Disclaimer: Rizzoli & Isles are the property of Tess Gerritsen and TNT. No profit made, no infringement intended.
Jane is very tactile with Maura. It's casual, as natural to Jane as breathing. When she wants to express joy, concern, or reassurance, she simply reaches for Maura.
Jane is from a warm Italian family whose hands and arms always seem to find their way around you, with a joy that comes from each of them shared with their gestures and tactile behaviour. When Jane grabs Maura's hand, pulls her into a hug, or touches her arm, Jane is displaying that she thinks of Maura as a close friend. So close a friend, in fact, that she's really more like family.
Maura isn't tactile. Not with friends. Not with family. Not with anyone other than Jane, Bass, and on occasion, Joe Friday. Maura learned early that emotions were best kept to yourself and that if you had a phobia of people, it was best to avoid letting them touch you.
It's why she finds it surprising that when Jane initiates tactile behaviour, her body doesn't respond in a defensive manner. Even the first time Jane touched her arm, Maura didn't freeze, with the familiar panic that she's learned to hide with a forced smile. She was still caught off guard, but it was a nicer, gradual surprise. Her body didn't shift into fight or flight, but rather leisurely alerted her to the addition of warm skin touching hers.
She felt something unlike anything else. She felt a connection to another human being. One that was living. It was similar to the feeling she sometimes gets with the dead, she feels understands them. She thinks that she can see into their soul, if only just a little. The feeling of Jane's hand is almost... comforting. It almost feels like something Maura needed, but could never ask for, could never handle with anyone else.
This isn't to say that Maura doesn't have a love life where she is physically intimate with her partners. She considers herself to have a healthy, enjoyable sex life, one that includes connections beyond just physical intimacy. She often finds emotional and romantic attachment to her partners, if not for extended periods.
The difference between her interactions with romantic partners and her tactility with Jane is that Maura needs to be the one initiating the contact with her romantic partners. Maura doesn't struggle with fight or flight if she kisses her partner, but if they kiss her, the familiar panic will return. With Jane, she feels just as comfortable initiating or receiving contact.
In addition, Maura isn't overly fond of holding hands with her sexual partners, or anything else that might fall into what Jane would call "PDAs". She finds the causal and unpredictable contact too uncomfortable with anyone but Jane.
More than once, Maura has contemplated her inconsistency, questioning why Jane might be the exception. Certainly, from a medical perspective, Maura knows where her problems with tactility originate. Maura's childhood behaviour would classify as a social anxiety disorder, most likely routed in the benign neglect of her parents, and a failure to be properly socialized as a young child. By not hugging or cuddling Maura, her parents never instilled the idea that this behaviour was safe and normal. Maura grew up believing comfort and safety were found within yourself, not with others, and she continued to isolate herself from others, especially her classmates.
On some level, Maura knows that distinction is that she trusts Jane. She trusts her more than her lovers, more than her family, and in a few moments of internal crisis, such as Hoyt's comments, even more than herself.
Maura sits in the cafe, the one with an excellent pâtissier (French pastry chef) and properly prepared espresso. The one Maura had to spend almost half an hour convincing Jane was worth the extra 10 minute drive because "hot and caffeinated" was hardly inspiring criteria.
Maura feels awkward, sitting alone, without anyone to interact with. She doesn't know where she should look, or at what point gazing becomes staring. Unfortunately, she forgot to bring a medical journal or the latest issue of Vogue, so she's stuck observing her surroundings.
As she watches the people passing by, brief moments from their lives on public display, she's struck by the number of couples holding hands. There's the young couple still in high school, with an air of rebellion as their bodies move daringly close, cheeky smirks directed at the disapproving glances. Their linked hands are adorned in with half worn-off dark nail polish and pen doodles.
Waiting at a bus stop is an older couple, their clasped hands and gestures still affectionate despite the years of wear. The sight is hopeful, an alternative view of the typical older couple, cynical and fighting. It's also vaguely awkward to witness, an intimacy to which we're unaccustomed and perhaps are intruding.
Maura considers how she holds hands with Jane, drawing on both kinetics and haptics to categorize their interactions. While the emotions she feels are more intense than a typical friendship, their posture and gestures project to society a relationship that is platonic, not romantic. It's their proximity and the locations of their interactions that allowing for an alternative reading. When showing concern, support, or playful affection, Maura and Jane stand in close proximity, frequently within a foot of each other, often less. Outside of work, they often stay in close proximity for extended periods, suggesting high levels of intimacy and trust.
Maura can't find a definitive conclusion for their behaviour. The one thing she's certain of is that she's never held Jane's hand in public while walking, for extended periods, a behaviour she thinks is more likely categorized as romantic, especially if it involves a mutual caressing of hands. The thought quickens her breathing slightly, and she wouldn't be surprised if she had increased levels of endorphins.
Jane arrives just as Maura feels the hint of a blush beginning. Jane fills the silence quickly, and soon Maura is once again at ease, too busy trying to win over Jane's skepticism of the tiny cups to worry about the emotions betrayed by her cheeks.
As they leave the cafe, Maura takes Jane's hand. She's not surprised that she finally had the courage to hold hands in public. She's not surprised that it's Jane's hand she wants to hold. She's not even surprised that Jane doesn't act shocked, doesn't hesitate to intertwine her fingers with hers. She'd already reached a definitive conclusion. It wasn't a platonic relationship after all.