Under Covers Champion
It was a singular experience, Jane thought, to wake up in the backseat of Maura's car. She was positive that's where she was. She cracked one eye. Yes. Who else would have copies of Grey's Anatomy and Tortoise Today filling the seatback pockets?
God, what happened last night? Friday. She had insisted that Maura try a variety of beers, inevitably meaning that Jane herself must also try the same fare. Where was Maura? Where was she, for that matter? Though the interior of the S6 was more spacious than that of Jane's own car – which, she'd never admit this to a soul, she'd woken up in on more than one occasion – she was disconcerted by how warm she was, despite her nudity.
Jane's eyes snapped open. Where the fuck were her clothes? She was, indeed, completely and utterly without a speck of covering on her long torso. Before Jane could work herself into a panic, though, she was overtaken by a wave of nausea. She laid very still, face pressed against the warm leather (oh, seat warmers, vaguely remembered), unable to escape the haze of alcohol that surrounded her. She waited for it to pass before pushing herself up slowly on wobbly elbows.
Had Jane been a tad less of a pessimist she could have found some humor in her situation. She began her assessment at her toes. Her right foot rested respectably on the floor of the car, where it belonged. Her left leg, however, dangled lackadaisically out the rear driver's side window, leaving her… well, exposed. Jane scowled at the offending limb. Spread-eagle drunk. Shit. She pulled the leg in and sat up straight. Her abdomen, slightly purpled in an angry horizontal line that ran from hip to hip, protested the movement.
Smaller bruises peppered her chest; one was dangerously close to… no, that was definitely touching the nipple. Jane sighed. This was looking worse by the second. Her arms seemed to have escaped the evening unscathed, barring the scribbles down the left bicep. In one hand she clutched a "Tsai's Karaoke" pen; the other, Jane noted with some confusion, was twisted in a bright orange "Don't mess with Texas!" t-shirt.
What. The. Fuck.
The throbbing in Jane's temples increased as she leaned forward to pull on the Texas tee. It was obviously intended to be worn by someone with something closer to Maura's bust line; on Jane, it was snug across broad shoulders and hung limply over her chest. Pants? Jane thought mournfully, resisting the urge to call for them aloud.
She spotted the slacks wadded up beneath a pizza box on the dash. Jane could not imagine a situation in which her pants would be removed before ordering and consuming pizza. Oh, God. God. Why do you let me do these things?
She tugged the garment, unleashing an explosion of beer caps in her flabbergasted face. "Dammit! Dammit!" she yelled and emptied the remainder of the caps onto the passenger seat. There was an astonishing quantity, too many for two people to have consumed without poisoning themselves. Bud Light seemed to have won the evening, Jane thought, and pulled the slacks into the back seat with her. She unballed one pant leg, disappointed to see no sign of her underwear there. She shoved her leg through, then repeated the action with the other leg… until her knee rammed into the little white plastic pizza table that had taken up residence in the pant. Jane released a very un-Jane-like squeal, fished the table out, and forcefully tossed into the front half of the car. It caught in the lace something that hung from the rear view.
Unable to button the pants – the button having mysteriously vacated the slacks sometime the night before – Jane settled for pulling them up to rest on her hips. The orange monstrosity on her top left her mid-drift exposed. She was really going to be screwed if Maura didn't have something to lend her to get home, Jane thought as she surveyed the rest of the car.
The keys were still in the ignition, which explained the warm seats. A Gucci boot balanced precariously on the steering wheel. The lace something turned out to be a bra, both too generous and too elaborate to be Jane's. Maura's beloved black satin Dolce and Gabanna pencil skirt, of which Maura had extolled the virtues on a particularly laborious afternoon in the crime lab while Jane was waiting for test results, lay neatly folded in the driver's seat.
Jane moaned and shook her head against the overwhelming evidence piling up before her. She supposed that waking up in the car alone worked to her favor: had she woken up in Maura's bed, her suspicions about how the previous evening had progressed would be absolutely confirmed. This way, at least, Jane could blame her lack of clothes on the heat emanating from the seats. Or zealous drunkenness. Or anything, anything at all besides her attractive, brainy, straight friend.
Speaking of… Jane watched Maura saunter into the garage, mug in one hand and a large glass of water in the other, clad in what appeared to be Jane's button up work shirt from yesterday and little else. Jane chose to ignore that last bit and opened the door for the M.E.
"Be careful. There are bottle caps everywhere," Jane warned as she scooted over. Maura handed her the water and climbed in. "Where did they all come from? We can't possibly have finished off that many," Jane waved at the incriminating passenger seat.
Maura smiled serenely at her. "You did finish off quite a few," – Jane looked at her pointedly – "but then you took up a collection. The other patrons were more than happy to donate." Maura thought for a moment, then added, "Especially after you began using your shirt for a collection basket."
Jane gaped at her and said, "Maura, please tell me you didn't really let me do that. You did! Oh my God…"
"You can be quite persuasive, Jane."
A pensive silence descended over the car. Jane clenched and unclenched her fists, unsure of how much more she wanted to know about the previous evening. Her stomach hurt. Her everything hurt.
"I see that I got to you as well." Maura trailed a cool finger over the pen marks on Jane's arm. "I have tasting notes written on both of my forearms."
"What the hell does Under Covers Champion mean?" Jane asked, paling at the connotation. "Maura, did we…" Jane spread her palms questioningly over her slacks, careful not to touch Maura's thigh, which rested tight against her left leg.
"Did we what, Jane?" Maura responded, ever the picture of seriousness. Seriousness and naiveté.
"You know…" Jane blushed.
"Did we sing karaoke? Yes. Though I can't say I'll ever return to that place in Chinatown. I am positive that had I been less inebriated I would have noticed signs of acute Periplaneta americana infestation."
Jane sucked in a breath through grating teeth and ire. "What kind of infestation, Maura? In layman's terms."
"Oh. American cockroach."
Jane cringed. Who knows how many of the pests she could have eaten while belting her heart out to arena rock. "Were we any good? At Karaoke, I mean."
"Absolutely not, no. You know, most of the lyrics to the songs that you chose make little sense. For example, what exactly does it mean to 'Hold onto that feeling'? What feeling? What are we supposed to continue to 'believe in'?"
Jane chose to ignore the question and trudge on, eager to get the discomfort over as soon as possible. "How did we get here?"
"I took East Berkeley to Tremont, then-" Jane rolled her eyes and clapped her hand over Maura's mouth.
"Maura, I am going to ask you a set of very specific questions," Jane said, slowly removing her hand from Maura's face. She tipped her head forward, catching Maura's eye, hoping to communicate how serious she was. Maura nodded, and Jane continued. "I need you to put aside the Wikipedia Mouth* for a moment and give me an outline of what happened last night. First, what happened when we left the Karaoke place? Did I have clothes on, then?"
"And?" Jane said, exasperated already. "How did I come to own this nightmare?"
She plucked at the t-shirt to emphasize her point.
"You purchased it at the Exxon on Milford and Tremont. I told you to stay in the car while I pumped the gas, but you figured out the child locks." Maura looked at Jane balefully. "I tried to get you to put this back on but you wouldn't hear of it. You said I looked 'far too scrumptious' to justify returning it to you. You did have a bra on, though."
Jane dropped her head into her hands. This was a nightmare. She had spent half the night half-naked, probably in front of half of Boston. And here she was, half-awake and half-positive that she had slept with her best friend.
"Did we stop for pizza before or after the Exxon?"
"Afterwards. You insisted. Your recommendation, by the way was superb. I've never had a quattro formaggi with extra olives."
Jane offered a small smile. At least one of them was taking this all in stride. Still, if what she suspected was true, how would their friendship change? Sleeping with women was nothing new to Jane. Sleeping with a friend, however – that had never ended well for her before. And Maura had never given even the slightest indication that she was attracted to women. Had Jane come on to her?
"The beer was also delightful. I tried quite a few, if my notes are to be believed. There is one, however, that I am not entirely sure how to interpret…" Maura trailed off, suddenly lost in thought.
"Were you sober enough to be on the road?" Jane asked cautiously.
"Jane!" Maura said, clearly affronted. "Of course I was." She leaned between the front seats to open the glove compartment and before Jane had time to register surprise at her own underwear adorning Maura's shapely ass, Maura produced a breathalyzer kit.
Jane snorted. Maura looked hurt.
"It is irresponsible to travel without one if you know your alcohol intake will exceed one beverage," Maura offered before placing the kit back in the glove compartment. Yup, definitely my underwear, Jane thought before Maura returned with a bottle of aspirin and a handful of alcohol wipes.
Maura handed the aspirin to Jane. She removed a wipe from its packaging and began to dutifully wipe the suspect phrase "Under Covers Champion" from Jane's arm. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have written on you. If it makes you feel any better, you reciprocated."
"I am not going to ask why you wrote 'Under Covers Champion' on me. But why were you writing on skin in the first place? I find it hard to believe that Dr. Maura Isles would document her findings on her arm," Jane snickered. "I mean, don't you take notes on your iPhone out in the field?"
Maura looked away, lips slightly downturned. Jane knew that look. It graced Maura's face infrequently, but when it did, it signified hurt. Maura did not always recognize when she was being teased by the other detectives, but she was acutely aware when it came to Jane's comments.
"How did I reciprocate?" Jain said gently.
As Jane looked on in mingled horror and fascination, Maura unbuttoned the next two buttons on her straining shirt. She pulled the cotton aside. On her right breast, in what was clearly Jane's sprawling script, was written "Omnomnom."
Some small, wicked part of the back of Jane's brain cackled wildly at this. The rest of her realized that another proverbial nail had been driven into the coffin that she had been constructing around herself all morning. Sure, she was attracted to Maura. Maura was… well, Maura was fucking hot. Also, despite the woman's staunch ignorance of how to deal with living people, Jane understood that Maura cared about her, insomuch as Maura could.
She had explained to Jane once that she believed the success of their friendship rested in how transparent Jane made her emotions. Jane had never been able to fully deconstruct the comment and Maura was reluctant to elaborate at the time, but Jane was positive that this would in some way make or break her today. If she was careful, she might be able to steer the morning in such a way that Maura would understand it would be best if they forgot all about the previous evening. They could talk about it, laugh about it, and then move on.
"You know how I got this?" Jane leaned back to indicate her bruised abdomen.
Obviously relieved by the opportunity for distraction, Maura bowed closer to examine the bruise, touching it lightly. "Some subcutaneous contusions, but it should heal quickly. The pain should ebb within a few days, when the capillaries knit," she noted. She looked up at Jane. "Does it hurt much?"
"How did I get it?" Jane repeated.
Maura sat up and looked away again. Something was wrong here. Why was Maura so reluctant to talk to her?
"Maura? Maura, sweetheart," Jane touched her knee, hoping to elicit some response. Maura looked at her with tears in her eyes.
"Did I uh… Did I hit on you last night? I mean, did we, uh…" Jane asked quietly, trying and failing to keep her eyes locked on Maura's.
And then the infallible, unshakeable Dr. Maura Isles had a complete meltdown. "Jane, it's just that, it's just that you were so charming. You kept flirting and it seemed like you wanted me, but sometimes I just don't know how to read people. You don't act that way when you're sober-"
Maura was positively blubbering at this point. Jane stared at her in shock.
"- and Jane… Jane, I don't know what I would do if I've ruined our friendship. I don't know if I took advantage of you. I don't understand signals like that. You never said no."
It hadn't even occurred to Jane that Maura had been sober while she herself had been totally fucked up during their encounter. Could she have consented? Would she have allowed it to happen if she had been sober? Yes to the first. Probably not to the latter.
Would Maura, in all of her oblivious glory, have been able to determine a variance between the two? Almost certainly no.
But Jane did not believe that her friend would take advantage of her. Maura must have truly believed that Jane had wanted her. Besides, Jane did not know for sure exactly what had happened. Maura may be overreacting to a sloppy post-pizza kiss. A naked, post-pizza kiss. One that resulted in missing buttons, traded clothes, and bruised breasts.
Maura had been woefully silent for longer than was comfortable. Jane watched her fiddle with the hem of the cotton shirt, tap her thigh, run a hand through her hair, all before returning her gaze to Jane. Jane looked into her wide, frightened eyes, willing her to continue.
"You told me that you had had sex with women before," Maura said, trepidation dripping from every word. "I asked what it was like, and explained that studies have shown that 83 percent of women who sleep with other women are sexually fulfilled – a full 30 percent above women who sleep with men. You told me I should try it sometime. So I kissed you."
"Is that all?" Jane asked, momentarily overjoyed by the prospect that perhaps she could salvage this after all.
"No," Maura whispered.
"Oh. What… What else, Maura?"
"Do you want me to recount the entire evening?"
"I'm not sure," Jane answered truthfully.
"Let me at least answer the first question for you, then. The contusion was likely the result of you throwing yourself over that seat-" Maura pointed to the headrest of the passenger side seat, "- spreading your legs, and explaining in explicit detail how I might go about performing cunninglingus. You give excellent directions, Jane."
*Borrowed from another R&I fic – too brilliant to be mine