Hey all! So I'm having writer's block on my other R&I story and I figured I would finish this shorty and post it in the interim. It's another post-03x02 fic. It assumes a bit about the sometimes-flirtatious exchanges between Jane and Maura in the show… just something that was very fun to write.

I finished up late so please pardon any muddled grammar.

Feel free to write me any comments, questions, concerns, or critiques! Always happy to hear from readers.

Most importantly, enjoy!

Two Can Play

Each flicker of the television in Maura's living room drew one more dragging blink from Angela Rizzoli's tired eyes. She was fast approaching her limit, but her stubborn Rizzoli nature insisted she press forward and resist the urge of sleep.

Jane had managed to chase the rest of the Rizzolis away, but not Angela. There isn't anything you girls can say, Angela had declared at Jane's protests. I'm staying here until I can tuck the two of you into bed myself. Somebody's gotta take care of you! Jane had, of course, fought her adamantly, but Angela wouldn't take 'no' for an answer. The three of them had been parked in front of the television since dinner, Angela on the left, Jane on the right, and Maura sandwiched in the middle. Angela spent the whole evening expecting the two to pass out from exhaustion, but somehow they managed to stay awake. Every time Angela suggested they hit the hay, Jane came up with some excuse.

Her clever reasoning had evolved as the night progressed…

First, I'm not tired yet, Ma. (Maura had bobbed her head in agreement.)

Then, You can't send me to bed in the middle of Donny Darko, Ma! (And Maura had said, The way the incongruities of Donny's visions and their transcendental nature change the message of the plot is quite intriguing, don't you think? Angela hadn't really understood her, but it sounded like Maura was enjoying the movie as well.)

After that excuse, it was, Ma. Seriously? We're trying to watch the game here. (At her words, Maura had leaned toward the screen, seemingly engrossed.)

Then, Don't worry, Ma, got my second wind. Can't sleep now.

Followed by, Actually, I'm sorta hungry again. Aren't you, Maur? (A nod.) Hey Ma, can you make us something?

The most recent excuse had been, I'm too jumpy, Ma. I would never fall asleep.

Ma, Ma, Ma, Ma! Angela grumbled under her breath. Now it was just short of midnight. Noting the time of evening automatically ushered a yawn, and the mother of three—four, now that she finally had the doctor daughter she'd always dreamed of—rushed to stifle it lest Jane catch a hint of her growing weakness. She snuck a millionth glance at the two girls seated on the couch next to her, hoping one of them had fallen asleep. No such luck. Jane, she knew, was stubborn and wouldn't think about sleeping unless Maura had dozed off. Angela had taken comfort from that thought, knowing Maura had been through hell that day; there was just no way the pathologist could manage staying awake for long.

But Maura, albeit with half-lidded eyes, seemed very immersed in the science show Jane had found half an hour ago. Angela let out a disgruntled sigh, but neither seemed to notice her. Part of her knew that this was some plot of theirs, that there was some reason they couldn't let themselves sleep yet and they were trying to fool their poor mother, but Jane would never let her live it down if she tried to call them out on it. She headed off another yawn and leaned forward, turning to face the two rascals with a hand on her hip. "Aren't you girls tired yet?"

"Nope," Jane replied without missing a beat.

Angela narrowed her eyes and shifted her gaze to her daughter's partner in crime. "What about you, Maura?"

Maura stole a quick glance at Jane, their eyes smoothly meeting, a message being sent and received. She turned back to Angela with a smile. "How can one be tired when the history of cell biology is just so enthralling?" This earned a stealthy smile from Jane. The detective silently lauded her for both avoiding a lie and quieting her mother in one go. Of course Maura was tired. Who wouldn't be after such a shit-tastic day?

Angela turned her head towards the television in distaste. Little cell thingies were blobbing around the screen like the vermin Angela imagined were always crawling around Jane's apartment. Some narrator droned on: "…The fact that chloroplasts can live outside of their cell poses an intriguing question: Is it possible that these fundamental, food-manufacturing bodies were at some time in the past independent organisms? Betty Reed, a biologist at the—"

"Yuch." Angela wrinkled her nose and snapped her head to Jane. "Jane? You're really interested in watching this?"

Jane furrowed her brow in apparent offense. "Ma! You don't find this fascinating? Haven't you been paying attention? It's thanks to chloroplast evolution that you're even here!" This in turn earned a covert smile from Maura. Jane caught it and knew she must have said something inaccurate, but was pleased Maura was refraining from correcting her or clarifying.

Angela sniffed, ignoring the exchange. "GOD. That's who you should thank for being here, after what happened today." But Jane had already dropped the conversation, making a show of nodding along with the narrator's words as more squiggly things wormed around the television screen. Angela crossed her arms with new resolve. "You girls are going to sleep as soon as this is over, okay? No ifs, ands, or buts. Are we clear?"

"Yeah, sure thing, Ma." Jane hadn't even glanced away from the screen.

Angela huffed, pleased with herself, and returned to her seat on the couch, careful not to disturb Maura's propped leg. Now the narrator was proposing how cells originally evolved a billion years ago. How long is this going to last? Angela moaned inwardly. There was a stack of magazines on the coffee table and she brightened, fishing through them until she found the TV guide. Let's see, let's see, she thought to herself as she flipped through the pages, scanning for the right date. Here it is… 'Cell Biology in a Nutshell,' starts 11:00 PM, runs to… "2:30?" she exclaimed out loud.

Jane fought hard to hold back her laughter. She had spent the whole night trying to get rid of her mother, and she would be damned if she failed now. As frustrating as it was, it had quickly become a game and she was determined to win.

Angela replaced the guide on the table. She did not want to admit defeat. But she was dog-tired, and not exactly a spring chicken anymore. She debated. If she attempted to stay, she would fall asleep on the couch anyway and that did unpleasant things to her back. If she left… She frowned. She wrinkled her nose. She looked once more at the television. Then, she stood.

This one motion said it all to the two girls remaining on the couch; it acknowledged her loss of the battle, declaring that, finally, Angela would be leaving them alone.

But demonstrating this knowledge would do them no good.

They avoided her gaze, focusing solely on the screen. When neither of them addressed her, Angela crossed her arms and cleared her throat. "Alright," she declared loudly.

Jane and Maura simultaneously met her gaze with such sweet innocence than Angela knew she had been fooled.

"What is it?" Jane questioned, attempting to look like a good, concerned daughter who didn't already know what her mother was going to say.

Angela pursed her lips. "I'm going to bed. I'm exhausted. Frankly, I don't know how you girls are among the living right now. If I were you I'd have let me tuck you in hours ago." She paused. "But I'm not. So now you listen here, if you need anything, and I mean anything at all, you give me a call. I don't care what time of night it is. You got that?"

"Yes," Jane said.

"Absolutely," Maura added.

Angela narrowed her eyes at them. "And you go to bed as soon as this… interesting and informative program is over—or as soon as you're tired. We clear?"

They nodded and turned back to the television, determined to look completely absorbed. Angela shook her head as she gathered her things, annoyed that she had to give up her fight. She didn't want them to be alone and awake tonight. She didn't want them to say anything they might regret. If she woke up in the morning and they were fighting again…

She called a goodnight as she headed out the door to the guesthouse, comforting herself with the thought that Maura and Jane would probably fall asleep before any damage could be done, and Angela would be back to supervise when they woke the next morning. She understood that they might want some time alone, even if they weren't going to talk at all. What she would never understand is what was so damn fascinating about that god-awful science crap. How they could stand it, especially after a day like today, she would never know.

As soon as the door clicked shut behind her mother, Jane was on her feet to lock it. Once the door was secure, she slumped against it and released a breath like she'd been holding it in all night. "I thought she would never leave."

Maura grinned. "She has the key, you know, she could come right back in."

Jane rolled her eyes. "It's the principle of the matter, Dr. Isles." The detective cracked her neck, stretched, and returned back to the couch. "Can I turn this crap off?" she asked, jutting her head towards the television.

"It's hardly 'crap,' Jane," Maura chided, "but yes." Maura breathed a sigh of relief despite herself when the TV went off. Staring at it all night had been murder on her eyes and did nothing to ease the dull ache in her head. "That was very clever," she mused as Jane took her place beside her, "turning to the cell biology show."

Jane snickered. "I was just lucky she took so long to make us a snack. Otherwise I wouldn't have been able to find it in the TV guide. We were lucky it was a super long special." Jane snorted. "Never thought I'd be saying that about a science show…"

Maura made a noise of acknowledgment, letting her head fall back against the couch and letting out a small groan.

Jane was quick to be concerned. "Do you need anything? Is it time for your painkillers again?"

Maura rocked her head slowly from side to side. "I'm just tired."

Jane frowned and fiddled with her hands, looking shamed. "I'm sorry. It was selfish of me to ask you to stay awake this long."

Maura opened her eyes and rolled her head towards Jane. "Don't be sorry. Technically you didn't ask. We made a… mutual agreement."

Jane smiled somewhat absently. This was the first time in a long time that she felt like she had… well, permission to look at Maura. To actually look at her and see her. She had sorely missed it. Her eyes swept from Maura's eyes to her chin, following the curve of her neck and sliding along a collarbone, grazing all the way down to her waist. This person sitting next to her was real again, was her friend again. Jane's chest filled with an anxious sort of relief. Her eyes continued over her hips, down her thigh, finally coming to rest on the bandaged leg. She swallowed hard, the relief she had been feeling moments before gone. That moment, with a shard of glass off the screen of her cell phone and the weight of her friend's wellbeing on her tired, terrified, inexperienced shoulders… that might have been the most difficult moment of Jane's life.

She blinked in surprise when she felt Maura's hand cover hers. "…Jane?" The name came out with a breath, and Jane wondered why, but said nothing, still caught on the white bandage. "What is it?" Maura's voice was so soothing, but Jane found she could say nothing.

Fuck. Jane didn't know why, but all of a sudden she felt so damn emotional. Tears welled, and she swallowed hard in vain to alleviate the lump in her throat. She was fixated on the bandage. It looked so clean, so different from the darkened, cold leg Jane remembered finding inside Maura's boot. And seeing Maura's body convulsing… I'm not okay!

Jane snapped back to the present, blinking back tears. She finally dragged her eyes away from the bandage and sought Maura's gaze, hoping to find reassurance there.

As soon as Maura saw Jane's eyes, she knew. "Shh, shh," she soothed, reaching forward with both hands to cup Jane's cheeks. Jane intercepted her hands and held them tightly in hers.

"Sorry… I'm sorry."

"It's okay," Maura murmured. "I'm okay, you're okay."

Jane tilted her head back, trying to keep the tears in. "We're okay?"

"We're okay," Maura confirmed, knowing what she meant.

"I really missed you," Jane whispered hoarsely, her barrier crumbling and her feelings rising to the surface, raw and blisteringly like a fresh abrasion.

Maura could barely handle Jane's emotions without succumbing to her own. She used what little leverage she had to scoot closer to Jane, wincing when she twitched the muscles by her wound, but falling successfully into Jane's shoulder for her efforts. "I missed you." She released Jane's left hand and threaded her arm under Jane's and around her back, grappling at Jane's shirt to find something to hold on to. Jane lowered her head until her cheek was resting against Maura's temple.

They stayed like this for some time, Jane acutely aware of Maura's hand having found a bit of skin where her shirt had ridden up, Maura acutely aware of Jane's breath tickling her ear. Maura shut her eyes, the painful feelings quickly being replaced by ones of soft, warm comfort. This moment was blithe. This moment was perfect. This moment was—

Maura's thoughts were interrupted when Jane started shaking. Was she crying? Maura squeezed a little harder until it became very apparent that Jane was not crying. She was laughing. Maura drew back somewhat, feeling a little put out, embarrassed, and more than a little confused. Jane looked up toward the ceiling, rubbing her eyes with her free hand as her laughing slowly subsided.

"I'm sorry, I'm sorry," she rasped through chuckles.

Maura glanced up at Jane suspiciously. "Just what is so funny?"

Jane wiped a few stray tears away before bowing her head to look Maura in the eye. "We are." She brought her free hand up to Maura's shoulder to help support her slightly drawn-back position, wary of the stress on her leg. "It's just…" She let out another small round of giggles. "It's just that we got into a huge fight, and I thought I wanted to talk about it some more, but…" She smiled, tears still threatening at the corners of her eyes. Maura raised a skeptical brow, but Jane's mood was infectious and Maura had to admit she was holding back a smile. "Well," Jane continued, "I thought if I didn't talk about it, I would still feel bad, you know, about everything that happened."

Maura tilted her head, thoroughly perplexed. "And? You don't feel badly anymore?"

"It's not that I don't regret the way I treated you. I wanted to tell you that, to convince you in case you had any doubts."

"I know that," Maura murmured. "I didn't have any doubts."

Jane grinned at the concern in Maura's voice. "Yeah, but I thought it would make me feel better. But all it took for me to feel better was this, you." She let out a quick breath. "I mean, shit. I thought I was spending the whole night trying to get rid of Ma so I could just talk to you, but I think I just really wanted to… to be with you."

Maura's breath froze in her throat.

Jane caught the quick change in demeanor and backpedaled nervously. "I mean, not, like, be with you, be with you. Not like a lesbian. More like, be with you… You know, so we could just be alone and together. I mean, no! Not together, together… Uh… I mean… balls."

This time, it was Maura's turn to burst out laughing. Jane glared at her, visibly flustered and nervous, but also reassured by the laughter that things were still okay. Maura finally calmed down enough to talk, pushing away from Jane a little more so that they were just sitting beside one another. "Oh, Jane, it felt good to laugh like that." She whisked away a tear with a finger.

"Yeah, I'll bet." Jane watched her in indignation. "Glad I made your day."

"Don't be like that," Maura scolded teasingly. She reached out, the smile still wide on her face, and brushed Jane's cheek. Without realizing it, Jane leaned into the hand and brought her own up to cover it, to press its warmth against her cheek. Maura stilled, curious, waiting to see if she would retreat again. But Jane seemed content with the way things were. The doctor's smile drooped a little at a thought. "I owe you so much, Jane."

It took a moment for Maura's soft words to register in Jane's tired brain before the detective shook her head vigorously. "Maura, I shot your father." She winced at the bluntness of her own words, pressing the doctor's warm hand more firmly against her cheek as if worried Maura might pull away. She scrambled over words before finally settling on, "You… you don't owe me a thing."

"I thought he was just the 'sperm donor,'" Maura muttered wryly, hoping her smirk would betray her tease.


"Relax, Jane." She found the detective's eyes and held them firmly with her own. "If I were you in that situation… well, I probably wouldn't have done what you did." Jane's expression fell. "But that's probably why I'm the medical examiner, and you're the detective." Maura grinned reassuringly. "You are the best at your job," she said heavily, "substantially better than anyone I've met and incomparably better than I would be." She traced the soft skin just below Jane's eye with her thumb, noting the soft red that colored the detective's cheeks at the praise… and maybe the stroking had something to do with the blushing too. Maura caught her own distraction and refocused. "I… I don't like what you did, Jane… but I think you did the right thing. I was just too… emotional and close to the situation to see that."

Jane blinked back tears, relief flooding her anew. She let out a sniffley giggle, dropping her hand from Maura's and staring at her lap sheepishly. "I was so afraid we would never be friends again," she admitted. "I didn't know how to begin even trying to make things right."

Maura, dissatisfied with her current lot in life sans Jane's hand, sought out said hand and gave it a squeeze. "We're best friends, Jane. Time makes these things right. That, and maybe a run-in with death, maybe two." They both chuckled at Maura's joke. "I mean, what did you expect to have to do?"

Jane peeked up with an odd, apprehensive smile. "Give you my gun? Write out Pop's address?"

Maura rolled her eyes at the somewhat inappropriate joke. "Jane. Really." But she smiled anyway, pleased that the key dynamic in their relationship—easy, witty banter—was still intact.

"To be honest," Jane muttered dryly, "I wouldn't mind going after my dad with a gun right now myself."

"Oh yes, I heard," Maura murmured sympathetically, looking down at Jane's hand and playing with the detective's long, slender fingers. "Do you want to talk about it?"

Jane smiled gratefully. "No, thank you. Not right now. Right now, I just…" She trailed off and Maura eventually glanced up, curious to see her expression. It was caught somewhere between serious and determined. Their gazes held for a few moments as they regarded each other. "God, Maura, I missed this." Jane scratched the back of her head, not putting much thought into her next words. "I never realized how different my life is without you until we got into that fight."

"Different?" Maura repeated inquisitively. She leaned forward slyly, the air in the room changing fast. "How do I make your life different, Jane?"

"Uhhh…" Jane absently shrank away from Maura's sudden proximity, unprepared to answer her question. "Well… I dunno, just different. You know."

"Mm, no, I don't believe I do. Please elaborate."

"It's just, you know… uh…" Jane blinked rapidly. Suddenly she was desperately wishing her mother would barge in and save her. Naturally the one time she needed a nosy mother, she wouldn't get one. Shit. "Well… I… I was lonely, I guess—"

Maura narrowed her eyes. "That's not answering my question."

"Oh, well, I…"

"You… you what, Jane?" Maura worked very hard not to grin, knowing just how uncomfortable she was making the detective. That discomfort of course only encouraged her.

Jane swallowed thickly, opening and closing her mouth, aware that the longer she put off answering, the more curious Maura would be, but she was unable to piece together a satisfying description of just how different Maura made things. "I… I, uh… it's because… that… I…"

Maura turned her head a bit, raising an eyebrow as she searched Jane's rather nervous expression. "Well?" she pressed, making a big decision. She threw Jane her very best, award-winning, never-failed, most enticing puppy-dog face. She usually reserved this solely for dating purposes, but given Jane's incredible reluctance to answer the simple question, Maura thought it might be a good time to unleash it on the poor detective.

Poor detective indeed. Jane's breath caught at Maura's expression. It was… seductive. That was the first word Jane could pin to it. The second? Sexy. Worse yet, it was a seductive, sexy expression that was working. On Jane. On Jane Rizzoli. Jane gulped. Good lord! Those burning eyes, those pleading brows—those puckered lips! Jane felt heat bloom in her cheeks and spread rapidly through her as she searched desperately for an answer that would both satisfy Maura's insatiable curiosity and save Jane from admitting the embarrassing truth—no, save her from reaching out, cupping that soft, beautiful face, and-and kissing the breath, no, the living daylights out of her!

"Pleaaase?" Maura hummed. She pulled at her bottom lip with her teeth, turning her puppy-dog face up to a whole new level.

The warmth from Jane's cheeks had by now spread everywhere. Yes, everywhere. Jane let out a strangled noise. Get a grip, Rizzoli! She took a couple shuddering breaths, unable to look away from Maura's lips. Still struck on the glossy, plump, soft-looking things, Jane barely managed to squeeze out, "You just… make my life… ugh… a lot more… interesting."

Maura's puppy face disappeared back into her arsenal as she pouted, releasing Jane from her spell. "Oh. Well that's anticlimactic."

Jane took a few ragged breaths, pressing her hand over her heart as if it would help stop the rapid beating. Just five minutes ago, the detective was so tired she could have slept through an armageddon. Now, the room was charged with new energy. "What… what was that?"

"What was what?" Maura asked innocently. She cocked her head. "You look a little flushed, Jane. Are you okay?"

Her expression seemed sincere enough… but Jane knew. Jane saw the satisfied grin tugging at the corners of the doctor's mouth. "Just tired," Jane answered flatly. "I guess we should follow Ma's advice and go to sleep," she suggested casually, testing.

"Yes, I think you're right." Maura shifted forward on the couch, carefully shifting her leg on the floor. She turned to look at Jane again. "Well, Detective, now that we have reaffirmed our friendship, or perhaps started it anew, if you think you might be… lonely tonight, you're welcome to stay with me." Maura maintained a straight face through this even as Jane's gape hit the floor, but could not help a grin at her next words. "It would truly be an honor to continue making your life more… interesting."

Jane let loose a disbelieving scoff at the doctor's blatant flirting. Starting the friendship anew, huh? Jane's heart pumped at the idea. This was definitely a new kind of friendship, but as unprepared as Jane felt, she refused to back down from the obvious challenge. Oh, it's game on, Maura, she thought deviously. Two can play.

"Certainly, Dr. Isles," Jane finally responded, gathered confidence on full display. Jane did not like to lose. She made a show of standing and straightening out her shirt before leaning down close over the doctor, bringing her face about an inch or two from Maura's. "That's strange," she murmured, fixing dark eyes on the stunned doctor's lips.

Maura blinked in surprise, her breath hitching as warm air washed over her face. "W-What's strange," Maura asked more quietly than she had meant to. She certainly hadn't been expecting Jane's boldness. She found it impossible to concentrate on anything but Jane's extreme closeness and the heat radiating off the detective.

"Well a couple minutes ago," Jane said roughly, "I could have sworn there was something… strange going on with these." The detective brought a finger up and poked gently at Maura's lips. Maura froze. Jane inched closer, scrutinizing. Maura's eyes widened, her heart audibly beating as Jane's lips nearly brushed against hers.

Then the detective shrugged, pulling away. "Hmm… they seem fine now."

It took Maura several seconds to begin breathing again. She cleared her throat, looking away from Jane quickly. "Well I assure you there's nothing wrong with them," she managed through a cough, clearly flustered.

"Good," Jane said, maintaining a perfectly innocent expression as she strolled into the kitchen. "Then we shouldn't have any problems later."