Dinner was fairly peaceful considering the news that Jane had seemingly dropped on everyone. However, the Rizzolis had no issue with bringing Maura, who was already practically a part of the family, fully into the fold. The conversations at the table rotated between plumbing, law enforcement, and fashion. Apparently, Angela had an eye for it, or so she informed Maura. By dessert, the matriarch was already thinking ahead to the future.
"So, Janie, are you bringing Maura with you to your cousin's wedding next month?"
"Uh, I hadn't really thought about it." Jane glanced over to the blonde. "I mean, it's just a wedding for my second cousin. It's not like it's…"
"But, she's been planning this wedding for decades, and, when I RSVP'ed, I told her to give you a 'plus one', just in case." At Jane's eye roll, Angela added, "What? I could hope, and, look, I was right. Besides, you have to go. Traditions!"
"And a free open bar," Frankie threw in as he grabbed another piece of cake.
"Frankie! Honestly… but, Janie, promise me that both of you will be there." Angela was glancing between the two women.
"Ma, first of all, Maura can speak for herself. Second of all, what traditions?" By the time Jane was done speaking, her voice had gone up a few notches, and irritation was written across her features.
"You have to be there to catch the bouquet, of course. Now that you are finally dating someone…"
"Oh, My. God." Jane covered her face with her hand, a blush crawling up her neck.
Maura, meanwhile, was attempting to chew and swallow a delicious but very sticky bite of dessert pastry so that she could offer input to diffuse and de-fuse the situation. It just wasn't happening. In lieu of being able to offer verbal assistance to her girlfriend, she simply laid a hand on Jane's thigh.
Jane groaned. "Ma, don't do this. Please don't do this."
"Do what? All I'm saying is that you should be there just in case. What can it hurt?"
"Angela, leave her alone. One big step at a time, okay?" Frank gave his daughter a gentle pat on the hand.
"Not tonight. Give the two girls at least a couple of days before you start in on marriage."
"I never said the word!" Angela gave her husband an offended look. "But, okay, fine, I'm just trying to be helpful." She stood to start clearing the table. "I don't understand why everyone's so touchy all of a sudden."
"Let me help you, Ma." Frankie bolted up and started to help clear things away. He gave his sister a small smile. "I want to tell you about this girl from high school I ran into the other day anyway. Jenny Parker. You remember her?"
"Jenny? Oh yeah, she was such a nice girl. How is she?" Angela headed for the kitchen, still talking. "You know, I heard her parents own three dry cleaning stores now…"
As her brother and mother disappeared into the kitchen, Jane let out a long sigh. "Thank God. I'm going to have to remember to buy him a beer for that."
Maura shot Frankie a look of profound gratitude before turning to Jane, now able to speak, albeit a bit too late to be of actual help. "Jane, I don't want to be annoying, but do you want to know what I'm thinking?" She did not wait for a facetious comment, but plunged right on. "I'm thinking that just now I saw something so beautiful that I immediately knew how you grew up into the person that I love so much. I just watched your parents accept something that is, strictly speaking, against the doctrines of their religion, just because it makes you happy. I saw them get right past my gender and make the assumption that it would be possible for us to love one another for a lifetime, and commit to one another as a married couple. I'm not saying that's what I want right now, but I do think it's wonderful that they think it's possible, even likely. And I saw them also assume that the entire rest of your family would not only support us as a valid pairing, but even be impressed with us because I could be good for you. Jane," she continued, turning more fully in her chair so that she could face her girlfriend almost straight-on, "when you were afraid - two days ago, remember? - when you were afraid to be open at work or here with your family, or with me, or with yourself, wasn't it because you doubted that what we just witnessed could ever actually happen? This is a really good reason to be glad. Your parents and your brother, Jane, they love you so much. So much."
Jane glanced to where her father had been sitting, but he had apparently slipped away sometime during the start of Maura's dialogue. They were alone in the dining room, and Jane felt claustrophobic despite the space around them. "Well, I… no," she shook her head. "No, that's not why I was worried. I know my parents just want me to be happy. I was worried because," she stood up, walking to the window that looked out across the small front yard. "Because, Maura, this is a really big piece of me that I have been ignoring for a really long time, and it scars me to face exactly how different I am from everyone else… the normal people." She turned to face the blonde, arms crossed over her chest. "But, I'm willing to face it because I want to be with you."
Frank wasn't too far away. He'd gone to the couch to pretend to watch the game, but he had the volume on so low that Maura realized he had to be listening to them instead. She ignored that fact, hoping that Jane wouldn't notice it at all. This conversation was more important, and Jane's words had distressed her. "Is that the only reason? Jane, am I really the only thing that made it okay for you to acknowledge this, this huge part of who you are?" She'd been about to stand and follow Jane, maintaining the very small space that normally they allowed between them when they were in a room together, but hearing that made her sit back down again, hands fallen to her lap as, behind them, Frank made a show of changing channels and then returning to the game.
"No, not really." Jane leaned against the wall behind her, eyes running around the room. "I'm tired of my mother trying to set me up with men when I'm not interested. I'm tired of lying to her about why I'm not interested. I'm tired of having to side step and dodge questions when women I'm around start talking about cute guys. I'm tired of feeling alone all the time, and I know that feeling has a lot do with cutting myself off from… I don't know… me?" She shifted her weight. "The past couple of days, I've felt more like me than I have in a long time, maybe ever. Yeah, you're a part of it, but, if you walked away from me tomorrow, which I hope you don't, I wouldn't backtrack on this." She dropped her arms to her side, pressing her palms against the wall behind her. "I want to be with you, Maura. I really do. You were a catalyst, I'm not going to lie. But, no one could have made me do this but me. So, in a way, I guess I finally just did it for me." Her eyes had fallen to a patch of floor in front of her feet. "Does that make sense?"
The seated woman's eyes closed, and over the course of a deep sigh, the worry smoothed itself out of her forehead just before she sunk her face into her hands for a moment as the tension released itself. "It makes sense. It also relieves me of a huge burden of responsibility, so thank you. I never wanted to be anyone's sole reason for anything." This time she did stand and bridge the distance between them, standing close enough that their bodies could share warmth, though she did not move to actually touch her girlfriend. The nearness alone was enough, for now. "Just in case you don't already know, just in case you need to hear this, I won't be walking away from you tomorrow, or for the foreseeable future. I want to be with you, too."
Maura had gotten quieter and quieter, nearer and nearer, as the two women spoke together. She hadn't noticed that Frank had turned the volume off, then the game itself, and had turned around to try to read lips to catch snatches of their conversation, that Angela and Frankie had finished the washing up and were standing and watching them as if they were at a live theater play. Each one of them was thinking some variation on the same thing: Isn't that nice? Goodness, they're so sweet together. Wow, Janie found herself a hot girl. A hot smart girl. God, they're in love. Everyone should have that. Am I supposed to be seeing this? This is pretty personal. Predictably, Angela was the first to recover, closing her mouth and turning to Frankie. "See, that's what I want you to have," her scratchy voice said, as if he'd been the one all along that she'd been urging to find a mate and settle down. "Don't you want that?"
"Really, Ma?" Frankie narrowed his eyes. "Can't we drop this for just one night? I mean, come on!"
The women jumped, lost in the moment they had forgotten about the rest of the people around them. "My family." Jane rolled her eyes. "Are you sure you want to be involved in this?" She smiled, pulling Maura to her and kissing her. At Maura's surprised and confused expression, the detective replied, "I said I was tired of hiding, remember?"
Maura remained stiff for a moment, then relaxed into Jane's body, smiling. "I'm sure. I love your family, too."
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