Author's Note: This is taking place within season 2 though I may ignore the season finale depending on the course of its events. So, there will be season 2 spoiler references in this piece.

Of Arias and High Sticking

CH 1: L'amour est un Oiseau Rebelle, *Love is a rebellious bird

Nights were restless. Their weariness had been building, day after day into weeks and now it seemed months had passed since she remembered a truly peaceful sleep. Long, dark nights started sooner and sooner heralding the impending winter when the line between day and night would be blurred by grey. The fall leaves were already dying, withering into desiccated droppings that littered walkways and streets. A slight chill had taken over the air as well; crisp for the moment, she knew it would only grow more bitter as November bled into December and on into the even crueler months.

Maura rolled over and eyed the clock, 3:17 am. She didn't even bother with a robe; padding lightly to the front door and flinging it open to stand in the cold night air under the soft glow of the porch light. If she was going to be awake she might as well really be awake. None of this teetering on the precipice of sleep that her mind wouldn't allow her.

Another night awakened and another cup of herbal tea that she knew would barely calm the stirring in her brain but she succumbed to the ritual attempt anyway. She held the cup under her nose, letting the tendrils of steam carry the fragrant notes of the fine Egyptian chamomile upwards. It was too quiet. In the darkened silence of the living room, the cause of her worry blared louder. The stereo remote was within reach and she flipped it on, letting it play where her last operatic selection had ended. Carmen.

Maura closed her eyes and leaned back. Habanera, how…unfortunately appropriate.

"When will I love you? Good lord, I don't know, maybe never, maybe tomorrow. But not today, that's for sure."

She listened as the timeless voice of Marilyn Horne expertly delivered the well-known intro:

L'amour est un oiseau rebelle

que nul ne peut apprivoiser,

et c'est bien en vain qu'on l'appelle,

s'il lui convient de refuser.

(Love is a rebellious bird

that nobody can tame,

and you can call him (although it is) quite in vain,

because it suits him not to come.)

Jane…The cause of her restlessness was Jane: their friendship. They seemed off kilter. From the shooting and everything since: Ian, Casey, Tommy, Doyle, Hoyt…maybe Hoyt most of all. Or, the secrets. When had they developed secrets? Maybe they were always there, only undiscovered. She felt distant, from Jane, from what their relationship had seemed to be before. It was strange, because in the day to day particularly little had changed. In fact, when she thought about it they possibly had spent more time together in the past months than ever before. Yet, that time seemed shallow…lacking. She wanted more.

More of…what? Part of her knew exactly what, the part that wasn't her brain. The part that was able to live emancipated from reason and rationality and all of the ways that the brain could talk itself out of recognizing the truth. The heart was free, in the quiet stillness of a lonely night, free to assert control and lead the mind where it wanted to go for once. Towards what it wanted. Thoughts of Jane. How those thoughts had never been the platonic thoughts of a friend since the shooting. Since Jane's blood had been on her hands and clothes. She had tried to force the thoughts back into that box; but, thoughts were a difficult animal to cage, she seemed to have no chains that could properly shackle it. She couldn't lock it away, bury the key where no one would find it, especially herself. Those vacant hours after midnight seemed to always have the combination. And the thoughts…no, the feelings, rumbled up from her chest and stirred her awake, reminding her of her loneliness.

The aria droned on the background, lulling her back to sleep while its words continued to remind her of her predicament.

L'amour est enfant de Bohême,

il n'a jamais, jamais connu de loi;

si tu ne m'aimes pas, je t'aime

si je t'aime, prends garde à toi! (Prends garde à toi!)

Si tu ne m'aimes pas,

Si tu ne m'aimes pas, je t'aime! (Prends garde à toi!)

Mais, si je t'aime…

(Love is a gypsy's child,

it has never known the law;

if you love me not, then I love you;

if I love you, you'd best beware! (You'd best beware!)

if you love me not,

if you love me not, then I love you (You'd best beware!)

but if I love you…)

Sleep came. And on the edge of sleep, in that delirious space between consciousness and not it brought an idea that tripped along the notes of that deep and belting mezzo-soprano voice.

"You see the Doc this morning?" Frost inquired as Jane sauntered in a few minutes late.

"No, why?"

"She seemed a little off…maybe under the weather or something. Said she was fine though."

Jane sniffed the seemingly rancid coffee that was the last half a cup in the pot, "Geez, would it have killed someone to make another pot," she mumbled. "Uh, well if she says she's fine, I guess she is. I'm gonna run downstairs and get a good cup of coffee. You need anything?"

Frost chuckled, "You think Stanley's coffee is any better than that?"

She was already on her way to the elevator and held up a dismissive hand, "Let me have my delusions, hey, at least it will be fresh and not that leftover swill you all so kindly saved for me."

"Hey!" Frost called after her, "You're the one who was late!"

Maura blinked rapidly, trying to focus on the report on her screen before giving up. She closed her eyes and pinched the bridge of her nose trying to conjure some relief for the headache brought on by her recent bout of sleep deprivation.

"Yeah, you definitely look like you could use this," Jane's voice snapped her awake from a few feet away. She handed Maura the coffee and walked around behind the desk, taking a seat on the edge.

"Thank you, I haven't been sleeping well," Maura took a sip of the offered cup, "Mmm, better than Stanley's usual brew."

"Ma made it this morning. Not sleeping? Yeah, your uh, naso-jugular perio-ocularic…whatevers are…dark circles under your eyes." Jane motioned to her own eyes with a sympathetic tilt of her head.

Maura laughed, "Nasojugal, periorbital." She paused and noted the questioning look on Jane's face, the unspoken, so why aren't you sleeping just on the tip of her tongue. "I seem to be having difficulty quieting my brain at night, all these thoughts are rolling around in my head…they get so loud and disruptive…I, just haven't slept well."

Jane nodded, "Happens to me a lot when we have a really frustrating case. My body wants to sleep and my head just won't shut up, playing out all these scenarios and coming up with all these questions."

"Exactly," Maura looked up with a smile. "Exactly like that."

"Thoughts about what?" Jane asked, watching Maura shift uncomfortably in her chair as she looked away.

"Personal things…I'm not really ready to talk about them."

Jane stood and placed a reassuring hand on her friend's shoulder and squeezed, "That's fine, you know you can…talk to me though, you know, if you need to."

"Jane," Maura stopped her before she slipped out of the office, "Thank you, for the coffee and for…" she smiled and nodded, "thank you. Maybe a change to my evening routine would help, would you want to have drinks tonight or maybe dinner?"

"Uh," Jane ran a hand through her hair and shook it out, taking a sip from her coffee, "Frankie is coming over to my place tonight to watch the Bruins game, if you don't mind watching some hockey, come on over, we'll order pizza. How's that?"

"Perfect, that's perfect." Maura smiled, reinvigorated that her plan had so seamlessly been set into motion.

"I hope you didn't order the pizza yet," Maura gave an impish smile as she bustled past Jane and into her apartment with two piping hot pizza boxes in her hands, "I thought I would stop at that place a few blocks away that you like that doesn't deliver."

Maura was always one for the details. Jane admired that. It could be irritating at times, but mostly admirable. That attention to minutiae was of course what made her excellent at her job but it was also one of the things that made her a very good friend. For instance, remembering that Giordano's was not only her favorite pizza place but, that they also didn't deliver.

"Alfredo chicken artichoke with spinach," Maura recited, opening the first box and taking note of the pained and disappointed look on Jane's face. Maura pursed her lips and raised an eyebrow, "and the meat lover's special, of course."

"Yay," Jane smiled tapping her fingers impatiently on the counter.

"You got the pizza already?" Frankie hollered as he lugged two giant hockey bags through the open door. "Mmm, smells delicious! Is that Giordano's, Janie did you go to Giordano's!"

"Thank Maura, she stopped and picked them up," Jane mumbled through a mouthful of pizza with every type of meat topping one could fathom, "come on, Maur, don't be healthy…eat the meat."

It did look tantalizing. She eyed it for a moment; then looked at the chicken artichoke and the garden salad she had also purchased. "Maybe…just a little piece."

Jane flipped off the tv and groaned, resting her hands on her stomach. "Maybe that last piece wasn't such a good idea…"

"I've noticed you tend to overindulge when watching sporting events, I believe it may be an attempt to relieve stress…"

"Is that your professional opinion?" Jane laughed and watched as Maura's eyes fluttered shut but opened again, "I seem to recall you eating more than your fair share of that pizza as well…while that," Jane looked over shoulder, "salad appears to be untouched."

Maura sat up and reached for the hockey stick leaning against the sofa between them. She scooted closer to Jane and fingered the tape job Jane had so painstakingly applied during the game.

"Frankie was always shit at taping a stick. I think that's why he goes through so many," Jane laughed, watching as Maura ran her hands over raised up tape ridges. "Your stick is like your best friend, besides your skates it's the most important piece of gear to a hockey player. You gotta treat it right you know?"

Maura nodded, "Gear maintenance is integral to any sport. In fencing we had to check our foils regularly for any bends or crooks that could cause a break. Not to mention the issues with rust. Minor rusting could be taken care of with a little sandpaper. Sometimes grips needed to be replaced. If a foil was particularly ill-taken care of, it might be a loss and have to be replaced."

"I wouldn't imagine that ever happened to you," Jane reached for the stick, her fingers brushing lightly over Maura's hand as she took it. Maura jerked her hand. "Sorry, did I shock you or something?" Jane chuckled.

"No," Maura ran her opposite thumb over where Jane had touched, it felt hot, everything felt hot, "No, just gave me a shiver. Will you teach me?"

"To what? Tape a hockey stick?" Jane looked over her shoulder as she dug through her bag, sliding the stick in amongst her other gear and zipping it up.

"To play hockey." Maura twisted her hands nervously, fiddling with her ring she waited anxiously for Jane's reply.

"Are you serious? You want me to teach you to play hockey?"

"Yes. I like to try new things. And…" her voice trailed off, that niggling feeling in her chest that had been kind enough to wait until the late hours of the night felt emboldened by pizza and beer. Jane waited, eyeing her with suspicion, the look of disbelief plastered across her face. "If you don't want to that's ok…" Maura turned and headed for her purse. It had seemed like a good idea at 4am that morning.

"Hey, wait, Maur…" Jane's grasp was firm on her arm, yet gentle, urging her to turn around. "I'll teach you to play hockey if you want me to, it's just…somehow I don't think that's what this is really about."

Maura laughed, sniffling slightly, "You can be very perceptive."

"Well, they don't give the detective badge to just anyone."

"It's just," she paused, looking down and then back into expectant brown eyes, "so much has happened to us this year and sometimes I feel like…like even though we see each other almost every day and we hang out, we don't really…do anything together…meaningful."

Jane tried to process what she was hearing but the words were just on that side of vague that Maura so often danced along when she didn't want to reveal everything. "And playing hockey is meaningful?" Her eyebrow quirked with confusion as she asked.

"It is to you."

I get it. Jane nodded with a slight smile, warmed by the look of sincerity in Maura's eyes, "Yeah, I mean, I can teach you to play hockey if you want." Jane shrugged and shoved her hands in her pockets. "But, Maur, if…I mean, is this because…have I done something to make you feel like we weren't close?"

"I…don't know really how to explain it right now, Jane. I just want more. And I thought it could be fun to learn about and take part in something you're so passionate about." Maura paused before continuing, "I like seeing you like this…like you were tonight, just watching a game and cheering and cursing…though I'm not sure all of that was entirely necessary. I would like to experience that, in a different way, in a way so that I can really appreciate why you love it so much. I've always thought immersion was exceptionally helpful in such endeavors."

Jane walked Maura to the door, leaning against it as her friend stepped into the hallway, "You're different, Maur, you know that right?" she said with a joking chuckle.

"So, are you Jane. I'd imagine that's why we get along so well." She started to walk away but stopped, catching Jane's eye just before she closed the door. "Jane, if there is something that I really love that interests you, I'd love to share that with you in return."

Maura turned, cognizant of Jane's eyes on her back as her heels tapped out a slight rhythm as she walked down the hall. The tune from the previous night slipped into her mind and she smiled as playful lyrics drifted through memory as her lips hummed the accompaniment.

L'oiseau que tu croyais surprendre

battit de l'aile et s'envola ...

l'amour est loin, tu peux l'attendre;

tu ne l'attends plus, il est là!

Tout autour de toi, vite, vite,

il vient, s'en va, puis il revient ...

tu crois le tenir, il t'évite,

tu crois l'éviter, il te tient.

L'amour! L'amour! L'amour! L'amour!

(The bird you hoped to catch

beat its wings and flew away ...

love stays away, you wait and wait;

when least expected, there it is!

All around you, swift, swift,

it comes, goes, then it returns ...

you think you hold it fast, it flees

you think you're free, it holds you fast.

Oh, love! Love! Love! Love!)

"Habanera" from Carmen by Georges Bizet (1875)