A/N: Set roughly six months or so after 3.5. This story is Jane/Maura, but it starts with both the of them in relationships with other people, and the second chapter contains some semi-explicit Maura/some guy sex.
A/N 2: I've gone through and edited this to clean up some typos and such.
Update: I'd like to thank bekahbabe for providing a belated, but much needed beta for this story.
I stared down at the untouched burger and fries basket in front of me as I slowly turned my beer bottle around with the tips of my fingers. It was easier than looking up and meeting Casey's eyes. I could feel the tension across the table, and for once, I almost felt sorry for the poor SOB's who end up across the interrogation table from me. The accusation in his eyes was nearly unbearable, all the more so because I knew I deserved it. This has been coming for weeks, but now that it's here, neither of us seem capable of admitting it. It's like some horrible game of break up chicken, where we sit here, waiting to see which one of us will crack first.
Inevitably, it was him. I may suck at relationships, but stubborn avoidance was a skill I've honed over three and a half decades as Angela Rizzoli's daughter.
"Jane, I-" he started.
"Don't," I said, cutting him off as I finally raise my eyes to look at him. It was my fault, and I'd be damned if I let him give me an easy way out. I'd been taking the easy way out for too long, and it was starting to be humiliating. "I need to be the one to say it."
"Okay," he sighed. "Then say it."
I shook my head, letting out a sigh. "This isn't working."
"Wow. With skills like that, I'm surprised you haven't made Lieutenant yet." His tone was less sharp than I expected. There was a tinge of bitterness, but there was also a bit of honest humor.
I snorted, smiling at him despite myself. "You always made me laugh." It was an honest observation, and one that made me sad, because I really did like him, and until we started dating, I really did enjoy his company.
"Just not funny enough?" Casey asked. I was surprised that he sounded more curious than resentful, and I want to hate him for it, because it was a reminder that he was, fundamentally, a good man.
I shook my head. "No, that's not it."
He raised his hands in a gesture of defeat. "Throw me a bone, here. What did I do wrong?"
"It's not the injury." I kicked myself the moment the words were out of my mouth, but I couldn't help but feel guilty about it. I started a relationship with him when I knew how badly damaged his confidence was by the injury, and even though the injury has nothing to do with what was happening, I knew it was going to deal a horrible blow to him when he was already hurting.
He snorted and reached for his beer, taking a long sip. "I'm trying to give you the benefit of the doubt on that, but I've learned that usually, when people start with 'it's not the injury' what they mean is, 'I don't want to sound like a small minded bigot, but I don't want to be around a cripple in case it's contagious.'"
"That's not fair, Casey." I said, without any really heat in my voice, because I could see where he was coming from. My gaze fell down to my scars, and I remember how dirty, how absolutely broken, I'd felt. It wasn't fair, but then, I hadn't been very fair to a lot of people after I was hurt, so I can understand where he's coming from.
"I want to believe that, but you got to give me something to work with."
I looked down at the lukewarm beer, turning the bottle around in my hands again. "I think... God, this is so hard." I shook my head, and in a very Maura like way, I spoke without stopping to filter my thoughts. "I should have brought Maura. She's better at this than I am."
"What, breaking up with your boyfriends?"
I laughed, smiling as I looked up at him. "Honestly, she usually just convinces them I'm gay."
Casey's eyebrows shot up. "That would explain Giovanni."
I felt a moment of panic at the assumption I could see him making. Whatever he thought of me after that night, there was no way I wanted anyone to think I'd make that serious an error in judgment. "Oh no. No, no, no. I never dated Giovanni. That was entirely Maura's disaster."
"But he was talking about your and Maura's 'relationship'."
I couldn't help but laugh at the memory, or the fact that we'd spent two years pretending to be lovers in front of Giovanni. I saw the question on Casey's face in response to my laugh, and I shrugged and told the truth. "I'm better at breaking up with Maura's boyfriends than she is."
He smiled again, and for a moment, I was struck by how easy it was to be around him when we weren't trying to be a couple.
"No wonder she keeps you around," he said, and I found myself grinning as the humor in his voice.
"Yeah, well, she needs a cuddle bitch between boyfriends anyway, so I suppose I have my uses." I meant the remark to be flippant, but I was surprised at how much bitterness I felt when I said it. It was true though. I'd been providing all of the emotional intimacy for Maura for years, without really realizing it, but now that I had, I felt a little resentful of the fact that I didn't get to share the physical intimacy as well. Never mind the fact that, had she asked, I probably would have had a gay panic attack and started hyperventilating. Or done something stupid and completely ruined the best relationship I've ever had.
Casey, though, seemed to completely miss the bitterness, focusing instead on how close I had just revealed I am to Maura. "I'm not sure I'm okay with that."
I immediately snapped at him. "Not really your place to be okay with it or not anymore." But after a moment, I realized how harsh the words sounded and gave him an apologetic look. "Sorry. I shouldn't have said that." I dropped my eyes down to my beer bottle and started picking the label off while I tried to find a way to say what I knew needed to be said.
I saw him shrug out of the corner of my eye, and when I glanced up, I could tell he was trying to pass it off, but the expression on his face looked like I'd just slapped him. "I suppose it's not mean if it's true."
I laughed, and this time, I could tell he didn't miss the bitterness, and because I was hurting, I couldn't help myself, couldn't stop myself from sharing a little bit of the truth he held in such high regard. "Well that's a load of bullshit. Sometimes the truth is the meanest thing you can tell someone."
"Is it Dean?" He was guessing, trying to understand, trying to figure out what I couldn't seem to bring myself to tell him. The the very idea made me shudder, and I felt for a moment like I was going to throw up. Unsure how to explain my feelings any other way, I settle for blunt honesty.
"God no. The only thing I want to do with Dean is kick him in the GSW." I smiled, as a happy thought crossed my mind. "Of course, since the last one he got has had time to heal, I'd have to inflict one first, but I'm kind of okay with that." Maybe I'm petty, maybe I'm vindictive, but if Tinkerbell flew into my room one night and sprinkled me with Fairy Dust, the thought of shooting Gabriel Dean in the leg, then repeatedly kicking the wound would easily make me happy enough fly to the moon and back.
Casey chuckled. "That's one thing I always liked about you. You were never afraid to tell someone how you felt."
I looked at him, completely stunned, not able to believe my ears. "God, you don't know me at all, do you?"
For the second time, he looked like I'd slapped him. "What's that supposed to mean?" he asked. There was real hurt in his voice.
I really wanted to just get up and walk away. I wanted to be out of the conversation. But I couldn't bring myself to leave it like that. I liked Casey a lot, and despite some rough patches, he'd been pretty good to me. He deserved better than that. I dropped my eyes down to the now label-less beer bottle in my hands, and like the idiot I am, I said the first thing that came to mind. "It's not you, Casey-"
"Oh, God. The dreaded 'it's not you, it's me' speech. Come on, Jane, save me the cliché."
My temper flared, and I slammed the beer down, as I looked up at him. I'd been trying to do this without hurting him, but if he was going to lash out like that, I'd go with the cold, hard truth. "Okay, fine. It's you. You're the wrong person. I tried, Casey. I really did. I just... You're not the person I want to be sitting in that seat."
"So, there's someone else?"
"Yes." The word was out of my mouth before I even thought about it, and as soon as I realize I'd said it, I tried to take it back. "No. Maybe. God, I don't fucking know. It's all bullshit." God, I wanted to just curl up in a ball and whimper. I wanted it to stop. I wanted to be curled up with Maura on my couch, both of us wearing footie pajamas as we ate chocolate frosting on graham crackers and got drunk on boxed wine. No, better yet, two buck chuck.
At that moment, I think I would have traded my badge to see Maura in footie pajamas, making a face at the idea of drinking a two dollar bottle of wine.
"Who is he?"
I sighed and took a drink of room temperature beer. "What, you gonna go beat them up?" I asked, because really, what was a gonna say. 'I'm dumping you for a big titted blonde who's straight and wouldn't date me even if she was a lesbian?' I'm sure that would go over like a Led Zeppelin.
"I think I deserve to know."
"Yeah, because we always get what we deserve," I held up my hands, showing him my scars, then I gestured towards his crutches, just to emphasize my point. I could see the hurt in his eyes, and I felt sorry for him. He deserved better than the way I'm treating him. I would have liked to offer him a comfortable lie, but I was too exhausted to think of one, so I gave him the only thing I could. The truth. "Doesn't matter anyway. I asked. Got told two separate times they weren't interested. I think that's why I... You, Dean... God, I fucked up, you know. I didn't even realize I was interested until after you and I were together." I'd always figured if I tried playing the pronoun game, I'd get called on it pretty quick, but Casey wasn't a detective. He missed the clue right in front of him, and ended up focused on entirely the wrong thing.
"You were hitting on this guy while we were together?" There was anger in his voice, but also a lot of hurt, and again, I felt bad for him.
I shook her head. "No. We just... We'd talked about it a couple of times, a long time ago. Once before I got shot, once not too long after, before you and I started Skyping. At the time, it was kind of a relief. Didn't want them to be interested in me, you know. It would complicate things. It's just, the longer you and I were together, the more I realized every time we did something, my first thought was to wish they were there. And when you started talking about going to those classes on how to... you know, with your injury... I just realized I couldn't." I blushed in embarrassment. I'd never really been comfortable discussing sex, and those conversations with Casey had been hard for me. They'd only gotten harder when I realized that I just didn't want to be with Casey that way.
He shook his head, and for once, asked the right question. "I don't get it, Jane. If he's not interested, than why...?"
I was relieved to have a question I could actually answer fully and honestly. "You really want to go through life, get married, have kids, grow old and retire with someone knowing you're their second choice?"
He looked down at the table, shaking his head. "No."
"Yeah. We'd end up like my Ma and Pop. You'd leave me for some chippy that used to bang our youngest son, and I'd end up running the snack counter at headquarters. Except, when you asked me for an annulment, I'd shoot you in the balls and get Maura to help me hide the body."
He winced at the description, but then smiled. "You know, that's a pretty convincing argument."
I smiled at him. "Hey, I said Maura was better at breaking up with my boyfriends, not that I couldn't do it."
Both of us laughed at the joke, but the humor was short lived. After a moment, he looked down at his own uneaten food. "I guess I'm just confused."
A small, bitter laugh escaped before I could stop it. "That makes two of us." I looked away from him, not really wanting to see what crossed his face.
"What's that supposed to mean?"
I could here the anger in his voice. More anger than he'd directed towards me at any other point in the conversation. I shook my head, trying to clear it, then forced myself to look at him, and once again, I found myself with nothing to give him but the truth. "It means, I'm figuring out stuff about myself. Stuff I'm not sure I like, but stuff I can't ignore anymore. Stuff that means I'm gonna have to change everything I ever planned for the future. It's hard, it's scary, and it's confusing, and I'm sorry you got caught up in the fucking disaster that is my life. I never wanted to hurt you. I never wanted to hurt anybody. I just don't see how to avoid doing a lot of that right now, and it's my own fault for not manning up sooner."
"What the hell's going on, Jane?" He was using what I thought of as the Colonel's voice. The one he used when he was giving orders at the Veteran's Center. The one he used when he expected answers or obedience, or both. He was good at it, but I'd had a lifetime of practice at ignoring the voice of God given authority in the form of my mother. I just shrugged it off.
"I'm sorry, Casey. I want to tell you everything, but I can't right now. There are other people who deserve to know first."
"Before your boyfriend?"
I took a deep breath and looked him in the eye and spoke with my cop voice. The one that I used when I wanted there to be absolutely no doubt about my authority or resolve. "Ex boyfriend." Somehow, just saying the word lifted some of the weight that had been sitting on my shoulders for weeks.
He leaned back, looking at me. "Well, I guess that's it then." There was resignation in his voice. Acceptance.
I wanted to cry in relief, but there was more to be said. "Casey, you've been a good friend to me-"
"Jane, let's not." The anger was back in his voice, mixed with weariness, and I could tell he wanted to just walk away, but I really didn't want that to happen. I didn't have enough friends that I could afford to let one go lightly, and after the week I had planned, I might not have any friends or family left, unless you counted Giovanni, who was just about the only one I was sure wouldn't mind hanging out with me.
"Not what?" I asked, playing stupid.
"Let's not do the whole 'can we still be friends' thing. I don't need your pity." His tone was bitter, but I couldn't find it in myself to blame him. Of all the reasons I had to hate Charles Hoyt, the looks of pity I got after he hurt me burned among the brightest.
"It's not pity." I knew I sounded defensive, but I couldn't help it.
"Then what is it?"
"You remember when I said I loved you?"
"Kind of hard to forget."
"I wasn't lying. I care about you. I'm sorry I can't feel the way you want me too, but I really need all the friends I can get right now. Can you just give me a little time? Let me get things straightened out with the people I need to first, and make up your mind once I've explained everything?"
I sat there and watched him for a while, trying to make out what he was thinking, but he had his soldier's face on. It was like staring at a mask. It went on for so long that when he finally spoke, it startled me.
"I wanna be that guy, Jane. The one who accepts things gracefully, who doesn't take it personally, who is fair, and decent and forgiving..."
"But?" I asked, hoping he was going to give me a chance to be his friend, but dreading the brushoff I expect.
"But... Call me when you're ready to tell me what's really going on, and I guess we'll find out if I'm strong enough."
I nodded. It might not be what I hoped for, but I know it's more than I really have any right to expect. I reached for my wallet, and took out a couple of twenties, dropping them on the table. I might be ill mannered, going through a sexual identity crisis, emotionally damaged, and just generally, all around fucked up, but I do know you don't make a guy pay for the 'I'm dumping you' dinner.
"Take care, okay." I said it softly, hoping he'd understand that I really meant it.
"You too, Jane." The answer is perfunctory. I could hear the fatigue in his voice. He wanted out of the conversation, wanted me gone.
I gave him his wish.