Anthropology, Part 1 of 1
Pairing: Jane/Maura in that thunderbolt-to-the-head-moment kind of way
Spoilers: Up through "I'm Your Boogie Man"
Disclaimer: The only thing that's mine is the plot, such as it is.
Notes: This is a sequel to my prior story "What Friends Are For." While probably not necessary, reading that first might be helpful.
"Think of it as…you know, research," Jane said as she handed her reluctant friend what was to her eyes a perfectly nice sweater. It was pink – Maura might have called it 'rose' – and had small tulips embroidered along the three-quarter length sleeves. "See how the other half lives."
Maura was looking at it as though it might bite her.
"I never was that interested in anthropology."
"'It's like trying to dress a squirmy six-year-old,'" Jane wheedled, in an exaggerated, singsong imitation. "Just take the damn shirt and go try it on."
"But – Jane, this sweater…it has…it's not…one hundred percent cotton."
"Nothing in this store is," she said, grinning when her friend blanched. "It's not gonna kill you, you know."
Maura glanced at her apprehensively.
"You really mean to tell me that you've never worn something that's not one hundred percent cotton?"
"Of course not."
"I've also worn one hundred percent cashmere, one hundred percent silk, one hundred percent – "
Jane rolled her eyes. "Okay, okay. I got it. I got it." She sighed. "C'mon, Maura, just try it on. You did promise me you'd buy one whole outfit here before we go to lunch."
"I didn't – I was…coerced."
She paused; she didn't really want to make Maura miserable, but, so far, each and every time she had pushed her friend a little past her comfort zone, she'd ended up enjoying the experience.
Finally, she just tilted her head and said quietly, "Please?"
Maura's shoulders slumped. "Oh, all right," she said, taking careful hold of the hanger. "I'll be right back."
Jane grinned and returned to browsing the racks of pants; they all seemed perfectly adequate to her – sedate grays, blacks, blues – but she was aware that her friend preferred skirts, so she wandered through the aisles in search of some.
She heard the steps behind her but didn't turn around until Maura gently cleared her throat. When she did turn and face her friend, she couldn't help but burst out laughing at the tortured look on her face.
"Okay, okay," she gasped, wheezing. "I give. You don't have to buy anything." She took a gulp of air. "Take that damn thing off and stop lookin' at me like I killed your turtle."
"Tortoise. And I promised…."
"Whatever. Go change." Her let her chuckles wind down. "It's okay. Really."
"But I always keep my promises."
Jane squeezed her shoulder. "Maura, you tried. I guess some people just aren't meant for Target clothes."
With a grateful smile, she fled back to the fitting room.
Jane continued to wander the aisles, rifling aimlessly through the clothes, when a sudden thump sent her pulse skyrocketing. She sighed and rested her head on a metal post when she saw that it had been nothing more than a large package falling off of a basket.
She slumped against the post and closed her eyes.
She sniffed and stood up straighter when she heard Maura's voice. "Hey."
"Are you all right?"
She worried her lower lip between her fingers for a few moments. "Yeah, I guess. Just…startled me, is all."
Maura looked at her for a moment. "Jane…maybe you should – "
"No. I know what you're gonna say. No."
"But – "
She sniffled again, fighting back the wave of terror-induced nausea. Damn Hoyt, anyway. "No."
Maura tilted her head and went back to retrieve the discarded sweater. "If I buy this, will you do something else for me?"
"Depends on what it is," Jane said warily.
"Talk to me about it."
Jane eyed the sweater, then glanced away. "Thought I did that last night."
"Please? I really think you need to talk to somebody, and I'll listen. If you won't see a therapist…at least…."
She fidgeted uncomfortably.
She exhaled sharply, but the tension faded from her shoulders. "Okay. But go put that back. You don't have to buy it."
Maura smiled in genuine relief. "Thank you. Just for that, we can have pizza for lunch."
"Real pizza? Not organic gourmet tofu fish pizza?"
She sighed, shaking her head, but said cheerfully enough, "Fine." As they walked towards the exit, Maura said quietly, "Jane?"
"I'm not trying to…. I'm just…worried about you."
Her jaw sagged and she jerked to a dead halt. "You…what?"
Maura recoiled slightly. "I…I worry about you?"
Her mouth worked for a moment, before she broke into a sheepish grin. "I guess you do."
"Is-is that okay?"
Her face shifted from confused to pleased to resigned to amused so quickly that it was impossible for either of them, really, to follow the flood of emotion.
"Yeah," she finally said, shaking her head. "It's okay. C'mon…let's go get some lunch."