Disclaimer: I don't own anything.
Just a post-5x02 quickshot.
The word comes as a breathy exhale borne more from concern and understanding than pity. But still, it's enough for her to hastily wipe at her eyes and attempt to get up from the spot on the floor where she has been firmly planted for almost half an hour due to the heavy, inescapable weight in her chest holding her down.
"Stay," Maura says, adding a small smile as she closes the door behind her. "I'll join you."
And just like that, they're both propped up against the kitchen island, shoulder to shoulder, with the coldness of the floor against their bare legs going unnoticed. Maura encases Jane's hand with a grip firm and unwavering, and yet gentle and reassuring. Even as thumbs glide over the knots rising from the center of each palm, Jane allows it. Not even those memories are as painful as this.
"How did—" She flinches at the loudness of her words in the otherwise silent room and lowers her voice to barely a whisper. "How did you know?"
"I was on my way before you even hung up the phone," Maura says. She pulls Jane's hand to the safe closeness of her own lap. "No one should have to go through this alone. I know I certainly can't."
Lost in her own grief, she didn't think that maybe the reasons Maura offered to come over weren't purely altruistic. Of course Maura cared about being there for her, but maybe Maura needed a shoulder to lean on, too. She decides that next time she won't turn Maura's offers down so easily.
"You can't get thrown off a boat."
The words tumble from her unbidden, and she's nearly as surprised to hear them as Maura is. The other woman abruptly stops her half-hearted explanation of something she knows Jane wasn't listening to, and confusion colors her features. "I can't what?"
"Get thrown off a boat," Jane explains. She's been thinking about that whole conversation for days, so she supposes now is a good of time as any to get this out of the way. "When you die. You can't."
Jane feels that sandpaper burn building behind her eyes. She waits for it to pass before speaking again, all the while knowing that Maura would patiently wait an eternity for her answer, though hoping she doesn't make her wait that long.
Finally her answer emerges out in a rush, and with that rush comes a new wave of tears. "You can't do that to me," she rasps. "You can't make me just toss you out there."
The unspoken words linger between them.
I'd never see you again.
Maura gently squeezes the long fingers entangled in her own. "By then I would just be a body. I would be unable to give you friendship. No comfort. No laughter. It wouldn't be me anymore, Jane. You wouldn't need to keep me around," she says. "Of course, I hope you would donate my organs first. I'd like to think I could still help others, like Cailin, even after I'm gone."
Jane shakes her head. "You're not…You don't get it."
"What am I not understanding? People get buried at sea every day. The legal process may be a tad much, but—"
"No," she interrupts. "I don't care about the legal stuff. I just said that to, I don't know, change your mind." Jane turns slightly against the island to look at Maura eye-to-eye for the first time since sitting down. "What would you do if I died first?"
"I," Maura pauses. "Well I'd rather not think about it."
"No, no. You have to think about it," Jane says a little more harshly than intended. "If I die first, you have to take me out on a boat in a little tin. Ma clings onto you, crying her eyes out. Frankie tries not to cry, but we both know he would. Tommy is probably drunk and causing a scene. Korsak is there blowing into a twenty year old tissue, and maybe Pop is there, too. There's all this commotion going on, and there you are holding me in a little tin cup in your hand."
Jane can see Maura swallow thickly as she begins to understand. She speaks simply to fill the silence, "I would put you in an urn."
"An urn, a tin can. Whatever," Jane continues. "You have my ashes in your hand, and the boat is bobbing like crazy and you're starting to feel a little sick. You say a few words about me, and maybe some other people would say they'll miss me. Then you have to pour me out. Except once you do, you realize that there's nowhere for you to go. You're surrounded by all of these people on a boat in the middle of the ocean, and all of them are crying and thinking of their own grief, and all you want to do is scoop that little gray blob of ash out of the water and hold it in your hands because you just want some comfort in knowing that I'm there. But you can't. I'm sinking to the bottom and you'll never know where, exactly, that I land. All you know is that I landed out there somewhere alone."
At this point, Jane's voice is thick with her pain and grief and fear of not only losing Barry, but now Maura, too. Tears continue down Maura's face, unstoppable, gliding freely in the paths left by the multitudes of the ones that fell as she finally understood why she could never ask Jane to do that to her. "But if you were buried, then I could at least—" Maura cuts herself off with a sob.
"At least trick yourself into thinking I'm still here." Jane squeezes Maura's hand back just as tightly, fearful of letting go. She can't lose anyone else. Especially not Maura.
And she meant what she said the other day about dying before Maura. She may have tried to make light of it, but she meant it. Even though she knows the pain her death would bring to Maura, Jane couldn't bear to live a day without the other woman. There isn't a day that goes by now that she doesn't appreciate and admire Maura's humor. Her understanding. Her unwavering reliability. Her support. Her friendship. Her love.
She can't imagine a life without all of those things, without Maura, in it. With time, Maura could probably find another sarcastic asshole with an overbearing family, though. But Jane knows she could never find someone to replace Maura Isles. It's selfish and a horrible thought to have, and deep down she knows Maura could never replace her either, but Jane really does hope that she goes first.
"I guess this just means one thing," she finally says, the new-found lightness in her tone shattering the quiet.
Maura wipes at her eyes with a shaking finger. "What's that?"
"We'll just have to pull a Romeo and Juliet and be buried side by side," she answers. "There's just no other way."
"I suppose you would be Romeo?"
"Well I certainly wouldn't be the Juliet here."
They share a small smile, which burgeons into a laugh, which is then almost unable to be stifled. It's neither joyous nor carefree. It's simply a laugh that cannot be contained for reasons unknown. The notes of laughter ring about them, loudly, until that's all that can be heard or thought about in the small space of Jane's apartment. There are no dead partners or dead friends or thoughts of losing the one person they each love most. There's absolutely nothing but their sounds intermingling into one harmonious sound of distraction.
But then it wanes for a second. Two. And then it is gone completely, leaving them both somber and gasping for breath and fighting away more tears. Maura leans her head on Jane's shoulder then, welcoming the long arm that comfortably wraps around her.
"Please don't throw me out to sea," Maura whispers.
"I won't." Jane incrementally tightens her grip around her friend. "I could never leave you alone out there like that. I love you too much."
And when Maura stiffens briefly before relaxing even further into Jane's side, repeating back the phrase with more tenderness than Jane has ever received, all Jane can wonder is why she never said those words sooner.