Title: Epilogue to Confessions of a Perfectionist
Fandom, pairing: Rizzoli & Isles, Rizzoli/Isles
Disclaimer: I don't own the lovely ladies, merely borrow and promise to return them unharmed. And I'm poor, so please don't sue me.
Spoilers: Hardly any.
Summary: This is the long overdue epilogue for my story "Confessions of a Perfectionist" in which Jane and Maura finally come together in the biblical sense after dealing with Jane's shooting at the end of season 1 and Maura's subsequent break-down. After that ordeal I felt they deserved a more elaborate, fluffy post scriptum;)
Author's note: This epilogue is a completely optional read – "Confessions of a Perfectionist" makes perfect sense without it, so for those who are not fans of explicit content; just skip it. For those of you who do like things explicit: Read (or re-read) "Confessions of a Perfectionist" before you read this. I don't think it works as a stand-alone.
…oh, and by the way; I am very un-experienced in the field of explicit writing. This was written over the course of several months, interrupted several times by life (I graduated from university, had a birthday, got a job… lots of milestones), but I hope I've managed to keep the tone consistent none the less.
You'll notice there's a lot of talking going on. I know, I know – lesbian processing… *LOL*. No, seriously; my ambition was to make Maura's emotional journey extend into this epilogue so that I wouldn't merely be giving you smut (as pleasant as that can be!), but a sex scene with some kind of underlying narrative. Therefore the talking and the internal monologues. I hope I succeeded without killing the mood;)
Finally, writing this – including the chapters that came before – has also been a great journey for me, in many ways. I am grateful so many of you have taken time to read, favourite and comment.
And you have been patiently waiting for this final instalment. This is dedicated to you guys.
"I still can't believe you actually carried me all that way."
Jane was sitting on Maura's couch, and Maura had initially been sitting next to her. But somehow, little by unnoticeably little, she had scooted over and eventually ended up in Jane's lap. She was now leaning against the taller woman's chest, enjoying her scent, her warmth and above all the fact that she no longer had to hide how much she craved the intimacy. But Jane's comment made her perk her head up. "You know I can't lie, Jane."
"You still managed to keep certain essential things from me for much too long," Jane pointed out as her hand teased one of Maura's naked arms.
Maura didn't have to look to know the fingers left goosebumps in their track. "Fortunately you're a detective and figured it out," she managed to smirk back in spite of the accompanying and not entirely unpleasant shiver.
"Yeah, and as a detective I like solid evidence. Eye witnesses. And no one actually saw you carrying me to bed that night." The fingers drew tiny patterns in the hollow of Maura's elbow, then moved to the sensitive skin on the inside of her wrist.
Maura's eyes fluttered as the shiver from before was replaced by a warm rush that didn't restrict itself to her arm. She was having an increasingly hard time focusing on the topic at hand, but too stubborn to let it drop. "Because you were fast asleep," she shot back.
"So you claim."
After weeks of being numb feeling this much was overwhelming. Jane's teasing, raspy voice was so close to Maura's ear she might as well have been inside her, and Maura swallowed involuntarily. Soon her body would do other things involuntarily unless she broke the current tension. Not that she wanted to – in fact, quite the contrary; she wanted to lose herself in it. And that's why she probably shouldn't. The seeds might have been sown months ago, but the explicit changes to their relationship status were new and Maura, above all, wanted to make sure the two were on the same page every step of the way.
I'm behaving like a lustful teenager. I need to cool down.
If Maura were to be able to think clearly she had to change the mood right now and first and foremost get off of Jane's lap and away from her diligent fingers. So she wiggled out of Jane's light grasp and got to her feet, making sure to tilt her head and smile at her friend so that she wouldn't interpret the sudden movement as a rejection.
Jane clearly didn't. On the contrary, she looked more self assured and smug than ever. "You're leaving? Typical avoidance tactic. And highly suspicious."
"Are you sure you want to question my abilities, Jane? Because if that's the case we might have to resort to drastic measures."
"Really?" Jane raised an interested eyebrow. "You're not intimidated by my aggressive interrogation techniques…?"
Maura felt the promise she made to herself a minute ago slip away like sand between fingers as her body helped her recall the feeling of being pinned to the wall in front of Dr. Gordon's office.
Physical distance… Oh well.
Never the less, she managed to keep her voice even, as she innocently asked: "Who said anything about an interrogation? Surely you've heard of 'show, don't' tell'." And with that she kicked off her heels and squatted, making sure to not twist her spine and to mainly depend on her thigh muscles as she picked a completely unprepared Jane up from the couch. Any physiotherapist would have been proud of her textbook lift, and the technique had worked perfectly once before. However, unlike last time Jane was now very much awake and instantly squirming in Maura's arms.
"Maura, no!" Jane whined, "Put me down!"
Nearly losing her balance, Maura took a few quick steps to the left, but was determined not to give up so easily.
"Don't drop me!" Jane begged.
"Put you down, don't drop you – can you make up your mind?" Maura tried to sound playfully teasing, but much to her own irritation the effort it took to keep Jane above the ground was evident in her voice.
"Just- God, don't trip over Bass or something." Jane was still whining, but her arm settled around Maura's neck.
At the same time Maura managed to move her left arm a bit lower on Jane's back thereby pulling her closer. It helped a little, but her steps across the carpet were still less than graceful. And when she reached the door to the master bedroom she nearly fell over trying to push the handle down. Fortunately Jane managed to grab on to the doorframe until Maura regained her balance.
"Christ, you really pulled this stunt when I was just out of hospital and barely patched together?"
"You were lighter then," Maura gasped.
"You saying I'm fat?" Jane's deep voice instantly rose half an octave.
"Of course not." Maura managed to switch on the bedroom lights with her elbow. "I'm saying you're heavier." Four more steps and she could finally drop her load onto the bed.
However, conscious Jane was a lot less cooperative than sleeping Jane and did not relinquish her secure hold on Maura. Consequently, Maura was roughly pulled along with her and a surprised yelp escaped her as she landed awkwardly and partially on top of Jane on the bed.
Jane, on the other hand, exploded with laughter. "I must have been comatose if I managed to sleep through this the last time," she hiccupped.
Even before managing to push herself up into something resembling a sitting position Maura swatted at the most conveniently close part of Jane. She was slightly offended by her friend's outburst and fully intended to voice her discontent, however the words vaporised on her tongue the moment she saw Jane's face. Her hair was an unruly pillow; the skin of her high cheekbones was glowing from laughter; and a full on Rizzoli-grin made every part of her face come alive with dimples and smiling wrinkles at the corner of eyes twinkling with mischief.
"You're b-", Maura began as she hovered above her friend. The words sounded like a gasp and were uttered just as spontaneously, and she had to blink a few times and gather air before she could finish the sentence that had come to her: "You're breathtakingly beautiful."
Jane's grin instantly shrank and the lines of her face faded until solemn brown eyes were all Maura saw before her. For a moment the air between them seemed almost electrical, and Maura was afraid to make even the slightest movement, unsure of what it might lead to given the fact that she was still more or less pinning Jane to the bed.
Fortunately Jane took it upon herself to break their current stalemate as one of her eyebrows flew up and she smirked: "Nah, you're just saying that to get into my pants…"
"No, Jane, I would never do that!" Maura didn't swat at her friend this time, but her shocked tone had a similar effect. Jane was smiling widely now, and the tension from a moment ago had lifted.
"Too bad," Jane said with as much of a shrug as her current position allowed. "It would've worked."
And just like that, the tension was back.
"It would?" Maura carefully repeated the words as a question.
"Yeah," Jane said quietly, steadily holding her gaze.
Maura's focus switched from Jane's left eye to her right and back as she deeply wished for a better grasp on social and emotional cues than the one she had been equipped with. She needed to be absolutely sure she was getting this right, because there would be no going back. Jane's eyes were indeed dark, her pupils dilated, and two glasses of wine could not be enough to cloud her friend's judgment. However, Maura was still hesitant. The way Jane was watching her expectantly made the rush of heat from earlier return full force; Maura's pulse was already accelerating and her breath quickening. Clearly, she was in no state to objectively evaluate the situation at hand.
Fortunately, she didn't have to. Jane lifted her head enough to brush against Maura's lips. They had been slightly parted and the gentle caress and taste of Jane immediately quenched all protests in Maura's mind. Left was one simple fact; the fact that she'd wanted Jane like this, in her bed, for months. And so within seconds Maura's tongue was in Jane's mouth, her fingers in her hair, then brushing along her arms before raking across taut stomach muscles through Jane's cotton shirt.
Jane was lettingher. Not just that; she was arching into Maura's touch, clearly craving contact as much as Maura did, and the obvious mutuality added to Maura's growing arousal. She wanted, needed to be even closer than this and her fingertips sought out the hem of Jane's shirt, slipping under it and sliding upwards. Jane gasped into Maura's mouth when Maura reached the swell of her breasts, and Maura took that as further encouragement, gently tracing the outline of Jane's bra. Jane gasped again, this time more audibly as she forced her head back into the pillow and turned her face away from Maura, breaking their kiss for the first time in several minutes.
The sudden rejection stopped Maura cold. With Jane's face turned away Maura was completely unable to read her. And even if she had been able to properly make out the movements of each facial muscle she wouldn't have trusted her own judgment in this moment.
Did I misunderstand? Did I once again get the signals wrong? Did I project my own need onto her? Oh, please don't let this be a misunderstanding. I wish I weren't so clueless.
"I'm sorry," Maura whispered miserably as she rapidly withdrew her exploring hands, afraid she had overstepped.
But Jane caught her wrists before Maura could sit back and withdraw completely. "No. No, Maur, you've done nothing wrong."
"No?" The word just fell out of Maura's mouth. She was too worried to censure herself, and she felt her gaze flickering instead of properly meeting Jane's.
"No, sweetheart." Jane chuckled. From amusement, Maura thought, until Jane, too, averted her eyes and Maura realised that she was in fact embarrassed, shy even, and trying to laugh it off.
Maura turned her wrists within Jane's grasp until she was able to reciprocate the gesture, squeezing gently. "Then what is it, Jane?"
"It's just… I thought I should tell you, I'm not… that I haven't…" Jane's squeezed her eyes shut and let out a long, slow breath trying to calm her nerves, but shook her head at the same time, clearly annoyed with her own verbal shortcomings.
Maura encouragingly caressed Jane's wrists with her thumbs, feeling surprisingly patient considering how she had been about to lose herself completely in this woman only a minute ago. Jane's sudden reaction had put a brake on things, and in spite of her very physical reaction to their closeness Maura found she welcomed it. She wanted to ravish Jane, certainly; but hopefully there would be plenty of occasions for that. And so given a moment to reconsider, she much preferred to go slow enough to properly treasure each step along this new path they were taking. Now that she could feel again, now that she was finally allowed to, she wanted to make the most of it. Wanted to map out every part of Jane; every swell, every hollow, every sensitive patch of skin. Wanted to memorize her smell, her taste, her sounds.
"Maura," Jane finally said, her tense jaw and tone of voice indicating that she was determined to speak in full sentences this time. "I should warn you that I'm going to need guidance."
The admittance simultaneously filled Maura with intense relief and equally intense adoration. Relief, because she had not missed or misread any signals after all, and because this was an issue she could easily help her friend with. Adoration because of the fact that Jane – tough-acting, bad-ass Jane – was being this openly insecure with her. Not wanting to accentuate Jane's vulnerability Maura suppressed the urge to pull her into a hug and opted for humour, the way Jane would have done.
"Let me get this right. You are in fact encouraging me to go into my beloved didactic mode…?"
Her teasing comment elicited exactly the response she had hoped for: An eye-roll. "Yeah, well, as long as you remember that I'm a little shier than you when it comes to anatomy lessons." Jane's eyes were still flickering, but her face had visibly relaxed and a small, genuine smile found its way to it.
Maura, hands sliding down Jane's wrists until she could intertwine their fingers, watched her friend for a while, internally debating whether this was one of those situations that called for more words or not. She knew she had a hard time telling them apart and often eagerly let her verbal avalanches lose before even considering the context. This intimate moment certainly didn't call for a mini lecture; that much was readily apparent. But a bit of open communication might be another matter.
"Jane." She squeezed her friend's larger hands in her own until she got the eye-contact she needed in order to get her point fully across and to try to transfer some of her own confidence onto Jane. Maura might stumble and bruise her way through a lifetime of social interactions, but she had always been comfortable in her own skin when it came to sex. "I understand you're trying to tell me that you have no sexual experience with women, but I had already gathered as much."
At the word 'sexual' Jane gave a wince and Maura, even if she didn't quite understand her friend's embarrassment over something she herself considered a natural part of life, tried to weigh her next words even more carefully.
"And I want you to know it's not important to me." Hearing her sentence out loud she frowned and tilted her head. "That came out wrong. It is important to me, but only in the sense that I feel honoured not to mention incredible lucky that you're willing to take this step with me."
"Oh, I'm a little more than willing…" Jane sounded coy, but her eyes were soft and made Maura certain that speaking had been the right choice. Jane needed this assurance, and Maura was happy to be able to provide it. After weeks of being half-broken and needy it felt good to be able to be strong and certain for her friend.
"Good." Maura tilted her head again, eyebrow arched, and let her fingers crawl along Jane's arms until they settled on her shoulders, thumbs stroking along collarbones. "Because I want to give you the perfect second debut."
Both of Jane's eyebrows flew up. "Perfect...?"
Drat! I'm doing it again. When am I going to learn?
Slightly embarrassed with herself Maura squeezed her eyes shut, but opened them again when she felt her fingers being covered by Jane's. Jane was smiling warmly up at her, a hint of amusement in her eyes.
"Alright, so maybe not perfect exactly…" Maura bit her lip and looked at their joined hands on top of Jane. Her friend's hands were larger and darker compared to her own freckled skin, but both pair of hands were decidedly femininely slender. Contrasting, yet similar. The image in a way summed up what made the dynamic between the hands' owners work so well, Maura thought with a growing smile.
This is going to work. I actually think it's going to work.
"Not perfect, no, but how about…" She met Jane's gaze and, recalling the conversation they'd had months ago about first-time experiences, delivered her offer with a smirk: "How about I make sure it lasts more than five minutes and promise it won't just be about getting me off…?"
Jane, clearly catching on to the reference, chuckled. Maura felt her friend's chest vibrate against her palms. "Deal. But if you really wish to compare us to that pathetic experience, then rest assured you've already beaten him by, I don't know, a marathon."
"We are not even undressed yet," Maura pointed out.
"Even so." Jane gave Maura's fingers a squeeze before letting go in order to stroke her hair.
Curiosity got the better part of Maura when she realised her friend wasn't going to elaborate. "How so?"
"Well, two things." Jane's gaze followed her fingers as they sifted carefully through Maura's curls. "First of all, because you and I are actually able to talk about this. And second of all…" Her hands settled on the edges of Maura's face, effectively holding her in place, and Maura saw a glimpse of something in her friend's eyes she'd never seen before, something she couldn't quite identify. "Second of all, because I'm in love with you."
At the words a rush of warmth ran through Maura, but of a different kind than the raw lust she had battled the entire evening. Instead of pushing aggressively downwards this sensation spread from somewhere in her chest and outwards, and when she reached for Jane with lips and fingertips she tried to physically transfer as much of it to her friend as possible. The kiss she initiated was deep, but careful and unhurried, and instead of thinking ahead to the next step Maura focused every ounce of her concentration, of her being, on that one kiss. There was no ahead; she was perfectly content with just lips, teeth, tongues and willing to let Jane set the pace completely.
Eventually Jane did raise the stakes a little. Her lips wandered from Maura's in order to plant a trail of kisses along her jaw line and the outer shell of her ear in a feather light, ticklish fashion. Maura had to fight the urge to squirm and giggle until Jane's lips closed around her earlobe, first teasing then sucking and adding teeth in an unmistakably sexual manner. When a small moan escaped Maura, Jane apparently took it as a cue and moved her mouth to Maura's neck. Maura automatically leaned her head back to give Jane better access. Even though Jane was only lavishing attention on a few square inches of Maura's skin her entire body was already humming in response.
"Feels… so good," Maura managed to breathe out. In her momentary haze she had almost forgotten that Jane had asked for guidance and deserved at least some attempt at actual verbal encouragement.
Jane chuckled against Maura's now slick and undoubtedly flushed neck and the vibrations made Maura shiver. It had been so long since anyone had made her feel like this. Intensely physical, but also more than that; so much more. This wasn't simply Maura's body being played like the marvellous instrument bodies can be. It was a form of communication, a continuous confirmation of the feelings they had only much too recently admitted to each other. With every gasp from Maura's lips she was exposing herself further, trusting Jane with a little bit more of herself. And with every hum against Maura's neck Jane was doing the same.
Paradoxically, this intangible… more, the sincerity of it, was part of the reason Maura caught Jane's jaw a minute later and forced her face away. Something was gnawing at the edge of Maura's mind, something she needed to get off her chest so it wouldn't jeopardize their current connection or cast a shadow on Jane's new experience.
Jane's focus was unwavering, however; her gaze remained stuck to Maura's neck. With a small smile Maura spoke her name to catch her attention.
"Jane," she said, "I'm sorry, but I need to say this one, extremely unromantic thing before we…" Her voice trailed off, unsure of which words to use in order to not upset Jane.
Jane caught on to the hint of worry and immediately shifted her attention to Maura's words. "What's wrong, Maur? You know you can tell me anything," she quickly added, managing to sound perfectly calm and assuring. The tone of her voice, however, was contradicted by the way her dark brown eyes were flickering as they shifted between Maura's.
"Nothing is wrong." Maura leaned over and planted a quick kiss on Jane's lips, then lay back on her own pillow leaving a bit of space between them. But she continued to stroke Jane's cheek as she searched for the right words. "It's just…" She took a deep breath and decided to be brief and to the point, wanting to get this ridiculous thing out of the way as quickly as possible even if it meant being direct in a way that might embarrass Jane. "A common side effect of the antidepressants I'm taking is a diminished ability to achieve orgasm."
There. I said it.
In spite of the very unambiguous statement Jane blinked a few times, seemingly confused. "So… You mean you won't be able to…" She stopped herself predictably mid-sentence, clearly hoping it wouldn't be necessary to go into details.
"I don't know, Jane," Maura said honestly. She held her friend's gaze, but let her thumb stray from Jane's jaw in order to trace her full bottom lip. "But if I can't, then I need to be sure you understand that it is by no means a reflection on you. Or on how much I want you."
She felt as much as saw Jane's diminutive, hesitant nod. "Okay," Jane said breaking their eye-contact.
Maura frowned and pushed her own head deeper into the pillow, trying to remain in her friend's line of sight. She failed to, and resignation rapidly took the place of the liveliness she had felt moments ago.
Who was I kidding thinking this would work? I've ruined the mood by being me. Depression is not exactly a turn on.
"I've made you uncomfortable," Maura said with a sigh. "I'm sorry. I understand if you don't wish to-"
At that Jane's head shot up. "No! God, Maur, no, that's not…" Jane was shaking her head so frantically the doctor in Maura worried for her neck. "You have not made me uncomfortable, and your medication does not make me uncomfortable. You hear me?" Without seeing where her hand was going she reached for and successfully found Maura's. "Nothing about you makes me anything but painfully aware of how ridiculously hard I've fallen for you."
Maura felt a breath she hadn't been aware of holding back escape her as she let Jane's words sink in.
Only then, while firmly squeezing her hand, did Jane explain: "It's just that I really wanted this to be good for you, too."
What did I do to deserve this amazingly generous woman?
Maura almost spoke the thought out loud. Jane's admission was making her feel giddy and feather-light while simultaneously aching for her friend.
"Oh, Jane," she said in a near-whisper. "Believe me, it will be. It already is." She nodded towards their intertwined legs and fingers, giving Jane a moment to take in the implication, before continuing in a slightly more steady voice. "Orgasms are wonderful and healthy, but there can be more to sex than that."
Jane immediately scrunched up her nose and Maura couldn't help but chuckle at her predictability.
"Don't worry, I won't go into anatomical details," she said squeezing Jane's hand. "What I'm trying to say is that just being this close to you… it's more than enough. More than I dared to hope for." She scooted closer until her forehead could rest against Jane's. "To have you trust me like this," she said, their proximity paired with the admission making her feel almost solemn. A sharp intake of air indicated Jane felt it, too.
Or perhaps their proximity was affecting Jane in a different way. Maura smiled at the thought, feeling some of the playfulness from earlier return. "To be allowed to touch you…" She freed her hand from Jane's and let her fingers spider-walk along Jane's sleeve-clad arm, across a ticklish neck. Jane squirmed and repressed a giggle. "To kiss you…" Maura illustrated her words with a peck on her friend's nose which elicited a wide grin from her. "…without worrying about overstepping or giving too much away." She flattened her palm and let it gently glide down Jane's front. "To finally get rid of all barriers…" Then, grabbing a fistful of Jane's shirt and the tank-top beneath it, she drew her point home: "Of these ridiculously many layers of clothes."
"So that's the real reason you're always complaining about what I'm wearing," Jane said smugly, simultaneously raising her head from the pillow and her right eye-brow.
"No, that's because you lack taste," Maura said automatically.
"Really?" Jane sat up further until she was towering ominously over Maura on the bed. "You think there's something wrong with my taste…?" With a crooked grin, she took in every inch of Maura's body as indiscreetly as possible, making sure the double pun came fully across.
Picking up on it – and finally realising Jane's question had been posed as a joke – Maura grinned back. "In clothes, Jane."
Jane snorted. "Roll over."
"Pardon me?" Maura frowned, unsure if she was missing another pun.
"You heard me. Roll over."
Maura hesitantly obeyed, but kept her eyes trained on Jane until the twisting of her neck became too uncomfortable. "Why?" she asked on her stomach.
"Because…" Jane, now sitting on her own legs, shifted closer to Maura. "Because before all that nonsense about my wardrobe you said one really sensible thing."
Maura involuntarily shivered when Jane's voice returned, this time much closer to her ear. She was clearly getting braver. "Yes, you did. And I'm going to take you up on your suggestion because it means I get to do something I've wanted to do for ages."
Maura was about to ask for clarification when she felt as much as heard her dress being carefully opened in the back and splitting in halves.
"Oh," Maura chuckled lightly into her pillow as she realised which suggestion Jane had been referring to. "But Jane, you've…" Her voice was muffled and she turned her head to ease the communication. "You've unzipped me before," she pointed out.
"I have, yes," Jane admitted. "But at the time I didn't have the guts to do this…"
Maura shivered once again as slightly calloused fingertips caressed skin that had been hidden by silk mere moments ago.
"Or this," Jane said and replaced fingers with lips. Slow, hot, open-mouthed kisses that Maura arched into. She could feel her dress being pulled further apart. Cold air met increasingly heated skin of waist and hips that were soon treated to the same tender caresses her back and shoulder blades had just received.
It wasn't enough. There were still too many layers between them, too many damn clothes. And for once Maura didn't give a toss about the brand or the price or the material of her designer dress. It simply had to go.
And so she slid sideways out from under Jane and onto her feet on the floor in one fluid movement and so quickly Jane nearly kissed the sheet that now held only, presumably, Maura's scent. Jane looked up, a stunned expression on her face which quickly faded when her eyes locked with Maura's. Maura was holding up the straps of her dress and made sure to keep holding Jane's gaze as she deliberately let the silk slip from between her fingers. Jane blinked as the dress dropped with a soft woosh and pooled around Maura's bare feet, but didn't let her eyes stray from Maura's.
Maura smiled internally, knowing this was a game she played well.
So chivalrous. I wonder how long that great willpower will last.
As she reached around herself to undo her bra and let it slide down her shoulders Maura could see Jane's already large pupils dilate further, and when the garment was entirely discarded she visibly gulped. But she kept her gaze eyelevel. Only when Maura removed her last and most intimate item of clothing did Jane's eyes falter for a fraction of a moment, but they quickly whipped back to Maura's.
Okay… Her chivalry will definitely outlast my patience.
"Look at me, Jane." Maura made sure to use a soft tone that transformed the request into another assurance. "All of me. For as long as you want."
Maura could see as much as hear Jane's deep intake of air as Maura's offer sank in and her friend seemingly steeled herself against – and won – some inner battle. And so this time Jane's eyes did not falter; they descended deliberately.
Jane might as well have been examining Maura with her tongue. Although it was of course physically impossible Maura felt her friend's gaze graze her skin inch by inch leaving change in its course. A hardened nipple. A quivering thigh muscle. Wet, wanting heat.
"It's alright," she said as much to calm her own arousal as to calm her friend's nerves. "It's alright," she repeated as she grabbed and led Jane's hands to her own naked hips and Jane audibly gasped. "Just do whatever comes to you, Jane."
And Jane did. Hesitantly at first, then with more determination. Maura felt her already flushed skin warm even further to Jane's strokes along her lower back, hips, buttocks, across stomach and the underside of her breasts.
Jane was being very gentle. Too gentle for Maura, whose body was rapidly readying itself for caresses of another, deeper kind – but this, right now, was first and foremost about Jane, Maura reminded herself. And, apart from the obvious signs of arousal, Jane was hard to read at the moment. There was a single, vertical crease on her friend's forehead; her eyes were slightly widened; her lips forming a slightly flattened o. The overall look seemed to indicate equal measures of awe and confusion.
"What are you thinking?" Maura asked as she grasped Jane's wrists, unable to resist herself from assisting the touches to her breasts, increasing the pressure and encouraging Jane's fingers to cup her more fully.
Jane gasped and, consciously or not, fought Maura's directions. She did reach further with her fingers but remained unbearably gentle. "I- I'm thinking that…" Jane's thumbs felt like feathers against Maura's nipples. "You're so soft, Maur," Jane finally admitted. She was almost whispering. "So unbelievably soft. It's…" She blinked several times and the crease in her forehead deepened. "I- I just never knew it would feel like this."
The words made a piece of the puzzle fall in place.
She's overwhelmed and afraid of hurting me.
Maura made a swift decision. She removed Jane's hands from her body and gave them a squeeze before kneeling in front of her friend, never relinquishing her hold. The thick carpet tickled her knees.
"You're soft, too, Jane," she said simply, attempting to normalise Jane's new experience, to make it seem less unfamiliar.
But Jane chuckled and looked away. "Not really."
"Of course you are. You're a woman, just like me." Maura frowned, not quite sure why Jane would refute what was readily apparent.
Then again… Jane did hold her own in what was traditionally a man's profession and had to make sure her physique, her image and even her clothes fit accordingly. This put Jane at odds with ideas of femininity in many people's eyes, including her own mother's. But never in Maura's. If Jane, even for a second, was thinking any different, then Maura was going to prove her wrong right away. She was going to be the confident one, for the both on them, until Jane was as comfortable in her own, beautiful skin as she deserved to be.
And so she lifted Jane's right hand to her lips and kissed part of her palm; the pillow by the root of her thumb. She moved her mouth to the inside of Jane's wrist, then the inside of her lower arm, the hollow of her elbow, pushing up the sleeve as she went along. Then she repeated the ritual on Jane's left arm.
"What are you doing?" Jane asked, a giggle forming on her lips.
"I'm appreciating all your soft spots." Maura grinned against Jane's left wrist and glanced up at her friend with a coyly arched eyebrow. Without breaking eye-contact she managed to undo Jane's trousers and with her cooperation pull them off. Socks, too.
"Mmm," Maura hummed against the inside of Jane's left calf. She had coaxed Jane back on the bed and was slowly making her way up her friend's body. "So wonderfully soft."
"You sayin' I'm not fit?" Jane's mock-complaint was undermined by the gasp that escaped her when Maura let her tongue flick briefly against the inside of Jane's left knee before positing it on her own shoulder.
"It has nothing to do with being fit or not," Maura whispered against Jane's thigh, for a moment unable to keep her Google mouth in check. "Hormones, particularly oestrogen, combined with the absence of androgens help the body to place more fat deposits under the skin, thin the blood vessels and soften the skin in all females." She nuzzled her nose against the top of Jane's inner thigh, just where her short hot pants gave way to naked skin. "And you, Jane, are a particularly marvellous specimen." Maura felt her own hips echo the involuntary jerk of Jane's against her cheek, a clear indication that Jane, too, was ready for more contact. Her strong scent gave this away as well. The honesty of it, the unambiguity of it, released a rush of wetness along Maura's own soft thighs. Another echo. Desire met with desire.
And yet Maura was not quite done with her exploration of Jane's softness. She had decided to take things slow tonight; to memorise every part of and lead her new lover every step of the way, and she was sticking to that plan. Also, Jane was still much too over dressed for the occasion. And so Maura reluctantly released Jane's leg and moved up further until they were face to face. She caught the frustrated groan from Jane's lips with her own.
"This," she whispered, indicating Jane's full lower lip with another kiss. "This is one of your soft spots I have a particular fondness for." She sucked the lip in between her own, nibbled it gently and only released it after feeling Jane whimper into her mouth. Determined to push Jane to her limits she continued, in much the same fashion, to indicate the softness of Jane's respective earlobes, her hairline, and several parts of her neck.
She really was soft. But not solely, Maura thought as she dipped her tongue in the hollow where Jane's clavicles met. The sharp angles of finely shaped bones were easily palpable underneath the skin. As were the tightened tendons of Jane's neck as she automatically pressed her head back into the pillow. This remarkable fusion of resistant and yielding, hard yet silky, was part of what had initially drawn Maura to Jane physically speaking. In her mind's eye she saw another hard, soft part of Jane which she'd always longed to press her lips against: Her impressively taut abs that would undoubtedly have come in the shape of a six pack had they not been encased in an unmistakably female form. True, Jane did not have Maura's wide hips and generous breast measurements, but to Maura the more delicate slopes and curves of her friend's body were tantalizingly feminine.
She wanted access to all of it. And so Jane's shirt was becoming an obstacle. Maura wanted to unbutton it from above and kiss her way along her friend's gradually deepening neckline, but her hands were eager on the verge of clumsily fumbling.
"Jane," she mumbled against Jane's throat when the third shirt button slipped from her grasp for the third time, "I want this off."
The tiny plastic slice finally gave in, and Maura kissed the upper-swell of a newly exposed, bra-clad breast. Jane arched against her, but did not exactly cooperate with the undressing.
Probably too busy enjoying herself…
Feeling a little proud of the effect she was having on the other woman Maura smiled against her skin as she voiced her request: "Let me see all of you. I'm not done with your soft spots yet," she added, simultaneously sliding her hands under the lower and nuzzling her nose under the upper hem of Jane's shirt. The indication of what spot she was seeking access to was clear.
An equally unambiguous permission to proceed, however, was not granted.
"Wait, Maur…" Jane gasped, her words partially undermined by the thrusts of her body against Maura. "You're not going to find… I'm not soft like that. Not anymore, not since… since the shooting."
At the last three words Maura froze, in more ways than one, but only for a second. Then she remembered that she was the self-assured one, the one in control, and she was not about to relinquish it. She was able to and going to give Jane whatever she needed. And so she sat back slightly, her knees on either side of Jane's, just enough to be able to look at and hopefully read Jane's face without breaking the intimacy between them.
"It's really ugly." Jane still hadn't directly confronted the issue at hand, but she didn't have to. She was talking about a scar. This one fresher and more gruesome in appearance than any of her previous ones, and it brought a pained and slightly embarrassed look upon Jane's face.
The pain Maura could understand; the scar had traumatic memories attached to it. Had the roles been reversed, Maura would probably also have been shy about the aesthetic loss accompanying it.
But this was Jane's body, not Maura's, and from a lover's perspective there was nothing, nothing Maura wanted to change about it. It wasn't simply that Maura was able to accept the scars because they were a part of the woman she loved. No, they were a part of Jane she actively appreciated. The thought struck her, not as a sharp and sudden revelation, but as a knowledge she already had and one she would be able to share with Jane without ruining the mood. She was the strong one tonight, she had to be, and so she could make this work.
She stroked Jane's skin underneath the shirt with her thumbs before slowly retracting her hands. "There's nothing about you I could ever find ugly, Jane. Certainly not your scars."
Slowly, slowly so as to not startle Jane, but also in at attempt to not stray from the seductive course she had set, she let her palms slide up Jane's sides on the outside of her shirt, then down her arms until she held both of her wrists. She lifted one of Jane's hands to her face and kissed the back of it, right on top of the small, white jarred line permanently left there by Hoyt.
"Did you know that in many West African tribes scarring is part of a coming of age ritual? They symbolise strength and courage." She held the hand against her cheek, nuzzling into it. "So did facial, duelling scars among upper-class Austrians and Germans in the 20th century." She turned the hand over and planted a lingering kiss in its palm. The intimacy of the gesture – Maura knew Jane never let anyone else touch her hands much less kiss them, and she knew Jane was aware of her knowledge – was probably what stopped Jane from rolling her eyes and complaining about Maura Google mouthing in bed. Instead she seemed to be holding her breath as Maura kissed and nuzzled her other hand as well.
Good. Still on course. I can control this.
"I hate what you had to go through when you acquired your scars, Jane." Maura lay back down on top of Jane, her hands sliding up Jane's arms and shoulders until they were cupping her face, thumbs stroking her cheeks and chin. "But now… Now your scars are another one of my favourite parts about you."
She kissed her friend's lips once, twice, thrice, each time for a little while longer until Jane's breathing had not merely resumed but picked up a great deal and she was kissing her back. When Maura undid the remaining shirt buttons, this time less frantically, Jane did not object.
"Don't say they're beautiful… I won't believe you," Jane mumbled in between kisses.
"You know I don't lie," Maura countered as she kissed her way down Jane's throat, across her clavicles. "But it's more complex than that." With the shirt finally parted Maura's lips continued along the insides of Jane's breasts and further down. "It's first and foremost their statement I find beautiful. They're a testament to how remarkable you are, Jane."
Her lips reached a patch of skin with a slightly different texture and she raised her head enough to see the angry red mark inflicted by Jane herself. It would pale in time, but even now Maura couldn't think of it as in any way repulsive. On the contrary; Frankie and possibly she herself would not be alive if not for that scar. Actually, Jane would not be alive if not for that scar. The scar meant something horrible had come to a somewhat happy ending. She caressed it with her fingertips, traced its outline. Underneath her fingertips Jane's stomach muscles were jerking, and clearly not simply because she was ticklish. Maura smiled at that and let one arm slide behind Jane's back in a half embrace.
"Your scars, Jane… Each of them tells a story of your bravery. Reminds me how lucky I am to be able to hold you like this." A burst of unexpected emotions was sneaking into Maura's voice and she stalled, planting kisses around the small scar until she was sure she could go on without stuttering. "Your scars lay it out there for the world to see that you are a preciously living, fragile human being who can break." She laid her cheek on Jane's abdomen for a moment and felt the muscles flexing beneath her.
Just like I thought she would be. Strength beneath the softest skin possible.
"But they also prove the exact opposite: That you are able to heal, to overcome the most incredible things." She kissed the scar again. She couldn't help it. "You see, it's not about being either strong or vulnerable," she whispered against Jane's stomach which was by now flushed, hot and heaving. "It's about being strong enough to survive being vulnerable."
In that moment a pair of warm hands grasped for Maura's waist, pulled and tugged her up towards the headboard until she was eye-level with Jane and they both lay on their sides.
"Maur." Jane squeezed her shoulder and caught her eyes. Gone was any trace of embarrassment or insecurity; all Maura saw was an earnest look of affection that took her breath away. "I could say the exact same thing to you."
It was as if something broke inside Maura as the words sank in and she understood the totality of their implication, of what Jane was referring to. A wall or a membrane that had prevented Maura from truly putting herself in Jane's place and not only feel what she felt, but also see what she saw. Up until that moment.
Being strong and being vulnerable… they do not contradict each other. It was true when I told Jane, and it's just as true now.
Maura did not consider Jane broken goods, though her run-ins with Hoyt and Marino had left permanent marks on her. She did not consider her less dependable or worthy after having seen her scared, bleeding, even dying. Of course she didn't; quite the contrary. However, until this very moment she had not fully realised that the same applied to the way Jane saw her: She herself was not broken or weak just because she could break and Jane had seen it happen.
We're not broken. We're imperfect and enduring and alive.
We're alive and right here.
Another rush of emotions overcame Maura, but this time she didn't try to quench it. Nor did she worry that it might ruin their mood. She simply accepted it, drifted with it and kept looking into Jane's warm eyes through her now slightly blurry vision. And when Jane drew nearer and nearer she received her, let herself be turned over, be straddled and caressed with lips, hands and tongue. It wasn't part of a plan. Maura no longer had one.
And for the first time in months, possibly ever, it didn't scare her. She didn't know what the next step would be until Jane unhooked and discarded her own bra. She didn't know what she herself would do next until Jane's breasts where in her hands, then in her mouth, then mashed against her own; the flesh on flesh the very epitome of softness, yet at the same time almost scorching.
It was at once overwhelming and not enough. She was closer to Jane than she'd ever hoped to be, but she wanted more, needed more. It was not what she'd originally had in mind – this was supposed to be about Jane's needs, not hers; she was supposed to be the strong, giving part, not the one getting off. However, Jane's words a few minutes ago paired with the way she was moaning with pleasure against Maura's neck, around her nipple, into her navel made it obvious that such a distinction was meaningless. Right now her gift to Jane lay in receiving, in overtly desiring, in wanting to be loved. And so she gently grasped Jane's left wrist and let her want be unambiguously known as she guided her friend's hand to the one place Jane had not yet dared to touch. They both gasped at the contact.
"Are you sure?"
Jane's breath felt hot against Maura's dampened chest. She did not move the hand between Maura's legs. From its trembling Maura gathered Jane's hesitation had less to do with Maura's certainty than with her own possible shortcomings.
I promised her guidance. I'll give her everything I've got.
"I'm sure." Maura let her own hand glide lower until it covered Jane's – or covered as much of the slightly larger hand as possible. "I'm sure," she repeated as she began stroking herself with Jane's hand. Even if Maura could have spoken a lie, Jane would be able to read the truth like Braille on Maura's body. Jane's fingertips were instantly coated in wetness; Maura could tell from the ease with which her friend's digits slid between and along her swollen folds. They were a fit, and Maura's hips rose off the bed to encase Jane further. It wasn't how she'd expected the evening to unfold, but it was where it had led them. And this, right now, felt right.
"Come inside me, Jane," Maura half commanded, half begged. She guided her friend's hand in place, but restrained herself from pushing any further. She wanted to be taken. She wanted Jane to do it.
Jane released a nipple which she seemed to have grown quickly fond of and lifted her head enough to look into Maura's eyes. Maura had a hard time keeping them open but made an effort, sensing Jane needed her to. So she panted and heaved but held her friend's gaze, trying to convey the permission implicit to her request.
It worked. She felt Jane's hand move underneath her own. And when she felt a finger slide into her she knew Jane was acting of her own volition. Maura finally allowed her eyes to close and hummed in appreciation as Jane, as gentle as ever, caressed her inside. She put her arms around Jane's back, clawing at it with short fingernails for encouragement.
"Like this?" Jane's voice was hoarser than Maura had ever heard it before and so sexy it contrasted greatly with the insecurity inherent in the question.
"Mmm… Yes," Maura said softly. "You feel wonderful. Only I'd like to feel more of you." She slid her hands lower, squeezed Jane's buttocks.
She could feel Jane's hesitation in the way her body momentarily tensed; she was clearly still worried about hurting Maura, but her eagerness to please won out and she pulled out in order to add a second digit. This time Maura cried out at the intrusion. The pressure was just right, but she still needed more. And so she once again pushed herself off the bed and onto Jane's fingers. She moaned as she felt herself being expanded. Under other circumstances she might have had to press harder, but she was so thoroughly drenched she met Jane's fingers with a minimum of resistance. They slid in all the way.
"Maura!" Jane gasped, sounding shocked and utterly aroused at the same time. "You're… I'm…"
"Taking me the way I want you to," Maura finished for her. "Don't hold back. I want you as close as possible. Closer, even." She pushed herself against Jane's hand again to underline her point and Jane seemed to gather herself together enough to pick up on it and began pumping her fingers in and out.
It was much better, much less gentle, and Maura made sure Jane knew this by letting herself grow louder. Sweat was gathering on Jane's forehead; a testament to her own, growing need as well as her concentration. She was clearly doing her utmost to please Maura, but her lack of experience was apparent. Maura tried to guide the rhythm, meeting each of Jane's thrust with one of her own hips, and Jane was now going as deep as she could, but she was not hitting any of the spots that would normally push Maura over the edge. Of course, her medicine might prevent her from getting there regardless, and as she captured Jane's slightly parted lips with her own she reiterated to herself that it really didn't matter.
This. My tongue around Jane's, our breasts against each other, Jane deep inside of me. Just this.
It was all that mattered. Not because of what it might or might not achieve but because of what it communicated. Beginner or not, Jane was more tender than anyone else Maura had ever taken to bed. Her touches were not just a means to an end. No, each of them was meaningful on its own. Each of them was a non-verbal declaration.
And then there were the more audible declarations. The way Jane was gasping for air. The subdued moans that sounded more like a subtle click in the back of her throat. The way her voice had changed, coarsened.
"You really are soft… I could drown in you."
And then there were her words. They seemed to fall from Jane without a filter now, to drip from her lips directly into Maura's open mouth.
"Softest I ever touched… Deepest… Never before."
Maura drank them eagerly, shamelessly.
And then she realised what Jane was in fact saying, and her words became too precious, too big to simply swallow.
Only me… She's never done this to anyone before. Probably not even herself.
She already knew Jane was inexperienced, but the full extent of what Jane was giving her right now – Jane, who would normally duck and cover at the word "intercourse" – that was the biggest testament of all to the faith her friend was putting in the two of them. The realisation rippled violently through Maura's body and she couldn't possibly contain all of the electricity herself. She needed to give Jane as much as she was taking. Or to take as much as she was giving; it was no longer clear to her what was what exactly. Just like she wasn't sure whether to blame what she did next on weakness or strength or both. She only knew there was no stopping the hand that was currently untangling itself from Jane's long locks. It squeezed between their heaving bodies, slid along glistening skin, then felt its way past the hem of Jane's hot pants and curly hair.
Maura was not nearly as chivalrous as Jane. A hiss like the sound of water coming off flames escaped Jane's mouth as Maura without further ado buried three fingers in her. Jane automatically spread her legs as much as the hot pants allowed, opening herself up. The amount of trust implicit made Maura hiss in turn.
She's letting me touch her like this. She's letting me know how much she needs me to.
They soon settled into a common rhythm. Whenever Maura thrust, Jane would thrust. When she withdrew, Jane would withdraw.
No more barriers. None at all.
She curled her fingers, massaging Jane's abdomen from within through an even silkier softness than the olive skin she had kissed and tasted. Jane mirrored the gesture.
Just us. Me. Her. It's really her.
Everything was mixing. Their scent, their heat, their breaths, the sounds of hands reaching. Jane in Maura, Maura in Jane.
Jane. I'm making love to Jane.
It was incomprehendable. As she reached with her thumb for her Jane's clit, knowing it would push her friend physically over the edge, Maura already felt herself falling. In her mind and heart the orgasm had exploded in one word, one name, one song.
She didn't expect her body to follow suit. But her friend, her lover, her Jane froze along with everything for a heartbeat – then suddenly contracted around Maura, releasing a whimper and a rush of wetness along Maura's outstretched fingers and into her palm. The motion returned full force and seemed to transfer to Maura. She returned each squeeze from Jane with one of her own; into Jane as well as around Jane's fingers until her own body, unexpectedly, went were her heart had already gone and everything flashed blinding white.
Jane came to it first. She rolled off of Maura, then curled into and around her side and began stroking her cheek. Maura opened her eyes and all she saw were Jane's dark brown ones.
"Hey," Maura whispered drowsily.
"Hey yourself." There was a glint in those eyes.
Maura raised an eyebrow. It was all she could raise at the moment. "What is it?"
"Did you also just…?" Even after this Jane still couldn't make herself say the word. At least she wasn't blushing anymore.
"Yeah," Maura breathed out, "I really did."
At that the glint in Jane's eyes became a sun and was now unmistakable.
Nope, not amusement. It's sheer, undisguised happiness.
A toothy and somewhat cocky smile accompanied Jane's response: "Awesome!"
It was so typical of her, so completely familiar and Maura couldn't help laughing. Everything had just changed. And yet it really hadn't.
Only, now she had a new way to wipe that self-satisfied grin off Jane's face. She turned her head slightly, lazily leaning her cheek into the continuous caress. Then, without giving any kind of warning, she suddenly grabbed Jane's wrist and brought two of her fingers to her mouth.
"Maur, what are you doing?"
"Mmm…" was all the response Jane got as Maura licked Jane's fingers clean. She could taste herself, taste the evidence of what had just transpired between them and felt her arousal build again.
Seems I am not suffering from that particular side effect of antidepressants. Or perhaps Jane simply overrides it.
Judging from the tone of Jane's voice and the way her pupils were expanding she was not completely spent yet either.
"Seriously, Maur, I… This is…"
"Working?" Maura suggested with a wide grin before silencing Jane with a kiss that rapidly grew in intensity. That in itself was enough of a green light for Maura. "Good," she said, as she turned Jane over and straddled her. "That means you're ready for round two."
"There's more rounds?" Jane wondered wide-eyed as Maura's lips began travelling down her body.
"Mm-mmm…" Maura hummed in affirmation against a pert nipple. "One of the perks of being with another woman."
Jane arched into her. "You say-" she gasped, "You sayin' I could get this with any other woman?"
"Possibly." Resting her chin on Jane's abdomen in order to look up and meet her lover's gaze Maura added thoughtfully: "You'll have to live with never finding out, though." At Jane's raised, inquiring eyebrow she explained: "I was raised an only child, Jane. I don't share well." Then her lips reattached themselves to the inviting skin below; a curved hip, a strong thigh.
Jane raised her backside to allow Maura to pull off her hot pants that would probably never be wearable again. "Don't worry, Maur," she assured her, half chuckling, half panting; "I am completely yours." And that was the last full sentence either of them uttered for a long while.
Later, much later, Maura was spooning Jane lightly from behind. Once or twice her fingers traced the scar on Jane's back, another lingering echo of the shooting that nearly tore them apart in more ways than one. Mostly she just enjoyed nuzzling her nose into Jane's hair, inhaling her scent, soaking her warmth.
"You're still awake?" The question came out as a partial grunt. Jane buried her face into the pillow and added in a mumble: "God, woman, your libido is like that of a 21 year old boy."
Maura chuckled into her neck. "I certainly hope my technique is better."
Before her hand wandered dangerously low Jane caught it and brought it to her own lips, kissing it in a knightly fashion. "That doesn't even deserve an answer. But please… I need to rest!"
Several possible teasing replies lined up at the tip of Maura's tongue, but she decided to let Jane off the hook and snuggled closer into her. "Alright." She planted an innocent goodnight kiss on Jane's jaw, restraining herself from letting it linger.
Jane gave an approving sigh, then relaxed deeper into the mattress. Soon her breath deepened. Maura, however, was still wide awake. Her always overactive brain would not be quieted, but now she remained still, doing her best not to disturb Jane. She looked at the scar on Jane's back, but she didn't touch it.
In a way everything began with that scar. Jane's near-death experience, my depression, my subsequent healing… our healing. Us.
Her eyes drifted to Jane's face, to that perfectly carved cheekbone currently cast in the shadows from long lashes. She didn't reach out, didn't stir, but she felt something stirring within just from looking at her friend like this. Her lover.
Who am I kidding. This began a very long time ago. And this… tonight…
She wet her lips trying to sum up in words the sensation that swept through her when she looked at her hand in Jane's and thought of what those hands had done, what they had conveyed only an hour ago.
Love. But I already felt that for her. Then there's lust. Definitely. But I've felt that with other people. This is different. It's… more, somehow.
It was the only word she could come up with, and it didn't do her feelings justice. 'More' was somehow unsatisfying; vague and grammatically wrong. She ought to be looking into superlatives.
Not 'more'. 'Most'.
Than still made little sense, however… Most compared to what? She smiled at that thought and the cheesy yet completely truthful answer that immediately followed: To every other intimate experience she'd had.
"You're still awake." Jane's sleepy voice rose from the pillow and pulled Maura back to the present.
"How did you know? I was being really quiet!"
"You're thinking. I can hear that big brain of yours spinning." There was an edge of amusement in Jane's voice, and Maura was about to object, to point out the physical impossibility of Jane's claim, but Jane spoke first. "So what's on your mind." Jane nudged her encouragingly with her elbow. "Spill. Then sleep."
"I…" Maura didn't really want to repeat her thoughts over the past minutes out loud. Didn't think she'd be able to. But lying like this, wrapped around Jane, both of them completely naked and physically vulnerable, called for honesty. Any attempt at deflection would belittle the precious intimacy of this night. And so Maura had to come up with some way of explaining her thoughts and feelings to Jane, even if she didn't fully understand them herself. It felt like venturing into a fog when she picked a strategy without really knowing whether it would lead anywhere or not. "Remember that conversation we had when you were in the hospital?" she asked. "About our sexual debuts?"
"Mmm… Yes. I do. What about it?"
"I told you the definition of first times are subject to cultural and personal variations and asked you to be more specific." She paused until a grunt from Jane indicated she was still following. "Remember the criterion you chose for me?"
"Mmm..." Jane, her face still turned away and partially buried in the pillow, thought for a moment. "The first time you didn't feel like a virgin anymore. Your roommate in college. Yeah, I remember. Why?"
Maura bit her lip, hoping this would eventually make sense. "Well, I was thinking of another one."
"Another roommate?" Jane sounded more and more confused.
"No, another criterion," Maura clarified. "I was thinking of choosing another one for myself."
"Ooo-kay." Jane breathed it out, sounding slightly exasperated, but she humoured Maura none the less. "What would you choose then?"
"I would choose the first time it felt…" The sentence had started out just fine; voice steady, loud and clear, but it lost its course midways and three invisible dots where poking out into the air like a hand begging to be grasped.
Not perfect. No, not that at all. What, then?
She squeezed her eyes shut. It wasn't that no words where coming to her. Quite the contrary. They were all tumbling down in one overwhelming pile, hard to distinguish, impossible to choose between.
Taking a breath she tried anew: "The first time it felt…"
Fumbling, intense, tender, meaningful, overwhelming, loving, desperate, hesitant, certain…
"…it felt right," she finally concluded, then added, semi-quoting Jane's own words back to her: "Like I finally understood what all the fuss is really about."
That got Jane's attention. She turned in Maura's arm to face her as she wondered: "When was that?" Jane's dark eyes were intently looking for the answer, genuinely interested in it, and Maura met them with a just as genuine, just as intense gaze of her own.
And then, as if looking in a mirror, the smile Maura felt spreading on her own face could be seen growing on Jane's.
Only there was no mirror. And thank God for that. It was no reflection; it was all Jane.