Co-written chapter to complete the series. I really love writing with Googlemouth. I'm so glad I found my Maura... as far as writing partners go. ^_^

Of course, the characters aren't ours.

Sitting in the kitchen waiting for Jane to come back down, Maura glanced out the window. She had dressed down, relatively speaking, in a peach-colored knit dress that was just barely different from her skin tone; it had probably matched almost exactly when she'd bought it earlier in the spring, before her tan had come in fully. The skirt was longer than she usually wore, mid-calf length, and also fuller, and the neckline was higher than usual as well. Despite the uncovered arms, the dress had a very faintly 1950s modesty about it. Anyone could have accessorized with a bronze leather purse and jewelry of white-gold; very few would have been able to consider, let alone carry off, the strappy red heeled sandal below. Her hair was loosely bound in a tasteful clip at the nape of her neck, curls large and wild at the free end and at the front, where tendrils had escaped their filigree prison. The ensemble was very summer-resort chic, vacation-smart, and it showcased her physique without becoming classless or explicit.

"Maura, I'm thinking Italian, what do you think?" The detective asked as she walked down the stairs, drying her wet hair with a towel. "Ma cooked some kind of Asian something on Sunday, and I've been eating Salads by Jake, thank you," she held the towel up to give Maura a dirty look, "for most of this week, so I'm kind of craving good pasta and some cannoli." She stopped just inside the kitchen, still working on her hair, her jeans neither zipped nor buttoned. Though difficult to tell the cut, her cotton underwear clearly matched the black cotton t-shirt she was wearing. Her bare feet made light sounds against the kitchen floor as she moved further in toward the fridge. "I'm not really dressed for anything fancy. What about Roma's on 6th?" She put the white towel around her neck, opened the fridge, bent over, and began digging around from something. "Maura?"

Maura sat at the kitchen counter, a glass of ice water in front of her, and as she stared out the window at the much brighter outdoors, where Jane's hard work had paid off in a neat, tidy yard with fresh plantings and sharp, clean paint on the shed. She did not, at first, seem to notice Jane's entrance, merely humming a light "Mm?" to show she'd heard, but her focus was elsewhere. It was a hot day, and she tilted her head to one side to hold her cold, sweating glass against her jugular vein to grant her the illusion of cooling her down. However, the repetition of her name caused her to turn and look.

...and stare.

Her lips parted ever so slightly. "Italian," she vaguely recalled, out of Jane's entire ramble, forcing her eyes to remain on Jane's face rather than drifting down towards the unexpected extra flash of skin below the detective's waist. Then she smiled, smoothly clicking into her usual demeanor. "That sounds delicious. Shall we take it back to my place, or would you prefer to eat out?"

"I don't know," Jane scrunched her face up in contemplation as she closed the fridge door with her foot, bottle of water in hand. "I could always eat out with you. It's fun to watch you confuse the waiters, but," she took a large gulp of water, "I'm really tired. That," she motioned with her head toward the backyard, "was a monster." She ran a hand through her wet hair, tilting her head back as she did so, causing the long expanse of her neck to show for just the briefest of seconds as she ran her fingers through to keep the locks from tangling. "I really don't want to blow dry my hair, either," she gave the doctor an apologetic look. "So, if we did eat out, would you hold it against me if I just went like this?" She held her arms out and glanced down at her outfit. "Shit, Maura, why didn't you tell me my fly was down?" She threw the other woman an annoyed look. Quickly, she walked to the counter where the doctor sat, plopped her water bottle down, and reached to correct the wardrobe issue.

Maura's smile warmed and broadened. "I'd have told you before we left the house," she promised, then stood up to run her fingers through Jane's hair, smoothing down some of the wildness and twisting certain parts of it into more controlled curl. Then she proved that, in addition to the smile, she also lacked control over her words. "Hold still... There. We can go out, and you look fine. You don't have to do anything special to look gorgeous. But why don't I just call in an order while you find your shoes, and we can pick it up and take it back to my place. Better yet, your place. Joe Friday needs more companionship, and I've already fed Bass. Since you're so tired and sore, you probably just need to lounge at home tonight."

Batting at Maura's hands, Jane leaned away, defensively trying to protect her hair. "Do you mind? What is it with you and Ma and my hair?" She rolled her eyes, but a smiled played in her eyes and on her lips.

Reluctantly Maura's hands fell away from Jane's hair, and she briefly allowed disappointment at the broken contact to show. "I like your hair," she explained patiently. You know, if you like, I can treat your blisters as well as your sore muscles. You worked so hard today that I'm sure you have a few."

Jane made a disgusted face at the thought of blisters. "Yeah… I guess we could do that. Now that you mention it, my back is killing me and my hands," she shook her head, face dropping from playful to serious for the briefest of moments before she forced herself back again, "Maybe we can go out tomorrow? We could see that movie you've been hounding me about." She sighed, grabbing the towel from around her neck, letting her still damp hair brush across her back, leaving dark marks on her black t-shirt. Again, Maura's hands reached up to adjust a lock or two of dark, damp hair, though she had to sneak past Jane's defenses to do it.

The brunette let out a sigh before turning on her heels and starting back to the stairs. "Man, my back really does hurt," she grumbled, "Times like this I wish I knew a masseuse." Stopping at the foot of the stairs, she turned around to finish her earlier thoughts.

"Oh, let me," Maura suggested with a smile. "I like touching you." There it was again, the lack of filter. Normal people didn't say things like that, past the age of about three. The problem with her wasn't social awkwardness, it was a lack of awkwardness. She saw nothing amiss with saying anything.

Eyebrows shooting up, Jane gave her friend a questioning look before responding. "I'll think about it," she said, her voice very guarded. "So, take out tonight, we're staying at my place, and movie tomorrow?"

"Yes," replied the honey-blonde, turning towards the counter to grab the phone from her purse. "I'll call in for dinner while you get your shoes. Don't forget to hang the towel to dry properly." Before Jane could even object to being ordered like a child, Maura had pressed the contact number for Roma's. "Hello, I'd like to arrange an order for pickup, please..."

By the time Jane was back at her apartment and had finished walking Joe for the evening, Maura had arrived. "Glad to know the spare key works," Jane muttered as she walked in, putting the leash up on its spot by the door. "Smells good. Anything I can do to help?"

"Not a thing," Maura said as she placed the last touch on the dining table. There were two plates, each laden with steaming penne pasta with vegetables and marinara sauce, two glasses of a blush wine that she'd picked up from her own home, and two butterflied chicken breasts, pan-seared and lightly seasoned with a combination of spices that the restaurant owner had jealously guarded all the way from his great-great-grand-whatever in Liguria, still known in their family as The Old Neighborhood. Flowers from Maura's back yard garden rested on the kitchen counter, tall enough that they would have provided a conversational impediment, but at least their lush scents and colors would brighten the room - lilies of scarlet, orange, and white, interspersed unusually with peonies.

A pair of tall white taper candles lit the stage to either side of the plates, rather than between them, so that they would be able to converse without being blinded by the flames; but the tablecloth was the red and white checked one that Mrs. Rizzoli had insisted would be perfect for picnics. It lent an informal air to what otherwise might have seemed a little much for just a pair of friends staying in for the night. The only thing lacking was a violinist. Here Maura had parted with what could have become all too obvious symbolism, though it might have been due to a dearth of violinists who could appear at a moment's notice. Instead, she had plugged her phone into Jane's speakers, and hit play with a smile, evidently satisfied with the effects she had achieved in such a short amount of time.

A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square - The Manhattan Transfer
Addicted - Kelly Clarkson
After Midnight - Chicago Soundtrack

"Wow, Maura, this looks," Jane hesitated, obviously deciding not to go with her first thought, "nice. I didn't even know I still had that tablecloth." She leaned against the wall to pull her shoes and socks off. "I'm going to go wash my hands, and," she considered the scene in front of her again, "stuff." Her voice was a little dazed as she headed to her bathroom. "Be back in a minute."

Maura's smile faltered a little as Jane left, wearing an expression she could not quite identify. Her brows drew together as if in consultation. What had tipped the balance into 'too much'? Candles? Flowers? She tilted her head to the side and contemplated the flowers. Peonies, her neighbor had told her before allowing her to take some, symbolized bashfulness in the west, honor in China, and bravery in Japan. The three colors of lily stood for purity, high-souled aspirations, and passionate desire. Aha. That must be the source of the upset. She quickly moved to pick up the vase and put the flowers in the kitchen sink and turned on the water to add a few more drops so that she could say truthfully that she had wanted to refill them. Once they were out of sight, she sat down and awaited Jane's return.

Jane emerged a moment later. Pulling her hands above her head, she stretched her back out as she glanced around the room, eyes falling on the sink. "Hmmm," she gave a thoughtful hum as she lowered her arms, pulling her shirt down where it had ridden up her torso. "I didn't know you were a Kelly Clarkson fan, Maura. You strike me more as a Schuman or Eric Whitaker fan."

"I like them, too," Maura answered lightly, despite the distraction of that peekaboo skin at Jane's midsection, "but they're in a different playlist."

Jane sat down across from the doctor, gazing down at the food. "This looks exactly like," she glanced back up, eyes quickly meeting and then pulling away from the other woman's, "what I want." The detective frowned, her voice settling on a quiet squeak, as she pretended to check the kitchen for something. "So... we should... we should eat."

With no more than a smile of easy acceptance, Maura picked up her fork and began the meal. "This might be too much," she said after taking and swallowing a bite, "but they knew it was for you, so they made the portions large enough to have leftovers. Try to save some room for the cannoli." The sweet, hot jazz of the Chicago soundtrack faded, only to be replaced with the first thrumming of a bass guitar played in leisurely fashion.

Ain't No Sunshine - Bill Withers
Air On A G String - J. S. Bach
All Or Nothing - Athena Cage
Any Time, Any Place - Janet Jackson

The companionable silence of their dinner was suddenly disrupted as Jane's head shot around to look at her speakers as if they could answer her unspoken question. "Any time... any place?" Dark eyebrows rose in surprise and confusion. "Really, Maura? I mean, that's," her speech was stilted as she searched for each word, "just not... what I would... expect from you. It's just, huh," she took a sip of her wine. "Maur, when did you make this playlist anyway? I've heard your stuff, and I do not remember that song." She gently set her glass back down. "I would have remembered that song." She watched the doctor's face with a look of curiosity and something darker that would have gone unnoticed by most people Jane knew.

Coughing sounds from across the table signaled Maura's rising, hurriedly dabbing her lips with her napkin on the way to the control panel, where she quickly pressed the fast-forward key. "I probably shouldn't have put that on my public playlist," she murmured, not quite meeting Jane's eyes as she headed back towards the table, only to reverse again as Joan Jett's Bad Reputation filled the room. She clicked forward to land on things she hoped would be less troublesome, one that she had recalled Jane enjoyed.

Bad Romance - Lady Gaga
Bad Things - Jace Everett
Back For A Taste Of Your Love - Jonny Lang
Blue Rondo a la Turk - The Dave Brubeck Quartet
Buttons - Pussycat Dolls

The songs played as the pair ate, mostly just enjoying their wine and pasta, until another problematic song came on. Maura's lips pursed, but she didn't move the music forward this time. "It's just one song," she remarked as the Pussycat Dolls began their vocal gyrations. Perhaps she should have chosen a different playlist; but it was a bit late to alter it now without Jane asking why. Damned if she did, and damned if she didn't.

"You been stealing songs from my player, Maura?" Jane quirked an eyebrow at the doctor as the song played.

"Maybe," Maura replied with a small, downward-glancing smile as she speared a single piece of penne with the tines of her fork and slipped it between her lips.

"You know, I really like PCD. I'm just in the closet about it because I don't want to hear it from the guys." Her eyes darted down, focusing on anything besides the woman across from her. "You ever hear their song Sway? Only time I've ever wanted to learn how to cha cha." She gave a closed, private smile as she looked down at her plate.

Maura looked back up in time to see that smile, and, without making an intentional choice, echoed it back. "I love that song, and yes, I got most of their songs from your collection, but I think that one is in another playlist. You know, I could show you how to cha cha sometime. Or tango. Or anything, really." Mistaking Jane's look as being for another reason, she laughed lightly. "Why is it so surprising that I'd know how to dance? I took cotillion."

"That's not," Jane cleared her throat, "um, not what I was thinking, Maur. But, maybe I'll take you up on that offer some time?"

Cheap And Evil Girl - Bree Sharp
Crazy - Britney Spears
Crazy On You - Heart
Crimson And Clover - Joan Jett
Crush - Glee Cast

Finishing with her meal, Jane stood to start placing her leftovers away. As the next song came on, she gave a little snort of amusement. "I remember this coming out when I was in middle school, I think. Man, I was crushing hard on Sar… um this person, and I would play this over and over. Frankie finally snuck into my room and stole my tape," she shook her head at the memory, a smile gracing her features. "You ever do that? Play a song over and over because it fit your mood?" She finished placing her entrée in the airtight container, turning to place it in the fridge for later. "You probably listened to some Mozart something, didn't you?"

Maura let Jane deal with the leftovers, though she did hand over some containers in which to store them, before clearing the dinner wine and putting out a hard pear cider to go with the cannoli she had brought at Jane's request. "Mm," she replied noncommittally at the mention of Mozart. "With Mozart, I listened to him when I was in a mood to appreciate applied mathematics. But there are times when that doesn't match the mood I'm in, or the direction in which I want to steer my thoughts. Music is very meditative for me that way. It has to mesh with my mental state, my emotions, something I want to say, or some subject I want to contemplate."

Dirty Little Secret - All-American Rejects

Dream A Little Dream - Mama Cass

Love In An Elevator – Aerosmith

"Maura," Jane's voice was as guarded as it had been earlier when the doctor has offered to rub her back earlier in the day, "what playlist is this?" She held up a cannoli, looking at it was some trepidation before running a finger through the cream coming from one end. "I mean, have you even had love in an elevator?" She licked the cream from her fingertip, her eyes narrowing at the doctor. "You know what, don't answer that. I'm sure I want to know." Brows knit in what looked like extreme concentration, she stared down at the dessert in her hand trying to figure out how she wanted to eat it.

Maura chuckled without answering as she picked up her own cannoli, delicately with two fingers and a thumb. Her eyes closed as she licked a little of the caramel drizzle off the top of the long, crisp cylinder. "Aerosmith are one of my favorite bands. They're incredible, technical musicians whose compositions are majestic and whose skills are of an extremely high level." She enjoyed another lick, this time at the cocoa-dusted tip end of the dessert. "Besides," she said with a mischievous look in her eye, "I enjoy Love In An Elevator."

Jane's eyes widened, and she gave a hard swallow to the bit of cannoli she's just bitten off. "Mrph," she made a light, incoherent sound as she tried not to choke.

At Jane's response, the honey-blonde smiled and made a mental note to say Good morning, Mr. Tyler the next time she rode the elevator down to the morgue with Jane. "A fun song." She switched the cannoli to the other hand, having not thought ahead to realize that her wineglass of cider was on the same side. Then, when both hands were occupied and the Aerosmith song ended, the next song began. "I like this one, too. It's one of my favorites, actually. I love the artist's fingering technique and the way she manipulates her voice for the effect."

Drive - Melissa Ferrick

Inhaling audibly as the song played, Jane put her half eat dessert down and quickly gulped down about half her cider. "Okay, I can't even… I mean," she stood up, nearly knocking her chair over as she moved. Walking into the living room, she chewed at the corner of her lip, her face full of a number of emotions, uncertainty chief among them. "I think I need to take a moment to," she glanced around, searching for something, "fix my back." She rolled her eyes at the unconvincing sound of her own voice. "I'm just going to lay in the floor for a sec and see if I can pop it."

"Don't do that," Maura replied rapidly as she set down her glass and dessert, dusting off her fingers on her napkin and hurriedly girl-tippytoe-running to prevent such a faux pas. "I did promise to take care of that for you, and I am not doing it on the floor. The bed will be much more comfortable." At the hesitation, she smiled, almost but not quite like she always did when suggesting that Jane wipe her feet on the mat, or consider going out on a double-date with her, or that she might be due for another yoga session or jog. As if there could possibly be only one, perfectly clean interpretation of what she was about to say. "Go on. Get on the bed."

"Um… okay," Jane glanced at the speakers again before turning to go to her bedroom. "Anything special I should do for this? You're not going to hurt me, are you? I can't promise I won't do something… questionable if you hurt me," She glanced back at the doctor. "Like, you know, scream really loud or something."

"I can't answer for any sounds you may make... but I can promise I won't hurt you." She considered her next words for a little longer than one might expect, head tilted to one side, before coming to the safest and easiest conclusion. "Do whatever you need to do to feel comfortable."

Rolling her eyes, the brunette walked away from the living room and into her bedroom.

For My Lover - Tracy Chapman

Give Me One Reason - Tracy Chapman

In the bedroom, Jane gave a contemptuous snort. "Of course she'd say that," she muttered to herself. Glancing around, she took a quick mental inventory of what she should probably wear so that Maura could actually work on her back. "Shit, no way this is going to turn out well," she grumbled to herself. "Hold on a sec," she yelled as she unbuttoned her pants and kicked them off. After a half second's pause, she pulled her shirt off and removed her bra, throwing them in the pile with her pants. Self-consciously wrapping her arms over her chest, she nervously glanced around her room again. "Ooooookay," she let out a long stream of air. "Shorts." She pulled out the shorts she normally wore to softball games and put them on. "Shirt?" She frowned. "How would she get to my back if… damn it." She let out a heavy sigh of frustration. "I give." Climbing onto her bed and settling face down in the middle, still shirtless, she called back to the waiting doctor, "Okay, I'm ready. There's some oil in the bathroom if you want to use it."

Though she could hear muttering, Maura could not distinguish words, and so she waited with outward patience through three songs until Jane called to her. At that point, she realized that she, too, would need to do what was necessary for her own comfort, which was going to be a problem, because she didn't know what that was. She walked softly to the bedroom and stopped at the open door...

I Don't Stand A Ghost Of A Chance - Linda Ronstadt and The Nelson Riddle Orchestra

...and stood.

And stared.

Her left hand rested on the door frame, then gripped it tightly for a moment for its steadying power. "God help me," whispered the devout atheist at the sight of the lean, tan woman stretched out in the center of the bed, suddenly and acutely aware of the difference between the simple, uncomplicated nudity of standard massages and the acknowledged eroticism of a mostly-naked woman protecting her virtue with one inadequate scrap of black cotton.

I Put A Spell On You - Queen Latifah

Maura's eyes closed momentarily as she engaged in a quickie meditation, breath slowing and stilling. She had made her bed, which was in this case Jane's actual bed, and now would have to deal with Jane lying in it. Her shoulders squared, and she removed her shoes at the door before padding towards the bathroom to fetch the oil Jane had mentioned. By the time she had located it, in the bottom drawer and towards the back, she had been able to recover her usual easy demeanor. "Could you put your arms out to your sides," she requested with a smile, knowing that smiles were audible in the voice even when they couldn't be seen. "Thank you. Now, tell me where you're most strained."

"My shoulders and lower back, mostly," Jane answered. As Maura began to work, the detective couldn't stop the small moans and gasps of appreciation from escaping.

I Take You With Me - Melissa Etheridge

I Want to Come Over - Melissa Etheridge

I'm Not Wearing Any Underwear Today - Avenue Q

The tension was easing from Jane's back with the ministration of Maura's surprisingly strong and agile hands when the Avenue Q song came on. Jane instantly tensed. The deep, guttural moan that was rolling from her chest cut short, she commented in a breathy tone, "I can't listen to that while you doing this." She whispered in a somewhat pained voice. "Not… relaxing."

Quick as a frightened bunny, Maura started talking as she sprang from her position, hoping her words would drown out the song. "Sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry," over and over until she could click fast-forward past just the openings of more songs, only listening long enough to assure herself that these, too, were entirely inappropriate.

I'm So Excited - Pointer Sisters

I've Got A Crush On You - Linda Ronstadt and The Nelson Riddle Orchestra

Eventually she hit one that was safe, a lullabye written for the composer's very young daughter, followed by - if she recalled correctly - an old jazz standard that was more melancholy than suggestive. Melancholia was not the emotion she hoped would reign, but it was better than the string of problematic ones. She returned to the bed and seated herself, still murmuring, "...sorry, sorry. I didn't realize, it's just that it's all in alphabetical order, and I never really considered the cumulative effect, and... Anyway, I hope this is all right now." With uncharacteristic hesitancy, she placed her hand again in the middle of Jane's lower back, stilling and calming them both for a moment before returning to the task of healing. It was, she reflected, nice to get to help the living once in a while. Exhilarating medically, and comforting personally. Not all the time, not every living person, but with Jane she was not intimidated or uncomfortable, even when she was... uncomfortable.

Kiss From A Rose - Seal

Lullabye (Good Night, My Angel) - Billy Joel

Natural Woman - Aretha Franklin

Right Where You Want Me - Jesse McCartney

"Oh, God," Jane groaned as Maura hit a particularly sensitive spot on her lower back, "that is exactly where I want you to be." Little, incoherent grunting and groaning sounds continued to issue from the brunette. "Maura, your hands are magic. I wish my abs felt as good as my back does right now." She let out a hum of appreciation. "Seriously, wow."

Palms pressed, fingertips probed and felt for knots, knuckles dug. Maura's manner with a living patient was extremely awkward, according to her own words, but she did have an amazing touch, and she held nothing back. Anyone who felt her ministrations would have felt cared for, nurtured. It was really only words that tripped her up, probably because she knew so many and used them all - with their precise meanings, often unaware of connotations that could be perceived differently from their intended ones. Such as now. "I can get those too, if you turn over," she offered, the innocuous songs having lulled her into mental relaxation such that the suggestion seemed quite the reasonable thing to her.

However, as Jane started moving to comply, Maura had a sudden burst of normality in her thinking, and she quickly placed a slick hand on the muscular, tanned shoulder. "Let me get you something, first." Moving slowly so as not to dispel the easy atmosphere that had settled back over the two friends, she stood and walked to the linen cabinet in the hall to pull out a pair of towels, both old and soft, one quite large. "Here, take these. I'll turn my back. Stand up, put the larger towel underneath you to protect the bedspread, and then lie down with the smaller towel over... anything you feel the need to cover."

"Oh, right, that's probably a good idea," Jane frowned as she watched the doctor turn around.

Secret Agent - Melissa Etheridge

She Bop (acoustic) - Cyndi Lauper

Shed Your Skin - Indigo Girls

"Okay, Maura, I think I got this." Jane lay on her back, the large towel under her and the small towel lay across her chest to cover her modesty. She had her hands at her side. Giving a little grunt, she looked down her body to the foot of the bed, making a small pained face at having to scrunch up her abs to do so. Her muscles in her torso tensed, displaying the well-defined musculature there. "Where do I put my hands?" She flexed her hands, her arm muscles tensing.

Short Skirt Long Jacket - Cake

Smooth – Santana

"Wherever you like. Don't worry, I'll take care of them, too, in good time." promised Maura with a smile as she turned around and sat back down, hip bone to hip bone with Jane, and renewed her oil supply. This time she poured one handful, lay that hand in the center of Jane's abdomen, and slowly parted her fingers to let the oil dribble out between them onto the warm skin. The sensation was an odd one, like a very localized version of a 'gentle rainwater' shower head, easy to enjoy and hard to quantify. Strong fingers slowed even more than what they had been upon Jane's back; Maura didn't want her getting tickled, giggly, and tense all over again.

A frontal massage was an odd thing, a delicate and fragile balance between muscle and organ rather than the back's muscle and bone. Fragile, too, was the balance between personal connection and propriety. Maura's eyes remained on her hands as they worked, rather than invading her friend's privacy by watching her face, her eyes. "Tell me if anything doesn't feel right," she said after a moment of extremely gentle touch which eased the sore muscles but did not place undue compression on the abdomen's tender organs. "I don't want to put too much pressure here." The double meaning was intentional.

Tangled Up In Blue - Indigo Girls

Teenage Dream - Katy Perry, Glee version

Maura's smile was gentle, but with a touch of sheepishness. "I like a cappella choirs."

"Okay, I'll let that slide," Jane said in a light, comfortable tone, "but who is your teenage dream?" She smirked.

Strong hands paused, thumbs at the fronts of the pelvic bones, fingers around the sides. A beat went by. Two. The hands resumed their motions, and only then did Maura's eyes lift towards Jane's. She said nothing, though her face and neck took on a faint tinge of pink.

"Maura?" Jane had been kidding, but the silence had turned odd. "Hey," she sat up, placing a hand against her chest to keep the towel in place. "I didn't mean to upset you." The detective's expressive face shifted from relaxed to concerned. "I'm sorry." She reached out with her right hand, the free one, to grasp one of Maura's.

Yes I Am - Melissa Etheridge

Though her oil-slick fingers welcomed the opportunity to tangle in Jane's, Maura assured her, "You didn't upset me, Jane. Nothing has upset me today." She slipped one hand up Jane's strong, slender forearm, a nonverbal suggestion to lay back again if such was her inclination, and then both hands moved to pick up one of Jane's scarred and now blistered hands to sooth the day's aches out of where she knew they were the strongest. In many ways, the touch of her hands was the most deeply familiar kind of touch the two women shared between them, the most personal thing they ever shared. Maura knew that, and though most of the time she tried to pretend it was nothing so that Jane would not be made uneasy by acknowledging the communion of those moments, this time she did not conceal her knowledge. Again she requested softly, "Tell me if anything feels wrong."

The song in the back ground filtered through Jane's consciousness. "I… this song," she glanced in the direction of the sound. "It's…. it's really… intimate, isn't it?" Her face tensed.

"Very," replied Maura with a smile that did not, quite, dare to be hopeful.

Jane rolled her hand over, palm up. Her dark eyes watched Maura's strong yet delicate fingers work the always sore muscles of her palm. They remained quiet as the dark haired brunette watched and contemplated. "The last guy I dated," she began in a quiet voice, eyes still trained on the fingers and thumbs running over her hand, "offered to do this for me… rub me down, I mean. I had just finished training for the yearly physical, and I passed it. You remember?" She quickly glanced up, saw the doctor nod affirmation, and glanced back down. "I thought about it for about three seconds before I turned him down flat." Her voice became quieter, more intense. "It wasn't him touching me. I mean, we were sleeping together, so those boundaries pretty much didn't exist. I just… I knew eventually he'd come to my hands, and I didn't want him touching my hands." She swallowed, giving herself a small pause before continuing. As she spoke again, her voice was small, quiet. "It didn't feel right… him touching them. It was like it was too intimate, which is weird because, I mean, how much more intimate can you get than sleeping with the other person?" She closed her eyes as her mind wandered back to the scene of him offering and her declining. When she spoke again, her voice was reserved, reflective. "You've always been different from the others."

The music paused, then began again from the beginning of the playlist. Maura seemed not to even hear it; her eyes were focused intently on the face of the woman to whom she had become so attached and so open, who was in turn focused on their hands as they respectively gave and received relief. She said nothing at all for a very long time, merely allowing her eyes to rest in the visual feast that was Jane and only her hands to do the active communicating. Tendons eased; muscles relaxed. The feeling would be temporary, as always, but the cessation of pain was one she would never stop enjoying being able to give to her only regular patient, her only best friend, her...

Earlier in the day she had said almost that exact thing, easily and without thinking of all the connotations it might carry. This time, she was aware, and her voice lowered in both volume and pitch with the weight of all of the implications and allusions. "Thank you," Maura said, and though she'd meant to speak quietly, she hadn't meant to whisper. Her throat was dry. She swallowed and tried again. "Thank you for trusting me to touch you. I love touching you."

With an almost bashful air, Jane looked up through her lowered eyelashes. "Thank you for not hurting me." Jane's voice was still low, still quiet, still contemplative.

"Never," replied Maura, husky with a low rush of emotion. "Never." Slowly, both hands stilled upon Jane's, though she still cradled that scarred, beautiful hand in one of hers. The other lifted to cup one well-defined cheek, soft and warm upon the brunette's skin. "Never." She leaned forward until their lips touched, velvety smooth, and murmured against them, "Never." It was impossible to tell the precise moment when words faded and became a kiss, so tender.

"Maura," the honey blonde's name flowed across Jane's lips as if it were a prayer of salvation. Eyes closed, forehead resting gently against the other woman's, the detective let out a shuddering breath before, much to her sudden surprise, tears quietly slid down one cheek. "Thank you," she whispered again, her head leaning into the doctor's touch.

Wetness against her cheek caused Maura to sit back again just a little, though not far enough to take away the feeling of her breath upon Jane's face. "What's this?" she asked with such compassion, thumb wiping away some of the tears. With extreme reluctance she let go Jane's fingers, slipping her newly freed hand around her waist and scooting towards her, letting that one hand and her own body hold up the towel between them. "Shh, I'm sorry, sweetie, I didn't mean to scare you. Shhh."

Jane sniffled, letting her head fall against the smaller woman's shoulder. "I'm not scared," she quietly protested, her hands settling in her lap, no longer caring about the towel. "I'm just… relieved, I think." She nuzzled against the warm skin of Maura's neck. "And maybe a little scared." She blew out a gust of air, something most recognized as her silently laughing at herself.

Maura pressed inward just before the towel could slip further, holding it steady until she could be assured that it was going nowhere. It wasn't for benefit of her expensive, flesh-toned dress, because there were already very light oil droplets and rubbings on the fabric where she had sat too close to Jane's body. Perhaps it was for the sake of Jane's modesty, though that ship had, if not sailed, at least undocked over an hour prior. Jane's swift exhalation was met with one of her own, nearly voiced, as the moment got to her. A few seconds later, she found words. "I don't know if it will help you to know this," she said as she held their embrace, "but I'm not scared. You trust me, and that... that feeds me, somehow. I trust you, too. I trust you to touch me, and not hurt me. I want you to touch me."

"What if," the husky voice whispering in Maura's ear was tired, as if Jane had finally given in to a long and hard fought battle of some kind, "it messes up everything we have? Maura, I don't want lose you because we went somewhere that didn't pan out." She pulled back reaching up at the last second to hold the towel in place. Glancing down at her half clothed self and over at the condition of Maura's dress, she held up her free hand to stop the doctor's answer before it come out. "Hold that thought." She pulled away and stood. Walking to her dresser, she pulled out a second pair of shorts and two shirts. Keeping her back to the doctor, she let the towel drop before pulling on an oversized t-shirt. Turning with the other clothes in her hand, she held them up as she motioned toward the woman sitting on her bed. "You want to change before we have this conversation?"

Caramel curls bounced as Maura shook her head; more of them had come loose from her sliver hair clip, making her look adorably mussed despite the fact that there had been little activity that would cause such a look. Her smile of light amusement showed clearly as she turned halfway, preserving whatever might have been left of Jane's modesty. "It's a little late now, isn't it? My dress is already stained, and if dry-cleaning doesn't take out the spots, I'll still consider it an acceptable loss. Our friendship is already changed, too, the moment either of us contemplated this. Organically, naturally... well, not entirely naturally. There may have been a little engineering on my part, and if that upsets you, then I do apologize. We can try to go forward from here, or we can hold it where it is now for a very long time. But we can't go backward, and I, for one, don't want to try it."

Jane tossed the clothes on top of her dresser with a shrug before walking back to her bed. "Yeah, you're probably right about that, and I'm not sure I do either." Plopping down on the side opposite the smirking honey blonde, the detective leaned against the headboard, holding a hand out toward the other woman. "If this is how you get me to do things you want me to do in our relationship," she began, her voice light, eyes showing a light amusement of her own, "I think I'm going to be in trouble." She motioned for Maura to join her. "I'm a seasoned detective who grew up dealing with two sneaky, manipulative brothers, and I completely missed what was going on until you started working on my abs," she raised an eyebrow. "I think I was distracted."

Half-apology trespassed across Maura's features and her eyes shifted briefly to one side as Jane mentioned her brothers, but she did not respond verbally to that item. "Distracted?" she asked instead, slightly miffed, as she scooted up to sit facing Jane again, hip to hip. "I really do apologize for the maneuvering, but I was hoping that at least a good portion of your attention might be fairly well focused." Her left hand took Jane's right as her right rested lightly at Jane's left thigh, just below the hem of her shorts. "In fact, I was hoping that you would see it and understand that it was purposeful. I was attempting blatancy."

The detective gave a snort of amusement. "Distracted. As in, you touching me and making remarks full of innuendo while playing the longest list of lesbian songs I have ever heard in my life may have kept my attention on something other than what you were up to. I might have been trying really hard to not think about you naked in my bed because that's not how you're supposed to be thinking about your best friend." Again, her eyebrow quirked, Rizzoli smirk sliding into place. "It's entirely possible that's what was happening."

Maura had a moment of nothing but honest smiles. There was the thoughtful smile with head tilt, then the head-down shy smile, then she lifted her gaze and delivered a you-caught-me smile which grew warm. No, heated. "That's what I wanted you to think about. I chose those songs with great care, you know. Every one of them had a purpose. Some of them were a little off in their timing, perhaps, but that's what I've been thinking about ever since Fra..." She stoppered the word mid-syllable, the vowel choking to a whisper, and swiftly lowered her gaze for a moment as she tried to reroute her statement. Tried, and failed. "Um. I, I can't think of a graceful way out of that, and I don't want you thinking about anyone else right now. I want you to go back to thinking about me naked in your bed."

"Hmmm." Pursing her lips in thought, Jane's mind ran through the short list of possible people Maura might mean. "Frankie called you?" She narrowed her eyes, glancing down the length of her nose at the honey blonde. "I'm going to put that on the back burner for right now," reaching out, she grabbed Maura's hand, pulling the smaller woman to her for a heated kiss. "when I'm not busy."

Maura leaned into the kiss, into Jane's body as close as she could get, given their current positions. She was beautifully responsive, breathing quickly within a second or two, whimpering shortly thereafter. During a mercifully short pause, she managed, "Jane?" as her hands roamed over shoulder, arm, hand, and back up and over collarbones, barely missing truly personal territory on their way back down to her friend's waist. "Jane? I'm not," between one kiss and the next, "I'm not," and another, and another, "fragile," and she shifted to stretch out alongside Jane, dress fabric twisted and pulled higher on her thighs by her lack of concern for it, "and I'm not unsure."

Dark eyes roamed over the newly exposed flesh before Jane moved to lie on top of Maura, pinning her down. "Good to know," she said before lowering her head to kiss and nip at the exposed flesh above the collar of the twisted dress. "I'm getting there pretty quick," she breathed against the pulse point she had been giving copious amounts of attention to just a moment before. "In fact, I'd say I'm there," she said just before running her left hand down the side of Maura's body to the bottom hem of the flesh toned dress. "How about you?"

"You may not even have to touch me," Maura said, breathless, as her body betrayed all that she had kept controlled all day long, "but do it anyway. Now," she demanded as her back arched…

Jane woke earlier than was her normal habit on a Sunday morning. Glancing down at the woman in her arms, she smiled at the disheveled pile of honey blonde hair partially blocking the peaceful face of the still sleeping Maura.

The usually well-manicured doctor was anything but, and Jane's smile widened at the memories of exactly how that had come to be. She gently moved the covers to check the smaller woman's back and winced at the nail marks. A grunt of sympathetic pain escaped before she could stop it. Quickly, she let the covers go, looking down to see if she'd disturbed the other woman.

Serene still, Maura smiled beatifically even before she opened her eyes, stretching against the deliciously soft body of her lover. "Admiring your handiwork?" she murmured duskily. "You should. I liked it. It showed me I was doing it right." Another languorous undulation found her facing upward then; the covers pulled down with her leg movements, leaving her bare above the waist. From the living room came the faint sounds of Joan Jett as the MP3 player cycled through its umpteenth repetition of the playlist. Still sleep-warmed, the smaller woman pulled Jane fully onto her again as if the smallest separation were physically uncomfortable for her. "Don't feel bad about the marks, Jane. You did it right, too."

"Yeah?" Jane allowed herself to be moved, settling comfortably in Maura's grasp. "What makes you think this was my first time at this rodeo?" She chuckled, closing her eyes and enjoying the feel of just being with Maura in this way.

"I don't," Maura replied with a healthy dose of respect in her tone, "but I want you to know you did it right for me. You were," she sighed dreamily, "everything I had no idea I was missing. Remind me to buy your brother a thank-you card. Or a ticket to some sporting event. Or maybe a car."

"A car?," the brunette's tone was light but teasing, "Wow, that good, huh?" She laid a kiss on the skin closest to her lips. "How about I just agree not to kill him for butting into my love life, we cook him dinner, and call it even?" She nuzzled against her lover, pulling the covers up to wrap them in. "You know you're coming to Family Night tonight, right?"

Maura considered all the presented options, then nodded agreement. "Dinner would be an acceptable substitute, I suppose." Her head tilted back to grant greater access to her throat, but not before she'd seen the telltale flush in Jane's features, a heightened color that would mark her all day - as, surely, she herself was similarly identifiable - as a well-loved woman. "I'll gladly come to family night, as long as I'm not a surprise to your parents. Either we tell them beforehand, or we agree not to tell them at all, but I don't want it to become a disturbance of family time. I know how important that time is for all of you."

She paused, then set that aside; it was a complicated discussion they could have later. "Jane? It really was that good, you know. But even if it hadn't been, I hope you realize that I would have gotten just as much enjoyment out of it." Off Jane's doubtful expression, she smiled. "Because it was you. It was you letting me love you, loving me back."

"Ah," Jane shifted to a sitting position to grab her phone, "So, here's what I'm going to do," she returned to her spot. "I'm going to call Ma now, while I'm here with you and in a happy spot. I'm going to tell her what's up because now that I'm waking up, I can feel the claw marks, and, frankly, I'm sore. Ma's going to know something's up whether /you/ show up or not. So, I'm just going to come clean while it's still early. If everything turns out to be fine, which I'm thinking it will since she already knows about my first time at this rodeo and she was fine with it," she gave the doctor a wink, "then we go. If it doesn't go well, we stay in… all day. Sound good to you?" She paused for a breath. "That's all assuming that you're okay with walking around as my girlfriend and this isn't a one night stand kind of thing."

"Girlfriend, lover," Maura said with a sly look on her face, "or willing sex slave. Tell people anything you want, because it's all true. Be as discreet as you want at work, of course. If you can." She stroked the backs of her fingers along Jane's cheek. "If I'm looking as radiant as you are, I'm sure everyone will know. Especially if you're as sore as I am." Her voice had gone sultry as she said it. "Knowing how well it turned out the first time, I'm going to offer again to try to ease some of that soreness for you. Mine, I intend to treasure. Every sore muscle, stiff tendon, scratch, or bruise. Every little twinge will make me smile and feel so very smug and satisfied. I'm sure Vince and Barry will notice, too. They'll probably be thinking all manner of naughty, nasty things that they won't have the nerve to ask me." Her smile grew mischievous as she giggled giddily. Lovemaking and its afterglow looked good on her.

"Deep down, you really are evil, you know that?" the dark haired detective laughed as she scrolled through her phone. Maura giggled, actually giggled, as she nodded full agreement. "Okay, I'm calling. This should be interesting." She rolled her eyes as she waited for her mother to pick up.

"Jane, is everything okay?" Angela's voice was full of fear and concern as she answered the phone.

Jane rolled her eyes. "Yeah, everything's fine, Ma. I just... are you busy?"

Relief. "No, I can stop what I'm doing. What's going on?"

"Listen, I probably shouldn't do this over the phone, but I need to tell you something, and I'm not really sure where to start." She glanced up into Maura's eyes, giving her a gentle smile. "But, I think you're going to be okay with it."

The blonde stretched, luxuriating in the tangled sheets, including one corner of the fitted sheet that had been pulled right up from the edge of the bed during the night's exertions. One hand propped up her messy bed-head as she idly contemplated how and where to touch Jane next. From tiny trickles, their mutual permissions had been granted to take all manner of liberties, and the embarrassment of riches thrilled her. Since she did not wish to cause too many problems between Jane and her mother, Maura settled for simply resting her hand on the slender woman's hip. She wondered if Angela would be looking at the clock, wondering why Jane needed to talk about this at this hour. How close would she get to the correct mental image? Would she put things together and realize that the only reason that this particular conversation had to happen at this particular hour was that Jane had awakened, wrapped within and around a woman, each bearing scratches and bruises from their overly enthusiastic celebration of sensuality that still filled the air with its intoxicating fragrance?

"Jane. Tell me."

"Remember Sarah Dickson?" Jane asked, her voice uncertain.

The name came with recognition, and Maura remembered that Jane had almost spilled it from her lips during dinner last night. What would have changed if Maura had simply asked, Sarah who? as she had considered doing? Tenderly she began stroking long ovals up and down the toned side, waist, and thigh.

"Sure," Angela's voice was confused, but she was clearly following whatever direction Jane was taking her. "She was a nice girl, a little clumsy. Why?"

"Do you remember what happened with her... and me, I mean?" Jane rolled over so that she was on her back but still in Maura's arms as the smaller woman, lips soft and warm, playing a leisurely game of "kiss the freckle" across Jane's shoulders. She was trying to be good, but Jane's skin was so beautiful, so tempting.

"Yes." Angela's voice was guarded. "You two had a fight about Jake Dillenger and split."

"Um, well, yeah." The brunette snuggled down into the doctor's arms, not bothering to fix the sheets that had slipped down. "But, I mean, that we were an item for a while."

"Until you kissed Jake Dillenger."

"Ma! Really?"

Maura rolled backwards, giving space between their bodies, and pulled Jane towards her so that they were facing again. She could just barely hear Angela's side of the conversation, and smiled. Later they could have the discussion about how there would be no more Jakes for either of them until further notice, but right now she could just pour herself into feeling glad that there had been a Sarah, someone with whom Jane had learned what Maura was so grateful that at least one of them knew: that they were possible for each other. She rose up halfway, leaning onto her straightened arm and palm and looking down at the dark-haired, work-tanned woman with whom she had shared so much for so long. How had this never happened before?

"Honey, what are you trying to tell me? If you're trying to tell me that you've dated girls, you know I know that, and, like I told you then, I don't care who you're dating as long as you're happy and they're good to you." The older Rizzoli paused for a moment to catch her breath. "Janie, are you seeing a woman? Are you," hopefulness, "dating someone?"

"Yeah." Jane tilted her head back to look up into Maura's face. "I'm dating someone."

Maura's eyes closed, then reopened, pupils dilated. So often she had seen Jane looking harsh and intimidating, bold and cocky, comical and cute, scared into smallness, but her expression now was different. Oh, I want to see this every day, she thought as she saw those sharply defined features soften, ran her fingers over eyebrows and cheekbones and jawline. This is just for me.

"Well, don't just keep me hanging here! Who is it?"

"Maura." Jane closed her eyes and waited.

"It's about time! When are you two coming over tonight? Can you pick up some bread? Your father forgot."

Maura did not suppress her chuckle. Trust Angela Rizzoli to focus on what's important, making this normal for her daughter so that there need be no self-consciousness. She whispered, "And a car for Frankie," eyes a-twinkle.

"Um, the usual time, and, yeah, we can do that. Anything else?"

"No. We'll see you girls tonight. Love you, Janie. Give me love to Maura."

Maura whispered again, "I love her too." It was easy to say, easy to feel. Jane had become the person that she was, in large part, because of Angela.

"Yeah, sure, love you, too," Jane ended the call and tossed the phone on the night stand. "She says it's about time, and she wants us to bring bread to dinner tonight. We have," she glanced at the clock, "about 6 hours before we have to be anywhere. Have any ideas on how to spend that?"

"Shower," Maura immediately replied, mind suddenly afire with ideas involving wet, soapy, slippery Jane. Then she paused, considering the logistics of some of those activities. "How long do you think your hot water will hold out?"

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