notes: THIS SHOW IS PERFECT TO ME and i will be here letting it eat my brain until further notice.

The waiting room of the psychiatrist's office smells like expensive leather and an abundance of fake plants, and Maura sits in the stifled hush with her hands twisting in her lap, reflexively counting the bones in her fingers.

Dr. Otieno is a perfectly capable psychiatrist, she embodies a quiet sincerity and the low-octave, soothing kind of voice that Maura expected to find when she turned up for her first session several weeks ago. She was able to place her accent as Kenyan, though she was unable to decipher the regiolect, and found out that while she was an American by birth she had only returned to the country from Mombasa seven years ago, which fit with her theory about the fluency of her English. These facts grounded her when she'd first sat down, perched uneasily on the edge of the armchair with no real idea what to do, how to approach any question the psych asked her. She had grasped onto the only thing that felt comfortable, that she knew how to process, and Dr. Otieno had smiled, confirmed her questions, divulged her history. It settled her.

But Maura doesn't know how to talk about herself without clinical detachment; she'd listed off her background – memories of her parents, her childhood, studies – as sterile facts and figures, and simply doesn't understand what the psych has been asking of her, which is upsetting. It upsets her that she doesn't know how to do something which seems to come so easily to others. And unfortunately, the feeling is a constant, because some stranger in a suit who met her once said they wouldn't appoint her as the Chief Medical Examiner of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts without the caveat that she learned how to "deal with people". She would be working closely with members of the Boston Police Department, and they had no time to waste on someone who was unable to communicate clearly and succinctly.

Objectively, it all makes sense to her. Cops are not regularly trained in hard science; they want scientific findings explained in plain language by someone who at least seems like a confident, trained expert and is well-versed in making connections with people. But subjectively, she knows putting theories like that into practice are monumentally difficult for her to achieve.

"Dr. Isles? It's good to see you again, are you ready for our session?" the mild-mannered psych asks from the doorway.

Maura is momentarily startled, then nods.

Her session goes much the same as the others have: Maura recounts her social interaction for the past week, notes a call from her mother who is showing her art in Madrid, remembers having a stilted conversation with the cashier at the grocery store about haloumi, and Dr. Otieno observes her with quiet scrutiny.

"I also met someone," Maura says, the encounter coming to her suddenly, a bright anomaly in the rehearsed list of routine meetings and dialogues.

The psych's eyebrows rise. "A romantic someone?"

"Oh, no," Maura clarifies, thinking she must have worded the sentence wrong, "A new homicide detective has been appointed upstairs and we met at a crime scene yesterday. I mean, I suppose it's true that she was physically attractive. But she was also very brusque."

"So you didn't like her?"

Maura wonders briefly if it's an accepted practice for psychiatrists to routinely put words in their patient's mouths, but doesn't voice her thoughts aloud because the last time she did that Dr. Otieno seemed to take it personally. "I haven't known her long enough to make a balanced judgement, but my initial impression was mostly that she appears to be very good at her job."

Detective Rizzoli had shaken her hand and smiled briefly when Korsak had introduced them, Maura remembered, and immediately confided that she was sorry in advance if she had trouble keeping up because it was her first day in the field. She focused less on Maura's face, though, and more on the body below them, which Maura actually appreciated – she still isn't very good at that part either.

"She couldn't keep up, though," she says, not even realising her previous thoughts had been internal.

"The new detective?"

"Yes, I had to explain several terms and stop her from jumping to too many conclusions that couldn't be verified with facts at the time."

"And how did she take that?" the psych asks, a note of unease in her voice.

"She apologised," Maura says, and to her it strangely feels like maybe she's accomplished something for the first time.

The apologies don't last long.

By their third case together, Jane's patience is wearing thin.

"Dr. Isles, can you just... I don't know, give me an educated guess or something? In normal terms?" she asks, leaning back against an autopsy table and running a hand over her forehead. The medical examiner, from her limited experience with her so far, has seemed extremely capable and intelligent when it comes to the science and precision of her job. But whenever Jane tries to actually talk to her it's as though she has zero experience interacting with other human beings. She knows the other cops have taken to calling her Queen of the Dead, which seems to have an unfairly negative vibe, but at the same time, there's only so much terminology she can take before it becomes white noise.

"Guess?" Maura asks, visibly confused. "What help would it be to guess?"

Jane just stares at her. "It gives me something to do? You realise my job isn't just standing here waiting for you to tell me stuff, right?"

It comes out amicable enough, but Maura still looks a little unsettled. However, Jane soon realises it was nothing to do with the tone and more to do with what she was asking.

"Guessing requires leaving a certain percentage of doubt, Detective, leaves open the possibility that I could be wrong and you could end up prosecuting the wrong person just because of an inaccurate assumption I made down the line. I can't have that on my conscience," she explains neutrally, and lowers her gaze back to the corpse in front of her.

For a minute, Jane doesn't really know what to say. "So... I'm going to have to wait, then."

"Yes," the medical examiner says with a pleasant smile, like they've both just agreed on something. "But I'll call you as soon as have any pertinent results."

Jane starts to wonder if transferring out of Vice was the result of a particularly large lapse in normal brain function, because that's the kind of effect Maura Isles has on people.

She doesn't disappear, though, or make excuses to get out of going down to her office.

At the sound of a knock on her open door, Maura looks up as Jane gives her a quick wave and clears her throat. "Um, I just came down to see if you'd gotten those toxicology reports back yet. We've kind of ground to a halt upstairs until we get the results."

"I'll check for you," Maura says, flicking her mouse to boot the computer back up and watching the screen resolutely. It's still hard to try making small talk, her mind is blank when she tries to think of anything to say, so she just sneaks glances over at Jane who is idly taking inventory of her office. Her clothes are rumpled, Maura knows the case they're working is tough and they've probably been up all night; the tail of her shirt coming untucked from her pants, and her unkempt hair looks like she's been running her fingers through it for hours, shadows hollow out her dark eyes. As she watches her, she realises there is something very familiar about the beautiful detective that she can't quite place.

"I recognise you from somewhere," Maura says suddenly, and watches as Jane springs away from the vintage medical instruments she was peering at on one of the shelves, startled by the suddenness of the statement. "Sorry," Maura apologises, "I forget that my internal thought processes are... well, internal, sometimes."

Jane gives her a quick grin. "I um, recognised you too... but I didn't really want to say anything unless you brought it up." Off Maura's look, she continues. "We met while I was still in Vice and I was on assignment as a prostitute, and uh, when you came up to me it kind of seemed like you were trying to buy my services."

Maura feels herself going red. "I was just trying to make sure you ate!"

"Right," Jane says, with that smile that Maura has already learned means she's teasing.

"Well, you did have a very convincing outfit, and your legs quite helpfully suggested you spend a lot of time on your feet," she counters, and is oddly pleased to see a blush creeping over Jane's face now too. "Though I can't say I'd need your services to satisfy any urges I had."

Even Maura knows that addition has crossed that invisible social line into unacceptable territory, and immediately flounders for something to say.

Jane just gapes at her for a moment, torn between shock and amusement, and then she frowns. "I think I'm a little offended that my hypothetical talents aren't wanted here."

Thinking that Jane actually wants to discuss the topic, Maura shrugs. "It's not anything to do with you specifically, Detective, you're very beautiful, but I have enough options regarding sexual partners that I have no need to acquire gratification from a prostitute." When she sees the baffled, disbelieving look Jane is sporting, her face falls and pales. "You were joking, weren't you."

"Yes," Jane replies, but immediately follows it up with, "But you know, good to know." She tries a smile, but Maura still feels like she's done something wrong. "Sweetie it's fine, really, you don't have to look so worried," Jane assures her, softening and stepping a little closer, and Maura relaxes a fraction when she doesn't see any kind of mocking on Jane's face.

She nods, and Jane shoves her hands in her pockets. "Well, now that we've successfully learned a little more about each other, it's time for me to go. Let me know when those tox-screens come back, okay?"

The first undercover assignment Jane has in Homicide ends up being with Maura.

It's only a couple of months after she transferred when they get landed with a serial killer who has been illegally euthanizing several of his completely healthy patients and dumping them in the Charles River, and their prime suspect is a doctor with so many connections to lawyers and money that her and Korsak haven't even finished finding them all yet.

Naturally, it's not her idea to get Maura to tag along. She makes the mistake of telling Korsak that Maura recognised the doctor's name when Jane mentioned it, saying she was inviting to some fancy rich person ball he's hosting, and he runs with the thought of the two of them going together and searching through his office to see if they can find anything incriminating, then takes it to Cavanaugh, who of course immediately pulls rank when she tries to back out of it.

"It sounds like the perfect in, Detective, you can get Dr. Isles to coach you as some kind of medical professional and go along to the ball with her, and she has the better eye to find the exact documents you're looking for," Cavanaugh says, and she can feel Korsak beside her, barely containing his laughter at her obvious discomfort.

"Sir, I'm not sure Dr. Isles has been out in the field on assignment like this before, do you think it's wise to—"

"Dr. Isles is aware that her job requirements are flexible, Rizzoli, occasionally she is going to be requested to perform duties that aren't necessarily written in her contract."

Almost inaudibly, she mutters to Korsak, "I wonder if Dr. Isles knows that." Then she grits her teeth, forces a smile. "You're right, sir. Of course. I'll go and... inform Dr. Isles immediately."

Then she punches Korsak in the arm on the way out, berating him for suggesting such a stupid idea. "Why couldn't you have gone?" she snarls, picking up her keys from the desk. "Now I have to go buy a dress."

"Don't complain, Rizzoli, I think she likes you."

Jane flips him the bird.


Maura is apprehensive of the idea at first, she's not sure she has the time to teach Jane enough about any one medical profession for her to be convincing and she still doesn't know her that well, but Jane apologetically informs her that she doesn't think either of them have much choice, so Maura shrugs her shoulders and agrees, hoping she can help.

"I'm going to have to go buy a dress for this thing," Jane says, shoulders hunched, and Maura can tell she's not so thrilled about that particular thought, "But afterwards you should come over to my house; we'll go over a strategy and you can try to teach me how to be a doctor or whatever."

"I don't know if a 'doctor' is the right profession to go with, Detective, nor is it really the correct term to use. I assume the kind of doctor you're referring to when you say 'doctor' is..." she trails off when she sees the now-familiar bewildered look on Jane's face, and looks at the floor.

"Just... come over at six, okay?" Jane says, and plucks the pen Maura's holding out of her hand, catches her wrist and turns it up. Then she scribbles her address on the pale skin of Maura's forearm, her grip warm and light, and it sends electrical tingles right down to the nerve-endings in her fingers. "And call me Jane; 'Detective' makes me feel like I'm being told off."

She smiles, and Maura finds herself smiling back, the feeling of Jane's fingers around her wrist still there even after she drops her hand. "Okay, Jane," she replies, testing the name out in her mouth, and Jane nods approvingly, sweetly, as though Maura has made some evolutionary step by dropping the formality.

And maybe she has, she thinks, as Jane rattles her keys and heads out the door, and she wonders what Dr. Otieno's reaction will be when she tells her at their next session.


There's a confident knock at her door right on six, and Maura is smiling widely on the other side when Jane opens it.

"I brought wine," Maura says instead of hello, "I didn't know what you liked so I just picked a lovely inoffensive Pinot grigio I've had several times before, I hope that's okay."

"You thought I'd be offended by white wine?" Jane asks, but the joke goes right over Maura's head, especially when she catches sight of the dress hanging off one of the stools at her kitchen counter. She'd run into the first clothes store she could find and purchased the least ugly of the half-price dresses, which was still almost a hundred bucks, and raced back out again as fast as possible. She didn't even know if it fit properly.

"Is this what you're wearing?" Maura asks, and Jane hears the first note of disdain she's ever encountered from her in the question.

So naturally, she immediately goes on the defensive. "Yes, what's wrong with it?"

"Oh, everything."

Jane gapes.

"Well, for a ball like this one," Maura clarifies amicably, "I mean, from my experience the women who attend spend thousands of dollars on tailored gowns that may only be worn once, it's a very interesting anthropological phenomenon actually."

"I'm sure," Jane deadpans. "But I'm not spending any more money tailoring a dress I didn't even want in the first place, so you're going to have to put up with me wearing it. Like that."

Maura seems to decide something, shaking out her hair and fixing a bright smile on her face. "I'll help you."

"You can tailor dresses?" Jane asks.

"Oh, no, I mean we can go and buy another dress and get someone to do it for you, it's no trouble."


Somehow, Jane finds herself being dragged into a clothing store for the second time in a four-hour period, which is twice as many times as she prefers to be dragged into them in a four-year period.

"Ooh, this one would look wonderful on you," Maura says, clearly at home in this kind of place, and holds up something Jane registers only as pale pink and floaty before she says no.

"I don't wear pink," she replies, scrunching up her nose.

"Okay, well what about this one?"

"Can't wear a bra with it."

"This one has a great—"

"Ugh those dresses always make my shoulders look like a linebacker's."

The stout refusals go on for at least ten minutes before Maura has finally had enough. "Why don't you go and wait in one of the fitting rooms, and I'll just bring some to you?" she asks, and Jane feels oddly proud that the medical examiner is actually bordering on flustered. She looks rumpled, like the constant barrage of no has affected her physically. For a moment, Jane has an urge to smooth back a few strands of flyaway hair, but when she remembers Maura is waiting for her to concede and go into one of the stalls at the back of the store, she banishes it.

"Fine," she grumbles, and shuffles off.

Maura finds her a few minutes later with an armful of dresses, barging straight into the tiny dressing room and barely noticing that Jane, with a lack of anything to do, had stripped down to her underwear so it would be faster to try on anything Maura brought over. At least until Jane lets out a strangled, "Oh my god shut the door what are you doing," and she gapes in shock.

"Oh! Oh! I'm sorry, Det—Jane! I wasn't even thinking I just got so carried away with everything—though I don't think you should be ashamed, anatomically you're very well-proportioned and your muscle definition—I'm sorry."

Jane, not entirely sure what just came out of Maura's mouth, shakes her head and manoeuvres around the medical examiner with a hand at her hip to shut the door, catching the scent of her sweet perfume and the lingering sterility the lab tends to leave on anyone who spends a lot of time there. Though with Maura it fits, strangely enough, it remains as more of a personality quirk than a haunting presence.

"It's fine, show me what you picked."

The room is too small to really navigate properly, but Maura hangs the dresses on the hooks next to her, only elbowing Jane once, and looks to her for approval. Jane doesn't really like dresses, she's not the person who easily offers opinions about what kind of style works or not, especially with the kinds of upper class gowns that Maura is probably accustomed to, but it hasn't escaped her that this is the most normal she's ever seen Maura and she wants to try her best to make her feel like she's doing something right.

She runs a hand over the plainest, simplest dress Maura has hung up, strapless and pale grey, and Maura's hands come up to release the hanger straps and let it spill into her grip. "I'll help you," she says off Jane's look.

"What, you don't trust me not to rip it or something?"

"Not really, and it would be expensive to repair."

"It's going to be expensive in general," Jane grumbles, but doesn't stop Maura from tapping her arms up and gently pulling the dress down over her head. She fusses with the hem and slaps Jane's hands away when she tries to adjust her boobs, her cool fingers sliding between the top edge of the fabric and Jane's skin, settling it and then correcting the seams under her arms. She focuses on the task in much the same way she focuses on her autopsies, though Jane has a tiny inkling that maybe there are a few less brushes of her fingertips against their skin.

Their gazes awkwardly meet in the long changing mirror, and Jane drops her eyes to the floor, "So um, have you given anymore thought to what kind of... medical person you can teach me to be?"

Maura seems to snap out of something at her question, and smiles. "I was thinking perhaps you could be a researcher of some kind, and you're shadowing me for an article you're writing."

Jane is actually a little impressed at Maura's idea. "That could definitely work."

"It requires a lot less medical jargon, and would it make more sense for me to be explaining things to you," she says, like Jane should have thought of it herself, then she pauses. "Do you have a strapless bra?"

Rolling her eyes, Jane looks for the ejector seat in the dress. "Yes, Dr. Isles, I own a strapless bra, surprise! Can I get out of here now?"

"You should um... you should call me Maura," she says hurriedly, quietly, and Jane gets the sense she's been gearing up to try and say that one for a while. "It's only fair since you told me to drop the formality for you."

Jane bites back a smile and nods. "Thank you, Maura, for helping me buy a big kid dress."

"It really does look beautiful on you," she says, a small note of pride in her voice.

Jane lets her have that.


After Jane barely stops her from seatbelting the dress into the backseat of her car, Maura drops into the passenger seat to look expectantly at Jane.

"Do you know what a primary orbital rhabdomyosarcoma is?" she asks, like she expects the answer to be yes.

"Some kind of spaceship?" Jane replies, completely at a loss.

"It's a type of cancerous tumour in the eye, treated with chemotherapy and radiation therapy. I thought maybe you could have a particular interest in them and want to know how they're treated during autopsies."

Jane's not even sure how to approach that one. "How about something I can pronounce?"

Maura frowns, thinking. "I suppose you could just be interested in what my autopsies for the homicide unit entail."

"Better," Jane nods, "But try to keep it away from homicide, okay? It could just trigger something that we... don't need to be triggered."

She's about to say maybe she could just be interested in Maura as a person, but thankfully Maura's phone interrupts that thought right as she opens her mouth. That could also trigger something she doesn't really need to be triggered.

"This is Dr. Maura Isles, Chief Medical Examiner for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts."

"Oh my god," Jane groans, "You cannot seriously answer the phone like that."

Looking concerned, Maura finishes the brief phone call. "Our tickets for tomorrow night have been confirmed, we have to arrive by seven. Why am I not allowed to answer my phone like that?"

Equal parts exasperated and endeared by Maura's cluelessness, Jane shakes her head. "Honey, the majority of people calling you are calling you because they already know who you are, you don't need to tell them again. Just... trust me on this one."


The next evening, it's her turn to stand awkwardly outside Maura's door, nervously adjusting her uncomfortable bra and simultaneously chastising herself for it, trying not to loosen any of the pins holding her hair in place. Her last coherent thought before the door opens is that her feet hurt in the stupid shoes her mother found to go with the dress, then it swings wide to reveal Maura and the deepest v-neck she's ever seen. Aware that she's gaping at the large golden expanse of skin that plunges right down to somewhere that makes it abundantly clear Maura's not dealing with a bra tonight, Jane makes her gaze rest a little higher and clears her throat.

"Hi." It comes out almost silent, just a whispering rasp in the balmy evening air, but Maura's cheeks dimple anyway.

"Is it all right?" she asks, her hand smoothing down the drape of the shimmering dark gold material covering her hip.

Is it all right?

"It's been a few months since I've been to anything like this," Maura continues, "I don't know if the neckline is still current."

"I'm really not the one to ask," Jane manages, not sure how anyone could think a neckline like that was ever anything less than appropriate. Unsure of what to do next and feeling little like she should be offering her arm to escort her date to prom, Jane steps out of the doorway. "We should go."

Maura steps out next to her and locks the door, and Jane can smell her perfume again, something warmer and spicier than the day before. Her knees strain a little harder to keep her upright.


The house they pull up in front of looks bigger than Jane's entire block, and a valet immediately comes to take Maura's car. When they get inside, Maura gliding elegantly just in front of her, Jane is met with the realisation that she's stepped into a completely different world.

"I need a beer," she mutters, and Maura smiles.

"I'm not sure they serve that here. Just stay close, I know a lot of these people."

And it seems she really does. Maura conducts herself in a way Jane never would have thought her capable of around... well, people; she is gracious and charming and seems completely at home, and Jane's so busy watching her that she almost forgets what they're even here for.

Then she spots their suspect across the room and her fingers clasp the warm jut of bone at Maura's elbow, leaning into her ear. "We should really make a move."

Maura nods, and they slip off to the hallway under the guise of looking for a bathroom.

"You seemed very comfortable talking to those people," Jane says, trying to make it sound offhanded.

"I don't know if I was comfortable, but I'm very accustomed to talking to people like that. There's always a formula to follow in conversation that I learned from a young age – it never changes."

Jane can see the reasoning in that, and leads Maura down the quiet hall, the weapon strapped to her thigh reassuring as they become less and less likely to manage a convincing cover story the deeper into the house they go.

The door to Dr. Mercer's office creaks when Jane opens it, but she ushers Maura inside and closes it anyway, immediately flicking on the small desk lamp. "Okay, Maura, this is where I'm gonna need your help."

"I still don't feel very good about this," Maura says, and the emotion is plain on her face. "Are you sure we won't get arrested?"

"Maura, I'm the police. And I'd be less worried about this guy wanting us arrested and more about the fact that he has a penchant for sticking healthy people with needles filled with lethal injections."

"A syringe filled with a barbiturate, paralytic and potassium solution," Maura corrects her, still on edge.

While she has the smallest urge to roll her eyes, Jane can see how unsettled Maura is and chooses to reassure her instead. Lacing their fingers together, she smiles. "We're not gonna be long, okay? This is just our best shot at seeing what this guy is up to without spooking him. If he lawyers up, then we're screwed. So we just need to stick to the plan, find anything that might suggest he's secretly Kevorkian-ing a number of his patients, then get out of here."

Maura swallows, then nods. "Okay."

Jane beams at her, but all her assurances are immediately undone when they hear footsteps down the hall, and Maura's grip on Jane's fingers tighten tenfold.

"Come with me," Jane whispers harshly, tugging on Maura's hand and quickly leading her to a more shadowy part of the office, backing her up against a wall to shield her from the door. The room isn't big enough to hide them anywhere, but at least anyone coming will be able to see her gun before they can get to Maura.

The footsteps are halting, but still getting louder, and she can feel Maura shaking everywhere they touch. Which is a lot, when she thinks about it, and tries not to let that occupy her mind and instead whispers, "You're gonna be fine."

Maura shakes her head, her eyes closing, and Jane honestly can't think of anything else to do but kiss her. Maura sucks in a sharp breath of surprise when Jane leans forward, captures her mouth, lets her free hand slide over Maura's cheek. But she kisses back within a moment, her lips insistent, humming a moan when Jane lets her fingers map over the warm skin her plunging neckline has left bare. Maura is soft in the places where Jane is lean, it's harder to feel the jut of her hip, the ridge of her sternum under her fingertips, but she welcomes it.

Just as Jane presses her weight a little more firmly against Maura, the door swings open and she feels the medical examiner's hands tighten at her cheek and hip. Ready to spring for her gun, Jane stills but immediately hears, "Oops, occupied!" and the giggle of a woman, then the door shutting again.

Maura almost collapses against her in relief, and Jane can feel her fingers tremor where they're still sitting at her jaw. Grabbing them with her own, she smiles. "See, totally fine."

Letting out a shaky laugh, Maura nods. For second, Jane thinks about kissing her again, wants to smooth the hair out of her face, but then she focuses on something right next to Maura's head.

"Bingo," she says, and Maura is confused. "Look behind you," Jane clarifies, and bites her lip when Maura's shoulder brushes hers.

"Oh, a secret compartment?" Maura asks.

"I love shady rich guys," Jane says gloatingly, "Always think they're smarter than they are."

She gently nudges Maura out of the way, and flicks open the little door to peer inside. "Are these," she asks, pulling out a rolled up manila folder and straightening it out, "the kinds of files we're looking for?"


As soon as they run the names listed in the documents they find in Mercer's office, Jane is able to lock him in handcuffs and put him behind bars, then take a quick detour down to Maura's office before heading out with Korsak and Frankie for beers. She's not entirely sure why she goes, only that she wants to. She hasn't really seen Maura since they hightailed it out of the banquet, Korsak was in an unmarked just down the street so she really only said a quick thank you before taking the evidence to him and racing to the station to get it processed. It feels necessary to make sure she's okay.

The medical examiner is sitting at her desk frowning absentmindedly at her computer screen when Jane walks in, and she jumps in surprise.

"Hey," she says, "I just wanted to let you know we arrested Mercer, case closed."

"Oh, good," Maura replies, and Jane senses a measure of discomfort in her tone.

"I wanted to thank you for your help, again, I know going undercover isn't easy but you handled it great."

Maura just smiles, her face unreadable, and Jane worries her lip with her teeth, deciding something.

"We're um... me and Korsak and Frankie are going to this bar we like for beers, you know, in celebration. If you want to come."

For a second, Maura is completely dumbfounded, but then she shakes her head. "I... no, I should just stay here," she says, and there is such a look of melancholy about her that something in Jane's heart twists and she decides to stand her ground.

"Nope, I decided that wasn't a question. You have to come. Get up, get your coat, we're going."


When they walk into the Dirty Robber a short while later, Jane sees Korsak and Frankie at the bar and they immediately lean towards each other and start talking. Jane rolls her eyes and turns to Maura, who looks equal parts nervous and intrigued. "I'll buy you a drink. What are you having, offensive wine?"

"Oh, I don't mind," Maura says, flustered, and pulls at the hem of her blazer.

"If you don't tell me I'm going to get you beer, and you really don't seem like the kind of girl who drinks beer."

Conceding, Maura rattles off some name of something that Jane can't even think about pronouncing, so she makes a mental note to just ask the bartender for the most expensive wine they have and hopes Maura won't notice. Or will at least pretend not to notice. But first, she makes a beeline for the other two cops.

"What are you guys, a couple of gossiping old washerwomen? Don't think I didn't see you when we came in."

"What'd you bring Queen of the Dead for?" Frankie whines. "She gives me the creeps."

Jane punches him hard in the bicep. "Shut up, Frankie, she's sweet. And we're all going to have a drink with her because she helped break our case last night and you two are due a lesson in being civil. So go and sit down, I have to order drinks I don't know how to say."

With identical scowls, the two of them slouch off to sit opposite Maura in one of the booths, and she returns a few minutes later to nudge a glass of dark red wine across the table before sitting down next to the medical examiner. She notices Maura tapping a finger against various points in her other hand under the table, and scratches her nose awkwardly. "Um, I have to be honest here, I really have no idea what's in that glass. I hope it isn't terrible."

She stops tapping, and when she sips her drink Jane is pleased to see that she doesn't spit it out or inform her she'd gotten the wrong kind. "Thank you, Jane."

Maura ends up talking more to the guys than to Jane by the end of the night. She falls into a beer haze, chomping idly on fries and listening more to the timbre of Maura's voice than the actual words coming out of her mouth, all she really knows is by 11 she's the only one not engrossed in an intense discussion about superheroes. And that the whole length of Maura's thigh is pressed up against hers, but she tries to forget about that.

When they say goodnight outside the bar, Maura thanks her sincerely, hand on Jane's folded arms, and Jane finds herself uncrossing them and pulling her into a quick hug.

"You're welcome," she says, and decides not to pursue any thoughts of darkened offices and scandalous gold dresses.

Dr. Otieno looks at her like she's never seen her before in her life when Maura finishes recounting the last week at her next therapy session.

"Is there a problem?" Maura asks, concerned that she's said something she shouldn't.

"Not at all, Maura, quite the opposite. This Jane, she's the same Detective Rizzoli you told me you met a few months ago?"


"She's important to you," the psych says evenly, and Maura doesn't quite know how to equate that with the feelings she experiences when she thinks about Jane.

"She's much different than a lot of other people I've met," Maura finally confides. "While we were undercover there was a moment where... where I felt like the only thing that mattered to her was me. Which I suppose is a natural response for her in a high-stakes situation involving a civilian in the possible line of fire, now that I think about it."

"Don't think about it," Dr. Otieno says immediately, then amends her statement. "Don't think about it clinically, you're trying to rationalise an instinct that doesn't require it. Jane didn't want you to get hurt, it's okay to think about it in selfish terms. It's good."

But Maura doesn't know if she's ready for that.

Jane finds herself pushing the elevator's down arrow frequently in the next few weeks. A case they work taxes them long hours and precious little sleep, and she discovers the sterile quiet of the lab and the autopsy room something of a sanctuary from the constant movement around her desk upstairs.

"It's really fine," Maura assures her one of the days she turns up, stirring sugar into the coffee Jane brought her. "I like the company."

Oddly, Jane does too. Maura is unlike any other company she's ever experienced, the medical examiner is often hard to coax into regular conversation, preferring scientific discussion or even just presenting irrelevant facts over the kind of thing Jane usually talks about to people she doesn't know very well. But Maura is earnest and honest in a way that comforts her, and she doesn't even mind that her usual sarcasm completely passes her by.

"Excuse me, Dr. Isles?"

Jane turns to see a patrol cop she knows Frankie is friends with standing awkwardly in the doorway.

"Can I help you?" Maura asks brightly, and the guy gives her what Jane thinks is a particularly smarmy grin.

"I just wanted to ask if you had those DNA results for the Anderson case,"

"Oh, of course," Maura says, and picks up a folder on her desk, getting up to hand it to the cop.

"I also wanted to ask if you'd like to go to dinner with me," he says, smile still in place.

Jane violently rolls her eyes, expecting Maura to awkwardly turn down the offer and retreat self-consciously back to her seat, but to her complete surprise she accepts with a flustered grin and the cop departs promising to see her at eight. Jane feels a strange burn in her chest and the distinct need to ask why, if Maura wanted to date a cop, would she pick that guy over—never mind.

Leaving Maura to look up new shoes on the internet, Jane goes back upstairs just in case any other unbidden thoughts decide to expel themselves for real.

A knock that sounds almost familiar shocks Jane from her position on the couch, and she dislodges the blanket covering her legs and tries to brush away the worst of the corn chip crumbs before answering.

Maura stands on the threshold, and Jane leans on the doorjamb. "Do you make a habit of turning up at your colleagues houses' late at night, Dr. Isles?" she asks, teasing.

"I'm sorry," she says vaguely, "I didn't want to go home."

She sounds so lost that Jane abandons the joke and pulls her inside immediately, sitting her down on the couch. With a comforting hand on Maura's arm, she asks, "What happened?"

"I just had a really terrible date."

Relieved that it's not something more serious, but still strangely incensed at the asshole cop who thought he could take advantage of the upset woman next to her, Jane strokes a pattern with her thumb over Maura's skin. Her heart twists a little again at the thought of her feeling trapped at some restaurant with no idea how to get out of it gracefully, and her grip on Maura's arm tightens a fraction. "I'm sorry, Maura. I should have said something as soon as he asked you; he looked like a total ass."

"No, it's my fault, I should just not have gone. I just... thought I was doing so well these last couple of weeks."

Jane starts to see a little clearer what kind of reasoning lies behind the constant science mode Maura operates in, and feels a rush of empathy. "It's hard for you to get to know people."

"My psychiatrist says I have anthropophobia and social anxiety," she replies, sniffing.

Not knowing what else to do, Jane slides her arms around Maura and envelops her in a hug, feels her breathe out a heavy sigh.

"I'm sorry for just turning up like this," she says, her voice muffled by Jane's hair. "Usually I'm much better about letting people know beforehand."

"Of course you are," Jane says. "You don't need to apologise. Do you... want some corn chips?"

Maura nods, and Jane picks the half-empty bag up off the floor.

"I have vodka too. But it's not good and it's not cold so... do you want some orange juice in it? Do you want anything else? Do you need like a medical journal or something, because I don't have one of those but you could probably look at something on the internet if you want."

Maura waves her off. "You're already doing enough, Jane. I'm sorry for ruining your evening."

"Do you see my evening? There's not much to ruin. Do you want to watch Golden Girls? There's a marathon."

"I'm unfamiliar with the text, but okay, we can do that. Is it a situational comedy?"

Jane looks blank. "Just eat your corn chips, Maura."

The next time Maura goes to Dr. Otieno's office the psych barely has time to sit down before Maura is talking, no rehearsal or clinical precision apparent in her words, and by the time she finishes Dr. Otieno only has one thing to say.

"I think your sessions with me may be coming to a close."


"You've come a long way in these past few months, Maura. You talk about going out with co-workers, using your expertise to solve cases, looking to other people when you come up against a problem you don't know how to deal with. Aren't these all things you admitted you wanted help with?"

Maura contemplates for a moment. "But that wasn't anything to do with me, that was Jane."

The psych smiles. "Then I guess you owe her some thanks."

Maura knows it's Jane arriving into the autopsy room when she hears the familiar thunk of her boots, and Jane makes a noise when she sees her pulling yoghurt out of the fridge instead of bothering with an actual greeting.

"It creeps me out that you keep stuff in there, Maura. That fridge spends all its time with dead people."

"Well you don't have to eat it," she replies haughtily, and hoists herself onto one of the tables.

"But I brought carrot cake," Jane says desolately, her face falling.

Maura just rolls her eyes, unperturbed by her bratty mood, and Jane immediately steals the spoon from her fingers and dumps several scoops of yoghurt unceremoniously into her bowl before handing it back. Maura is struck, suddenly, by how comfortable Jane has made herself in her life, without pretence or demand, and feels so caught up by the emotions that thought conjures that she blurts out, "Why do you do this?"

Jane pauses with food halfway to her mouth. "Do what? What did I do? Did I spill?"

"No I mean, why do you come and have lunch with me every day?"

Jane shoves the forkful of cake the rest of the way into her mouth and shrugs. "Better than listening to Korsak complain about our shitty donuts," she says thickly.

"But you... look after me. You invite me out for drinks and you let me sleep on your couch, people don't do that for me."

"Friends do that for each other," Jane says, her tone fond. "We're friends, aren't—wait are you crying? Maura, what's the matter?"

Maura hastily brushes the tears way that have welled in the corners of her eyes. "Nothing. I just... thank you, Jane."

Jane still looks a little concerned, completely unaware of what Maura is thinking, and sticks some more cake in her mouth. "You're welcome?"

And she is.