Cowritten with Googlemouth

Please note that this is a darker fic than our norm, but do have faith that we make things better with time.

We don't own the characters. They belong to Tess, Janet, and other assorted important people at TNT.

It had been a long day. It was always a long day – one long day that ran into another long day that ran into a long week, a longer month, and the longest year of her life so far. Everything just after they found the body of the girl. Sometimes, she dreamed of the part she played in her parents' divorce. Sometimes, she dreamed of yelling at Frankie to shoot Lola, but Lola shooting Frankie instead.

Her subconscious mind would not let go of all the things that could have and did go so very wrong in her life no matter how much she begged and pleaded with it to stop reminding her of how much of a screw-up she could be.

If those all too familiar nightmares didn't come to her, two new ones had snuck into the routine. She would dream of Leahy, the detective turned serial killer, holding Maura at gunpoint, and neither woman could react fast enough. She just couldn't move fast enough, and Maura was too scared to do anything but stand there and look terrified. He would pull the trigger, and she would watch in horror as the person she called her best friend vanished in a spray of blood and gore. Other times, Marino had Maura, and Jane watched as if from a great distance as he emptied his clip into the medical examiner just to cause a distraction while he escaped. Try as she might, no matter how hard she fought, there was never anything the detective could do.

Maura always died.

Jane always failed to save her.

She tried the counseling the city offered to their civil servants. She tried writing in a journal about it. In fact, she had continued writing in a journal about it, but it was less cathartic than she thought it would be. The journal had turned into a chronicle of the gore filled and distressing details of each time Maura was killed in front of her while she could do nothing but stand by and watch. She kept it in the drawer of her nightstand, the silver lock the only reassurance that her mother wouldn't bother to read it. Though, lately, she had stopped really caring if Angela did read it. It didn't matter anymore.

Over and over again… night after night… guilt, anger, frustration, sadness, mourning, humiliation, futility, emptiness…

She just couldn't take it. She needed a distraction, just a little something to help her sleep without dreaming. A few months ago, she picked up a bottle of whiskey on her way home from work after a particularly long Wednesday, and she downed a couple of shots before bed. It had worked. She'd slept without a single dream creeping into her unconscious mind. It had worked so well that she kept doing it, every night.

She pulled the bottle of whiskey from the cabinet where she had five identical ones stashed behind some canned goods and looked at the level. It was Thursday, and this was her second bottle for the week.

"Takes a little bit more every day," she mumbled as she popped the top and took a long drink.

At some point, she had started taking a quick shot before she went into work each morning. She'd lost track of when that habit started. She remembered when she started taking a flask with her so she could take a shot to steady her during the working day. It stayed in the car most of the time, though it seemed to find its way up to the apartment more often these days for refills. Daily, it seemed.

But she didn't dream of Maura dying anymore. She didn't have to stand idly by and do nothing. She didn't have to deal with her mind going over all the could-haves, should-haves, and would-haves of all the things she'd screwed up that caused all the hurt to her loved ones.

She just had to make it through the day until she could come home and make the world disappear for just a little while.

There were rules, though. She was adamant about her rules.

1. Never let anyone see you take a shot from the flask.

2. Never get drunk while working a case.

3. Never drink whiskey around anyone, ever. Only drink beer or wine.

4. Never let anyone see you wasted.

5. Never go to work intoxicated. Never get intoxicated while at work.

6. Always have food in the house because Ma would wonder otherwise.

7. Never let anyone know exactly how much whiskey you go through in a week. Hide the bottles.

8. Always be clean and put together.

9. Always carry Listerine with you.

10. Never get caught.

She shook her head and finished the bottle. With an unsteady gait, she moved to the trash can and buried it under old takeout boxes and newspapers. "Functioning," she slurred to herself as she stumbled to her door, checked to make certain the inside lock was bolted, and then stumbled to her bedroom.

The last thing her mind registered before everything went black was someone knocking on her door. "Too late," she grumbled into the pillow, her last words for the night.