Summary: The thought makes you feel small, possibly vulnerable, and in need of protection when compared to her own commanding height. The thought makes you happy. It's one you do not have when you are at work. It's one you would never allow yourself to carry outside of your home where the M.D. after your name is worn like the badge of pride that it is. It's one you have never had in association to any male you have ever been with. It is a thought only for summer nights and it is a thought only for Jane.

Disclaimer: I am sadly aware that Jane and Maura do not belong to me.

A/N: Maura POV, 2nd person. Stands alone. My take on Jane's characterization when she is near Dean. How in my opinion Jane's character ceases to exist whenever they are on screen together.

XXX

The sun doesn't even look yellow anymore. It's turned into a substance of scorching power that sears too bright even when you close your eyes. Your science brain trips through all the factual reasons why staring directly into it will never result in anything positive. But there are certain habits a child starts that are damn near impossible to forget. And so even at almost thirty-nine you find yourself glaring back.

Fiercely. Daring that sun to blind you. It hurts, it's uncomfortable, and when you do finally glance elsewhere black spots snap in different directions. But soon it clears and you feel a grin find its place. Take that. Your nine-year-old girl grin shouts your small form of rebellion.

Boston summers have a way about them. You came back to this city for a myriad of reasons. The job and the familiarity of a well know place seem to be enough explanation to placate others. Discussions of summer nights never have time or opportunity to surface.

Neither does the fact that you chose to accept the position of Chief Medical Examiner of the Boston Police Department for exactly one reason. There were other reputable offers. But when you met with the Coroner's Office, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, you were excited to be there. You toured the facilities you would be working in and you met some of the people that were associated with the job.

You met Detective Jane Rizzoli.

You've never had to admit to others that you came back to Boston for its summer nights and you stayed in Boston because of the face that had smirked back at you, hand extended in greeting when you had straightened up from careful examination of one of the full body freezers.

"Our fridge up to par for ya?"

There were so many aspects of that question that demanded correction. Her tone, infliction, and the way that her Bostonian accent only made appearances occasionally and never really consistently, only added confusion.

So while most of Boston, that smirking face included, decides to make it their personal vendetta to bitch about the summer heat, you, Maura Isles, enjoy it. Sure, the unnatural amount of perspiration that everyone experiences, this time yourself included, forces you to retire certain dresses, certain brands, certain fabrics. But the way the heat ignites your skin, giving it a not so attractive glow, makes you feel so very alive.

You spend your life in a basement surrounded by cold bodies and sterile surfaces. You love your job but by the time summer rolls around you've had your years share of cold. Even the spring and fall are not warm enough to thaw the day-in and day-out inhalation of cold recycled air.

So when that white sun ignites, you face it and delight in every aspect of it. The constant flushed cheeks. The stinging of your own sweat as it collects in the small of your back and underneath the swell of your breasts. It makes your body feel oddly strong.

There are a lot of things that Jane Rizzoli says. A lot of things she whines about, is certain about, insists on and demands that frankly makes you want to tap her on the lips and tell her to use her big girl words and grow-up. But there are also a lot of things that make you want to cup her face, possibly rest your forehead on hers and grin. Red faced Jane, sunburnt Jane, sweaty and uncomfortable Jane who is constantly stretching out the collar of her shirt in heated frustration, is one of those. She tends to snort more, growl more, and stomp even louder during the summer months. Part of it is the heat and part of it is you. You and the fact that you can't stop grinning and laughing softly whenever her and her squirmy self start hollering about the woes of Jane Rizzoli and the 105 degree hell she's in.

So you've decided to throw a little Sunday evening dinner party in honor of your favorite weather. Jane nodded much more enthusiastically than typical at the idea. You decide that it bothers you not in the least that she may be coming more for your AC than your enjoyable company. Once you've invited Jane, the rest of the guest list comes quickly. Angela, Frankie, Tommy, Tommy's new girlfriend, Vince, and Barry. Eight people is quiet the perfect number.

All the linen is white and the bright blue glass-blown plates look lovely and carefree and simple. The arrangement of wildflowers that you purchased at the farmer's market, even if Jane said you could have cut some off the side of the road, are the perfect accents to this summer evening. You serve your favorite pink lemonade from that bistro near the precinct.

Angela comes in and you give her the simple instructions for the simple meal. She nods her head in understanding before finding her easy rhythm in your kitchen, continuing where you left off. You shower quickly and rub your favorite lotion into your skin before stepping into your bedroom. The white cotton of your dress feels light and heavenly against your already warming skin. The loose fit is not something you'd normally wear but for this kind of evening it is a simple choice. Your hands slide over the fabric as you pull the buttons through and then roll the elbow-length sleeves so that the cuffs are almost sloppy. It reminds you of Jane in her work shirt.

The tan belt sits loosely above your hips but not quite at your actual waist. You slip your feet into flat sandals knowing that Jane will comment about your height. The thought makes you feel small, possibly vulnerable, and in need of protection when compared to her own commanding height. The thought makes you happy. It's one you do not have when you are at work. It's one you would never allow yourself to carry outside of your home where the M.D. after your name is worn like the badge of pride that it is. It's one you have never had in association to any male you have ever been with. It is a thought only for summer nights and it is a thought only for Jane.

Your other guests are arriving and you busy yourself pouring drinks and ushering them into the cool house. Jane is late. You frown at the clock while your fingers unlock your phone and open her text message. The words are read at exactly the same moment that you hear an unfamiliar knock on your front door. It is not Jane's knock. This knock is too heavy, unfocused, and lacks Jane's sureness and ease in requesting entrance to your home.

You read her text, set your phone down, call out to Angela to please set another place at the table before making your way to the door. Gabriel Dean greets you from the other side and you allow yourself to smile because Gabriel is a good man. Jane stands behind him looking nervous. When they make it inside she pulls at your elbow, telling you she sent a message and she hopes it's okay that he came with. You pat her on the arm and tell her, of course.

You want to tell her more. You want to tell her that you would prefer it be her that knocks on your door and you would prefer it be her that stands in front when you proceed to open it. It seems unnatural for her position to be behind this man. The image chips at your heart.

You tell yourself the moment was insignificant. That you are building a case without anything other than your own personal interpretations.

And it may be, but that does nothing to change how very wrong it feels.

When you hand him her beer and he turns to give it to her, her thank you is too practiced, too big, too everything Jane is not. Your brain snaps through all the times you have handed Jane that exact beer. Her appreciation is always rushed, thrown out between the words of whatever story one of you is sharing. Her thank you is habitual. Her thank you is easy. You prefer her thank you to be as such.

The evening plays itself out. You find that all too soon your fingers hurt from clutching different surfaces. You have to steady yourself over and over as you watch her interact with him. It isn't even him that is the problem. It's her. It's who she is when she's with him. Sure, she still hold pieces of the very loud and always right Jane. But there is this subtle interaction that she has with him that seems so wrong and so out of place, especially here in your home.

You decide Jane Rizzoli is a horrible flirt. Horrible isn't even the right word. The way she looks at him and the way she ducks her head when he directs her to a spot on the couch or even how she smiles when he touches her arm, isn't horrible at all. It actually mimics your own flirting behavior quite perfectly. But on Jane it is all wrong. On Jane it seems to compromise everything she is.

It's not even the action. Jane is allowed to enjoy someone who is paying specific attention to her. It's more the movement of her body that you notice. You can feel her body cringe yet you can't read it in her eyes. All this time what you thought she and you did throughout every day was her form of flirting. You fell into the easy rhythm of it seamlessly. But the behavior she is displaying now is different. It's forced, it's tight, it's too controlled and it's too blank. Her face seems to loop between three basic emotions. Shy and grateful with occasional bursts of loud exclamations as if to prove she is indeed herself. They conflict so horribly that all three seem fake.

You wonder where her trademark slouch is. You look for her eye rolls and her smirking lips. You look for the change in her eyes, the one that forces the color to go really light when she teases you gently. You look for the soft eyes that are so easy to find behind the tight muscles of her chiseled face.

Because Jane has one of the kindest faces you know. But you have to look for it. And it seems, has always seemed, that when that face is looking at you? Well it isn't hard to find at all. When people meet Jane for the first time, often all they see is her edge. The way her sharp chin replicates that of a generation of men long past. The way her features sit almost too closely together. So that a person does not have to scan her face to take in her eyes, nose, mouth, jaw. Everything can be taken in with one glance. So when Jane has an attitude or is in an off-putting or intimidating mood, it is instantly noticeable. But look a second longer and the kindness that is Jane is right there too.

Tonight Jane is neither her kind face nor her sharp face. The face she wears is almost a version of the kind one but there is no hint of her aggressive, proud, or stubborn self. Except for the bursts of loud noise that come much too infrequent, she seems anesthetized. You find yourself turning away from her, cringing in embarrassment. Her features are too relaxed, too slouched. She almost looks lazy. Yes, Jane and her wardrobe could almost always be categorized as sloppy. But Jane's face and Jane's mannerisms are never this slack, this loose-limbed.

You're so very unsettled.

And then the evening catches up to you in one fast and rushed moment. You hear your words spill from your throat, calling everyone to the table. The moment splashes into you so heavily and with so much force that your eyes dart to your nearest bathroom, calculating if you should just excuse yourself now.

No, Maura.

Your mother's etiquette forces you to stay still.

Your guests are finding their places. Chairs are pulled out and Tommy continues his story to the laughing crowd. Jane's eyes do a sweep of the table and you watch the first movement that has really belonged to her all night. Her forearm tightens and you watch her bicep contract as her body pauses. Her chin makes a sharp movement to take into account everyone's place. Her eyes fall on the chair Dean is pulling out for her, the one you normally sit in. She takes in the one to her right that he will sit in.

Gabriel listens to Tommy, not noticing that Jane has now found your face. You sweep your features of all emotion, settle them into a perfectly impassive surface. Brown eyes dig into green ones.

The moment seems to intensify. It's blinding now. Painful.

"I'm suddenly not feeling well." Your pale face is honest and open. "Please start. Excuse me."

It's all you can come up with, your feet are already moving out of the room before the words finish. You duck into the hallway and follow it through to the family room before slipping out the back door and onto your back deck.

You pace a few steps before your sweaty palms find purchase against the wooden railing. Arms take the brunt of your weight, your posture slouched forward. Gasping breaths, the taking in of too warm of air. The heat clogs your throat and makes you gag on your own inhalation. It's the first time your summer evenings have felt so wrong. Hair tumbles forward. The base of your neck is now bare and the warm air hits it, making you feel dizzy.

There are so many words that your throat has always refused to spill. So many. Tonight, the effort has become too much.

She will follow you. You know she will.

Tonight you want to use your words instead of using your chin. Tonight the thought of falling back on your typical form of communication with her is much too heavy of a task to take on. Whenever the stakes are high, like tonight, you always choose to tilt your face, your eyes soft, when you listen to her. You drop your chin when you disagree. Your cheek bones tighten yet your mouth relaxes so that the dip of your lip falls into one smooth arc when Jane says something that you too believe. This is how you respond.

Because when it comes to Jane and when it comes to Jane's biggest fears and uncertainties, and when it comes to all the things she wants and all the things you want to give her, your gestures are all that you have. In all other situations you would use your words. Yet here, your words would most certainty be too big. Not big as in Jane wouldn't follow or Jane wouldn't understand. Or in that Jane would roll her eyes and tell you that you were over thinking, over verbalizing.

No, that isn't what you mean at all.

What you have to say would be too big that even you and Jane wouldn't be able to ignore its importance. You have thought many times over about how you could say what you want to say without it sounding like a love song. And because it cannot be done, you have always decided to stay still.

Because there are other things that you can say. There are even other things that you cannot but which have parts that you can.

You can tell Jane you love her. But you don't tell her how you've also stopped really looking for anyone else to love.

You can tell Jane that she's the most important person in your life. What you don't say is that you and Jane together, the togetherness, is what is important. Big important. Not important as in- important to you, it matters. Not important as in- important to Jane, it matters to her. Sure, those things too. But what you mean is, important as in- it is your right. Your right, the both of you, to be better together. Your right to do important things, together.

You can even tell Jane that you feel better when her arms hold you and your own height naturally puts your cheek firm against her neck. What you don't say is that the spot between Jane's jaw and Jane's shoulder is the warmest thing you know.

And this should be no different. You could tell her how your own spot at the Rizzoli family table makes you feel like you belong. That would be true. Jane would say how you only like her family because they are loud and everything your own family is not. You would even be able to tell her that, no, no she is wrong about that. You could tell her how it isn't the fact that Angela hugs you like you are her fourth child. What you love most about Jane's family is that they are Jane's. You enjoy them and want to be a part of it because they are Jane's foundation, they are the people that surrounded this woman, they are the ones that Jane grew up in front of. They are Jane's home. Even that you could say. What you can not say is that you too are Jane's home. That Jane's family is her and your home, together.

You should have stayed inside. You should have just taken the empty chair to Jane's left. But now you've cause a scene and you will have to explain yourself. Not because Jane will see through any other explanation you offer. She will, but the two of you could just continue to ignore it a little longer because that is what you do. But right now-fuck this heat. Just, just-

It's suffocating and it's so thick and your body feels weak and drained. You won't be able to use your chin instead of your words. You won't even be able to just say half of what you want to say, the half that can still be explained by friendship. And because of that, because you don't have the energy to dip your face or soften your eyes, the words will spill out. All of them.

She will follow you. You know she will.

"Maura?" Her presence behind you seems to soak in whatever little bit of fresh air there might still have been. She leaves you swaying, gripping harder at the support of the deck railing.

"Hey, hey. What's going on Maur? You okay?"

She's beside you now and your exposed neck feels it. The wood creaks under her as she slouches beside you, hunching her shoulders down so she can try and see your face. Your hair hides you and there is a brief moment where you imagine yourself an enchanted character in a storybook who can make herself disappear by simply shielding her face.

You gulp at the stale air, aware that your chest is still heaving, your back wavering in exhaustion. "Jane. Please go back inside."

"What? No. You're not okay. Talk to me."

Your eyes slam shut so that the swaying wooden planks at your feet don't suddenly upheave and send you falling. Your knuckles whiten from the effort.

"Is it because I brought Dean without asking? I should have called you. It's just he showed up, you know how he does. And I didn't want to miss this so I told him he could come."

All your words swim forward. You don't have time to pick out the ones you want before their mass becomes too much and the ones that just happen to be on top, spill out.

"The table is uneven."

Beat. Pause.

This is about the table being uneven? Really? Really Maura? Nine just not symmetrical enough for you?

If this were any other moment that is exactly what Jane would say. Or maybe even-

You want to tell me what this is really about?

That too would make sense. But that is not what comes out of Jane Rizzoli's mouth. Instead it's-

"I know."

You chance a look at your feet after Jane speaks. Your eyes remain open. The words continue to come.

"You have the right to be whomever you wish to be. You are your own person and I will not attempt to control how you act around him. But not in my house, Jane. I will not allow it." Your voice is surprising. Lower than normal, raw. Almost threatening.

Beat. Pause.

"Okay."

You pull your head up, surprised when you notice that her hand has been rubbing circles on your back.

"Okay?"

"Yes. You're right."

You try to match her face with her words. Jane of yesterday would leave you with no doubt that she understood the underlying current of the conversation. The Jane of today, of this evening, makes you not so certain. So you continue.

"You're different Jane. Around him. And not in a little way. In this really big, really unsettling way. I've not noticed it before. Or it just has not bothered me before. But it bothered me tonight. It was in my house Jane! You and- it was in my, dammit-"

Your breathing has ratcheted back up. You tilt your head back this time, your posture straightening and you lean your weight into the hand still on your back.

Jane says nothing.

You can't stop now.

"You sat on his left Jane! I sit on your left. I do not sit on your left while you are on his left-" You can hear yourself. It's ridiculous but it's also so big and so important. "I'm proud to sit there Jane!"

"I know it."

"That's where- If I were your- that's where-"

"- my wife would sit."

Beat. Pause.

You crumble. Your legs bend so that you sit on you heels, squatting at her feet. This time your voice sobs it out. Dry sobs. It seems there isn't enough water in your body to produce anything dramatic and possibly pretty like tears.

"I don't know how to sit any other way."

For all that Jane is and all that Jane carries, there are moments where she sits next to you, her thigh touching yours, her hand wrapped firmly around her almost empty beer. Those are the moments where she tells you how much she wants love. She often talks in the abstract. She often talks in the one days, the maybes. That's how she mostly talks about it. But twice now her eyes have fallen to her lap, her shoulders have settled comfortably into your couch and she has whispered out her want for it, now. As soon as possible.

Jane always says it like a confession. To you it has always sounded like a saving grace. Something about Jane makes you come up with dramatic metaphors that include some form of holiness.

"I'm going to go ask him to leave." Jane is next to you, you wonder when she too knelt down. Her hand leaves your back, but then finds your arm and pulls you to your feet. You whip your head towards her, finally steady enough.

"No. I won't ask you to do that. It would be rude."

"Maura." Jane's hands, both of them wrap around your neck. They're loose but not that loose. They wind underneath your hair. "It would be rude for him to stay."

You can't nod in agreement. You can only watch the soft Jane, the kind Jane, your Jane, as she looks at you.

"I won't do this to us-" Jane holds up a finger when you attempt to interrupt her, continues after she knows you won't. "This isn't for you, Maura. This is for me. It didn't feel like a lie to act- how we act, when we weren't using real words. Now. It would be wrong."

She will follow you. You know she will.

"I want to be clear." She continues in that steady voice of hers. Jane who can be so insecure at times. Jane who hides so much of herself behind that sharpness. But the edge is her too. Both of it. The sureness and the vulnerability. Both are hers. "This will not be casual. This will not be anything less than what it is. I won't do it anymore. Pretend this is small. Not to you. Most certainly not to myself."

She will follow you. You know she will.

Her hands creep up from your neck to your face. She grips your cheeks with an intensity that is not painful but is not soft. She tilts your head back and the touch is more intimate than any other could be. Her hands as they hold you like that are more arousing than any other movement.

She kisses you. It tastes like salvation.

"In?"

You open your eyes, your face still held together by her fingers.

"Yes."

You might as well go all the way. Might as well sing a hallelujah. You file that little joke away, wanting to share it with Jane. Later. Later you will tell her and later she will laugh.

She lets go. You feel the strength leave her hands as she releases you. You feel the single gentle swipe of her thumb as it brushes against your cheek before she is no longer touching you. She turns to leave.

You will follow her. She knows you will.