Last chapter folks. I might revisit the Contact universe in time. Let me know if you fancy seeing what life is like for these two further down the line.
Thanks for reading and thanks for all your comments. I really appreciate it and I'm always keen to hear more!
"I'm starving." Jane indulged herself in a long stretch as she pulled her vest over her head.
"I'm not surprised," Maura replied, watching as Jane pulled the vest down to meet her shorts. "The human body requires an inordinate number of nutrients for sexual endurance. In particular, arginine can..."
"Ok, ok Maur." Jane held her palms up, surrendering to Maura's superior intelligence and saving herself from another, albeit very well-informed, lecture. "I get it. We've had a good work out."
Jane flashed Maura a mocking smile before she rubbed at her tired eyes and followed the other woman downstairs and into the hallway.
"Oh! My shoes!"
Jane's involuntary smile was a reflex response to the childlike delight that sometimes penetrated Maura's voice. The raised eyebrow, on the other hand, was a happy homage to the sudden flashback she was having from the night before.
Those shoes. Those shoes and those legs. Those legs and those...
"Jane? You ok?" Maura cocked her head, her wide eyes were examining Jane's distracted face.
"Huh?" Jane whipped her head up quickly.
"Are you ok?" Maura repeated the question as she stepped in close to Jane's body. Her silk pajama's felt good against Jane's naked arms.
Maura put her hands on either side of Jane's waist. Gripping at the hem of her vest, she was pulling at the detective gently.
"I'm fine. I..." Jane stopped herself momentarily. She ran her hands over Maura's shoulders and down to the small of her back. Taking a deep breath, she exhaled as she added, "I'm more than fine." She leaned in to kiss Maura softly, her tongue lightly teasing at the doctor's supple lips.
Pulling back slowly, Jane soaked up the sight of Maura. Her eyes were still closed, her lips were still slightly parted. She watched as Maura's mouth turned upwards and she let out a satisfied sigh.
"Mmhmm..." Maura remained static, spellbound.
"I love you." Jane didn't know she was going to say it until it was already out there.
Maura eyes peeled open. Jane's heart was in her mouth - again.
"I love you too Jane." Jane knew that the innocence she saw in Maura's wide smile was a ruse. Maura was no innocent. And yet she had a way of making Jane feel like she was in virgin territory, like Jane was the first and only person to have said those words to her.
In contrast, no matter how hard she tried, Jane couldn't mask the intensity of the feelings she was experiencing; feelings that, for her at least, were entirely new and were rushing through her body like an intravenous drug.
"No, I mean I love you. Like, really love you. Like, scared shitless, kill anyone who so much as breathes on you the wrong way - love - you."
She kept her eyes on Maura's but not because she was waiting for a response. She was paralyzed, caught in the doctor's intoxicating gaze. And in a bizarre but unmistakable flash of clarity, Jane was sure she would be happy to spend the rest of her life right there.
"Oh Jane." Maura reached up to caress Jane's shell-shocked face. "I - love - you." She gave it the emphasis it needed to ease Jane's clear discomfort and moved to clasp her hands behind the lanky detective's neck. On tip toes, she put her mouth against Jane's ear and whispered, "But you know that don't you?"
Her tone was a strange mix of provocation and virtue and Jane shivered as Maura's delicate breath travelled the side of her neck. She tenderly squeezed at the doctor's small frame.
Maura kissed Jane's earlobe. "I know I should be afraid but I'm not and I don't want you to be afraid either."
She shifted in Jane's arms, bringing her face around so she could restore their eye contact.
"The way I see it, we never really had a choice."
"No?" Jane felt a prick of insecurity creeping back into her veins. It wasn't a feeling she was used to harboring and she had no idea how to fight it off now it was here.
"Detective." There was a hint of reprimand in Maura's voice but then she smirked and asked, "Did you fall in the shower this morning?"
Maura motioned to inspect Jane's head.
"Hey!" Jane playfully slapped Maura's flapping arms away. "Really? Now? You're making a joke now?" Jane feigned annoyance but she was secretly grateful for Maura's timely injection of humour.
"Jane." Maura's merciful timbre bought them both back to the moment but the sweetness in her eyes remained.
"You and I have been dancing around this...this thing between us for so long now. I think we just lost sight of the fact that this was always so much more than a friendship." Maura looked away for a moment. When her eyes returned to Jane's they were brighter than they had been all morning. "It's amor fati."
"Fate Jane. And it's ours for the taking."
For the second time in last 12 hours, Jane was well and truly out of her emotional comfort zone but something told her she should get used to it. She was unaware she had started to fidget with the scars on her hands until Maura reached out to stop her. The smaller woman was exuding calm. She squeezed the detective's clammy hands reassuringly.
Jane had always imagined she was the rock of this partnership but she was starting to understand that Maura was strong in ways she would never, could never be. It was like Maura was shaking her from the deepest sleep imaginable. And it was the doctor who broke the now conspicuous silence lingering between them.
"Look Jane, I don't want fight this anymore. Last night I felt something leave me that I didn't even know was there and I feel..." Maura looked skyward. "I feel so happy."
If I could, I would frame that smile.
Maura had well and truly broken through Jane's seemingly impenetrable armor. "I don't want to fight anymore either." Her voice was deep but her tone was vulnerable. Jane leaned in closer and shifted her hands so she was holding the doctors in her own. "God, I'm so tired of fighting it."
Maura glanced down at Jane's hands. Her brow creased as she spied the detective's swollen knuckles. Her face quickly shifted from warm to serious. "Me too Jane." She shielded Jane's injury with her palm. "All this pretense has been hurting you, I know. It been hurting us both. And last night at the bar...well, that's not who you are Jane."
Jane's head fell. "No, last night was me." She peered up tentatively, apologetically. "But that dick had it coming."
"Jane." Maura gave Jane her best scolding face.
Jane was defiant. "What did I just say? I would happily kill anyone who so much as..."
"Alright! But I just don't know how many times in the first 24 hours of our relationship I can say the words 'you're right' Maura. I'm might look like a novice but I know when I'm setting myself up for a fall."
Maura snickered as she broke contact with the detective and started towards the kitchen. "So. We're in a relationship?"
"Erm...yeah." Jane's voice was soaked in her trademark Rizzoli sarcasm but her new friend insecurity wasn't far behind it. Her swagger suddenly halted. "Aren't we?"
"Yes. Yes we are." Maura shot Jane a grin over her shoulder before reaching for the coffee. "Now, what can I make you for breakfast...sweetheart?" Maura's grin was infectious. Jane caught it. "Mmm... I could get used to that." She flash a gratified smiled but her appetite had waned. Her mind was on other things.
"Erm...Maura. Have you ever done...this...before?"
"Done what?" Maura wasn't looking at Jane, she was pouring the coffee.
"Y'know, slept with a..."
"A detective?" Maura teased. "No."
"Come on Maur, give me a break." Jane sat at the breakfast bar and rested her head in her hands.
"With a woman?"
Jane shrugged, "Yeah."
"No. Have you?"
"Have you ever been attracted to another woman before?" Jane had clearly spiked Maura's curiosity.
"No. Well, maybe. Well, yeah." Jane conceded. "Yeah, I guess so." It was the first time Jane had admitted it out loud but Maura seemed undaunted.
"You?" Jane asked.
"I don't know. I mean I've certainly never thought about sexual desire in absolutes." Maura picked up the coffee cups but not before noticing the small pile of clothes still lying on the floor of her kitchen. Eager to continue on with this conversation, she made a mental note to remind Jane later that her gun needed to be put somewhere safe. She continued, "That is to say I'm much more interested in spirit than I am in body but I don't think I've ever felt so deeply about anyone as I do about you."
"Really?" A proud smile swept over Jane's face.
"Really." Maura put Jane's coffee in front of her. "And my physiological response to your body, to your touch, is unusually overpowering Jane. Gender aside, I've never wanted anyone as much as I want you."
"Yeah?" Jane was fishing now. A blush crept in to her cheeks.
"Yes Jane." Maura was happy to oblige. She watched as Jane sipped at her coffee.
As Jane held the cup to her lips she couldn't help but notice that Maura's house was so quiet compared to her own apartment. The only sound interrupting the peace between them now was the birdsong coming from the doctor's half-acre garden. It was strangely unnerving for a woman used to a life full of noise.
"This is so fucking weird."
"Language Jane." Maura raised a blithe eyebrow and pushed an arrant hair behind her ear.
"Well it is. I mean, christ Maur, I don't want to freak you out or anything but I feel like..." Jane took a sharp breath. Her eyes betrayed her and before she could say anything more, tears were starting to well.
"What Jane?" Maura's voice was disarmingly soft. Maura's voice was nearly always disarmingly soft.
Jane choked. "Fuck." She stopped herself. "Sorry Maura but, fuck...I finally feel like my life is about to start."