Author's note: here comes the December multiple-chapter story; as usual, daily updates and reviews/suggestions are more than welcome.
"Always winter but never Christmas." C.S. Lewis
I think it was immediate. Love at first sight as one would say. I turned around and she was there. A very singular feeling, the kind you think that only belongs in movies. The world didn't stop turning but my life tipped over.
It did as soon as she smiled at me.
Sometimes, I think it is obvious. Way too much. People must think that I am a fool trying to pretend that there is nothing. I suppose I am. To an extent. But I am not stupid enough to let her know. I am not stupid enough to lose what we have built. Perhaps she doesn't know it but our friendship is the most important thing I have; the only one I need.
I never lied to myself about it. I accepted these feelings just as I did my best to hide them from her, to protect who we are. This connection we share.
I think that this is when I began to lead some sort of a double life: the person I am in public opposed to the one who lies deep inside. The second one is quiet, almost invisible. She can't afford to be discovered. The other one is safe, less honest perhaps but who cares?
There are things that can't be told, in life. Many of them, as a matter of fact. Nobody teaches us all that but we nonetheless learn about it little by little; disappointment after disappointment. Mistakes and bad decisions. A whole patchwork of wounds that never really go away but make of us who we are. What would I tell her, anyway? What kind of words would I use if I happened to be asked to be honest?
That I am in love with her? That the only person I ever think about is her? That I never cared about the others? That I have lied to her more times than I can remember because I didn't want to trouble her? It is pointless. She doesn't have to know and it isn't as if I were myself about to forget. This is impossible. It is engraved in my mind. In my heart.
Maura is my light. I owe her my life.
"Rizzoli?" Infuriated before the lack of answer, Lieutenant Cavanaugh squinted his eyes at Jane and sighed loudly. Hands on his hips as if to highlight even more his sudden lack of patience.
As Frost pinched her forearm, the brunette winced in pain and stared at her colleague in disbelief – her heart beating fast – then shook her head at him. Since when did her partner give into physical harm?
"You pinched me... Beast!"
But before she had a chance to mumble anything else between her teeth, their boss' voice rose in the room and caught her attention immediately. Or better said, finally.
"Welcome back to Earth, Rizzoli. We missed you here." The lieutenant checked his papers one more time then looked at her, slightly disillusioned. "I pair you with Breckenridge, then?"
Jane widened her dark eyes and blinked. What was going on? Lost in confusion, she cast a glance at the colleague in question and repressed a mock of disgust. There was no way she would pair with him.
"Wait, wait, wait, wait." Suddenly a lot more focused on the meeting, she straightened up and sat on the edge of her seat. Hand clutched to her coffee cup to the point her knuckles had turned white. "There must be..."
"It isn't my fault if we don't have an even number. Breckenridge agrees on taking part in two projects and I think it is really nice of him considering it takes a lot of his free time... Don't you think so, Rizzoli? I am sure that you can't but applaud your colleague's dedication."
Jane swallowed hard and pursed her lips before her boss' obvious sarcastic tone. Needless to say his message was clear in spite of being implicit and discreet. Her attitude for the last minutes or so had not made her win any point.
"We need someone – actually, two people – to volunteer for The Home For Little Wanderers and it happens that you are the last one available on the list. You should have expressed yourself earlier if you don't like the idea. Case closed." Her boss nodded at the group. "Back to work, now. We can't afford to spend the day on this either."
People began to stand up and leave towards their desks. Jane winced. The meeting was over and she had missed everything.
"Lieutenant! Wait!" Jumping out of her seat as if stung by a bee, Jane rushed to her boss and took a deep breath. "I could do it alone."
Cavanaugh rolled his eyes impatiently.
"The BPD December volunteering project is supposed to strengthen the team spirit within our units, Rizzoli. Tell me how you could work on this all by yourself. You are with Breckenridge. Period."
Jane ran a hand through her hair then cast a desperate glance around her. There was no way that she would let this happen. Breckenridge was even worse than Mahoney. A sexist – brainless – idiot who had landed a position at the BPD by some cruel miracle. Her eyes stopped on a file left on her desk. A medical one.
She yelled in a last attempt of self-salvation.
The lieutenant frowned at her sudden outburst - made a step towards her - and cleared his voice as if embarrassed by the whole situation.
"Listen, I know that you and Dr. Isles get along but she doesn't work for the BPD so technically, she doesn't have to take part in this."
Jane pouted. She wouldn't let go of it that easily.
Knife in hand, Maura looked up from the kitchen counter and tilted her head on a side. She squinted her eyes at Jane, shrugged.
"No, I am afraid that I have never heard about this orphanage before."
Sitting up on a stool, Jane took out of her pocket a worn-out brochure that she had folded earlier in the afternoon after the meeting with Cavanaugh and the rest of her colleagues. She held it out to her friend and nodded enthusiastically.
"It's located on Guest Street. All we have to do is to go there three times a week this month and take part in activities with children. It's just volunteering. Quick, fast... Volunteering." The brunette held her breath and let a last sentence rush through her lips. "Please tell me you accept this."
Somewhat intrigued, Maura grabbed the brochure and leafed through it. As soon as Jane had arrived for dinner after an eventless day at work, the Italian had talked about nothing but the BPD project. But it wasn't suggestion that the honey blonde could see in her friend's eyes right now. No. It was pleading and nothing else.
Hand on her hip, Maura rose an eyebrow in disbelief.
"Why do I have the feeling that you have already said to Lieutenant Cavanaugh that I had accepted?"
Jane repressed a scoff and pursed her lips.
"I thought you never guessed anything...?"
Maura shook her head and resumed her vegetable chopping after sipping on her white wine. It was just another evening at her place; a quiet – warm – one. In theory. She could always count on Jane for last-minute changes.
"I am simply formulating a hypothesis, here. This isn't guessing, Jane. Can't you still tell the actual difference between both notions?" But before her friend's absence of reaction, Maura sighed. "You will never learn..."
Jane buried her face in her hands. The approximate – too brutal – gesture made a couple of papers fall down on the floor. She opened an eye to check the damage and repressed a laugh as she noticed that the stack had landed right on Bass' shell.
"Sorry, buddy." She bent over – grabbed the sheet of papers – then put them back on the counter a bit further from her to make sure that she wouldn't repeat the gesture. "So? Are you in or not? You are the one who keeps on telling me how December is about caring and such. Isn't volunteering the kind of stuff that goes along with it? And it's perfect for us. We were looking for something to do... Together!"
"Who were you supposed to team up with?"
Jane made a face. Why was Maura so hard to convince? This was mission impossible. And yet she had actually signed the official documents in her name. The situation was more than delicate.
"Breckenridge." The mock of disgust only echoed the complete lack of enthusiasm of her voice. She looked down at the counter – defeated – and sighed heavily. "Say yes. Please..." Eyes up to meet her friend's hazel ones. "It's Christmas."
The comment made Maura scoff and burst out laughing.
"You are incorrigible, Jane Rizzoli! Yesterday you were still telling me to slow down on the whole holiday thing and now you are talking to me about adopting a Christmas spirit? By the way, we still have to go buy a tree and don't you dare telling me that you don't have time for it."
Jane squinted her eyes at Maura's menacing finger and tried to focus in order to not lose this tight battle. She nodded; palms of her hands on the counter.
"If I get you the biggest Christmas tree of Massachusetts, will you accept to volunteer with me?"
"This is blackmail, Jane." But before these dark puppy eyes, Maura's pout finally melted in a smile. She sighed, rolled her eyes. "When are we supposed to start?"