With all the murders, the death, her fear, her crazy family, Jane Rizzoli knew one thing for sure; she didn't want to lose Maura's friendship. She couldn't afford too. Couldn't bare too.
That had been clear since they had first met. Properly, when Maura wasn't treating her wounds and Jane wasn't slipping into unconsciousness, but later, back at the station, her hands freshly bandaged and shoved deep into her pockets. The blonde doctor had reached out to pull her hands out, to check the wounds or the bandages, Jane wasn't sure which, but instead of recoiling or running, or even snapping, she had simply held out her hands for Maura to inspect.
She'd barely let her own mother touch her arms let alone her hands.
And Maura hadn't asked if it hurt, not because she didn't care, the way she handled Jane's hands so delicately told her otherwise, but because it was obvious that it hurt.
Instead she smiled and spoke.
"If you have any trouble getting painkillers or anything at all, talk to me, I know the best doctors in Boston."
Jane hadn't known what to say to that, or at all, and had simply mumbled a 'thank you', before Maura was off again, back down into the basement.
Jane had known then, she'd just met a person she wanted in her life forever. That incident, and a million things since, like over explaining everything, sitting up all night to protect her, Jane couldn't lose her as a friend.
Except...except she wanted to risk it all.
She hadn't even realised she was attracted to Maura at first, hadn't quite recognised the flutter of arousal, the new layer of tension, or the way she noticed every little thing about the blonde; the way she titled her chin when she was annoyed, looked down when she was trying not to laugh, threw her head back a little when she was laughing. She noted the differing hemlines, the length of her sleeves, the cut of her tops. She didn't care about clothes, she cared about Maura in the clothes.
It wasn't until Jane realised she had a favourite outfit that she realised she was completely attracted to her friend.
And completely unable to do anything.
A hand, a soft gentle hand came to rest on her forehead and she jerked in response at first, but then relaxed when she realised it was Maura.
"Jane are you ill? You're very distracted this evening."
She dropped her hand, and Jane almost followed it, dipping her head slightly before she realised what she was doing.
"A little headache," she said, not entirely lying, her head was spinning from the entire situation, and the fact that she could see Maura's black lace bra through the blouse she was wearing if she stared hard enough.
Or maybe she was imagining it.
"Maybe I should take you home."
She almost spit her beer at her. She tried to swallow, but felt something go wrong and started to cough instead. Maura moved around the table to pat her back, slowing when Jane could breathe again, until she was simply rubbing the detective's back. It was soothing and she relaxed into it, her earlier feelings leaving for a moment.
"Maybe I should go home," she said. "Long day."
Long week, hell, long summer, she thought, but didn't voice it. They'd both had a rough summer.
"Possibly, not all days are exactly 24 hours, I would have to check, but then, you were probably speaking metaphorically."
"Probably," Jane said.
"It also depends where you are on the Earth, in regards to the latitude and -"
"Not helping the headache Maura," she cut in, not quite ready for a lesson in...whatever.
"Sorry, let's go."
Jane hesitated for a moment, considering telling Maura that they didn't both have to leave, that she should stay, enjoy her Friday night, but the idea of one of the single guys currently in the Dirty Robber buying her a drink, made her change her mind and stand up.
Jane had never really been the jealous type, she didn't think anyone was stupid enough to cheat on a cop, not if they wanted to keep their balls, but when it came to Maura, some of that tension and arousal she felt turned into blinding anger and jealousy.
Which she hoped she managed to contain.
Right now, she couldn't contain anything, all she could do was keep her mouth shut, go home and sleep.
They left the bar and walked to the end of the road where they usually parted, but instead of stopping, Maura kept going, turning left towards Jane's apartment, instead of crossing and walking on. She paused, and followed, realising that her friend intended on walking her all the way home. She appreciated it, loved her for it, and caught up with her once more, after taking a quick glance at her backside in the pale yellow skirt.
She was a pig, she knew it, but she had a headache, and it had been a long day. Long week. Long summer.
At her apartment, Jane dropped down onto her sofa, as Maura, went into the kitchen instead of saying goodbye. When she heard her put the kettle on, she turned her head to watch the blonde move around her kitchen, fetching mugs from her cupboard.
"What are you doing?" she asked.
"Making you some soothing tea," Maura replied, not even looking away from what she was doing.
"I don't have any tea. Soothing or otherwise."
"Yes you do. I bought some over last week."
Jane smiled, shaking her head in amusement and settled back into the sofa, her headache wasn't getting any better, and Maura was always so good to her. She didn't deserve it. She closed her eyes and when she opened them again, Maura was standing in front of her, holding a mug of tea, brow furrowed.
"What's wrong?" she asked.
"Tired, headache, long day."
Week, month, summer.
"I should go, let you rest," Maura said, putting the mug down.
"No, Maura, stay and finish your tea at least," she said. "Please."
The blonde thought about it for a moment, still frowning, then she sat down next to Jane on the sofa, shifting to sit facing her, legs crossed, watching the detective.
"You've been very un-Jane like lately."
"I cannot think of another way to put it. There are no words to encompass all the changes in you over the past few weeks."
"It's just been a rough summer Maura."
Jane knew that noise, knew her friend didn't believe her, but really wasn't in the mood to argue with her. Not tonight. She was too tired and too in love.
In love? Where the hell had that come from?
It was the headache.
"Drink your tea Jane, it will make you feel better."
She did so, reaching over for the mug Maura had placed on the coffee table for her. It was some sort of herbal tea, with honey, and surprisingly nice, and she drank it quickly, hoping it would calm her somehow.
As unlikely as she considered it.
"That was nice," she said. "Thanks."
"Feel better?" Maura asked.
The tension between them was changing from charged attraction, to awkward, and it was rarely like that between them. So little came between them nowadays, their friendship was solid, and now, now, Jane's attraction, and attempt to keep their friendship was messing things up.
She couldn't win.
She could go to bed and bury her head in the metaphorical sand for another night of weak orgasms and broken sleep.
"I'm going," Maura said, putting the tea down and standing up.
"See you tomorrow maybe."
Maura hesitated, then headed to the door, opening it and turning around.
"Did I do something wrong?" she asked.
"Huh? Of course not?"
"Then what's wrong?"
"Nothing Maura, it's just a headache."
"I can tell when you're lying Jane, your procerus muscles are causing transverse wrinkles in the glabella region," the blonde said. "Poker players call it a tell."
"Yeah, I know," she said, unable to stop the smile.
"Please, tell me what's wrong?"
"Nothing," she repeated, with a little more finality in her voice.
"Then I'll let you go to bed."
She saw her friend out, and then downed some aspirin before she went to bed to try and sleep.
Except she couldn't sleep, and the next day both Korsak and Frost told her she looked like shit. The problem was, that with so little sleep, and so much on her mind, she didn't have a good comeback. She had a comeback, it was just pretty weak, and gave Korsak more ammunition. Good thing she liked him, or he'd be on the receiving end of her fist.
She was in that kind of mood.
"Are you okay?"
She snapped her head up out of her hands at the sound of Maura's voice, and felt a muscle in her neck protest. The blonde would know which exactly, but she decided not to draw attention to it, biting back a grimace of pain.
"Your scapula is rounded, the deltoids are tight," she continued. "Are you agitated?"
"Tired, I'm just a bit tired. And tense."
"Why? We caught the killer, and don't currently have a case, the weather is nice, that often improves the mood, though it's probably because of the extra vitamin D improving the immune system."
"Can I help? I could manipulate your deltoids and trapezius muscles until you feel better. Or have someone prescribe a mild sedative?"
Massage or sleeping pills? Jane understood more and more when it came to Maura's overly technical talk, and she knew which she would prefer, Maura's hands over her neck and shoulders, and she managed not to groan at the idea. There was a sharp pain in her stomach and she hissed, and Maura put a hand on her shoulder.
"Where is the pain?"
"You don't need to diagnose me Maura, it's just a stomach ache."
"But it could be something serious."
"Or, I could be hungry. I'm going to get some breakfast."
"You haven't had any breakfast?" Maura said.
"I wasn't hungry this morning. Are you coming?"
"No, I've eaten thank you, and I have a report to start," she said. "I'll come by later."
"You don't have to," Jane said. "I'm fine."
"Okay," her friend said, sounding a little dejected. She went to say something more, but instead turned around and headed back down to Autopsy.
Jane went to have breakfast, to quell the stomach pains she felt, not that food really helped.
She downed a couple of aspirin, and then popped an antacid into her mouth to chew on, putting both back into her draw. She'd been relying heavily on both over the past couple of weeks, and was trying to hide it, at least from Maura, she didn't want her friend diagnosing her, or worrying about her. The headaches, and stomach aches had been pretty easy to hide, she had a high pain threshold, could manage the worse of if, but the pale skin and yawning were harder to hide, and she was unable to really explain it away as a bad nights sleep any more.
Every night was a bad nights sleep.
She wasn't even sure what was causing it now, things were...normal. She and Maura solved murders, she had her crush on her friend, she didn't sleep, the nightmares were no worse than usual. Normal. For Jane. Except she didn't sleep long enough to have nightmares, the headaches and stomach aches were distracting her, and every time she looked at Maura she wanted to kiss her.
Maybe not so normal, she thought, but they were still solving murders. At least that was something.
There was another sharp pain in her stomach and she swallowed a hiss and reached into the draw for another antacid, wondering if she could overdose on them, Maura would know of course, but that would let the other woman know she was taking them, and one thing would lead to another, and then she would be professing her love to the woman in the middle of the homicide bullpen.
Not how she wanted to spend her Friday.
She just wanted to go home and go to bed.
"Are we having a drink tonight?"
Jane wrapped her hand around the tube of antacids, and dropped her arm so her hand was out of sight.
"Sure, I could use a drink," she replied, plastering a smile onto her face. Not that she needed to pretend around Maura, around her best friend, but since she'd realised that she was in love with the woman, everything felt a little forced, like she was trying too hard to be casual. To be a friend.
It wasn't working either, Maura knew both the human body, and Jane Rizzoli, well enough to know when she was really happy, and when she was just putting on a show. They both knew it, but for some reason, Maura hadn't called her on it. Not for weeks.
It was un-Maura like.
Of course to ask her about it would lead to conversations about other things, and she had already decided she didn't want to profess her love for the woman in the middle of the station.
"You'll meet me at the Dirty Robber then?" Maura asked.
"At six," Jane said, with a nod, and Maura went to ask if she was okay, Jane could tell by the look on her face, the worry and confusion was obvious to her, but she didn't ask the question, and Jane didn't prompt it.
"I'll see you later."
In the bar, Maura walked in at exactly six, and joined Jane in the booth. She hadn't even noticed the doctor at first, the stomach ache had gotten worse, the antacids weren't even touching it any more (Google had told her she had a way to go before overdosing on the stuff), and the stress made the headaches worse, and she could only take so much aspirin every few hours. And she felt sick.
She felt Maura's hand on her shoulder, and figured she was probably busted, and when she lifted her head she smiled at her, weakly, and went to stand up. Then it felt like she was being stabbed (and she had experience), in the stomach and couldn't hold back the strangled noise she made in reaction. A half scream, half growl, and then suddenly Maura was standing sideways and everything faded to black.
Jane woke up in a hospital bed.
Not for the first time, and certainly not for the last time, and she was glad to see that this time at least her entire family wasn't in the room with her when she regained consciousness. Glad, but a little worried too, didn't they know she was in hospital?
Of course, it didn't help that she didn't know why she was in hospital.
"You're conscious," Maura said, and Jane looked to the door to see her friend there, smile on her face, coffee in her hand.
"That for me?" she asked.
"No, you shouldn't consume any coffee for a while," Maura replied, coming further into the room.
Jane decided to ignore that in favour of a more pressing matter.
"What the hell happened?" she asked. "The last thing I remember was you asking if we were going to have a drink?"
"You don't remember meeting me in the Dirty Robber?" Maura asked.
"No, did I?"
"Retrograde amnesia, common in people who've had head injuries."
"I have a head injury?"
Her head hurt, yes, but recently, her head always hurt. Her stomach too.
"You stood up, screamed, clutched your stomach, and then as you collapsed your head impacted with the edge of the booth," Maura explained. "You have an peptic ulcer."
"Yes, on the lining of your stomach, the doctors concluded that it's caused by the combination of NSAID usage and the H. pylori bacteria."
"N.S what and what?" Jane asked, pulling herself up into a sitting position, and Maura came to sit in the plastic seat beside her.
"Over use of aspirin, and an infection," she explained.
"Oh. I thought ulcers were caused by stress."
"No, common misconception, though some people think it's a contributing factor. In your case I suspect stress was causing your headaches and lack of sleep, which caused you to take painkillers and your immune system to deteriorate, which in turn-"
"Maura, I get it, cause and effect," Jane said, interrupting her before her headache got worse. "What's the cure?"
"A course of proton pump inhibitors and eradication therapy."
"What?" Jane cried.
"Drugs? You mean drugs."
"Then next time just say drugs Maura, eradication therapy is alarming."
"Sorry, I didn't mean to upset you," she said, standing up. Jane reached out and grabbed her hand, pulling her back towards the bed.
"No, it's okay, I'm sorry. Between the stress and the ulcer, I'm a little grumpy."
Maura sat back down, smiling again.
"Why are you so stressed?" she asked.
Jane wasn't sure how to answer that.
She could lie of course. Work, her mother, nothing, anything would do, but she was never comfortable lying to Maura, even the little white lies, she was her best friend, and she did love her. When she didn't respond immediately, Maura continued to speak.
"I've been feeling somewhat stressed too."
"Really? You never said anything."
"Neither did you."
"No, I didn't, sorry."
"So am I."
They were silent for a minute, until Jane spoke again, before Maura could bring the conversation around to her.
"So what's got the great Dr. Isles so stressed out? Bass ill again? Broke a heel on your favourite Jenny Choos."
"You know full well it's Jimmy Choo, and no, nothing like that."
"Then what? Come on Maura, you can tell me anything."
"I've been wanting to tell you something for a while, but, I've been unable to decide whether I should or not," she said, starting to fidget a little, and Jane wondered if the woman had read her mind cause she'd been thinking of saying the same thing.
Or at least something similar.
"However, it is obviously causing difficulties between us, so I think it would be best if I...if I just said it."
"Said what?" Jane said, a little amused and confused.
She noted her friend still couldn't quite find the words, and Jane was frozen in place when Maura leaned over and kissed her on the lips.
Kissed her on the lips.
The thought had to be repeated, despite it being damn obvious that Maura was kissing her, and when it sank in a little she was able to kiss her back, run a hand up her back and into her blonde hair, and moan in surprise. It turned into a groan of pleasure as the blonde's tongue flicked at her lips, and she couldn't resist her, tasting the coffee Jane apparently wasn't allowed to drink herself.
A sudden, intrusive thought hit her, and she pulled back.
"Where is my mother?" she asked.
Maura smiled, a brilliant smile, the first Jane had seen for a little while.
"With the rest of your family, seems to be a lot of them," she said. "I convinced the doctor to have them wait in the family room until you regained consciousness."
"Oh good," Jane said, pulling Maura back towards her for another lingering kiss.
"We should discuss this," the blonde managed to murmur between kisses and breaths, Jane wasn't sure how she managed it, and to think at the same time. All she could do was kiss, experience, and try not to pass out.
"I feel the same," she told her friend, wondering if she could convince Maura to climb up onto the hospital bed with her. "Have done for ages." She went to kiss her again, but Maura stood up straight, and out of reach.
"Is that why you've been so distracted?" she asked.
"I guess so, yeah," Jane replied, with a touch of sarcasm.
"Sorry," she said, reaching out and taking her friends hand, linking their fingers together. She tugged her back towards her for another kiss. "You're my best friend Maura," she said, her voice quiet, words careful, "I couldn't afford to loose you by telling you I love you."
"You love me?" Maura asked in a squeak.
She looked away, unable to look her in the eyes, while Maura processed that information.
"Jane look at me."
She couldn't lift her head up, and a hand, soft and gentle as always, reached out to tip up her chin. Maura was smiling at her.
"I love you too."
They kissed again, Jane pulling her down as close as she could, hand slipping beneath her jacket, and resting on her hip, fingers curling beneath the waistband to hold on to her. She didn't want to let her get away, not now, not ever.
Maura moaned, a wonderfully low and dirty sound, Jane wanted to hear it again, but wasn't sure exactly what had caused it. She was willing to take all the time in the world to find out though.
"I should tell the doctor you're conscious," Maura whispered. "It's important he's updated on his condition."
"I'm fine, it can wait," Jane replied.
"What about your mother?" Maura asked, kissing a soft line over her jaw, and down to her neck.
"She can definitely wait," she moaned, dipping her head to the side for Maura, who obliged and bite down gently and she was considering telling her to climb onto the bed with her when she pulled back again, suddenly, leaving Maura looking a little confused.
"What?" she asked.
"My headache's gone."