A/N: Last one of my R&I fics that I have yet to post here. Wanted to share. Takes place really at any time. Jane POV.
MUSIC: First Days of Spring- Noah and the Whale
You have a key. It lives on a smaller ring, surrounded by others that unlock a lot of doors that don't mean nearly as much to you.
First comes the heavy gold one that unlocks the filing cabinet underneath your desk. You use it to store away sensitive documents or secrets you aren't ready to share. Next to it is the key that you use to lock your gun-safe at home. The one that keeps the other weapons you don't keep strapped to your body by day or next to your bed by night. The proximity of you and your gun dictates your level of fear, a bold reminder of your not so very safe life. Your gym key unlocks dirty sneakers and sometimes a clean sports bra, sits next to that. Then comes the standard car key that starts your unmarked along with your parent's home key, flinging open doors that lead you back into childhood. A tiny silver key almost gets lost in the shuffle for on the rare occasions you cuff the wrong suspect. Your house key sits next to that.
All of them you've acquired what feels like forever ago. When you pull out your keys to shift through the mess in order to unlock what's in front of you, it use to upset you. It took time. It wasted time. And you aren't a girl who does well with things, people, moments, lives, that aren't accounted for.
Then came Maura's key.
And you changed. Your key-ring no longer represented exactly who you knew yourself to be. There was something else to it now. It wasn't family and it wasn't work. It was Maura.
You shift between the keys now, your fingers rubbing over the notches etched into the metal of her key. You roll your eyes at your thoughts. They're sentimental. They're possibly, cute. But sitting there, on the front steps of Maura's home, light rain dampening your hair, you know.
You belong somewhere.
It happened today. You wonder briefly for a moment, why not before. Maura is so intertwined with your dangerous job that today was not the first time she's been surrounded by bullets. You've spent your whole career knowing that the man you want to one day fall in love with will hate the realities of your job. You've resigned yourself to the fact that you couldn't possibly love someone who didn't.
And you got it. You get it. But it was always abstract in the sense that it would probably bother you too if someone you loved followed bullets as they ripped through air. But this time it was different. Seeing Maura hit the floor as the walls of the building started to shred, made you realize. It's not okay.
It's not okay to know and it's definitely not okay to watch the most important person in your life stare at death on a regular basis. And really, Maura isn't out on the job often enough that danger can sneak up behind her and grip her throat without her noticing. But it still happens. You've seen it enough to know that today will not be the last time you fling your body on top of hers. Today will not be the last time that your whole self will freeze in its natural instinct to leap to your feet and chase the hand pulling the trigger. Today, you hesitated.
Your own hand did not instantly grab your own weapon. Your own hand did not instantly shield your own face. Your ears did not instantly pick up the direction of fading footsteps. This time your body spread over hers, your only thought to cover as much of her perfect skin as you could. This time your arms wrapped over her head, your hands shielding her face from everything. This time it took you a moment to be certain that the footsteps were gone before you told her to stay down, your voice possibly breaking as you forced your body to leave hers. This time your neck turned to make sure she was in fact doing what you said before following Frost in the direction he had determined the sounds had come from.
This time your breath did not release when you finally tackled the man running ahead of you. This time you did not feel a sense of well done as Frost cuffed him and handed him off to an officer. This time your breath waited until you ran back into that room and your eyes found Maura in exactly the same position you left her. This time your sense of well done did not flood in until after you helped lift her from the floor, her small hands dusting herself off, a cautious smile of okay-ness on her lips.
And that's when you finally got it. Seeing Maura flatten her disheveled hair and retrieve her missing heel made you see it. It is not okay that Maura's life can be put at risk so quickly. It is not okay for her to be living her day only to have to drop suddenly to ensure the next. It is not okay that you will use your body to shield hers. It is not okay to know that this is part of your world.
Yet you will continue to do your job. It's important. It's you.
And she will continue to do her job. It's important. It's her.
But it can still be not okay. Because you now know why your whole body hitched when a few months ago she pressed her silver home key into your hand. You now know why it's the key your hand automatically finds purchase on when you fish them out of your pocket.
So you tilt your face up as you pull your knees closer to your chest. The wooden slates of Maura's steps are uncomfortable, but tonight you want to see her come home. Tonight, you want to wait for her before you follow her inside. And the rain makes slight tracks on your upturned face as you think about her.
You know this. Your whole life you have been a very specific person. Your futures were always very detailed. You live in the details. It's what makes you such a good cop. Your imagination works exactly the same way. So when you met Maura or when you started to know Maura, well you didn't notice right away that things changed. Your futures went from specific to vague in a bright flash of a moment. Ever since you subconsciously fell in love with Maura, your futures didn't include the crafted stories you filled your mind up with since you were a child. It stopped being the thought of seeing a man in your kitchen. A man who would turn around to greet you when you came home from the job. It stopped being that and it went to the general feeling of comfort when you came home to someone. It stopped being the visual of strong, large arms that wrapped around you when you fell asleep and it started being the feeling of warmth as you drifted off into dreamland. It went from the idea of a wedding photo to just the idea of a one day togetherness.
From being held to holding. From being protected to protecting. From being cared for to caring.
And it was Maura. All of it was her. And it took a spray of bullets and her body trembling under yours for you to see it.
It wasn't just someone to share your space with, share your morning coffee with, share your sleepy morning smile.
It was Maura.
It wasn't just someone to pull comfort from with just a tangling of fingers, give comfort to with just a touch to their cheek, be comfortable with- your body lurching out of sleep with dark thoughts of scalpels pinning you down.
It was Maura.
It wasn't just someone to call yours, call their name, call to hear their voice.
It wasn't just someone to weep with, cry for, sob at.
It wasn't just someone you could make better, someone who let you be better.
Because it isn't vague. You just made it discreet, made it abstract so that when you did know, did know that it wasn't just someone, that it was her, you wouldn't run. You've made a habit of running. And you can run fast. But now, you don't run. You wouldn't, you couldn't. So you sit a little longer and you blink as the rain goes even softer until it isn't really even the wetness you're feeling but just the slight pulsing of your skin as the clean clean water makes contact. Maybe it rejuvenates you. Maybe it makes you strong, fearless. Maybe it masks the trembling in your shoulders that tends to result when you are about to take a risk, take a leap, make a choice. Maybe it's a lot of things. But right now, it's just beautiful. It's beautiful to sit here and let your thoughts soak in. It's beautiful to be here and keep your face upwards, staring at that rain, grateful for its dramatic-ness.
Because this is dramatic. This is big. But it's also you and you refuse to live your life being anything else.
So you sit. You wait. You hold her key and you know, soon. Soon she will pull up in her driveway. Soon she will spot you and wave at you as she turns her windshield wipers off, keeping her car in the driveway. Soon she will wonder why you're sitting in the rain waiting and it will blur her from hitting the button for the garage. Soon she will step from her car and her natural instinct will be to reach for her umbrella but at that point you'll be standing so she'll forget it and approach you, eyes wide.
And you'll tell her. All of it.
You'll tell her how it isn't the idea of someone. It isn't a detailed vision of a future. It's just her. It's her and it's you. Just as you are. Because you want to wrap your arms around her when she sinks into sleep at night. You want to wrap your arms around her when she turns her face towards the spray of shower in the early mornings. You want to wrap your arms around her when she flips through her mail, when she pours you coffee, when she cuts her fresh flowers. When she pushes the down button for her morgue, when she waits in line for her lunch, when she talks to her mother on the phone. When she comes home with exhaustion all over her features, when she slips her dress off, when she climbs into bed.
You want it all. All of it.
And you know her. Maura's eyes tell you everything. And today when you did turn to make sure she stayed put as you ran for that suspect, well you caught them. Her eyes were locked on yours even as she held her head down, exactly as you told her. They begged you to stay, but they also begged you to go make the day just a little more safe. But mostly they just begged you to come back.
And you did. You'll always come back to help her up, to help her smooth her clothes, to help her calm her breathing, reassure her that you're there and that she's there. You're both there, together and okay.