Elephants Are a Minor Detail
By Elphaba C. S. Thropp
Chapter I: Not Like the Movies
And I hope the sun shines and it's a beautiful day. And something reminds you, you wish you had stayed. You can plan for a change in the weather and time, but I never planned on you changing you mind. So, I'll go...
~Last Kiss, Taylor Swift
She and Jane slept together last night.
It had happened before, but this time it was different. One of them was nursing a crushed heart and the other was sleeping like it was a sport when she was supposed to be comforting the crush-hearted. But Maura didn't mind. She found out a few months ago that she enjoyed watching her friend sleep as if she didn't have a care in the world. It was a refreshing sight.
However, the reason she was even able to watch her friend like this caught up to her and her eyes watered as a fresh, overwhelming wave of disappointment figuratively punched her square in the chest. The work she did to suppress her sob was for not as it forced its way out of her tightened throat anyway. She buried her face in her pillow so she wouldn't wake Jane.
"Maura, don't cry."
Shocked, the medical examiner jerked her head up from her pillow to see concerned brown eyes peering at her from behind a curtain of curly dark brown hair. Seeing that caused a shaky smile to appear on her lips.
"How long have you been awake?" She questioned, blinking rapidly to keep her tears at bay. It was useless though. She never had control of her emotions when it came to Ian.
"Um… like thirty two seconds," Jane mumbled sleepily, tilting her head to the side so that it resting on her pillow.
"That's very precise, Jane," she commented, wiping the tears from her red, puffy eyes.
The detective cleared her throat to help rid it of its sleep induced huskiness. "Well, it was guestimation. Thirty two was the number of invisible circles you were drawing on my arm."
"Oh." Maura glanced down to see her index finger doing exactly that and pulled it back. "I'm sorry I woke you."
"You didn't wake me," she assured her, pulling the blonde against her. "And I didn't say you had to stop."
"Oh," the honey blonde woman nodded, snuggling into her side and continuing her ministrations, this time on a bare, tan, protruding coxal bone. She blinked lazily and sighed in contentment.
"Care to share?" Came from the brief silence.
Maura emitted an unladylike, uncharacteristic snort. "It's nothing. I'm being ridiculous. I knew he would leave. I even anticipated it, but… it was different this time."
"He asked you to go with him?" Jane inquired, running a hand up and down her friend's arm.
"It's not that," she shook her head, sucking in her bottom lip to stop the trembling. "He never asks me to go with him and this time he asked… he asked me to… marry him." The last words were hardly even a whisper, but Jane heard them.
The brunette could practically hear her own eyes widening and she jerked back. "What? You said no?"
Maura pulled her back into position easily and as calmly as she could manage. "Of course I did, Jane."
It was only then that the doctor ceased drawing her circles though her hand remained where it was. "My answer may distress you and when you get distressed you get angry and when you get angry you pull away from me and I need you close to me right now, Jane. I can't offer an answer that is anything less than truthful, but I also can't upset you right now."
"And if I promise not to become distressed?" Jane asked, feeling her heart accelerate the tiniest bit. She was sure the other woman felt it as well.
An exhausted sigh filled the room. "Jane, you have a habit of asking me questions then getting the answer and wishing you hadn't asked me in the first place. Do you want that to be one of those times?"
"It won't be, Maura," the Italian whined deliberately. "Besides, now I'm really curious. Is it something so sweet I'll get a cavity or is it something you think will make me uncomfortable?"
"I like to think it's a bit of both actually," Maura laughed humorlessly, speeding up her production of circles when her once steady hand had begun to shake.
"Please, just tell me. I'm not gonna let this go until you tell me."
The M. E. pulled a shuddering breath through her teeth, but decided to do this without eye contact. It would be much easier this way. "I just want you to know that what I'm about to say is not to be taken lightly. I'm not in some alternate state of mind because of Ian. I know what I'm saying and I mean it so please, don't play this off, Jane."
It was several seconds before she got any kind of response. "Okay, Maura. Go on."
"I love Ian. I'm in love with Ian. I've wanted to marry him for… God, years, but when he finally asked me, something was wrong. Something had changed but not with him, it was with me. If he had asked me two years ago, I would've gladly become Dr. Maura Faulkner. But now…" She blew out a breath, trying to find a better way to word this. "I can live without Ian. That has obviously been proven. It's sometimes difficult to do, but I can do it.
"You know that phrase 'before you think you can't live without someone, remember how you lived before them'?" Receiving a nod she continued. "Well, I have thought very extensively about it and came to the conclusion that I honestly don't know how I survived before you came into my life, Jane. When I thought about not being able to see you or touch you or hear your voice every day, I couldn't even breathe. My heart quite literally stopped at the suggestion."
"You…" Jane could barely find the words she was so overtaken with a myriad of emotions that she tried to place appropriately. "You said no to a marriage proposal— to the love of your life, because of me?"
Maura wasn't even trying to hide her tears anymore. She sat up and looked her friend in the eye properly, pleading with her to understand. "I just couldn't… I can't… be without you. Ian may be the love of my life, but you… are my everything. I never pictured every minute without you in it and when I did think about it…" she sucked in a harsh breath. "It terrified me to the point that I almost called at two thirty in the morning."
"You could have, you know." At the look of confusion, she clarified, "called me, I mean."
"Oh, Jane, I couldn't have. You were nursing an injured toe after a minor procedure of which you had no pain medication. You needed the sleep."
The response was so sweet and so incredibly Maura that the detective couldn't help the small, sad smile that made its way to her face. "I'm so sorry you had to go through that, Maura."
"It's not your fault, but it did make me think about our relationship." The doctor sat up fully in true criss cross apple sauce form next to her friend resuming the circles on her hip. It was only then that she took notice of the other woman's low riding shorts.
"What about it?" Jane asked, looking up at her with so much blind trust in her eyes that it made her hesitate, which of course, the brunette noticed. "What is it, M?"
"I want you to live with me." The words tumbled out of her mouth before she could stop and ease into the request.
The Italian blinked owlishly in response. Maura wanted to her come and live here… with her… in her house… just the two of them… in her house… alone. The concept itself wasn't that hard to wrap her mind around –she was there enough as it was, it was the fact that she'd asked. She could've written it off as her feeling lonely after Ian, but the M. E.'s earlier words echoed in her head, I know what I'm saying and I mean it.
"You mean that?" Were the first words out of her mouth after the confession.
Maura nodded, dropping her gaze for a moment. "I do. If you don't want to, I understand, but if you do want to, we don't have to tell anyone. You could even do it gradually so as not to arouse suspicion."
"Do I get to think about it?" She inquired, lifting her hips ever so slightly when a pale finger stopped the circles to rub lightly at the flesh. "I mean, moving in together is a bit of a commitment."
"I'm committed to you, Jane." The words were whispered and vulnerable and she cursed herself for sounding so pathetic. She was not this type of girl, not for anyone, not even for Ian, but everything was so different with Jane.
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