burning, banked under the ashes of a maybe-fiancé.

Relief isn't as good as having though, and while Maura is patient and Maura is persistant, Maura is lonely. Before Jane, lonely meant quality time with a Dal Forno Amarone and a medical journal, now it means displacement. Fridays, after drinks at the Robber, Jane skips movies for Skype and finally, after a night that needs to be Jane-ended, close-enough rears its Rizzoli head again. Maura finds that if she unfocuses, his eyes are Jane-brown and his voice is deep and rough and she cannot help her blind and desperate heart. Perhaps her heart cannot see, but her lips can and the breathy "oh" of revelation they form is half of the syllables they want to say. (And he is gone before she thinks to say the rest.)

At last, it's Jane. A ringless Jane. A teary, needy, frightened Jane. Maura pulls her to the couch, and tangles their fingers together. The elephant-wish hovers between them, gently fanning the embers until Maura can see it in Jane's eyes. The map, a snipe hunt. The ring, just displacement of Jane's own. Maura spent years searching for Jane's heart, but never thought to look in the one she, herself, gave away.

"How long?"

The pause was Maura's journey, her answer their destination.