Frost looked at her, his eyes burning into her, and Jane avoided his gaze.

"You can't just take what you want from her and then toss her back," he warned, his voice low and threatening. It should have surprised Jane but she understood- it was impossible not to feel protective of Maura.

Jane's shoulders slumped in defeat. She knew he was right, and yet she still felt herself being pulled down to the morgue by forces stronger than gravity.

"That's not what I'm..." she trailed off, unsure of her own intentions.

"She'll give you whatever you ask for, Jane," Frost's voice was accusatory. He had never criticized Jane so openly about her personal choices and it weighed on the detective.

The thing was, Jane did know, and normally that was the reason she didn't ask for things from Maura. It wouldn't be fair. Maura was kind and gentle and despite the horror of their work she managed to stay clean, pure, practically naïve. Jane's hands were perpetually dirty, physically as well as metaphorically, her clothes wrinkled, her mind a jumble and her emotions a mess.

At times, Jane felt guilty for even standing too close to Maura, afraid that the filth would somehow rub off. But if Maura noticed, she certainly didn't seem to mind. If anything, she often moved even closer.

"If you're just looking for someone," Frost hedged, "we'll go out. Grab some beers. I can give you a ride home."

Jane thought there was probably something ironic in the fact that Frost was encouraging her to get drunk and sleep with a stranger rather than... What? Jane herself wasn't sure what she wanted from Maura and she was afraid to ask Frost what he thought Jane was after in the morgue.

A voice in the back of Jane's mind called her a liar. She knew exactly what she wanted from Maura, what she wanted to take from Maura.

Normally, Jane would have been drowning in guilt for even considering it. Not tonight though. Tonight she was exhausted, lonely, and numb. Tonight she felt the physical, mental, and emotional toll that her life was taking.

More so than after dealing with Doyle, Hoyt, all the other bogeymen in her closet and monsters under her bed. For whatever reason, the events of the day had taken an unspeakable toll on her.

And she wanted absolution.

Her catholic upbringing might not have stuck but the basic principles were ingrained in her like the scars that marred her skin. Only Jane had a different type of confessional in mind, a different benediction.

And her savior was downstairs, diligently closing another horrific chapter in their lives.

Jane needed to take something clean, and pure, and honest and use it to fill the hole that was allowing her to spill out into the world, to clean the wound before it rotted.

Her long silence made Frost shift and she was peripherally aware that he was realizing he couldn't change her mind.

"She's your friend," he breathed. It was a warning, a plea, something desperate.

Jane broke.

"I need this," she croaked. Turning, she found Frost's eyes. He staggered back a step and Jane looked quickly away.

"Jesus," he swore under his breath. "Go home, Jane. I'll drive you. I can stay with you tonight." Jane was afraid to ask what he'd seen in her eyes but she needn't have asked- she knew: she'd looked at herself in the mirror after emptying her stomach in the restroom.

"Frost," Jane was shaking her head, ever so slightly. "Just once, I need..."

"You really think you can do this just once," his challenge this time was gentle, curious. "You think that it will make you feel better? To do this to her?"

"If I don't," Jane felt like she was literally coming apart at the seams, her entire being disintegrating right there in front of the elevators with nothing to hold it back. "It's this or nothing."

"Nothing?" Frost asked, the look on his face one of grim concern.

"I'm done," Jane found his eyes. "If she can't save me, there's nothing left to save."

Frost reached out suddenly, pulling Jane into a tight embrace.

"I'm sorry, Janie," he rasped. The endearment bit through the fog in Jane's head a little bit.

"Me too," she replied.

"I hope you find what you need," Frost added, stepping back. He pushed the 'down' button on the elevator for her.

"Me too," Jane repeated.

The elevator arrived and Jane got in, almost entirely numb. The ride down felt too fast and her stomach lurched.

Her eyes felt gritty, she was dirty and disheveled from head to toe. She knew she must look ridiculous in the basketball shorts with her blazer and t-shirt on top. Everything about the florescent lights made her skin crawl and the starkness of it gave her a headache.

She knew from experience and the alarm of the medics that tended to her that she needed stitches on her collarbone. The haphazardly applied surgical glue and butterfly bandage pulled tight when she moved, the blood staining her last clean, white shirt. She buttoned one button on her jacket, knowing it would cover the stain.

Jane knew Maura would be upset, myriad reasons for her anger catalogued in Jane's mind so she could repent later.

But that was later.

Right now, she just wanted to feel.

The morgue was dim but Maura was writing diligently by the light of a single desk lamp. Jane knew it was improbable, but she swore she could smell the delicate hint of Maura's skin when she entered the room. Maura looked up when Jane entered the morgue and the horrified look on Maura's face didn't even register with Jane.

But when Maura leapt up and rounded the table, her hands grasping Jane's wrists as she guided the detective to sit on a stool, something deep inside Jane registered emotion. Deeply buried in an abyss of despair, but there nonetheless. Wild, feral need mired in a tangle of anger, bitterness, hatred, loss, despair, and hopelessness.

"Oh god Jane," she croaked. "Korsak expected you to go to the hospital. Then I called you and you didn't answer. I almost went to the hospital but Barry called, said you were coming here and you would come down when you got a minute. He said you were alive, as if to say you almost weren't. Then hours passed and I didn't hear from you and no one knew where you were and I kept calling and going upstairs and… what happened?"

Maura's words were clear but rushed, heavy with nervousness and concern. As she spoke she collected things from drawers and cabinets. Eventually Maura sat on a stool in front of Jane, supplies piled on the counter next to her.

Jane just sat on the stool, back rigid. She waited for the attraction she normally felt in Maura's presence to surface but she still felt numb. It infuriated her.

"Let me look at your knees," Maura coaxed, her voice a gentle command that left no room for arguing. Jane didn't resist- this was, after all, exactly why she had come downstairs. To take.

Jane offered her legs, splayed wide in front of her.

Rolling up Jane's baggy shorts slightly, Maura seemed composed, controlled, but when she reached for the gauze on Jane's legs, her hands shook.

Unwrapping the bandages, Maura seemed entirely focused on her task, and Jane stared openly at the ME's flawless skin, smooth lips, sorrowful eyes.

"Oh Jane," Maura breathed, Jane's burnt knees meeting open air. The coolness of the morgue against the inflamed skin made Jane inhale sharply. Maura didn't ask stupid questions like, 'does it hurt?' instead, she leaned over and placed a tender kiss to the slightly reddened skin of Jane's thigh.

Jane's eyes fluttered closed. She kept them closed as Maura spread antiseptic cream across her knees and gently, efficiently re-bandaged them.

"Anywhere else?" Maura's soft voice whispered across Jane's skin.

Eyes still closed, Jane nodded but didn't speak, didn't move. She was terrified of what might happen if she opened her mouth.

Maura was undeterred, and she seemed to instinctively understand Jane's need for powerful compassion. She stood and reached for the lapels of Jane's jacket. Jane opened her eyes to watch as Maura unbuttoned and peeled off the garment, a sharp inhalation escaping Maura when she caught sight of the blood staining Jane's shirt. Rapidly her hands pulled Jane's collar far enough out of the way to inspect the gash.

"Jane," she couldn't keep the sharpness out of her voice but she seemed to catch herself, softened. "You should have let someone stitch this up much sooner."

Tugging softly, she coaxed Jane out of the ruined cotton t-shirt, draping it carefully on the counter next to her.

"Only you," Jane's voice was a low growl. It was the first time she had spoken since entering the morgue.

Maura's head sprang up. She licked her lips nervously. Their eyes met and held.

"What?" Maura asked, her voice a breathy whisper.

"Only you can touch me," Jane nearly ordered.

"Ok," Maura soothed. "I'll take care of you."

Jane wondered what Maura was thinking, feeling. But part of her didn't really want to know. She was about to trample on the trust she had spent years building with Maura and it should have made her pause, should have hurt. Instead, Jane felt relieved.

She was going to take what she wanted, what she needed, and it was going to feel so good. But before she destroyed the only pure, good thing in her life, she wanted most desperately to hear the white-noise of her best friend chattering.

Maura began tending to Jane's cut. She was clearly nervous but her work showed no signs of it. Her movements were precise, crisp. She worked diligently, the light behind her throwing her face into shadow.

"Talk," Jane pleaded. She had meant it to be a command but it came out dark, needy, dangerous.

Maura didn't look up from her work, and for a minute Jane thought the other woman was going to ignore the request.

"I'm angry with you," she breathed, then tensed. Jane didn't comment so Maura continued. "You were injured, badly, and you didn't go to the hospital or come to see me. You turned off your phone. You didn't come back to work. No one was really sure where you went. I am your friend and you had me sick with worry, waiting here for you. Why would you do that? It's not like you to be so... cruel."

With a gentle press at the edges of the bandage, Maura covered her precise stitches and then pulled back, removing her gloves. She stood, inspecting her work, a small wrinkle marring her brow.

Jane felt it then, the way the stitches were pulling at her skin, the way her palms itched, the way her lips were cracked and her knees ached and her back was sore. She felt the sorrow weighing on her and the anger swirling around her and the utter defeat she was wearing like a second skin.

And she felt the painful, visceral attraction to Maura that burned her more than the flames that only hours ago nearly claimed her life.

It slammed into her like a freight train, all of it, and a desperate sob broke from her lips.

Maura looked over, stunned, as Jane stood and reached forward blindly, desperately. Without question, Maura moved into Jane's embrace, her cool hands lightly grasping at Jane's bare skin. Jane buried her face in Maura's hair, one arm wrapping across the smaller woman's shoulders and the other around her waist. Jane's long reach wrapped nearly all the way around Maura and Maura did her best to return the crushing embrace.

"Maura," Jane cried. Maura tried to pull back and look at Jane's face but Jane held tighter, her grasp practically frantic. "Don't-"

"Shh," Maura soothed. "I'm here. You're safe. I'm right here. I'm not letting go."

For long minutes, Jane shook almost violently in Maura's arms, her bruising grip on Maura never loosening. Maura did her best to return the embrace but the intensity of Jane's tremors worried her, frightened her. She felt helpless, something she wasn't accustomed to, at least when it came to Jane.

Jane knew she was confusing Maura, possibly even frightening her, and she knew she was only going to make it worse.

Aware she should pull back, should say something, Jane struggled to release Maura but couldn't will her body to submit. Instead, arousal was beginning to consume her. She wanted to take Maura apart and put her back together. She wanted to possess Maura, to, if only for one night, have something light and clean and pure that belonged to just her.

"It's alright," Maura cooed, her voice soothing like a cool breeze in August. "We can stay like this as long as you want."

But Jane couldn't, not with Maura's small hands against her bare back. Not with Maura's breasts pressed tightly against her body. Not with the rage and desire coursing through her with an intensity she'd never known.

Acutely conscious that she was about to break something in an irreparable way, Jane brushed her lips against the smooth column of Maura's neck. Maura's skin was soft, delicate, and the smell of her was… intoxicating.

Maura's breath hitched, and Jane wanted to hear that sound all night long, and so much more. She pressed her lips against Maura's neck again, this time biting gently. Maura's hands tightened against Jane's skin.

"Jane," she breathed a shaky warning. Her face was awash with confusion, sorrow. "Let me take you home."

Without argument, Jane nodded. Stepped back.

Maura seemed surprised at her compliance. Jane wanted to correct her, to tell Maura that she was going to pick up right at this spot when she had a bit more privacy, but she knew Maura would protest, try to talk to her, so she simply nodded.

"I'll be right back," Maura assured her.

Jane nodded, transfixed as the M.E. disappeared into her office. The sway of her hips made Jane feel dizzy.

Everything else had faded. There was nothing but her visceral, painful attraction to Maura.

Jane shrugged back into her t-shirt but abandoned her jacket. When Maura reappeared, she seemed composed, like she'd put on a mask in the office. Jane wanted to wipe it off with her lips and tongue.

They were silent in the car. Maura drove to her own apartment without asking, ushered Jane inside without comment.

Jane allowed it, allowed Maura to guide her to the couch and drape a blanket around her shoulders. Allowed Maura to disappear into the rest of the house, moving quietly but noticeably. After a moment, soft music drifted into the living room, something classical and soothing that Jane didn't recognize.

There was no rush. Jane wasn't going to be deterred by Maura's attempts to calm her- she was calm. For the first time in her adult life she was going to take something without a second thought for the consequences. She might as well take her time.

Leaning her head back, she allowed the serenity of Maura's apartment to soak into her. It smelled clean and fresh, it was quiet but not unnaturally still, and the natural tones of the walls and furniture were comforting.

Maura appeared a while later, a glass of water in one hand and some pills in the other.

"Take these," she instructed. "I'm sure you're in pain."

Jane didn't argue. When she accepted the glass and the pills she drew out her contact with Maura's skin, holding her gaze. Maura flushed and stepped back.

Jane tossed the pills into her mouth and chased it with half the glass of water.

"Something stronger would be good," she rumbled.

"That's not really a good idea," Maura hedged. "But I've got something else that should help."

Maura held a hand out towards Jane and Jane accepted it, stood up off the couch and followed Maura towards the bathroom. Pushing open the door, Maura revealed a full, steaming tub. Fresh towels were piled on the counter, a few candles were lit, and the room smelled subtly phenomenal.

"Try not to get your stiches too wet," she cautioned. "It's not the best thing for your burns but I really think the rest of your body needs it."

Jane looked from the tub to Maura's face and back again. Maura ducked her head.

Without a second though, Jane pulled her shirt over her head and tossed it aside, stripped off her bra and dropped it haphazardly on the floor.

Maura's breath hitched and her eyes became glued to the floor. Before Jane could unzip her pants, Maura was backing out of the room.

"I'll just get you something to wear," she stammered. "Let me know if you need anything."

Jane didn't respond, just waited for Maura to back out and then left the door wide-open, removing the rest of her clothes and climbing into the hot water.

Usually, baths weren't her thing, but she was helpless to resist Maura at this point, and she wanted someone to make her feel good, didn't she? Well, Maura was trying, so Jane intended to let the other woman care for her.

Closing her eyes, Jane reveled in the way the hot water soothed away some of the aches in her muscles, although it did nothing to quiet the torment in her mind. She wasn't sure how long she had been in the tub but the water was cold when she felt Maura's presence in the doorway.

Curious as to what Maura would do, Jane kept her breathing even and her eyes closed. Maura simply stood there, her soft breathing shallow and erratic, and Jane felt her entire body tingle with awareness.

Without warning, Jane turned her head and opened her eyes, finding Maura's gaze. Her cheeks were flushed, her chest was rising and falling rapidly, and she was holding a t-shirt and yoga pants loosely in one hand. She had changed into a tank-top and spandex capris, her hair pulled back in a messy ponytail.

"I uh," she cleared her throat nervously. "I brought you some clean clothes."

Jane nodded.

"Help me?" she asked.

Maura swallowed hard.

"I can't get my stiches wet," Jane indicated the towels on the counter, and Maura nodded, putting down the clothes in her hand.

Jane stood, the cold water sloshing, and Maura averted her gaze as she held the towel open, gently wrapping it around Jane. It brought their bodies alarmingly close, and Jane took the opportunity to guide Maura's face upwards with soft hands on her cheeks. Maura was trapped. If she let go or stepped back, the towel would fall and leave Jane naked in front of her.

"Maura," Jane breathed. Her voice was gravelly, unapologetic. When she sighed deeply, her breath fanned Maura's lips.

"Jane," Maura responded, only her voice was a plea, a warning. Don't.

"I almost died today," Jane responded.

The truth of it was stark between them, the gauze at Jane's collar nearly eye level and stark against the olive skin.

Maura licked her lips subconsciously. She tried, unsuccessfully, to take a deep breath. Her face crumbled when Jane kissed her forehead almost reverently, a whisper of lips on skin.

"And all I could think about," Jane rasped. "All I could think about was that I was going to die without ever once getting to touch you. And what a cruel world it must be that I burn every day with the desire to touch you and I was actually going to burn alive trying to save some dime-bag junkie."

"Jane," Maura exhaled. "Don't."

"I can't stop myself," Jane admitted, confessed. The honesty was startling and Maura's eyes widened. "What would you have done?"

Maura's confusion was obvious.

"If I died," Jane clarified. "What would you have done?"

"Don't say that," Maura sobbed. "Please."

"Would you have lied awake at night wondering what I taste like?" Jane rumbled. "Would you have been desperate for a chance to know what my lips feel like against yours? Wouldn't you have wanted to know what I look like naked? Wouldn't you have wanted to know if your most desperate fantasies even approached the reality of it? Would you have wished that you had the courage to take that chance, just once?"

"Jane," Maura was shaking her head. She let go of the towel and Jane grabbed it, knowing Maura needed to figure things out in her own way.

Tucking the towel around herself, Jane gave Maura a second to breathe. Jane took the clothes from the countertop and left the bathroom.

Jane padded down the hallway, dropping the towel on the floor outside of Maura's bedroom. Inside, she slid into the clothes Maura had given her. The clothes were Jane's but Maura had clearly washed them and the smell was a heady mix of Maura and laundry detergent.

Turning on the bedside lamp, Jane turned off the overhead lamp before collapsing onto Maura's bed. She was being pushy, and presumptuous as hell, but she didn't care.

It felt too damn good.

The clock said it was only ten minutes but it felt like hours before Maura appeared in the doorway, leaning over to collect the towel that Jane had discarded on the floor.

Maura didn't enter though, simply stood there with the towel in her hand, the soft light from the bedside lamp illuminating the unreadable expression on her face.

Jane got up and approached her cautiously, like you would a wild animal. Instead of stopping a respectable distance away, Jane got right up against Maura. Inches separated their bodies.

Maura licked her lips and Jane's eyes darkened violently. She leaned down and kissed Maura, her lips soft but her tongue demanding. Maura opened her mouth, responding instantly. She clutched the towel between them like a life preserver. Jane smoothed her hands up and down Maura's arms.

When Jane sucked Maura's lower lip between both of hers, Maura moaned. It sent desire curling through Jane like smoke. Jane took the towel out of Maura's hands and tossed it aside, pulling the smaller woman flush up against her.

Jane's breath hitched when Maura's body collided with hers, soft and inviting and perfectly contoured to fit against Jane's slightly taller, harder frame. Maura clutched at Jane's back with needy hands.

Desperate now to keep Maura from changing her mind, Jane put everything she felt into her kiss, her touch. She ran one hand down to Maura's ass, pulling her as close as possible. Their hips bumped deliciously and Maura sighed, an almost delighted little noise that went straight to Jane's groin. Jane's other hand curled around the back of Maura's neck, her thumb stroking the skin behind her ear.

Their lips and tongues met again and again. Jane ignored her body's screams for oxygen until she thought she'd black out. When she pulled back to breathe, she immediately latched onto Maura's neck, kissing and nipping the tender flesh until Maura cried out.

"Jane," she sobbed.

"Push me away, Maura," Jane instructed. "Tell me no."

"I can't," Maura cried. "Please." Maura's hands tugged at Jane's shirt.

Jane ignored her, instead pulling the hem of Maura's shirt upwards until Maura was forced to release her. When the tank was removed, Jane struggled to breathe. Maura's smooth, inviting breasts beckoned to her.

"In Greek mythology," Jane breathed, surprised at how deep her voice was, surprised at the words spilling from her mouth unbidden. "The hero always looks, even when he knows he shouldn't. Even when the punishment is death, he just has to see, to be sure. Now I get it."

Maura took a shaky breath and Jane looked up to see the sheen of tears in her eyes, but Maura blinked it away.

Reverently, Jane reached out to touch Maura's breasts. Her dark, calloused fingers were in stark contrast to Maura's alabaster skin. At the last minute she paused, tracing a circle around the dusky rose of Maura's nipple with her index finger. Maura's entire body trembled.

Jane looked up at her face. Maura's eyes were tightly closed and she was biting her lip. Jane was utterly transfixed but she returned her attention to the task at hand. She grazed the backs of her hands against Maura's breasts.

Maura's head fall back and her hands fisted in the waist of Jane's shirt. Finally, Jane palmed the weight of Maura's breasts in her hands. They were a perfect fit, and both women moaned. Maura leaned forwards, pressing herself into Jane's hands.

"Please," she cried out. "Please don't stop."

Jane laughed, a deep almost threatening sound.

"I haven't even gotten started," she replied.

Swallowing harshly, Maura opened her eyes and met Jane's penetrating gaze.

Jane took the opportunity to walk backwards, pulling Maura by the wrists. At the last minute, she spun them, gently pushing Maura back on the bed.

Maura scooted up until she was leaning against the artfully arranged pillows. Jane stripped off her t-shirt and crawled up the bed until she was caging Maura in with her arms and her body.

When Maura tilted her head up to try to kiss her, Jane ducked away, latching her lips onto Maura's nipple. Maura cried out, threading a hand through Jane's hair. Maura's other hand grazed up and down the dip in Jane's spine, occasionally skimming her hip, her shoulder. Jane's arm stroked Maura's stomach, hips, the other arm holding her suspended above the doctor.

Jane took Maura's nipple into her mouth, grazing it with her teeth before soothing it with her tongue. She spent long minutes on one and then the other breast until Maura was writhing beneath her.

"Please," Maura asked. "I need more of you."

Jane felt pieces of Maura slipping into her hands. She felt the bricks of the walls Maura spent her time building coming down, one at a time.

It was a heady, intoxicating rush of power that went straight between her legs.

Ignoring her bodies' desperate cries, Jane sat up, straddling Maura's thighs. She put the first two fingers of both hands together at the base of Maura's throat and slid them down, agonizingly slowly, until her hands parted at Maura's navel and cupped her hips.

Lifting, Jane pulled on the waistband of Maura's pants until Maura took the hint, shifting so that Jane could remove them. The barrier slid away inch by inch until Jane tossed them to the floor. The scent of Maura's arousal filled the room.

Jane closed her eyes and inhaled deeply through her nose. She was jolted into awareness by Maura shifting beneath her. Jane could feel the darkness inside her shifting up to swallow her whole and she tried to drown it out with the feel of Maura's smooth, pure skin under her.

Sliding downwards, Jane kissed Maura's chest, her navel, her hipbones, sure she was leaving marks that would be visible in the stark light of the morning. Her hands grazed up and down Maura's legs- her strong calves, her toned thighs, the smooth skin at the juncture of her legs and waist.

She wasn't intending to be cruel but she couldn't seem to stop herself. She wanted to drown in Maura. She had nearly died today, maybe a part of her had died, and now she needed salvation.

Jane kissed the top of Maura's mound.

"I want to feel you," Maura moaned, one hand in Jane's hair in a desperate attempt to guide her. Maura's other hand was curled tightly in the sheets.

Jane gave in then, her chest seeming to cave in on itself at the breathless need in Maura's voice. Leaning down, Jane ran her tongue through Maura's folds, a sweeping journey from bottom to top, at the last minute skirting where Maura needed her most.

Maura gasped, a strangled sound breaking from her lips. Jane repeated the movement. Then again. On the next pass, she put her lips around Maura's clit and sucked.

"God," Maura moaned. She was panting, hard. "Jane. I want… I need… Inside."

Jane replaced her mouth with her fingers, circling Maura's clit with slow, deliberate intensity. She kissed her way upwards, her lips pausing to pay homage to Maura's breasts.

When they were face to face, she stopped moving her fingers, waited for Maura to open her eyes. Maura did finally, her face contorted in pleasure bordering on pain.

"Jane?" she breathed, her brow furrowed.

There was a long silence, and Maura shifted desperately against Jane in an attempt to get the relief her body so desperately needed. Jane pinned Maura, holding her still beneath her body.

"You want me?" Jane growled.

Maura nodded, her eyes nearly black. She was too aroused to think straight.

When Jane was still silent, immobile, Maura craned her neck upwards, pressing her lips to the pulse at Jane's throat.

"I would have wondered," Maura murmured against the skin there, her voice thick with need and anguish. "I would've wondered what you taste like. I would've wondered what you feel like inside me. I would've wondered what it's like to hold you against me. How could you think I wouldn't? I'd lose myself if you died. I do lose a part of myself every time you even come close."

Jane felt the weight progressively lifting from her chest. Felt the warm breath of Maura's confession against her neck. Maura's hands clutched tightly to Jane's hips.

"You're my best friend," Maura leaned her forehead against Jane's shoulder. "What would I do… You're my only friend."

Feeling choked with desire and frustration and anguish and love, Jane was helpless to put into words what Maura so obviously needed to hear.

Jane guided Maura's head up until they were eye-to-eye. Slowly, she leaned in until her lips were millimeters away from Maura's. Jane held Maura's gaze, lost herself in the tumultuous hazel orbs that were clouded with lust. With love. And then Maura tilted her head up ever so slightly and they were kissing again.

At the same time, Jane plunged two fingers into Maura's warm, wet depths. Both women cried out at the sensation. Jane buried her face in Maura's neck, her lips and tongue laying claim to the skin almost without her permission.

One hand kneaded Maura's breast as the other pumped diligently in and out of her, her thumb occasionally brushing Maura's clit. Maura's hands were everywhere, clawing, biting into Jane's skin.

Jane wasn't quite sure what she expected from Maura, from tonight, but it had already surpassed her wildest fantasies.

"Please Jane," Maura pressed an open-mouthed kiss to Jane's bicep.

Jane doubled her efforts against Maura, kissing her with all the emotion she'd been bottling up since the moment they first shook hands.

Maura bucked frantically against her until her body stretched taught, suspended in time for a split-second before tremors wracked through her, her orgasm slamming into her and sweeping both of them under the pull.

Transfixed, Jane watched as the exquisite agony splashed across Maura's face. Finally, Maura's body steadied and Jane smoothed an errant strand of hair away from Maura's cheek. There was a soft smile on Maura's face that made Jane's heart ache.

"Maura," she breathed.

The smaller woman reached out, lightly brushing her fingertips against Jane's lips. She lingered for a moment before moving on, smoothing the wrinkles on Jane's forehead, the crows-feet at the edges of her eyes, the dimple on her chin.

Jane's eyes closed and a shuddering, trembling exhalation escaped her. Her arms, holding her steady over Maura's body, began to shake.

"Let me," Maura commanded softy.

Meeting her gaze, Jane was surprised Maura had read her intent. Jane didn't want Maura to touch her; if the M.E. was allowed to touch Jane, to taste her, Jane would never recover from it. It would strip her bare and leave her wide open to the world.

"I won't let anything happen to you," Maura coaxed. "I told you I was going to take care of you tonight."

Maura's words from the morgue felt like another lifetime.

Closing her eyes was Jane's only response, but Maura understood. Gently, she urged Jane onto her back. Kneeling next to Jane's waist, Maura kissed Jane chastely on the lips. Coaxing Jane out of the yoga pants, she ran her hands over Jane's body with the intent of soothing her, relaxing her.

When she got to Jane's feet, she picked them up one at a time, massaging them each for long minutes. Jane felt herself melting into the smooth, luxurious sheets. The cool sheets felt heavenly against her rough, worn skin. Maura's touch was arousing, but also calming and gentle.

Maura worked her way back up slowly, her hands and lips trailing a path up each of Jane's legs, skirting her center, and gliding up her smooth, muscled stomach. At Jane's breasts, Maura paused.

Jane squirmed, uncomfortable under Maura's scrutiny. She was scarred and small-breasted, enough men had been so kind as to point that out to her, and she wished for a moment that she was better, for Maura.

"Don't," Maura shook her head. "Don't be… self-conscious. You're beautiful."

Stunned, Jane felt tears prick her eyes. Maura kissed her chest reverently, right above her heart.

"You're so good, Jane," she continued. "So powerful, and honest, and intelligent. And still so kind, and gentle." Maura ghosted her lips across the bandage over Jane's collar.

"You have no idea?" Maura went on. "Do you?"

"What?" Jane managed to croak.

She could feel Maura taking her apart. It terrified her.

"You have no idea how exquisite you are," Maura sounded amazed. "When you walk into a room, everyone looks. And when you speak, they're speechless. That you haven't been swept off your feet by someone fantastic just seems impossible. Not that I'm complaining."

Maura leaned down without warning and sucked Jane's nipple into her mouth. Jane's body arched into the contact, a hiss escaping her.

"God, Maura," she panted. Maura's hands stoked fires Jane had spent years banking.

"You smell so good," Maura whispered heatedly.

"You made me take a bath," Jane managed to stammer teasingly.

"No," Maura looked up, finding Jane's gaze. "You smell good all the time. Sometimes you're kneeling next to me and you smell like sweat and coffee and this unique scent that belongs only to you and… I can hardly breathe I want you so badly. Your smell alone makes me wet sometimes."

"Jesus," Jane feels her body respond instantly, every nerve ending alive.

"I want to touch you Jane," Maura purred. "Is that alright?"

Jane nodded, unable to respond. Her breath caught and held as Maura slid down until she was kneeling between her legs.

Softly, barely a whisper of contact, Maura stroked through Jane's folds. Jane's entire body clenched in anticipation of greater contact.

"Maura," she pleaded.

If she were anyone else, Maura would have made up for the way Jane made her plead earlier. Instead, Maura gave Jane exactly what she needed, stroking with confident, firm pressure through Jane before sliding two fingers inside.

Jane bucked at the intrusion, and Maura paused.

"Alright?" Maura asked.

Wordlessly, Jane nodded. Maura began to move her hand, finding a rhythm in counterpoint to Jane's hips. Leaning up, Maura found Jane's breast with her lips, nipping with her teeth and then soothing with her tongue.

It didn't take long to feel Jane reaching the peak of her pleasure and Maura could feel the desperation nearly choking Jane. Jane's eyes were screwed shut, her face a mix of pleasure and agony, her fists tightly grasping the sheets.

"Shhh," Maura soothed, kissing Jane's forehead. "I'm here. It's ok."

Maura brought her body to rest on Jane's, the angle awkward but the reward more than worth it. Jane released the bed and curled her long arms around Maura, holding her tightly. Their lips met and Jane kissed her with a breathtaking passion that made Maura's arousal skyrocket. Her hand against Jane's center slowed, the intensity of Jane's kiss distracting her.

Stunned, Maura bit her lip to keep her own desire at bay. She didn't usually feel so stimulated from simple skin-to-skin contact, from kissing.

Jane seemed to sense the shift in Maura because she pulled back from the kiss to look her in the eye. Maura averted her gaze after a minute, intent on focusing on Jane.

"Don't do that," Jane rumbled.

"This is about you," Maura murmured.

Swallowing, Jane kissed Maura's neck.

"This is about us," she corrected the smaller woman. Sitting up, Jane adjusted them so that her leg was between Maura's, her leg pressing hard against Maura's center. Maura gasped at the pressure, her eyes closing of their own accord.

Maura's knee, in turn, was wedged between Jane's legs. It put Maura's breasts directly in front of Jane's mouth so she leaned out and sucked Maura's nipple between her lips.

"Jane," Maura gasped.

"Move," Jane encouraged, rocking them slightly. Maura took the hint, rotating her hips against Jane. Maura's hand snuck down and met Jane's nipple, roughly squeezing in counterpoint to the contact of her leg.

They moved against each other for agonizing long minutes, their tongues sliding together erotically, hands grasping at slick skin. It was intoxicating, the feel of being so surrounded by Maura, and Jane never wanted it to end.

Naturally, as soon as the thought crossed her mind, Jane felt herself spiraling towards the edge, her whole body tensing and then unfurling with violent tremors that nearly shook the bed. Maura ground against her desperately for a few more seconds before her orgasm washed over her, hands clinging frantically to Jane.

They clung to each other as their rapid breathing filled the room, their sweaty skin fused together. Jane never wanted to let go, and Maura didn't seem to be able to.

"Don't let go," Jane breathed, shocked to hear her voice. For a moment, she thought it was Maura that spoke.

"I won't," came the gentle reply.

Jane held Maura for long minutes, until Maura shifted slightly and Jane winced.

"You're uncomfortable," Jane blurted.

"Yes," Maura admitted.

When Jane released her, Maura was shocked until she realized the misinterpretation.

"No," Maura threw herself back into Jane's arms with a force that left them completely horizontal. "I was just tired of kneeling," she explained, wrapping Jane's arms around herself as best she could.

Jane took the hint and enclosed Maura in a full embrace, smoothing her hands up Maura's back.

"Oh," Jane sighed contentedly. "Ok."

Maura's scent, her warmth, seeped into Jane. Maura's hands traced softly over Jane's skin in an erratic, soothing pattern. Her breath tickled Jane's neck. The light scent of her shampoo invaded Jane's nose.

This was the moment Jane had been dreading. She imagined that as the afterglow faded, she would feel guilty. Jane had assumed that she was going to require repentance upon departing from Maura's body, her bed.

Instead, Jane felt absolved.

She felt the cool, gentle way that Maura seeped into the cracks in Jane's armor, filling them.

From outward appearances, Maura didn't seem particularly tough. Her small frame and delicate manner of dressing made her seem vulnerable at times.

Jane knew better.

It passed through her like a breeze through a screen door, this peace. This bone-deep knowledge that even though Jane put herself in the way of bullets and knives, Maura was really the one doing the protecting.

Since the day they met, in retrospect, Maura had been doing the saving.

Jane had always assumed that because she had a swagger and a gun and a big mouth, since she tackled two-hundred pound men and chased down the scum, that she was the Superman in their relationship. In her mind, Maura was the Lois Lane. Not exactly a damsel in distress, but certainly not the savior.

Now, that seemed patently ridiculous.

Jane had a fleeting image of Maura dressed up as Wonder Woman and she would have laughed but too many other emotions were weighing on her.

She sighed, a ragged, shuddering breath, and Maura shifted a bit, resting her chin on Jane's chest so she could look her in the eye.

"I'm so glad you're here," Maura admitted, a soft smile on her lips.

"Me too," Jane was surprised by the desire lacing her voice, the way it floated between them like a heavy smoke.

"What are you thinking?" Maura asked.

"Who says I'm thinking anything," Jane countered, a bit too quickly. "I do have a gorgeous, naked woman on top of me."

"Thank you," Maura blushed slightly. It surprised Jane, that there could be any doubt in Maura's mind about her beauty. "But I can practically hear the wheels turning in your head. You can tell me. We'll deal with whatever it is."

Jane took a deep breath and she could see the way Maura seemed to brace herself, as if she was certain Jane was about to hurt her.

"I love you," Jane rasped. "And it scares the shit out of me."

Maura laughed, a short burst of joy before she closed her mouth and attempted to look chagrined.

"I'm sorry," she shook her head slightly. "I uh, that's just not what I expected you to say. At all."

Jane knew, given the way she had come to Maura tonight, thrown their relationship into a tailspin out of anger and hurt, she had given Maura the right to be suspicious. But still, Jane couldn't help feel like she was walking a tightrope between two skyscrapers and Maura was letting her falter there, out in the middle, her "I love you" just dangling between them.

Shuttering her eyes, Jane tried to figure out where she'd misread things. Maybe for Maura this was just sex. They were friends, after all and Maura was constantly promoting the benefits of healthy, consensual sex. Something about immuno-goblins.

Maura felt the shift immediately even though Jane was immobile beneath her.

"Hey," she coaxed. "Where'd you go?" She ran a soft hand over Jane's brow, the caress trailing off as she settled back against Jane's body.

"I can't do this, Maura," Jane sighed. Best to get out while she still could. If Jane left now, she'd have a good six hours to completely fall apart, pull herself back together, and be at work in the morning.

"What?" Maura's surprise was evident. She sat up, straddling Jane's waist so she could look at her more fully. "I think it's a little too late for that." For emphasis, Maura rocked her hips against Jane's and Jane couldn't stifle her low moan.

Jane closed her eyes, resisting the almost overwhelming urge to grab Maura's hips. Desire coiled through her instantly.

"Tell me," Maura pleaded. "I'm still your friend."

"And that's great," Jane was proud of the neutrality of her voice. "We're friends. I just need to get some sleep and then you can take me in the morning to my apartment so I can change before work."

"You can't go to work tomorrow," Maura responded, her voice indicating she was saying something patently obvious.

"Why not?" Jane challenged.

"It's Saturday," Maura replied, her brow furrowed. "And you're not on call."

Jane groaned internally. Fuck. There really seemed to be no easy way out. She should have known better.

"I'm not moving until you tell me," Maura nearly pouted.

It was so fucking sexy Jane thought she must be the target of some punishment by the universe. There could be no other explanation.

Both women were acutely aware that Jane could easily extricate herself from beneath Maura. Jane took a moment to study the other woman, wondering what the hell they were doing.

Jane had come here to take from Maura, to satisfy some selfish need, and then to leave. She had planned to pick up the pieces in the days, weeks, years to come. Only… only Maura didn't seem to be in pieces.

This situation had never really occurred to Jane. She wasn't sure what to do. Going balls-to-the-wall had always been her M.O. when cornered and she figured it couldn't hurt to try the same tactic now.

Swiftly and without warning, she flipped them, throwing Maura onto her back. Jane loomed over her, her breath fanning Maura's lips as she panted from the effort of restraining herself.

"I don't know how to do this," Jane rumbled, their eyes meeting.

"It didn't feel like it," Maura teased, but her voice made it clear she was listening, waiting for Jane to clear her head.

Jane smiled in spite of herself.

"I came here to," Jane swallowed, unable to admit it out loud.

"You came here because you needed me," Maura filled it in for her. "I know, Jane."

"I came here to use you," Jane admitted, her voice guttural and pained.

Maura again smoothed a hand over Jane's brow. Jane realized it did, in fact, calm her slightly and she softened under the touch.

"You don't hear me complaining," Maura shrugged. "Do you?"

Jane took a moment to assess her.

"How do you do that?" Jane's voice was full of wonder.

Maura's eyebrows knitted together in confusion.

"How do you know what I'm thinking, feeling," Jane explained. "Even when I'm not sure myself."

"I'm your best friend," Maura replied. "And I love you. It's part of the deal."

Jane's breath caught in her throat. She wanted to beg Maura to explain, to repeat, to clarify, but she felt choked by the fear and hope warring inside her.

"Jane?" Maura's hands cupped her cheeks. "Jane, what's wrong?" The concern in her voice was overwhelming.

Jane felt tears welling, felt like she was splitting open from her breastbone to her navel.

"Tell me," Maura ordered, her voice sharp but filled with worry. "Are you alright?"

Jane nodded, collapsing on top of Maura. She burrowed her face in the crook of her neck and Maura wrapped her arms tightly around Jane's back. Jane shivered and Maura pulled the comforter over them, threading their legs together.

"Hey," Maura's voice was shaky, tearful. "It's alright. You're alright. I'm here. I love you." Maura's hands soothed up and down Jane's back, one occasionally scraping gently against her scalp, threading into her hair.

When she repeated it, I love you, Jane felt a weight lifting.

Something in her shifted, changed.

There was a piece of her out of place her whole life, and Maura righted it without even realizing.

"I love you," Jane murmured against Maura's neck.

Maura kissed the top of Jane's head.

"I love you too, Jane," she replied.

It sounded perfect, the gentle ebb and flow of the words as they rolled off Maura's tongue.

In the cocoon of Maura's satin and down, pressed against her warm, supple figure, Jane felt a peace she had never even dreamt of. Nothing could hurt her here, nothing could intrude on the safety and comfort she felt.

It was overwhelming.

What if she lost this? What if she drove Maura away? What if, someday, she lost Maura?

The thought was beyond terrifying. It shook her to the core and she clutched Maura impossibly tighter, kissing up and down the column of her neck. Her kisses were gentle at first, but they rapidly turned frantic, almost panicked.

Maura gasped, her body trembling beneath Jane. Her hands stilled against Jane's back, digging into the firm skin.

"Don't leave me," Jane rasped against Maura's throat. She nipped across the smaller woman's collarbone.

Maura was shaking her head, and Jane bit harder.

"Say you won't leave me," she pleaded darkly.

"I won't leave you," Maura whimpered.

"I'll die," Jane rumbled, her voice gravelly. Maura found her eyes.

Maura opened her mouth to speak but couldn't. She kissed Jane instead, leaving them both panting, wanting.

"I won't leave," Maura repeated.

"Ever," Jane prompted, the desperate, pleading look on her face almost more than Maura could bear.

"Ever," Maura agreed. "Never."

"Me neither," Jane acquiesced. "I love you."

"I love you too," Maura responded.

They kissed again, tongues gliding against one another, bodies fused as if they were trying to crawl into one another.

Despite the frenzy, they made love slowly. Jane brought Maura to the brink with a tantalizing, drawn-out pace that made her cry. Maura returned the favor, worshipping Jane's body with a tenderness Jane briefly considered must be a dream.

After, they fell asleep in a tangle of limbs and lips and whispered sighs of, I love you.

When Jane awoke, the first light of day was peeking in through the blinds and Maura's little frame was wrapped tightly to hers. It took her a minute to identify the feeling blanketed over her in warm comfort, the emotional equivalent of the down comforter covering their naked bodies.

It was joy.

Her body was sore as hell, she was terrified of the many ways she could destroy the beautiful woman beside her, she was hungry and exhausted and worried about their work-life, their friendship, how the world would treat them now.

But all of that seemed like niggling concern somewhere deep in the recesses of her mind, buried under the torrent of joy practically pouring out of her.

Jane felt restored, and she realized Frost had been right.

Maura had given her what she asked for, what she needed. And there was no way in hell Jane was letting her go after only one night.