2.13 Seventeen Ain't So Sweet
Jane's plan was failing. There she had been, in her sexiest bra and panties set (which was off the rack, but at least she went and got that fitting Maura was always nagging her about), with her hoodie, oops, open just a bit too much. And what did Maura do about it? Maura tried to help her get dressed to seduce Casey. Maybe it's the socks, thought Jane, looking down at her white crew socks. Socks were never sexy.
When Maura tossed the blandest matched set Jane had into discards, Jane perked up and said they were the ones she wanted to wear. Hah! That might make Maura think Jane wasn't looking at Casey for sex. Not that you needed to wear sexy-time stuff to get a guy's attention. Show up and make any comment, and they had a Pavlovian response.
Pavlovian. She must have learned that one from Maura.
The gods of every religion smiled down on her when Casey had to bail. He was deployed. Again. And now Jane didn't have to go to the reunion or waste time with Casey. She hadn't banked on Maura wanting to go, nor had she expected Giovanni to show up and ask if they were still together. Jane was pretty sure the next 'class update' newsletter would be congratulating Mrs. Detective Rizzoli and Dr. Isles. She'd tried to salvage the night by 'accidentally' copping a feel, but between a murder and Korsak's ex showing up, they hadn't managed any sexy time. Damn it.
Of course, Maura looked damn sexy in that cute little tennis outfit the next day. Longer legs and all, Jane let Maura get to the ball first. "You beat me," Jane laughed at her best friend. "You get to serve."
"I get to serve anyway," Maura replied with a smug chuckle. "You missed the ball, so it's my serve. Fifteen-love." The next point went to her as well, but Jane quickly caught up, having figured out that Maura didn't just want to hit the ball, but to play a proper game. Once that was established, Rizzoli competitiveness engaged, and she evened the score, then moved ahead by one.
The two of them traded advantage several times before agreeing, on their ninth tie, that they probably ought to just agree that they were evenly matched - Maura thanks to lessons and training, Jane because she was used to hitting against a wall rather than an opponent whose moves would telegraph the location that the ball would next come back on her side of a net. "Well, I said I'd beat you and I didn't," Maura concluded as the two packed up their racquets and balls, "so after we get cleaned up, lunch is on me. And because you didn't get to consummate with Casey, I'll even let you pick the restaurant, and I won't point out how unhealthy whatever you order will be for you."
Dismissively, Jane waved one hand as she guzzled water from the fountain. She wiped her mouth with the back of her hand, "I'd rather hang out with you anyway." Dropping casual truth bombs like that on Maura was always fun, just to watch her face as Dr. Smartypants tried to figure out what Jane meant. "There's a great spucky place around the corner. Don't drink the beer, though, it's crap. We could grab a couple and sit outside with diet soda." Jane made sure to roll her shoulders at the work 'diet' in faux-girlie simpering. As if she actually cared.
"Oh, really," Maura tossed away just as casually as they headed for her car, "you'd rather hang out with me than go to bed with the one that got away?" Not expecting an answer, she started the car and pulled out of the lot. "Okay, spuckies it is, then, and no beer. But showers first. We reek. My place? I know you've got something to wear over there."
Jane flipped her pony tail with a head toss. "You at least would have laughed at my naked day at BPD joke," she pointed out, causing Maura to lift a brow and mouth, naked day? "Come on, lets eat right there at the spucky joint before we go, or the spucky will be all cold. A cold spucky, no one wants that!" Warming to her topic, Jane added, "And I don't care if I smell, I'll go in and make the orders. We can sit out in the park and people watch, too."
Though it went against her nature, Maura agreed, and soon they were seated out at the worn picnic tables outside the Lucky Spucky, fresh hot food cradled in both sets of hands. To herself, but aloud, the ever so proper woman rationalized, "Now that you mention it, it's probably better to eat before showering, when the food is messy like this. I don't mind getting it on something wash-and-wear when it inevitably - Mmhm." The words broke off as, predictably, a drop of the sandwich's contents escaped and landed right in the middle of her tennis togs' chestal area. She sighed. "Just like that. Hand me a napkin, please."
Eyes locked on the red splotch on Maura's front, Jane acted instinctively. "I got it." She dipped a napkin in her water and carefully mopped up the mess. "This is why you're not supposed to talk and eat," she teased her friend. "Spuckies are totally eat, then hose yourself down, food." Satisfied that Maura was clean enough, Jane took a big bite out of her own, steaming hot lunch. "Oh, gaaaaaaaaaaaaaahd, thaz good," she groaned, in full Bostonian appreciation for her meal.
"But now there's a stain," Maura started to whine, then sighed again in resignation. "Well, as long as I'm going to look like some hobo," and she took a great big bite of spucky, enthusiastic once she'd absorbed the unfamiliar situation. "Mmmghhg zz gd," she echoed Jane around her mouthful.
Her non-reaction to Jane's casual mop-up of her front did not go unnoticed, except by the two of them. "Dude, did you see that?" came a furtive whisper from a teen-aged voice nearby. "That hot girl just totally felt up the MILF."
Maura's eyes flicked towards Jane, then quickly away. That had happened. Not the way those boys thought it had, but it had happened, and neither of them had thought it was odd, until just now when some stranger had seen it in a whole new way. She hurried to take another bite, so she'd have an excuse not to say anything.
Another voice nearby wondered, slightly quieter but just as excitedly, "Think they're gonna make out?"
Unlike Maura, Jane did not take another bite, nor did she want an excuse not to say something. She was livid. "Hold my spucky," she said, so firmly, that Maura reacted before processing. Putting on her best cop face, Jane stood up and turned to face the young punks. "Hey, dumb and dumber." Jane remembered the glare her mother used to use to send panic into the hearts of her teen-aged brothers, and she tilted her head just a little bit more. "You better apologize to my friend for calling her that."
Oddly, the one who had spoken seemed ready to do as 'requested', opening his mouth and starting with, "I'm sor-" except that his partner in crime stopped him. "Why should he? This is a free country. He can say what he wants."
"Jane," Maura cautioned once she'd swallowed her bite, "it's okay. They're kids. They don't realize how offensive it is to indicate sexual interest of a strange woman within her hearing. It's merely rude, not illegal."
"Besides," added the ballsier of the two boys, "it's not like it's a lie. I'd totally LF the M over there." His friend, the one who'd given the original commentary, set his elbow on his metal-grate picnic table and lay his forehead in his hand, prematurely aging.
Reflexively, Jane reached for her badge. Which she didn't have. "You an expert on the law, huh? Ever hear of slander? Calling folks things they're not?" Jane jerked her thumb at Maura, "She's no M." Oh please, please don't let Maura point out her name starts with an M. "You think whatever the hell you want, kid, but it's not okay to just say things like that to people. Especially when they're so far out of your league, you can't even see her league." Punctuating her words with finger jabs at the ballsier boy, Jane inadvertently put her own rack near eye level with the boy. Her rack and her t-shirt's slogan.
The kid was dumb, but not that dumb. When a rack was presented, he wasn't going to miss out on looking. Fortunately for him, before he could say another word, he also read the rack: Property of Boston Police Department. His eyes widened. "Uh... yes, ma'am," he stammered. "How 'bout if me and my friend just get the hell out of your sight?"
The friend turned to stare. He might have said something stupid, but the shorter and stockier boy had been all set to make it worse, and now he was backing down? Wonders never ceased. Then he, too, caught the reason for sudden prudence. Relief and embarrassment flooded his features. "Yeah. We'll go start volunteering someplace. Or pick up trash on the highway. Or do anything except talk about your girlfr-" The look on Jane's face shut him up fast, though he didn't quite understand why. It was totally obvious, wasn't it? If something was obviously true, it wasn't slander. "Um... Never mind."
Behind Jane, Maura looked like she'd swallowed a frog.
With all the presence of Boston's top detective, Jane pointed. The boys scrambled and were gone. Jane kept glowering until she was sure they were gone for good and then, of all things, started laughing, "Oh my god, I'm turning into Ma!" She plopped back on the bench and took her spucky back. "Still warm, too, awesome. I kicked ass at tennis, spooked some dumbass kids, defended my best friend and got a spucky." Only then did she notice Maura's expression, "What's wrong? Find a finger?"
"N-n-n..." Maura tried, but couldn't quite articulate for a moment. "Jane, he called me..." No. She couldn't.
"A MILF! I know, what an idiot! No way do you look old enough to be a mom!" Shaking her head, Jane chowed down on lunch. "I mean, you look half the age of those mean girls." She was very careful not to complain about the ILF part of that comment. Actually, Jane had to agree with the boys on that one - OH MY GOD! Brain, shut up! Jane crammed food in her mouth to cover the wince.
Contradiction of known facts accomplished the act of speech for Maura. "Actually, I've been menstruating since I was thirteen, so I actually could be a mother, very easily, by now. I think he was referring to the fact that I'm visibly older than he is - something he'd have probably noticed if I looked any older than, say, eighteen or nineteen, which I do. That wasn't the part that took me aback, actually." She took a bite of her spucky, more careful now to avoid spills, as if she'd explained everything that needed explaining. To her mind, she had. After all, she had taken the MILF comment completely in stride, hadn't she?
Jane sighed, "Oh, Maura." Sweet, adorable Maura. "You're not a mother, are you?"
"No," Maura replied earnestly, "but I could be. And look at me, playing tennis on a weekday. That boy had no way of knowing that I'm only off because I've been on call for three weekends in a row, or that you're off because you've already accrued almost twice the permitted overtime you're allowed this month. All he saw was two women who aren't at work today, and usually that means people who don't have standard jobs. As much as we don't like it, women are more likely to be non-working if they're stay-home mothers, so while his conclusion was erroneous, it was reasonable, albeit a sign of a limited mind."
Resting her chin in one hand, Jane felt a slow, dopey smile cross her face. If anyone else talked like that, she'd be bored. Maura amused her. No, better than that, Maura made her feel good. Warm and fuzzy. "Well, I couldn't argue the ILF, Maur, so I had to defend what I could. You're gonna drip." This last was punctuated with a proffered napkin to protect the skirt part of Maura's dress from the same fate that had befallen the boobage.
Though her hand moved with impressive speed to protect her tennis skirt, Maura's mind moved even more rapidly. ILF? I'd Like to F...?
No. No, that was what the boy had said, not what Jane had said. Down, girl, Maura ordered herself sternly. "Yes, but he also called me your girlfriend."
Again came the dismissive hand wave. "So did Giovanni. Twice. He actually said, in front of Ma, that I must appreciate Emily's tits now." Jane rolled her eyes, clearly at Giovanni and not Maura. "A lot of people say that. Doesn't bother me."
Stifling laughter at this new anecdote of which she had not previously heard, Maura explained, "I'm accustomed to getting that from everyone we know. Coworkers say it because we're two of the few women at the precinct, and we're good friends. Frankie just likes to tease you, and your mother resents the fact that you have time for me but not for the men she wants to set you up with. It's not even Giovanni's fault he saw that, because we purposefully set out to make him see us that way. I suppose it just hadn't occurred to me that a stranger would see it, too."
Jane's lips quirked into a smirk. "Really? That big brain and it never occurred to you?" She finished her spucky and wiped her hands off. "You done? I can drive if you want to finish in the car." Jane stretched her arms up and over her head popping something in her back and sighing at the release of pressure.
Maura's eyes took their time, without her permission, admiring Jane's leanness throughout the stretch, which made her smile as she so often did. By the time Jane turned back around, though, she and her truant eyes were focused again on the bready end of her spucky, from which she'd eaten all the meat, cheese, and vegetables already. "I don't think I want the last of it. Let's go. I don't want to wait another minute to get out of these sweaty clothes."
Following her friend's gaze, Jane's eyebrows jumped at the comment. "Uh, yeah, the bread end's the worst. You have to make sure not to squeeze too hard, so every bite has the right amount of meat and sauce." With a gesture at Maura's stained dress, she added, "Stops things from spillin' too." She scooped up their shared garbage without a thought and tossed it in the nearby trash. "Let's book it before those kids bring back friends."
"More people to call me a mother?" Maura teased, knowingly skating near the edge of acceptable, friendly banter as the two of them hopped back in the car and pulled away, headed for home.
Jane swatted Maura's arm and smirked, but didn't comment further on that topic. The drive to Maura's was punctuated with multiple calls from Frost, Korsak and the ADA, all of whom wanted various details about the case, which Jane assured them all were in her notes. At the fourth call from Korask, she snapped. "What the hell? Vince, is anyone even reading my damn case notes! I typed them up and filed them! They're more legible than the crap you did."
Vince's reply was not heartening. "Crap." Jane turned to Maura, "The server's being 'upgraded,' so they can't pull my files." Back to the phone, "When the hell are they supposed to be done? Uh huh... Okay, gimmie the tech's number." Hanging up, Jane promptly dialed the tech back and explained, in no uncertain terms, exactly what would happen if access to case files wasn't back by 2pm, because the DA's office would miss their filing date, concluding with, "Do you want me to come back to the office? Yeah, didn't think so." She snapped her phone shut and slouched in her seat. "I miss being able to slam my phone back in a cradle."
"Well, I'm glad that destructive behavior has to find a better outlet than an expensive piece of technology. Sports are much more conducive to-"
"Really?" drawled Jane, cutting Maura off.
Maura's doubletake was subtle, but admirable, as they pulled up to a stop sign. For a moment she didn't know what to say, but then laughter brought its own response. "You don't like it when I suggest sex as a panacea," she pointed out, "so I thought I'd suggest sports instead."
"I don't like it when you suggest sex, cause it's with people like Jorge. Or Dean, or Casey." The obvious distaste at the idea of sex with Casey was a surprise to Jane. Sometimes when you weren't thinking, you said the truth. "I don't want to sleep with any of them," sighed Jane. If she could have slouched more in her seat, she might have, but her long legs prevented that.
It took a little longer than was strictly necessary for Maura to switch her foot from the brake to the gas pedal, causing the car behind them to blare impatiently, and thus for their takeoff to be a tad less smooth than usual. "You don't want to sleep with Casey?" she repeated, just to be certain. "Then why did you have me come over and help you find an outfit that would be suitable for getting him into your bed? We picked out undergarments for him, Jane. Not that they were nearly as nice as what you were already wearing when I got to your place, and I still think you should've gone with those instead, but waaaaait a minute..." Gears started to turn; one could hear the clicking as she drove.
Jane hid her cringe at the uncomfortable truths on display behind the lurching bite of the seatbelt. "Easy there, leadfoot," she tried to tease. Her voice didn't sound right to herself, and she was sure not to Maura. Pretty sure she wasn't going to get out of this with a joke, Jane started rubbing her palms together. "Look … Look … Yeah. The … underwear." She sighed. "That may have been on purpose, y'know," she finally said, sheepishly. "Didn't work."
"But Casey wasn't..." Maura began, and again drew ire from those with whom she shared the road, this time for failing to complete a turn quickly enough through an unprotected left. Her tongue clicked impatiently at herself, and she focused on driving for another mile or so. Finally she reached her home area, so familiar that she could do just about any combination of mental gymnastics and still get to any address within the gated community. "Jane, I want to be certain I understand you, if you're trying to be understood and not cryptic. What was that plain white cotton underwear supposed to accomplish?"
Oh, so close. But no.
Why did women make this so hard? "It was … Um." Jane took a deep breath and shoved the words out at once, "Telling you, and Casey, that I wasn't gonna sleep with him." They burst forth in a rush and Jane suddenly felt a lot better. Oh. She straightened in her seat and looked relieved. "I was trying to cock block Casey."
The caramel-haired driver was silent until they pulled into her driveway, where she shut off the car, closed the door via the button on her sun visor, and sat, unmoving and still silent, for another full minute or two.
"And the other?" she asked when not asking had become too difficult. "The lacy black... You had already showered when I got there, so you put that on just for... for what, Jane?"
Looking up at the roof of Maura's car, Jane mumbled, "For you." If she could have shoved her toes into the dirt, she would have right there and now. Instead, she turned towards Maura with a self-conscious, self-deprecating smile. She tossed her hands out a little, not moving her arms, and weakly said, "Surprise."
Maura's mouth hung open, as if she'd wanted to speak more, but could not quite form words. She tried again. "Oh. W... Wh..." Half-syllables, good, now try full syllables. Maybe small word or two. "For... me? So I would... be..."
Sans permission, her hand dropped away from the gear shift and stole towards Jane's, where it always went when reassurance was needed.
As if Maura's hand was a life preserver, Jane caught it mid-air. "Yeah," she mumbled, looking awkward and nervous. "God, I feel like I'm fifteen again," Jane finally groused. "I was trying to, um, it was a really bad scientific experience- experiment!"
Maura snapped her hand back as if burned, clutching it to her chest. "An experiment?" Now she was offended, and it showed. Offended and hurt. "You were playing with me?"
What the hell? Jane tried to sort out where she went wrong on that one. "What! No! I was trying to figure out if you liked me... y'know, like I like you! Cause … I … Damn it, why the hell are women so complicated! I'm trying to tell you I really like you, Maura! I mean, like like you!" Clearly that wasn't good enough. "No, I like Korsak. I … I …" Say it, Rizzoli! "I love you."
"Uh." Now she was back to half-syllables. Dazed from the roller coaster ride she'd been on for the last... Really, less than five minutes? Less than two?... Maura opened her car door and walked around the back of the vehicle, more because that was what one did when one arrived at home than because she had a conscious need to go inside. As Jane sat there, head leaning against the head rest of the car, groaning what did I do? over and over, Maura opened the passenger door and offered a hand up, though her eyes were unfocused, and there could have been considerable doubt as to whether she recognized that she was moving at all. When her friend didn't move along with her, she twitched her hand: notice, take, stand. "I need water," she explained, voice gone airy and indistinct. "Come inside. We need water. Dehydrated."
With a firm whap, Jane hit the back of her head against the head rest before getting out of the car. This action was arrested by the fact that Jane was still wearing her seat belt. "Ack!" she strangled, and then unclipped herself, "Your car's trying to kill me, Maura," she complained, taking Maura's hand out of habit and comfort. Standing by Maura, she looked down at her best friend and that slow, happy, smile. "Water, right." Jane bumped the car door shut with her hip.
Still in a mental fog, Maura drew them both glasses of water from the filtered dispenser in the door of her refrigerator; shared half a banana to replace potassium and electrolytes; pointed vaguely towards the guest bathroom for Jane to get her shower, and went off to her own for similar purposes.
Not a word did she speak.
Once hidden away within her safe zone, Maura stripped off the spucky-stained tennis dress, forgot to treat the stain, and entered the shower. Steaming hot water reddened her skin, some light citrusy shower gel rid her of sweat, and still she stood under the stream, staring blankly at her tiles.
Jane had worn black, lacy, sexy as hell undergarments for her.
And planned to wear plain, white, cotton, slightly worn underthings for the date she had made with the man she'd nearly slept with, twice.
Not quite paying attention to herself, Maura shampooed her hair again, and then used the same shampoo on her body in place of the shower gel, washing a second time. Only after the third conditioning of her hair did she snap out of it, shake her head as if that would help settle everything happening inside it, and sigh. "I am such a nerd."
Then another thought came, as if the ability to speak had jarred loose her brain at last. Jane had all but confessed actual, romantic feelings for her, and she had just sat there, then left her alone like some great, stupid article. She hissed in sudden annoyance with herself. "Idiot!" she near-shouted, shut off the water, and flew like the wind to dress, French braid her hair so as to avoid the lengthy process of drying and styling, and ran out to the living room, leaping over Bass along the way. Bass looked at her as she passed by, his expression clearly reading "What..." as he looked up, "The" as he looked to the side, "Hell?" as he stared after his primary caregiver.
"Jane!" she called upon entering the great room and not seeing her friend immediately. "Jane! Oh, no no no no no," fretted Maura, zooming from room to room. "Jane? Oh, no. Bass, she left! She's gone, and I didn't even answer her! Oh, no, Bass, she must think I'm some kind of dummy, or worse. God, she must be feeling just rotten. Jane! Jane, are you still here? Jane!"
Jane had not left. In fact, she watched the entire performance with a seriously delighted and amused expression from the doorway to the guest room where, as directed, she'd showered and put on jeans and a comfy shirt. Still barefoot, socks in hand, Jane voiced what Bass was clearly thinking, "What the hell?" Unlike Bass, Jane started laughing, both at Maura's fretting and at her leap. "I take it back," giggled Jane, sliding to the floor as she laughed.
"Jane!" Maura exclaimed once more, this time a joyful cry at the raspy sound of her best friend's voice, whirling gracefully on one foot and springing over her African spurred tortoise once more. Bass gave up and sucked his head back into his shell as his, for want of a better term, human parent flung herself bodily towards the taller human whose presence he had come to accept as a part of his world. "Jane, you're still here!" Like a starfish on a rock, she clung, effectively pinning her friend to the floor. "Don't take it back, please don't take it back! Why would you take it back?"
The second leap over Bass set off another round of guffaws, and the hug sent Jane from a semi-sitting position to flat assed on the floor, covered in a very soft, kind of bouncy, Dr. Maura Isles. What did Maura call that? My lizard brain? Jane's amygdala was doing back flips right now, cheering the hell out of the situation. Seize the moment! Seize the woman! If one of us was a dude, we'd have already had sex, rationalized Jane, and with her arms pinned by the honey-brunette beauty, she did the only thing her poor brain could think of. She kissed Maura.
It wasn't a world rocking kiss, it was a, well, it was a teen-ager's shy idea of a first kiss. Just lips touching each other. But nothing like the dry, raspy kiss you gave your family. This was a 'hi, I like you' kiss. Of course, teenagers today would have called it tame, and jeered her. Nor was it a very long kiss. Just a there-it-was kiss. But shy or not, it seemed to be just what the actual doctor ordered. At least, that was what any reasonable person would infer, based on the peppering of kisses Maura bestowed on her best friend's lips, cheeks, neck, and hands when Jane brought them up to slow them down a tad.
"I take back saying ballet isn't a sport," Jane finally said, leaning her head back on the floor when the woman atop her paused in her friendly assault.
"Oh," Maura replied breathlessly, then beamed. "Well, of course it's a sport. It's an athletic endeavor, and there are competitions, and... and you don't really care, do you?" she broke off, a little abashed. "Well. To be perfectly frank, at the moment, neither do I."
Jane sighed, working one hand up to gently cup Maura's face. "I don't care," she agreed, looking up at Maura with a chagrined smile. "Are we on the same page now?" Her voice was hopeful, but still a little concerned. Months of cross-purpose conversations seemed to have come to a very delightful tipping point.
"I really hope so," Maura sighed contentedly as her face tilted towards that calloused, scarred, and infinitely tender touch. "If the page you're on is the one in which we get up off this floor and... Or not, actually... and stay very near one another today, then yes, we're on the same page."
The laughter bubbled back to the surface and Jane kissed Maura's nose. It was right there. "Your floor isn't that comfortable. And I just got my head around kissing you, Maur. I don't think I'm up for, um, the next thing." To underscore her comfort level, Jane kissed Maura, properly, again. "This is good, though." This is really good.
"I didn't say... I just meant..." Maura began, then lost her train of thought. "Yeah. That's really nice."