"I have a tattoo," Maura offered idly as she turned the page of her medical journal.
Three sets of eyes rocketed to her passive face. She didn't look up.
"Whoa, Doc!" Frost whistled. "I didn't know you had it in you. What is it? And more importantly, where is it?"
Jane swallowed harshly, trying to breathe. She'd seen Maura almost naked on numerous occasions and had never noticed a tattoo.
Not that she'd been looking for one, of course. But still, it had to be somewhere covered by Maura's bra and underwear, a fact that made Jane's mouth go dry.
Maura looked up from her reading, suddenly aware that the attention was focused entirely on her. She furrowed her brow slightly.
"It's a small tattoo," she shrugged, surveying the disbelieving faces around her. "Just a token of sorts. It's positioned near the intersection of my gluteus maximus and gluteus medius muscles on the left side of my body."
Those same three sets of eyes were drawn inexorably downwards, despite the fact that nothing would be visible through Jane's desk or the fabric of Maura's figure-hugging dress.
"I don't know why you seem so surprised," she continued. "The practice of marking the body with ink is centuries old. When Ötzi the Ice Man was uncovered in 1991, archeologists noted the presence of 57 tattoos. In modern popular culture tattoos have myriad meanings and significances-"
"Yeah," Jane interrupted, her voice gruff. She couldn't stop wondering what the hell was tattooed on Maura's ass. "We got it. So what's with our vic's ink? Gang symbol?"
"Unlikely," Maura returned to perusing her journal. "That tattoo is representative of a phoenix. Typically used to indicate strength through rebirth. The phoenix-"
"Maura," Jane gritted, then softened when the hurt registered on the M.E.'s face. "Thanks. Frost, why don't you go talk to the kids at the dorm again- see if anyone remembered anything. Korsak, can you go down to Tech and see if they got anything useful off the laptop? I'm gonna go back through the evidence we bagged at the scene, see if anything clicks. Let's meet back in a couple hours, assuming no one finds anything before then."
The group dispersed, but Maura remained at Jane's desk, looking up at her expectantly.
"Did I do something wrong?" Maura asked.
"No, Maura, you didn't," Jane sighed. "It's just been a long couple days and we keep hitting these damn dead ends. It's making me a little short-tempered."
"I can't help but wonder if you're upset that I have a tattoo," Maura suggested softly. "Many people find them morally repugnant or distasteful and if you-"
"No," Jane exclaimed, meeting Maura's eyes to emphasize her words. "No, Maura. It's not that. I'm totally cool with tattoos."
"But not with me having one," Maura finished the thought.
"It's not that at all," Jane assured her. "Look, could we maybe talk about this in your office or something?" She was suddenly acutely aware of the people buzzing around them.
"Of course," Maura smiled easily. "Now?"
"Yeah," Jane nodded. "If that's cool."
"It's fine," Maura assured her. "Let's go."
Instinctively, Jane offered her hand to help Maura up. Maura accepted graciously, gently squeezing Jane's hand before letting go.
Even the platonic touch of Maura's hand sent Jane's thoughts into a sexual tailspin.
The idea of the tattoo made Jane's mind settle into a hazy fog. She wanted to see it. She wanted to touch it.
And that meant acknowledging that she wanted to see and touch Maura while naked. Which meant acknowledging that she was attracted to Maura.
To Maura- her best friend, her colleague, a woman unlike any other.
In Maura's office, Jane collapsed into an uncomfortable chair while Maura perched gracefully near her on the couch.
"About your tattoo," Jane hedged, unsure how to begin.
"Would you like to see it?" Maura offered brightly. "Is that what this is about?"
Jane nearly choked.
"No!" she sputtered automatically, then cursed herself silently. Idiot! "I mean, maybe later. I just wanted to… I guess it's just… I didn't think we had secrets."
"Oh," Maura's face fell. "I'm sorry, Jane. I didn't mean for it to be a secret. It's not a secret, Jane. I don't want to have secrets from you."
Jane relaxed incrementally.
"I don't know why I'm being so weird about this," she sighed, scrubbing her hands over her face. "It must be the exhaustion."
"You're not being weird," Maura soothed, stroking a hand across Jane's shoulders. "How can I make this better? I'll show it to you, if that will help. Or I can get you a cup of coffee or something, just… how can I help?"
Jane closed her eyes against the image of Maura showing her the tattoo. Sliding her dress up, inch by inch. Revealing her smooth, pale skin…
"I don't," Jane's voice was gravelly, rough. She paused, swallowed to coat her scratchy throat. "I don't really think this is the place to be flashing your ass ink."
Maura flushed slightly, her hand falling from Jane's shoulders.
"Of course," she sounded chagrined, like she was being scolded for breaking some sort of obvious social protocol. "I'm sorry."
"Please stop apologizing," Jane begged. "You haven't done anything wrong. I'm being an unreasonable pain in the ass and you're apologizing. I'd use my exhaustion as an excuse but it's not a reason to be short with you- I'm sorry. How about we get have dinner tonight at your place and if you still want to, you can show me then?"
"That sounds lovely," Maura smiled. "Are you sure you're not going to be too tired?"
"I could never be too tired to spend time with you," Jane replied, reveling in the way Maura's smile softened. "I'll text you when I figure out what time, ok?"
"Perfect," Maura nodded. "Be safe."
"For you," Jane winked. "Anything."
She slipped out of Maura's office and let out a deep, ragged breath.
Get it under control, Rizzoli, Jane gave herself a quick pep talk. Maura having a tattoo (on her ass!) shouldn't make it this difficult to think of anything other than sex.
Sex with Maura.
Maura hot, smooth and writhing beneath her in pleasure.
In the bullpen, Frost rushed up to inform her there had been a break in the case. Maura's tattoo flitted to the back of Jane's mind as every molecule in her body focused on finding justice for their latest victim.
By the time they'd thrown their perp on ice, it was nearly midnight.
Jane cringed when she realized she'd forgotten to text Maura that she'd be delayed.
"Shit," she cursed, drawing Korsak's attention. "I was supposed to have dinner with Maura."
Korsak's face softened and he nodded. "Go home, Jane. I can wrap this up without a problem."
"Are you sure?" Jane hedged. "I don't-"
"She'll understand," Korsak interrupted. "Give her a call- I bet she'll still have dinner with you, despite the fact that you look like hell."
"Gee, thanks," Jane deadpanned. "You sure know how to make a girl feel special."
"Get outta here before I change my mind," Korsak laughed. "And say hi to the Doc for me. And hey, if you should catch sight of that tattoo, you know where to reach me."
"In your dreams old man," Jane stood, shrugging into her rumpled blazer. "I'll catch you later."
"See ya," Korsak returned to the pile of papers on his desk. Almost as an afterthought he added, "Good job."
Jane looked up, surprised, and met his eyes. She nodded once, concisely, letting his words settle over her.
All Jane wanted to do was drive to Maura's house, see her friend, and collapse into bed with her.
Well, not all she wanted to do.
She was held back by the late hour, the knowledge that Maura stuck to a strictly regimented sleep pattern in order to stay at her peak.
Settling instead on a text, she waited with baited breath until her phone chirped at the reception of a message in response.
Dinner's in the fridge. Door is unlocked.
Jane tried to suppress the immediate and visceral way her body reacted to just the thought of Maura.
The drive over seemed interminable, and Jane's eyes began to droop. She was beyond relieved when she pulled into Maura's driveway.
She opened the door with a soft sigh and her heart jumped into her throat at the scene before her. Maura was asleep on the couch, slumped towards the middle, a book held loosely in her hand.
She'd clearly fallen asleep waiting for Jane.
Closing the door as quietly as she could, Jane slipped off her boots and padded into the room. Crouching in front of Maura, she covered her with a blanket and put a bookmark in before setting aside her novel. Unable to resist, Jane pressed a brief kiss to Maura's forehead before moving down the hall to the bathroom.
A brief shower and some fresh clothes had Jane awake enough to contemplate eating- something she'd forgotten to do since breakfast.
Jane heated herself a plate of Thai take-out, stopping the microwave before it could beep and break the quiet of the home. She poured a glass of water and then moved back into the living room, taking a seat next to Maura on the couch.
Flipping on the TV and immediately muting it, Jane turned the channel to Sports Center and dug into her warm, enticing food.
Maura shifted uncomfortably, making a small pained noise. Jane froze, looking over at her friend. She was clearly in the midst of a bad dream.
With one hand, Jane reached over and stroked Maura's arm soothingly, shoving another bite of noodles into her mouth with the opposite hand. Maura stilled for a second before shifting towards Jane.
Welcoming it, Jane let Maura settle against her, trying to keep her Thai food away from Maura's hair.
Maura's head nestled into Jane's lap, her body turned to the back of the couch. One of her hands tucked under Jane's thigh and the other landed on Jane's lower back.
When Jane had finished eating and put her plate aside, she looked down to see Maura was awake. Was watching her with dark, shimmering eyes.
"Hey," Jane crooned, idly running her fingers through Maura's hair. "I'm sorry- did I wake you?"
"No," Maura shook her head slightly. "When did you get here?"
"Like an hour ago," Jane replied, unwilling to raise her voice above a whisper for fear of breaking the spell they seemed to be under. "You shouldn't have waited up."
"I wanted to have dinner with you," Maura sighed. "I obviously didn't succeed."
"That's ok," Jane soothed, realizing she was still lightly combing her fingers through Maura's hair. "I appreciate the thought. And the dinner. And you, you know, being alive."
Maura smirked, giggling softly.
"I'm glad you came," she whispered. "Can you stay?"
"Yeah," Jane nodded. "We got the guy. Cavanaugh gave me and Frost tomorrow off."
"Good," Maura snuggled into Jane's lap, closing her eyes. "You must be exhausted."
"I'm a little tired," Jane agreed. Her hand stilled against Maura's scalp.
"No," Maura whined, grabbing Jane's wrist. "I like that."
Helpless to deny Maura, Jane resumed the soothing strokes.
"How was the rest of your day?" Jane asked.
"It was alright," Maura sighed. "Technician Stewart mislabeled a specimen in the lab so I had to speak with him about the importance of accuracy but other than that it was a routine afternoon. Other than the fact that you forgot about me."
"I didn't forget about you!" Jane stammered, before noticing the sly smile on Maura's lips. She tugged Maura's hair playfully. "Not nice," she scolded. "You know I didn't forget."
"Of course you did," Maura laughed. "But it's quite alright. I know you were busy, sweetie."
Jane's heart stuttered at the term of endearment. Maura didn't seem the least bit affected.
"Can we sleep now?" Maura rasped languidly.
"I think you already are sleeping," Jane laughed, brushing a stray strand of honey blonde away from Maura's cheek.
"In bed," Maura mumbled, though she didn't move.
"Yeah," Jane smiled. "We can sleep now. But you have to move for me to get up."
"I don't want to move," Maura replied. "You feel nice."
"Come on," Jane began to feel the weariness of the day tugging at her. Maura's face in her lap was turning rapidly from a comfort to a torture. "Let's get you to bed."
She gently shifted Maura off her lap and stood.
Maura let out a mewling sound of displeasure that went straight to Jane's groin. Jane extended a hand to help Maura up from the couch and Maura accepted, letting Jane lead her down to the bedroom.
Inside, Maura flopped uncharacteristically onto the bed without even pulling down the comforter. Jane furrowed her brow, trying not to read into it too much.
But something about Maura's behavior- staying awake for so long, falling asleep on the couch, calling her sweetie, refusing to move, not turning down the bed… it was unsettling.
Jane rolled to face Maura, propping herself up on her elbow.
"Hey Maura," Jane whispered. "Is everything ok?"
"Hmm," Maura murmured. "It's fine. Are you ok?"
"I'm ok," Jane replied. "It's just… you seem a little… off."
"I was waiting for you," Maura returned absently, shivering. Jane awkwardly coaxed Maura under the blankets. She immediately rolled into Jane's space.
"I know," Jane hesitated, not sure how to get at the question she wanted to ask. "Why?"
"My tattoo," Maura yawned. "I was going to show it to you. So there'd be no more secrets between us."
"It's not that big a deal," Jane sighed. "I didn't mean to turn it into a big thing."
"That's just 'cause you don't know," Maura's sleep laden voice greeted her.
And that's when it hit Jane.
"Maura," she whispered. "Are you drunk?"
"I had some wine," Maura sounded vaguely indignant. "While I was waiting for you."
It was an answer. But also one that only begged more questions.
Jane tried to imagine what on earth could have made Maura so upset.
"Do you want to show me your tattoo?" Jane coaxed. Her heart pounded as she asked, her palms sweating.
"There will be no secrets if I do," Maura whispered conspiratorily.
"Ooook," Jane agreed, dragging it out. She had the distinct feeling she was missing some key piece of information.
"No," Maura opened her darkened eyes. "If I show you, you'll know."
"I'll know what?" Jane asked.
"Everything," Maura exhaled raggedly. "Are you sure you want to see?"
Swallowing, Jane found herself unable to look away. She nodded slowly, blood rushing in her ears.
Wordlessly, Maura slipped out of bed, teetering slightly. Coming around to Jane's side of the bed, Maura turned to show Jane her back, flicking on the bedside lamp. With one hand, Maura lowered the waistband of her panties and shorts. Her hand trembled.
Jane's breath caught. She thought she might be paralyzed.
There, on smooth, pale skin was the tattoo.
Small, black letters scrawled delicately across Maura's flesh.
Jane closed her eyes against the tidal wave of arousal that crashed over her. Against the fierce bolt of possessiveness that shot through her. Against the shock of electricity that rocked her to the core.
"Do you like it?" Maura asked, her voice husky.
Jane realized she was clenching her jaw so tightly it hurt.
"When did you," she growled. "Why did you…"
"I got it after everything with Paddy," Maura breathed.
Jane's hand was moving towards Maura's body. Jane watched it happen, couldn't control it- she didn't think she could have stopped herself for anything in the world.
"May I?" she managed to bark out at the last minute.
Maura nodded, bit her lip.
Jane's fingers traced her own initials on the flawless skin of Maura's ass. She let out a ragged exhalation and tried to stop her hands from shaking.
"Why did you," Jane began, but found speech too difficult in the face of overwhelming emotions.
"I wanted to remind myself," Maura seemed suddenly sober. "That you are always there for me. That you always have been and you always will be. You're my colleague, my protector, my hero and my best friend and I love you. You make me feel safe, Jane. Like no one else ever has."
Jane's fingers rubbed lightly against the spot. Maura's I love you seemed heavier. Her words from earlier whispered through Jane's head.
There will be no secrets. If I show you, you'll know.
"You," she tried again to speak.
"I'm in love with you," Maura admitted shakily. "This isn't really how I imagined telling you but it feels like if I don't say it now, I'd be hiding something. And we said no more secrets."
In one move Jane was standing, spinning Maura to face her and crushing their mouths together. Stunned, Maura was momentarily motionless but she jolted at the touch of Jane's tongue to her lips and wrapped her arms around Jane's neck as she reciprocated the kiss.
A need for oxygen eventually forced them apart. Jane rested her forehead against Maura's, breathing raggedly.
"I love you too," Jane panted. "I didn't… I never… I thought… I love you."
Maura thought she might explode at the emotions ricocheting through her. She pressed her lips back against Jane's, nipping and sucking until she thought she might pass out.
Jane's hands were everywhere, stroking and igniting barely banked fires.
"No more secrets," Maura gasped.
Pulling back, Jane cupped Maura's neck gently with one hand, stroking her cheek reverently with the other.
"No more secrets," she echoed. "I'm so in love with you, Maura."
Maura smiled, a billion kilowatt grin that seemed to light up the entire universe.
"I'm in love with you too," Maura replied. "So do you… like it?"
Jane spun Maura around, kissing her neck, between her shoulder blades, the small of her back.
"Just let me take another peek," she rasped.
Maura didn't hesitate to expose the skin to Jane's eager gaze. Jane sat on the bed, bracing Maura's hips with her hands.
She let her eyes trace over the letters- her fucking initials permanently inscribed on Maura's body.
"I can't believe you did this," Jane breathed. Unable to resist, she leaned forwards and gently pressed her lips against the inked skin.
Maura gasped, her hands covering Jane's where they rested on her hips.
"It's so fucking sexy," Jane sighed raggedly. "You're so fucking sexy. You can't even imagine…"
Trailing off, Jane put her lips to better use, kissing around the tattoo and then back up Maura's torso towards her shoulders, this time lifting her shirt as she went in order to caress bare skin.
"I'll never be able to look at you the same way again," Jane admitted roughly. "Now that I know about this…"
Maura lifted her shirt off, tossing it aside.
"I hope that's a good thing," she replied, her breath stilted.
"Well," Jane trailed her lips across Maura's shoulder. "It means I'm going to have a hell of a time keeping my hands to myself."
"You don't have to worry too much about that," Maura responded. "You can touch me whenever you want."
"Whenever I want?" Jane echoed darkly, biting the juncture of Maura's neck and torso.
"Yes," Maura stammered.
"So if I were to say," Jane paused, kissing Maura's neck. "Walk into the morgue and kiss you- that would be ok?"
"It would be entirely unprofessional," Maura gasped at the feel of Jane's teeth marking the smooth column of her neck. "But I wouldn't stop you."
"And if I," Jane skimmed her teeth along Maura's earlobe. "Slid my palms along your breasts in your office- you wouldn't mind?"
"I most certainly wouldn't mind," Maura squeaked.
"Hmm," Jane hummed. "Or if I bent you over my desk and licked you until you came- that wouldn't bother you?"
"God no," Maura panted. Turning, she cupped Jane's face in her palms. The sudden, unexpectedly tender gesture made Jane's eyes water. "I meant what I said," Maura added. "I'm in love with you- I'm yours."
"You know I," Jane swallowed the lump in her throat. "You know I feel the same way, right Maur?"
"I do now," Maura smiled, kissing Jane softly. "And I'm very glad. It might have been difficult to explain this tattoo to a lover."
Jane growled, pulling Maura down on top of herself as she laid back on the bed. The position was awkward, their legs hanging off the side, but it meant every delicious inch of Maura was pressing against her.
"Now," Maura purred. "About that whole keeping your hands to yourself business…"
Jane grinned, letting her hands roam wildly over Maura's body.
"A ridiculous idea," Jane laughed. "I don't know what I was thinking."
"Just don't make that mistake again," Maura teased.
"Yes ma'am," Jane replied. "Now, I'm not quite sure I got a good enough look at that tattoo. I might need a better look…"