I started thinking there weren't enough stories of Jane just being sick and Maura coming to her side. Sure, there are a lot of fan fics out there dealing with Jane being shot and Maura nursing her back to health, but we really hadn't had a good 'Jane's just sick' story in a while. After battling out my own (I'll spare you, but if you follow twitter, you know), I figured I'd write one up.
Talking to Googs about, we both thought it'd be fun to write it together, so I've been lucky to cowrite this one with Googlemouth. We plan to turn this into a series. Keep your eyes peeled for additional stories in this universe.
As always, the characters are not ours. They belong to Tess, TNT, and other assorted important people.
Jane leaned back on her sofa and groaned. The thermometer read 101. Despite the high fever, she was freezing. The stomach cramps had at least died down, but she was flashing between hot and cold worse than her mother on a bad day. If this is what it feels like to go through the change, I hope I die in the line of duty first, she thought as another wave of cramps hit and curled her into a ball on her side.
The knock was barely audible despite the low volume of the television set. Jane tried to get up, but moving hurt. Between the high fever she'd been running all day and the stomach cramps, her body was sore and weak. The knock came again. Oh man, just go away. She resettled into her little ball of pain.
The third knock was accompanied by a key turning in the door. Crap, it's Ma. I'm too weak to fight. I'll never survive this. God, just let me die now.
Maura? What is she doing here? "On the couch." The dark haired brunette tried to sit up, grimaced in pain, and fell back onto the cushions.
"Jane, why didn't you call me?" In a swift movement, Maura was by Jane's side. In her knee length dress, she knelt beside the sofa to look at her friend. "What happened?" She began to take inventory of Jane's state.
"Best guess? Food poisoning." I just want to sleep. She's going to ask for…
"…are your symptoms?" Maura was already looking around for the thermometer.
"Stomach issues I'm not going to get into with you that've stopped. Stomach's still cramping like a mother, though. Fever running about 101. Hot and cold chills. Body aches… probably from the throwing up and fever."
Gently running her hand over Jane's sweat covered face, Maura frowned. "You're still burning up. You need to bathe and change. I'm going to go run a bath for you. When was the last time you tried to eat?"
Oh God "Let's not talk about food." I don't want to move. "Like, ever, okay?" Her hand's still on my forehead. That feels nice. Jane let out a soft, appreciative moan. I could fall asleep if she'd just keep…
"…and no sleeping until we can get you cleaned up a bit. I know you just want to lie here, but doing so has the potential of causing added issues." Maura stood and turned to the bathroom. "I'm going to run the water, you go get ready. I mean it, Jane. If you're not ready by the time I get back, I'll strip you myself."
"Bossy." She calls me bossy.
Slowly, the detective sat up and rolled from the sofa. She shuffled to her bedroom, past the open bathroom door where Maura was bent over the tub running the water. I should just push her in. With a pout firmly planted on her face, Jane pulled off her clothes, tossed them in the hamper, and pulled on a robe. By the time she had managed to shuffle into the bathroom, Maura was stepping out.
"The warm water should help with your body aches. I put some bubbles in it," she gave the pouting woman a gentle smile, "I know you like them."
Yes. "No. Ma bought that crap for me last Christmas. I just haven't bothered to toss it." I really should buy some more. I think I'm almost out.
"Jane." The same gentle smile on her face, Maura stepped to the side to allow the detective to walk into the bathroom. "Don't forget to pull your hair up."
"Do you need help with anything? I can hold you upright while you undress, if you need," Maura offered, sympathy coloring what she probably thought was a nice, clinical bedside manner, thus illustrating how seldom she saw live patients. Still, it was probably better than the professional chill she would doubtless have adopted with anyone other than Jane. "I don't want you to fall and hurt yourself."
"It's a robe, Maura," Jane spat back with mild irritation, "not a freaking Givenchy dress. I got this. Now, do you mind? A little privacy?" She stood, arms crossed, waiting for the doctor to step out of the doorframe so the door could be closed.
Maura obediently stepped outside, though the concern in her features did not lessen in the least.
Rather than making a second offer of assistance, the pathologist headed right for Jane's laptop, booted it up, and called up a Google map of Jane's address. "Directions, nearest drugstore," she mumbled beneath her breath, and then started clicking links until she found the nearest. "Hello," she began when the pharmacy department answered, then made her enquiries. A few minutes later she headed back to the bathroom door, knocked gently, and spoke through it. "Jane? I'm going to run out and get you some things that may help you feel better, okay? I won't be more than ten minutes."
The sound of water splashing followed by a grunt echoed through the small bathroom. "K. Can you pick up some apple juice, too?" Jane's voice sounded weak and more hoarse than normal. If it were anyone else, it might have been described as sounding a little on the pathetic side.
"Okay, Jane," Maura called back. As she trotted quickly back for the apartment door, snatching her purse from where she'd dropped it earlier, she murmured, "Poor baby."
Ten minutes later, Maura was back from the nearest drug store, which was actually a sort of all-purpose chain - drug store, a few groceries, housewares, shoes. She would never have shopped there, given another viable choice, but she also hadn't wanted to leave Jane for very long. It didn't take long to unpack her purchases: apple juice, three different flavors of Pedialyte, a quartet of bananas, some sugar-free apple sauce, and surprisingly good quality bread. She popped two pieces of bread into Jane's toaster, then arranged the juice, apple sauce, one sliced banana, and a cup of ice water on a tray. The Pedialyte would wait until she had ascertained which flavor Jane preferred. The apple juice she placed in the refrigerator for later. Once it was all taken care of, she made for the bathroom again. "Does your bath still have a reasonable level of bubble cover?" she asked the closed door.
There was no answer, not even the sound of water moving.
Maura shifted the tray she held onto one hand, knocked with the other, and waited. "Jane? ... Jane?" That was it. She knew the dangers. It was time to violate Jane's treasured privacy. She set the tray down in the hallway and barged in.
Jane was sleeping peacefully in the bathtub. She floated in the warm, partially bubbled water, her head lolling against her shoulder and her left arm hanging over the side of the tub. Her breathing was even, and a light snore filled the air.
Maura explosively released the breath she had been holding as the color flooded back into her ashen features. "Oh, God, Jane!" How quickly a person could move from fear to relief to exasperation. It didn't even seem to matter that Jane wasn't awake, at least at first; she simply dropped to the side of the tub and took her friend by the shoulders. "Don't you ever scare me like that again. I thought you had drowned."
Jane startled awake. "Maura?" Remembering where she was and how she was, she quickly went from confused to angry. "What the hell?" Instinctively trying to gain some of her dignity back, the detective pulled back, away from the doctor's grasp, which, in turn, pulled the doctor toward her and precariously close to the side of the tub.
Jane's slippery shoulders offered no purchase whatsoever, and, with the sudden movement's effects on her center of gravity, there was nothing she could do about her fall but brace. One hand caught the edge of the tub, thankfully, but the other arm went right into the bath, down by Jane's arm. With a rapidity that was almost as startling as the sudden motion and fall, she flung herself backward, horrified. "I'm sorry! Did I hurt you?" she wondered, immediately accepting blame for the incident. Tears sprang unbidden as she explained herself, working up into a mess. "I just, you didn't answer when I called, and I know it only takes four minutes to drown, and I was gone for ten, and then it took me another five or so to get your tray ready, and you didn't answer when I knocked either, and I was so scared, Jane! You really scared me. I thought you were dead."
"Okay, first of all, calm down. No one's dead. I mean, I feel like crap, but I'm not dead." Jane turned in the tub to face her friend, one hand covering her chest, the other laying over her lap. "Second of all, I'm really sorry for nearly pulling you in with me. I hope that wasn't a dry clean only dress." She gave her best apologetic face. "Third of all, I feel really awkward right now… what with the naked, and you all over my… um.. well, just awkward about everything. Look, you can raid my room for some dry clothes, but could you step out for a few so I get out and at least pull a robe on? Then, you can yell at me all you want. I already feel bad, so adding to it won't hurt." I really messed up this time, and I wasn't even trying. Why do I only do this with Maura? Chewing at the corner of her mouth, Jane breathed in deeply for a split second before adding, "And, I'm really sorry I scared you."
Maura nodded during Jane's speech, sniffling in a vain attempt to pull back her emotional response and just let her unfortunate, sick friend be. She wasn't helping Jane feel better. She also wasn't even looking at the bathtub, once she'd gotten herself back out of it. "I'm sorry, Jane," she said again, turning around even before she stood up. "I'm going to go change. Rinse off in the hottest shower you can stand comfortably; I'll find you something clean to put on." She picked up Jane's robe, with all its slept-in sick-sweat, and took it with her.
Just a few minutes later, she was back at the door to the bathroom, knocking tentatively as the water shut off again. "Jane? I'm going to come in, set your clean clothes on the counter, and then leave. I'm not going to look in your direction at all, but if you're concerned, you might want to hold a towel over yourself. Let me know when it's okay for me to come in."
"It's okay, Maura. The towel will, in fact, wrap around me," Jane called out from behind the door. "Come in, and leave the door open," after a moment's hesitation, her voice softened to add, "please."
Maura entered, eyes studiously on the floor, and set down a set of relatively new Patriots sweats, Red Sox tank top that had been worn enough to feel like it wasn't really there, and the underthings and socks that were on top in the drawer. For herself, she had chosen a Property Of Boston Police Department shirt and some cutoff jean shorts. But for the expensive hairdo, she might have been any girl next door. She turned to face out into the hallway again, since facing Jane was out of the question, and the other wall held a mirror. "I hope those things are all right. If you need anything else, I'll get it for you. I have your tray on the coffee table, whenever you're ready to try eating something."
"Um... yeah... thanks," uncertainty in her voice, Jane stepped toward the clothes piled on the counter. Man, why she is always so black and white? We have one little incident, and she can't even look in my direction when I have a towel wrapped around me. I mean, it's not like...hmmm "Maura, you can look at me. You've seen me in a towel before. It's cool. You just... took me by surprise with the tub thing. If you wanted to take a bath with me," she reached for the smaller woman's shoulders to spin her, "you should have asked first." With a wink and a smirk, she dropped her hand and chuckled.
Maura snickered as she let herself be spun. "This isn't for my sake, Jane. You're the one who suddenly got more modest than I've ever seen you in the locker room after yoga. I interpreted it as a shyness resulting from thinking that you don't look good because you don't feel good. Now that I know you don't actually mean it when you tell me not to look, I'll just look all I want... and ask first before helping you bathe."
Maura's comment lead to another chuckle from the detective, one that wasn't quite indicative of humor but more of a resounding of a 'come again' comment. "Oh, laughing bad," her face went from somewhat humored to pained in a matter of moments, causing Maura's impish grin to metamorphose rapidly into concern. "Stomach cramp. I'll be fine." Jane held her hand up to halt the doctor's inevitable run to her side. "Go do your thing. I'm going to get dressed."
"All right," Maura replied, "although my things are done. I'll be on the couch, if you need help with anything. If you feel dizzy, faint, or weak at all, call me for help. Please." With that, she left the bathroom, remembering at the last to leave the door open as requested.
Hate being sick. Hate it. Jane let her towel drop as she grabbed her clothes and began pulling them on. Why can't I just be fine? Is that too much to ask? With a huff, she pulled on her sports bra. Wait a minute, did Maura just say she likes to look at me... naked? She pulled on her sweatpants, lost her balance, and fell with a loud thud flat on her rear. "Shit."
In a flash, Maura was back at the bathroom doorway. "What happened?" she asked, though she could see for herself. "Oh, no, Jane. Here, take my hands. Honestly, wouldn't it hurt less to let me help you?"
Begrudgingly, Jane took the offered help, pulling herself up using Maura as a counterweight. "Let you help me get dressed?" What am I? Three? "Really? Man, it's your fault I fell down. It just hit me what you said about... okay, you know what? Never mind. Let's not go back there." She straighten, grabbed her shirt, and pulled it on. "I think we can add a bruised back to my list of ailments now. I'm going to the sofa." With a slight limp, Jane headed for her living room.
Puzzlement crept across Maura's features, but Jane had indicated that she should not ask questions that would clarify the matter, and so she left it alone for the time being. However, she did reach into the bathroom cabinet for a little jar of salve, good for bruises and sore muscles and all manner of other physical pains. On second thought, she also picked up a pair of rubber gloves, the sort she'd left there the last time Jane had needed first aid.
The coffee table bore the tray Maura had made just before 'the bathtub incident': dry toast, apple sauce, sliced banana, a glass of ice water, and the three flavors of Pedialyte she'd picked up. Well, two flavors and one unflavored, just in case.
"No apple juice?" The tone that most would consider pathetic had crept back into Jane's voice as she'd settled on the sofa to stare at the tray. Sitting cross-legged on the far right cushion, she glanced over the back of the sofa to give Maura her best pouty look. Aww, I really wanted apple juice. "You said you'd get some." She frowned, but it came across as more of a pout. "I like the grape stuff, though. Thanks for getting it." Still wanted apple juice.
"Apple juice is in the refrigerator, but it's for later." explained the caramel blonde as she sat down beside Jane, setting down the gloves and salve near the tray. "It's too sugary to be good for your digestive system right now... Oh, sweetie, don't pout at me. It's not going to work. You can have it once you've finished one entire bottle of electrolyte-stabilizer," she pointed at the Pedialyte, "and kept down at least half the food on your tray for two hours." Maura Isles was a hard, hard woman, but at least it was for the right reasons. She cared.
"Hey, I'm not pouting." Am I? "Fine, give me the grape stuff." Jane handed Maura the remote and slowly drank down the bottle of Pedialyte between eating a banana and some apple sauce. After successfully managing to eat everything Maura had dictated, she moved to lie down on the sofa. "Feeling a little weak." Like a lot weak. "Would you hold it against me if I laid here for a little bit? Maybe use you as a pillow?" If I'm lucky, maybe you'll rub my head like that one time. That'd be awesome.
Maura had watched Jane surreptitiously, making certain that food was actually being consumed rather than spirited away and hidden somewhere. When she was satisfied with the amount, however, she stopped watching Jane eat, and simply watched Jane. The detective was weakened, sallow, thinner, but at least she seemed in better spirits now that she felt clean. The doctor congratulated herself on having gotten her friend to bathe and wash her hair, though she was mildly disappointed that the hair had not then been dried or brushed. "I'll be right back." She hopped up again, coming back with the softest hairbrush she could find, and made a lap. "Come on. Once I take care of your bruised back, I'm going to look after that rat's nest of... um... your pretty, pretty hair."
"Man, really?" Damn it. "I'm guessing that fighting you on this isn't really going to do me any good is it?" Never does. With a groan, Jane sat back up. "How do you want me?"
The smaller woman's complacent smile advertised that Jane was right: there was no use complaining, hollering, arguing, or whining. "On your stomach, across my lap, and pull up your shirt until I can see the bruises." She reached for the gloves and salve. "Since they're somehow my fault, they're my responsibility, too, even if you won't tell me why I'm to blame."
I see what you're doing there, Dr. Isles. No way you're getting that one out of me. Sighing heavily to show her vexation, Jane turned carefully to lay herself across Maura's lap so her stomach had as little pressure as possible placed on it. "You can move the shirt. I don't care," though her voice was muffled, the clear sound of defeat was obvious.
"So. It was something I said," Maura mused as she nudged up the edge of Jane's shirt with comfortingly cool, bare fingers. As she pulled on one rubber glove and then the other, she went over their entire conversation, remembering it word for word, though she only uttered a handful of phrases aloud. In backwards order. "Let's see, you swore. Before that, there was the crash. Before that, you were rustling, presumably putting on your sports bra and your sweat pants. Before that, I said call me for help. Before that, you had a stomach cramp because you were laughing." Between recitations, she dipped her gloved fingers into the fragrant salve and began smearing it gently around every bruise she could see, recent or otherwise. "You laughed because I was laughing and making a joke, saying I'd ask first before helping you bathe. And that since I knew you were only kidding when you told me not to look, I'd look all I wanted next time. Before that, you were in your towel and said I could look at you. Before that, I brought you your clothes, and I hope I set them next to the sink instead of in the sink, but I couldn't really see very well because I was trying to respect your stated wishes. Before that..." She kept going all the way back to when she'd first arrived at the apartment, finding nothing startling enough to have caused Jane to become startled enough to fall. "Was this something I said today, or was it earlier?"
"I can't believe we're talking about this. Didn't I say that we should just forget about it?" The detective wiggled, causing her shirt to ride further up toward her neckline. "I mean, you have me strung out over your lap like a 3 year old, and it's not like I can really fight you back. It's not fair, Maura. I'm at a disadvantage here. I'm sick. I'm weaker than normal." A hand came up to gesture blindly over her head. "Come on, cut me a break here." She flexed her muscles, a habit she picked up as she learned how not to yell at her sensitive friend. Shit. "Oh God, bad idea," in a quick motion, she rolled ungracefully off of the doctor, landed on all fours on the floor, and scrambled to the bathroom, barely making it to her feet before slamming the door shut behind her.
Maura had wanted to explain to Jane that although her own detective work was done within bodies rather than out in the world of crime scenes and suspects and witnesses, she too had the need for answers built into her psyche. To remind her friend that she wasn't used to social interactions that weren't well choreographed, each step prescribed by countless rules to make things easier for her, and that with informal social interactions, she often needed a road map, flashlight, and a helpful sherpa to guide the way - all of which meant that she relied on friends to tell her when she had communicated things that she had not meant to communicate, while failing to communicate what she hadwanted to say. To protest that if she'd been offensive, she needed to know how, so that she was less likely to repeat her error among people less likely to forgive her than Jane.
But there was no time. Jane was up and off her so quickly that it left her head spinning - figuratively, of course - and she had no choice but to remove her rubber gloves, get up, and follow her to the bathroom. She listened for a moment, trying to figure out which symptom was currently torturing her best friend, then walked back to the kitchen to refill Jane's ice. More Pedialyte would go down easier if it was cold.
A few very long moments, and one teeth brushing, later Jane staggered out of the bathroom. "Hate this. Never eating at the ballpark again." Stupid hotdog. Closing her eyes, she leaned against the door frame before propelling herself off of it and toward the sofa. "Worse than being stabbed," she muttered as she slid down to sit in the middle of the sofa. "You wanted to brush my rat's nest, right?"
"Yes, I do. Please." It would serve as an apology, perhaps; she'd never miscommunicated through touch, even when her well-meaning mouth offended or upset right and left. Maura climbed onto the back-rest of the sofa and sat there, knees apart, for Jane to seat herself normally. Once Jane had arranged herself again, the relatively diminutive woman began gently teasing the tangles out of just the bottom inch of Jane's curls, avoiding any and all pulls, rips, or snarls. She moved up about half an inch at a time, working silently but with pleasure as her hands worked the long tresses. As she moved up for the third time or so, she remarked idly, "You have the nicest hair. I love touching it."
"Feels nice." Jane leaned back a bit further to allow Maura better access. "I don't normally get people messing with my hair. I'm glad you like to play with it." Didn't even happen when I was in school. A few quite seconds ticked away before she spoke again. "Maura, when you're done, can we go lay down? I'm cold, and I'm tired, and you petting my head is making me want to go to sleep."
"Okay, sweetie," Maura replied, laying one warm hand on her friend's head in between brush strokes. A moment later, she suggested, "Actually, I can brush you while you're lying down, too. You could go to sleep any time your body lets you."
How long has she called me sweetie? "I'd rather just lay on you." Did I just say that? Without another word, Jane pulled away and stumbled into her bedroom, not bothering to turn to see if Maura was following. I can't believe those words just came out of my mouth. Maura is not my body pillow. What the hell? She crawled into what she had come to consider her side of the bed, and pulled the covers up to her chin, not bothering to turn the lights out.
Maura, on the other hand, smiled the entire way back to the bedroom, hairbrush in hand and with another complacent, "Okay, sweetie." She took little time shucking the jean cutoffs, turned on the nightstand light on her side of the bed, then sat down near Jane's head to brush out her hair. The tangles were gone; all that was left was to make sure Jane got some real rest, lulled by the soft bristles against her scalp, gentle fingers combing through the dark, rich locks in between each brush stroke. When she judged Jane relaxed enough, she scooted down to spoon up behind the taller woman, head propped on one hand, the other continuing to brush; and when the difference between sleeping and waking was its most indistinct, she set the brush on her nightstand, pushed the 'off' switch on the light, and continued the pleasurable task with only her fingers. Silken black, gleaming in the faint lights from outside Jane's bedroom window, splayed across the pillow. Maura fell asleep stroking it.
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