Butterflies threatened to completely overwhelm her.
If she had remembered to eat that morning, she probably would have thrown it up. To say the nerves were strong would have been like saying she kinda liked Maura.
Her soon to be bride.
Soon, as in, in only a matter of minutes.
Jane hadn't expected to get cold feet. She was sure of this, of them- of her love, and of Maura's.
But for some inexplicable reason, standing in the locker room of Fenway in perhaps the most surreal moment of her life, she was swamped with nerves.
Her suit was much more expensive than her day-to-day and adorned with a few embellishments she might normally have scoffed at, but Maura deserved her at her best. The crisp white shirt set off nicely against the black jacket and slacks and she felt fancy, clean, but still comfortable, still herself.
She could only imagine how radiant Maura would look.
Frankie had come in a moment ago and been almost too speechless to tell her how lucky she was. It didn't matter- she knew.
Her family and friends were seated between home plate and the pitcher's mound. The official was ready.
They were waiting on her.
And her feet were suddenly made of lead.
Even in her trusty boots, she couldn't seem to take a step.
It was only a matter of minutes before someone would come to look for her. Frankie, or maybe Frost, or worst of all, her Mother. They had all cycled through at various times to fuss over her and compliment her and comment on how lucky she was.
Maura's parents had not accepted their RSVP but had shown up a few minutes ago and taken seats at the back of the crowd. Her own family was rowdily occupying the first few rows of chairs. The rest were filled with friends, coworkers, but they had kept the affair relatively small.
So many things had changed in the last few months, years.
As a child, she never would have imagined marrying a woman. Never would have dreamt of falling so head-over-heels in love with someone, anyone, male or female.
But here she was, madly in love and about to make Maura her bride.
Sometimes she still couldn't believe that Maura wanted her, loved her, said yes.
In the locker room of her high school, there was a quote printed above the door. It said, you are not beaten down by being knocked down, you are beaten if you stay down.
At the time, it had seemed trite and overwrought. Forced.
Back then, it was only a game.
Now, the familiar words whispered through her mind.
She had been knocked down.
But she had not stayed down.
Her friends, her family, hadn't let her.
They had pulled and pushed and prodded and helped her to her feet. And Maura had reached out with a steady hand and held her firm.
She could stumble, she could fall, but she would always get back up.
Because of Maura.
So she couldn't for the life of her figure out what was holding her back.
It was her dream wedding. There were hot dogs and beer and the pitcher's mound and the biggest chocolate cake she had ever seen…
And Maura, in a white lace designer gown, standing opposite her at the baseball altar.
Jane was startled when the door opened. She looked up, her breath catching when she saw the visitor.
"Hey Janie," Casey smiled softly, hesitance in every syllable of his words. "Can I come in?"
Standing abruptly, Jane nodded.
She had only seen him briefly since his return- once to give him his things, and another time to finalize the divorce.
There were times when she missed him terribly, missed his presence in her life. He had been her friend, her best friend before she met Maura, and it had been difficult to adjust to his absence.
She had sent him an invitation in the mail with Maura's blessing but hadn't actually expected him to attend.
"Hey," she grated, her throat like sand.
"I don't want to intrude," he replied. "I just, uh, I wanted to wish you good luck."
He extended a hand towards Jane without faltering, wavering. Jane's hand trembled when she reached out, and when Casey pulled her into an abrupt, brief hug, she held tightly.
"I'm," Jane couldn't seem to find the right words. "Surprised. To see you."
"You're my friend," Casey responded, his voice quiet but firm. "I want you to be happy."
There was sorrow in his expression, but also a quiet content that made Jane's heart ache for him.
"You're a good man, Casey," Jane exhaled, eyes glued to her shoes. "I'm really sorry for what happened."
"Hey," Casey interrupted, tilting her chin up with a calloused hand. "You can't help who you love. I'm glad you found what you need."
"Are you," Casey hesitated. "You ok?"
"Cold feet," Jane nearly sobbed. "I love her, I want to marry her- she's everything to me. But I can't seem to leave this damn room."
"You get nervous before a bust?" Casey asked.
"Yeah," Jane shrugged, knowing he was already aware of the answer. "All the time."
"But you do it anyway," he suggested.
"Of course," Jane replied. "It's worth it."
"And this isn't?" he challenged gently.
"It is!" Jane exclaimed. "It's more than worth it. It's also a million times scarier."
"What's so scary?"
"What if I mess it up?" Jane offered. "What if it doesn't work out?"
"You really think that's a possibility?" Casey countered. "I've seen the way she looks at you. I've seen the way you look at her. And what the two of you have been through just to get to this point… If anyone is going to make it, it's the two of you."
Jane exhaled harshly, nodded. Casey tilted her head up and smiled.
"She love you?"
"No doubt about it," Jane said.
"You love her?"
"More than anything," Jane responded.
"Then you try," Casey squeezed her shoulder. "That's all anyone can ask for."
Jane threw her arms around him and pulled him into a tight embrace. Her eyes watered, her throat burned, her heart pounded.
"Thanks," she rasped. "I…"
"You're welcome," he saved her from trying to explain. "Will you do me one favor?"
"Of course," Jane pulled back.
"I always thought that leather chair would be great in a nursery," Casey admitted softly.
Jane looked up abruptly, startled.
"I'll uh," she swallowed harshly. "I'll see what I can do."
"Thanks," Casey said. "I always thought you'd make a terrific mom."
There was a loud clamor at the door and Maura burst in, an awkward robe covering her dress, one hand over her eyes.
"I'm not looking," she exclaimed. "I just wanted to see if you were alright."
"Hey Maura," Casey greeted her.
Maura froze, awkwardly caught in the threshold of the doorway.
"Casey?" she asked, peeking at him through her fingers before re-covering her gaze. "Is everything alright?"
"Maura, you can uncover your eyes," Jane laughed, most of her nervousness evaporating at the sight of her flustered, adorable bride.
"I'll give you two a minute," Casey grinned. "Best of luck to you both."
"Thank you, Casey," Maura replied, eyes still pressed tightly closed, fingers over her face.
"Thanks," Jane echoed.
Casey left the room and Jane took a moment to appraise her soon-to-be wife.
Maura was radiant.
Jane's breath caught and she resisted the urge to cry. How could she be so damn lucky?
"Maura," Jane coaxed. "You can open your eyes."
"But it's bad luck!" Maura protested half-heartedly.
Jane approached, gently prying Maura's hands away. Maura kept her eyes squeezed shut and Jane kissed her softly with a chuckle.
"As long as I have you," Jane whispered. "There is no such thing as bad luck."
Maura melted against her a little and groped blindly until she could link their hands together.
"Are you ready?" she asked.
Jane looked at Maura once more.
Suddenly, all her doubts and fear had evaporated. With Maura's hand in hers, she felt invincible.
If necessary, she would have walked into hell. She was strong enough, resilient enough, to face anything now.
"Yeah," Jane nodded. "I'm ready."
"Me too," Maura replied.
"Then let's do this," Jane replied.
And with Maura's hand in hers, they exited the locker room.
Emerging onto the field, Jane felt a joy like she'd never known burst forth within her.
And again, it echoed deep down in her soul.
She was not beaten.
She was not broken.
Finally, she was happy.