Maura approached the vending machines with trepidation, her mind whirling with the information recently bestowed on her. She trusted Jane, loved her, but Maura also knew that she herself wasn't very adept at social interactions, and certainly not with lesbian love affairs.

Perhaps she had misinterpreted their lunch.

When Jane caught sight of Maura as she approached, her whole demeanor shifted. She stood up straighter, her breathing shifted erratically, her eyes darkened.

Maura's brow furrowed.

"Hello," she greeted Jane. Maura always stuck a toe in to test the water before jumping in. "How are you?"

"Longest fucking day of my life," Jane rasped.

"Ah yes," Maura nodded. "Barry and Vince mentioned that. If you'd like to postpone our date because you're tired, I'd understand."

Jane laughed, but it was guttural, humorless, and full of desire. Maura shivered.

"You really don't get it," Jane challenged, legitimately surprised. "Do you?"

Maura shook her head, a little forlorn at missing yet another social cue.

"I'm tired because it's taking all my energy to keep from coming down to the morgue to just fuck you against your desk," Jane breathed, her voice low and heated in the small alcove.

Maura's eyes fluttered shut and she felt like Jane was everywhere on her skin despite the noticeable foot of space between them.

"Oh," Maura exhaled on a shaky sigh. "I see."

"You see," Jane teased. "That's it? You see?"

"What would you like me to say?" Maura met Jane's gaze, her eyes a challenge.

"Tell me you feel the same way," Jane encouraged, her voice somewhere between a command and a plea.

"What would you like to hear?" Maura let her eyes sweep up Jane's frame slowly as she spoke. "That I spent twenty minutes thinking about the way your hands will feel inside me? That I had to re-file the same form three times because I was distracted by considerations of what you taste like? That I have been waiting all day for you to come downstairs just so I could look at you?"

"Yes," Jane groaned. "All of that."

Maura felt the air around them fizzle with electricity and she knew they were headed for deep, dangerous waters at breakneck speed.

"Don't you think we should go home now," she suggested, stepping back before she pressed herself against Jane's warm, waiting body.

"Absolutely," Jane agreed. "Let's go."

"I need to grab my things," Maura told her apologetically.

"I'll meet you at my car in five minutes," Jane replied. "Ok?"

Maura nodded and Jane was gone in seconds.

Maura hurried down to the morgue to grab her purse and close up her office. It was much closer to ten minutes before she found herself approaching Jane's car, half a block away from the precinct.

Jane was leaning against the car, her sunglasses on, looking so sexy Maura thought she might die. When she saw Maura, her entire demeanor shifted, her face brightening and her posture straightening.

"Sorry I took so long," Maura apologized, walking towards the car as quickly as her Jimmy Choo's would allow.

"Worth it," Jane grinned. "Come here."

Maura's steps slowed as she approached, suddenly hit with a wave of nervousness. This was her best friend.

This was Jane.

Jane who befriended her when she needed it. Jane who didn't mind her 'Google-mouth' or her discomfort with social situations. Jane who laughed at her jokes and teased her. Jane who called her family and promised to stick by her forever.

It terrified her.

She stopped a foot away from Jane and Jane's brow furrowed. She pushed her sunglasses down to the edge of her nose and appraised Maura over the top of the lenses.

"What?" she asked gently.

"I'm afraid," Maura admitted.

"Me too," Jane replied softly.

The admissions settled between them. It comforted Maura, to know that Jane realized the magnitude of what was happening between them.

"And yet," Maura struggled to find her voice. "You're doing it anyways."

"I'd do anything for you Maura," Jane removed her sunglasses, put one hand on Maura's hip. "No matter how terrifying."

"I know," Maura nodded. "I love that about you."

The corner of Jane's lips turned up.

Hesitantly, Maura put her hand on Jane's shoulder.

"We can do this however you want," Jane assured her. "However you need. If you want to take it slow, we'll be like molasses up in here. I don't want you to feel uncomfortable."

"I'm not uncomfortable," Maura replied. "At least, not in a bad way."

Jane chuckled. "Good," she said. "How about we grab some dinner? Just let things happen naturally."

The gentle way Jane was treating her, the casual confidence she knew was taking a toll on Jane, made Maura feel nearly overwhelmed with love and desire.

Jane was scared too, and yet she was doing her best to make Maura feel safe and loved, just like she always had.

"You're the most amazing woman I've ever met," Maura told her. "The most amazing person."

Jane blushed and looked away, squeezing Maura's hip affectionately.

"I mean it," Maura put a hand under Jane's chin, forcing her to look up. "I…"

Maura lost her voice. No words in her extensive vocabulary seemed adequate to describe the way she was feeling.

"I know," Jane smiled softly. "Me too."

Jane leaned forward and kissed Maura gently, chastely, on the lips. The contact was brief and tender but it made Maura crave Jane with a passion Maura couldn't have imagined in her wildest dreams.

Pulling away, Jane turned and opened the car door for Maura.

"Where do you wanna eat dinner?" Jane asked.

Maura suddenly felt dizzy and disoriented, her only thought an intense focus on how to get Jane's lips pressed to hers again as soon as possible.

"Come here," Maura nearly barked. The sharpness of the order surprised them both. "Please," Maura added, more gently.

Jane did as she was asked, stepping back in front of Maura, confusion and concern splashed across her face. She was about to ask what was wrong when Maura leaned forward and captured Jane's bottom lip between both of hers, running her tongue over it before sucking gently.

Jane's hands landed against the car with a thud as she braced herself over Maura's body. Maura clutched Jane's hips, pulling her close.

The kiss morphed and took on a life of its own, the passion between them a tangible thing. Maura wanted to crawl inside of Jane and stay there forever.

Jane pointedly kept her hands braced against the car. Maura showed no such restraint, her hands sneaking up under Jane's jacket and shirt to caress her skin.

Jane tore her mouth away from Maura's then, her breath coming in desperate panting sighs.

"Jesus," Jane swore. "You tryin' to kill me?"

"Don't be ridiculous," Maura tried to tease, but her voice was low and thick. "Kissing isn't going to kill you unless you-"

"This is a big deal," Jane stammered, interrupting Maura's rambling. "I don't think we should just…"

Maura knew she was looking at Jane as a lion would gaze at a wounded gazelle near the edge of the watering hole but she couldn't help it.

"It is a big deal," Maura swallowed harshly. "It is. But I trust you. If I had to pick anyone in the entire world to trust my heart or my body to, it would be you. So why not trust you with both at the same time?"

Jane was struggling with something, and it twisted her face in agonized concern.

Maura ran a hand up Jane's neck and let it rest against Jane's cheek.

"I promise," she soothed. "No matter what happens between us- tonight or at any point in the future, I will always be your friend. You can tell me anything."

"I don't want to lose you," Jane breathed. "You mean the world to me. You said earlier that before you met me, you didn't have a family. Well, before you, I didn't have a friend. I didn't have someone who loved me out of choice. Who could run away if they wanted to but chose to stick by me. I've never been good with relationships, with things like talking about my feelings or facing my fears. Sure, stick a gun in my face and I'll stare you down any day of the week. But this," Jane gestured to the limited space between their bodies. "This I run away from."

Maura weighed her words carefully, acutely aware of the minefield she was traversing.

"I know you Jane," she began. "How you act in romantic situations is not a mystery to me. Well, perhaps your motivation is a mystery, but I'm well aware of your habits. But unlike many of the unsuitable partners you've chosen in the past, I'm not simply going to be pushed aside. You cannot bully me into leaving you, nor can you run away fast enough to escape me. I told you earlier I've been poor my whole life, in the ways that matter- well now that I'm the richest woman in the world I'm hardly going to let anything jeopardize that without a fight."

Jane took Maura's hand from her neck and placed a kiss against her palm before clutching tightly to the soft skin.

"You sure have a way with words, Maura," Jane exhaled.

"Only with you," Maura smiled. "I want you to be comfortable too, Jane, with the way our relationship progresses. If slow is what you want, what you need, then I will go slowly. But I want you to know that I'm ready now to let things between us go wherever they naturally lead."

"And by naturally," Jane's lips twitched as she bit back a smile. "You mean?"

"The bedroom," Maura sighed. "Although there are a multitude of other locations perfectly suited to making love."

Jane growled and leaned down to press her lips against Maura's. They kissed languidly, exploring and testing, for long minutes. Jane pulled back to look at Maura.

"Shutting me up, I suppose?" Maura breathed, her eyes still closed and her lips slightly swollen from Jane's attention.

"Nah," Jane shrugged. "Just forgot what you taste like for a minute there."

Maura's eyes opened and met Jane's.

"And is your memory refreshed?" she teased, batting her eyelashes.

"Further study is required," Jane rasped, capturing Maura's lips again.

This time, the kiss grew rapidly out of control, the raging inferno between them roaring to life. The breathless, needy whimpers that escaped Maura made Jane wild, and the dominating yet gentle way Jane's hands roamed Maura's body made her frantic.

When they parted for oxygen, Maura put a hand on Jane's chest to hold her at bay, and to steady herself.

"We really should go somewhere more private," she licked her lips and Jane leaned in but Maura held firm. "Jane," she warned.

Groaning, Jane nodded.

"Where?" Jane asked.

"My home is closer," Maura shrugged, sliding into the car.

Jane climbed into the driver's seat and the heated silence blanketed them like a humid, August afternoon.

"Ready?" Jane turned to meet Maura's eyes.

The love and trust that was exchanged between them was so potent Maura thought she might be able to reach out and grab it.

"Ready," she nodded.

And they headed towards their future together, fingers linking in perfect counterpoint between them.