I don't own Rizzoli & Isles, nor its scripts, nor books, nor characters, nor the network on which it airs. I'm broke. Don't sue me.

This is my first solo fanfic, written entirely by myself. I prefer writing in tandem with a partner, the terrific Adm_Hawthorne, whose excellent works can be found on this site. I highly encourage you to read her. She credits me as Silent Partner and SP in many of the earlier collaborations because I hadn't yet decided to create an ID here and post on my own. She is wonderful. Go read her stuff as soon as you've read and reviewed mine. ;)

If anyone had cared to ask whom Dr. Maura Isles considered the most observant person she knew, she would have replied, "I am." It wasn't arrogance on her part, merely accuracy. In her job, she had to see everything about a body, often extending her observations past that and into the rest of the crime scene as well. In her home, she was aware of every detail from the exact scent, shape, and color of her guest bathroom's soaps to the placement of lighting, the fragrance of her laundry detergent, the arrangement of books on their shelves, the natural work flow of space, utensil and vessel storage, and food in her kitchen. Her attire was chosen at all times to create or enhance the impressions she wanted to give people, as much as for their intrinsic beauty or comfort. She was well versed in matters relating to formal etiquette across several cultures, from the message sent by each flower in a bouquet to the font (actually, it was called a 'hand') that a calligrapher used when penning a document or invitation. She could read the ambience of a formal place setting, which foods would likely be served, and the demeanor of any servers that the host might employ for the task. She could identify a veiled insult just as readily as she could spot last year's shoes. Moreover, the interactions between people were, at least among those who formed the backdrop of her upbringing, highly scripted; deviations from the script tended to be intentional, and therefore revealing, to those who understood the rules. Maura Isles understood. All these things were natural to her. They were a part of her native language.

That wasn't the case when it came to informal interactions. The rules she knew simply did not apply to the majority of modern Western society, and thus, she found herself frequently at a loss when dealing with the majority of humanity. Maura did have strategies for navigating those uncertain waters, but even though those strategies often leave her feeling the odd man out. Mainly, she simply chose to be hyper-aware of everything. It was stressful, but at least if she was paying attention, she could review the incidents later to figure out what had gone wrong, when – not if – it did. When dealing with those who were not brought up to the same highly orchestrated, courtly etiquette to which she had been exposed, Maura took in the minutest things, such as tension in jaw line, exact amount and rate of pupil dilation, heartbeat if it was visible in a conversational partner's neck, breathing rate and depth. She tracked the movements of hands, the language of posture and personal space, vocal pitch and tone, speed and clarity of speech. The use of the vernacular and slang, she carefully recorded in her mind, and usually she went researching after a conversation she didn't understand, so that there would be fewer misunderstandings on that subject. That was one thing to be said for Maura: she stuck to her comfort zone when possible, true, but she regularly stretched that comfort zone through research and controlled increments of exploration and expansion.

No one had been more helpful in expanding her comfort zone than Jane Rizzoli. When they'd met, facing one another over the first of many dead bodies they would examine together, Maura had been hesitant. Jane seemed so confident, so independent, and yet so respected by her brother officers in homicide. Maura had assumed that Jane would be yet another person for her to study, learn from, but not get to know. Most people were in that category; this was nothing new. But Detective Rizzoli had immediately listened to Maura's recitation of the facts she could ascertain about the body over which they had met, and had taken a step back when she had explained why she refused to speculate or make assumptions before all data were examined, rather than pushing her. She had defused a volatile officer's frustration with a well-placed and good-natured joke, then given very quiet reassurance to Maura that she, Jane, would not let the other officers cow her. That wouldn't have happened anyway - Maura was not so easy to intimidate - but she still appreciated the gesture.

Now, all this time later, they were friends. Maura had used that word often throughout her life when speaking of family acquaintances, people she worked with, people she encountered who spoke to her in an amiable way, people she had known in school who had not taunted her directly, saving their venom for when she didn't have to hear it or know who had spoken ill of her, which Maura regarded as polite. Jane was the first person who had earned the sobriquet in another way, the way that apparently most people took as a given. She actually talked to Maura. They shared personal information, could go to one another's homes unannounced, could make fun out of anything or nothing together. The two of them sought one another out; it wasn't only Maura who sought out Jane. They depended on one another. They explained the world to one another, and both were enriched by seeing it through each other's perspectives.

Maura knew exactly when and why she'd begun to be attracted to Jane. It wasn't when she'd seen Jane's striking bone structure, or discerned the slender, powerful figure beneath the sometimes regrettable, off-the-rack clothing. It wasn't when Jane had stood up to other cops for her. It wasn't when she brought a can of tuna to Maura in the morgue to say sorry for complicating an autopsy with nonstandard questions, nor when she expressed apathy concerning a cute FBI agent's affections when she'd thought Maura was interested in the man. It wasn't when Jane had taken down perp after perp, nor when she'd joked with Maura, nor even when she'd begun touching her unnecessarily and watching her lips during their conversations. No, those were just the ways Jane expressed her attraction to Maura - though Maura was fairly certain Jane didn't realize what she was communicating, probably didn't even realize she was feeling those things at all, given her determined lack of self-analyzation.

Maura's attraction had begun when Jane appeared at her door late one night, scared out of her mind thanks to direct threats from one of the creepier serial killers in Bostonian history, and Maura realized that Jane had chosen her on purpose. Jane had a brother in town, parents, doubtless several cousins, aunts, and uncles, and probably other friends to whom she could have run in time of need, and yet there she'd been, on Maura's doorstep, driven by instinct. Maura was touched, as she'd seldom been. Jane had come to her, sought her, found refuge with her. Trusted in her. She'd always been considered trustworthy with things, with money, with information, responsibility. Jane trusted Maura with her life. When she had made a verbal admission of fear, Maura realized that Jane trusted her, not just with her life, but with her emotions. From that moment, Jane had shown Maura what a real friend needed, and because Jane needed her, Maura also learned what she herself would give.

She hadn't really known, however, what defined the somewhat nebulous difference between a friend, a best friend, and a girlfriend. Previously, the lines had been clearly drawn. There were acquaintances whom Maura had previously and erroneously thought of as friends, who had the right to telephone, to expect lunch together, and to ask favors, and also the right to stand her up for lunch if something better came along; and there were boyfriends, who had the right to dates and to expect that at some point, there would be some level of sexual contact.

Once Jane entered the picture, Maura had gradually to come to the understanding that best friends straddled the lines between those categories, while negating some aspects of both. For instance, best friends did not ditch or stand one another up, as regular friends did. They also did not expect sexual encounters, though they could discuss in limited fashion the encounters they had had with others. Jane's behavior instructed Maura in the other rules of best friends, as well. She called or came over without prior arrangement. They had lunch together, and also frequent dinners. They did little things for one another, little favors.

But then again, there was also the touching. Jane routinely sat within reach of Maura, and would often breach the distance between them by nudging her foot against Maura's, leaning to knock their shoulders together, would stroke her hand along Maura's shoulder or forearm, take her hand. In Maura's experience, those were things that a person did on a first or second date as a test of physical and sexual compatibility. If one's date drew closer, physical rapport was established, while if one's date withdrew, one was going home alone that night and probably on subsequent nights as well. If one's date didn't move, then there was ambiguity in the date's feelings. Maura usually moved towards Jane, but also sometimes caught herself just before moving forward, and she was approximately 87% certain that she had caught Jane stilling herself similarly when Maura tested her responses through touch, as well.

Maura had been the one to stall first. She never pulled away, and seldom remained still; whenever Jane reached for her, she reached back, or at least leaned or turned into the touch so that Jane wouldn't feel rejected. It wasn't really stalling, Maura rationalized, but it was not pushing. She would never do anything with Jane that Jane hadn't done first with her, never break new ground. It was all up to Jane. Maura simply wasn't equipped to know where the line was between best friend and girlfriend, and given Jane's rather advanced personal barriers, she didn't want to find herself suddenly on the outside of all those walls.

Too, Maura had heard the snide comments that Jane's "brother officers" made about Jane, about any strong woman on the force. It was likely that Jane had heard them too, and if they were true or partially true, and if Jane were uneasy about the truth of them, or not quite certain, she would have a natural reason to want to avoid playing into those comments from detractors. Maura chose to save Jane from increased scrutiny on that account. So, although the touches continued, they had never gone beyond that line that was invisible to Maura. She would only learn where the line was when she overstepped it; hence her extreme caution.

Not for lack of desire on her part, though. Maura never had trouble concentrating on her work, but the moment she completed any task, there would be some span of time before the next task could begin. Whether it was a second or a full day, that echoing empty space of time without work would be home to thought. She could try to stave it off with online shoe shopping, with house cleaning or errand running, with thoughts of her big handsome tortoise waiting at home for his salad and fruit, but those were all just temporary stopgaps. Her default subject for thought, before she found something to crowd it out, was Jane. And Maura was finding fewer and fewer things that were able to crowd Jane out of her mind, and fewer and fewer reasons to want to do it. Of course, she recognized the processes at work within her brain. Attraction and affection were easy to understand when one had a basic comprehension of neuroscience and biochemistry. The simple truth was, Maura enjoyed the way she felt when she was thinking of Jane, and she was not a woman who felt it necessary to deny herself pleasure.

That was why she had increasingly chosen, at moments when she found herself alone and without a useful task to perform, to contemplate Jane. She might be causing herself problems, she knew, but Maura delighted in what she thought of as meditating. She would mentally replay their most recent conversation, sometimes word for word and action for action, other times altering things she said to things she felt she should have said, things she wished Jane had said. Sometimes her mind would drift to conversations they hadn't had yet, but that she felt she'd enjoy having with Jane.

Then there were times when mental conversations weren't enough. At those times, her daydream self and her daydream Jane didn't speak at all. She would sit down, close her eyes, and just imagine getting to look at Jane all she wanted, without having to break focus every 2.8 seconds to avoid causing her friend discomfort. The luxury of the eyes, she thought of it, of gazing at that striking, planar face with its sharply defined angles, strong coloring, strength, was what she wanted. Just to look, to admire, maybe to reach a hand to stroke and touch the smooth cheek, caress a thumb against the lips, to meet eyes without feeling bashful, without fearing that Jane would become uncomfortable and impatient and turn away. Maura could imagine that for an hour at a stretch without even realizing that time had passed; often she fell asleep with that fantasy floating in her mind, and would wake up feeling as refreshed, relaxed, and subtly thrilled as she'd once felt on the morning after a particularly enjoyable sexual liaison. All through the next day, Maura would smile a small, secret smile, as if she'd actually had that experience of getting her eyes' fill of Jane, rather than merely fantasizing about it.

And that was where the fantasies stopped. Not one to deny herself pleasure, Maura nevertheless did realize that if she were to spend extensive time creatively visualizing other activities, she would probably blurt out something about those fantasies at some entirely inappropriate, inopportune moment. If she were to fantasize about kissing Jane, she would inevitably surrender to impulse and mentally-rehearsed habit by kissing her. A 'harmless' fantasy of lovemaking would result in a very hard-to-explain, half-asleep grope some night when they were sharing Jane's bed, and the sleepover would end abruptly with furious confusion and questions about why she thought she had the right. Whatever the reason, whatever the faux pas, the friendship would falter, and Jane would find herself with sudden other commitments and errands instead of having time for Maura. Her best friend would, in short order, begin to refer to her as "Oh, yeah, Maura Isles. I used to know her."

So Maura kept her mental hands to herself. She was, even in imagination, a perfect gentleman. (That is, she thought to herself, if the term 'gentleman' were a gender-neutral term that she had a right to claim, rather than a term specifically for a male, an archaic term referring not to a gentle demeanor, but to the bearing of gentry, landed nobility, which technically did refer to Maura's family, at least if nobility was a concept that had remained socially accepted in the New World...) Gentlelady. She was courteous and honorable, that was the point, and would not mentally paw over her best friend. So ingrained was her mental self-discipline that even in dreams, Maura remained 'physically' reticent, restricting her touches to places that she'd touched Jane while they were awake and facing one another.

But oh, the way it felt. In waking life, a touch was a touch. Thrilling, if she allowed herself to think of it, but still, just a touch. In dreams, though, her filters were off. Not the dream-physical filters, but the dream-emotional filters. The lightest touch of a clasped hand could make Maura's dream-self shiver, shudder, quake. Always when she woke from these dreams, Maura would feel especially vulnerable, but also extremely lighthearted. No one ever asked what had put her in such a good mood, fearing that she would answer with a description of a flesh-eating bacteria or the discovery of a brand new strain of the Ebola virus. Her reputation as Dr. Death protected her from inquiries she wouldn't have been able to answer with a convenient lie, like most people could do.

That was the biggest danger: not that she was so uncontrolled that she wouldn't be able to restrain an impulse, but that one day someone would ask her a question that she couldn't avoid or evade, and she would find herself in the untenable situation of having to choose instantly between answering truthfully, or lying and fainting. What would anyone assume if someone asked, "Are you interested romantically in Jane," and she fainted? No one who was going to give a 'no' answer would be nervous enough to stutter, let alone faint. Truth would also not serve her, and it had the potential to wound her friend and their just-best-friends relationship. Therefore, Maura played up her weirdness. She knew very well that she creeped people out, and she chose to accentuate her oddities rather than try to downplay them. It would keep people from asking questions. Hopefully Jane would remain among those who chose not to ask her things.

Because if ever Jane did decide she wanted to know, Maura would have no choice but to say, "Yes, I want you," and Jane would absolutely know that she meant it down to her marrow.

Yes, it's a one-shot. I'll only add more if Adm_Hawthorne decides to chime in and write a chapter from Jane's perspective. She's way better at writing Jane than I am. To tell you the truth, I don't know that I really got into Maura's mind well this time either, though Maura is really my strong suit, with this series. I just play better off of someone else. Nevertheless, you'll be able to see how much better I am when I'm writing in a cooperative way with my co-author than when I try to stumble around on my own. Even so, please review. If you have a suggestion that I think will make this story read better and more true to the character(s), I'll revise, because I'd rather wind up with something I'm really proud of, and this kind of falls short, to me.