A/N I will have you know that outside of the original ice pick red herring that was me working the kinks out of this case, this is actually really tightly plotted, and there is nothing mentioned in here at all that does not become relevant. I didn't just introduce a character for one chapter twenty chapters ago for him never to appear again. ;) Actually, this was one of the first things I wrote for this fic, and the prior chapter was actually just to introduce him for this chapter. Next chapter devolves into pure Rizzles fluff, more fluff, some smut, and then back onto case stuff with more fluff thrown in here and there.
Impartial. That was what she needed right now. Someone that she could count on to give sound advice. She ran through her options. Her brother was out. Frankie was just too – unflappable. If she went to him and went I kinda really wanna kiss my best friend because I think I might be in love with her she'd likely get a shrug and an offer of a beer. Her mother, obviously, was out, because even if her mother was all right with the whole being in love with another woman thing, there was no way that she could get impartial advice out of the woman. Angela's first thought would instantly jump into a wedding and start popping out more grandchildren. As if one wasn't enough.
Frost and Korsak weren't exactly good options either, for much the same reason as her brother. Frost would mutter something about it not being fair to pull someone as fine as Maura out of the dating pool, Korsak would mutter something about hoping that her love life wound up better than his, and that would be that. No, she needed someone that she could actually voice her fears about this to. Because she was, honestly, afraid. Afraid of the fact that she was suddenly finding herself wanting to kiss her very female best friend, when every date she'd had over the last twenty years had been with a man. Afraid that Maura just viewed this whole thing as them being babysitters, granted for a much longer term than originally planned on, but just that – they were watching this kid, they weren't a family.
She was pretty sure her knuckles were white on the steering wheel as she came to that thought. She had a family. Or at least, something that she was finding that she would not mind being a family. Somewhere along the line, she'd come to realize that she would not, at all, mind waking up next to Maura every morning for the rest of her life. She would not mind coming home and helping Kit with his homework, teaching him how to throw a ball, how to execute the perfect canonball to get maximum splashage. And that was what was scaring her more than anything. She'd never imagined having a family before. She'd always figured it would never happen because of the job. But now that she had a chance at it?
The only problem was the way that this had all come about. She couldn't have done things the nice, easy way. Normal people fell in love, moved in together, got married, had kids. Normal relationships had a natural progression to them. This, this was the furthest thing from normal possible. This was, they'd had a kid dumped on them, decided to raise him, moved in together, and now, now the more she started to think about it, the more she was realizing that she very well may be in love. Because to even consider her life without Maura in it? It made her want to vomit. The idea of never waking up and seeing a sleepy, not quite all there Maura again? The idea of never hearing a string of muttered half-profanities when even the normally put-together ME managed to trip over a wayward tortoise at two in the morning? It was something that she really, really, didn't want to even begin to consider.
She was glad to see the majority of the cars around her starting up to pull out of the small parking lot as she headed in. Good, she'd managed to just miss the service. She peeked around inside, stopping out of habit to dip two fingers in the fountain at the back of the church and genuflect as she looked around for the most impartial source of advice she could find. This was a man who had known her since childhood, and someone that she could trust to not let a single word of what was said ever pass between them. "What brings you here, my child?" She jumped as she heard Father BJ come up behind her.
"Father Benjamin, I uh – I need some advice." She got a warm smile in return, as the man lead her back towards the rectory, the same familiar path they had traced the last time, and the same two tumblers and bottle of Laphroig set between them.
"What can I help you with, Jane?" She paused, staring at the amber liquid in front of her, not quite sure where even to begin with things.
"What is love?" She finally just blurted out. Straightforward, and to the point. She wasn't even sure if she loved Maura. Just, no one went out and bought things to improve their wardrobe, or ate nothing but free range organic crap, or stormed out because she was afraid that Kit would love Maura more than he would love her without not having any sort of a feeling there.
"Are you quoting Haddaway at me, or asking a deep philosophical question?" She couldn't help the chuckle, the tension haven been broken slightly.
"I mean, like, how do you know-like, I mean-"
"Relax, take a drink. I gather you're here because of a sudden strike by cupid's arrow?" She rolled her eyes, but nodded, taking a small sip of the scotch offered to her. "And what has you so concerned with this?"
"Everything." She felt cold blue eyes on hers, the same look that had been cultivated over the years to make unrepentant school children cave beneath him. "Really. I mean, this whole thing is so messed up, I don't know what to think of anything anymore. It's like, everything I'd always pictured when I was little just got tossed out the window, and I'm – I'm not totally okay with that. But at the same time, there's Kit now, and there's so much more at risk, it's not just me that's going to get shit for it, he's going to too and-"
There was a long moment where the priest simply sat there, drinking in her breathless tumble of words, before speaking. "Jane, who was the first person you dated?" It was an odd question, she supposed, but she went with it.
"Pauley Sanderson, in the sixth grade." It was an easy name to recall. After all, her first kiss had resulted in getting their braces tangled together.
"And after him?" She thought for a moment.
"Matt Mazziella sophomore year." She watched the priest take a long, thoughtful sip of the scotch.
"No one in between them?" She knew her eyes had widened, even though she was doing her best to will them not to.
"How did you-I never-" She took a long gulp of the whisky as well, she needed it. "No one knew about that." How was it that the man had managed to cut to the point of why she was there so quickly?
"While I take my vows very seriously, and do not bandy about what is said under the sacrament of confession, I may have been informed of something that happened at camp the summer before your freshman year, by someone who was having a slight crisis of faith upon discovering it." She couldn't help the slight gasp.
"My mother – how did she find out? She never mentioned it."
"She may have overheard a phone call."
"But Jess and I – she knew we were friends. We talked all the time when we got home from camp. She was damned happy – sorry – that I found another girl I could talk to."
"And how many friends end phone calls with the phrase, if I recall it correctly, 'love you, miss you, really wanna kiss you?" She knew her cheeks were blazing red more out embarrassment over the utterly cheesetastic line than having her childhood relationship found out. "I will admit, the only reason I recall that particular quip is because of your choice of words." Her cheeks simply burned redder.
"It was a summer camp thing. Y'know, last year of camp, wanting to do something different, something exciting, forbidden. I mean, we went our separate ways by October, just because we wound up going to different high schools. I figured it was something that I'd just, sorta, y'know, grow out of." Jess had been fun, and even though things had never made it past second base in a heated romp under the bleachers, it had been strangely satisfying in a way that she hadn't experienced until she finally lost her virginity. She supposed that alone should have been half the evidence she needed - if second base with a woman was on par with going all the way with a man, she should have figured this out a long time ago.
"Except you never grew out of it." She shrugged. So maybe this wasn't some earth shattering, life changing thing, to realize she was attracted to Maura.
"I mean, since then, I've only really dated guys." There was an unspoken but in that sentence.
"But you've never completely ruled out women."
"I mean, it's so damn confusing. I like guys. Really, I do. I'm not like some man hating stuck up bitch who thinks that men are the enemy. And besides, I get enough shit for things just for being a cop. I hear the same damn dyke jokes every day. It'd be ten times worse if it wasn't just, y'know, jokes. But at the same time – it's like, I'll see some gorgeous woman and I'll be like damn, and it's not cause I'm jealous. It's cause -" She trailed off for a moment. "This is a really awkward conversation to be having with a priest."
Father Benjamin simply laughed. "I know the feeling though, the confusion. I may be old, but I'm not deaf, Jane. I know what you children call me, and I know why you do it. I will say, my reasons for taken the vows were cowardly at first, but I do believe that this is God's will for me. To be able to give back, to serve, to minister to those that so desperately need it." She blinked, taking another long sip of the scotch, draining her glass. Had her childhod priest really just admitted that all the schoolyard rumors about him were true? "And I believe it is God's will for you to have this family that you crave." She was about to open her mouth in protest, before Father BJ spoke again. "God tested Job, and Job came out all the more stronger for it. God does not put obstacles in our paths that he does not believe we can overcome. We merely need to have faith, that every wall put in front of us is one we're meant to scale. Do not think of falling in love with Maura as a brick wall meant to stop you in your tracks. This is something you are meant to climb over, because on the other side lies your salvation" She blinked a few times, her throat suddenly thick.
"But what if – I mean, she only dates y'know-" She'd never seen Maura ever express any interest in anyone other than men, what if she was pinning all this on false hope? What if she only saw those little flirty gestures that they so often shared because she wanted to see them? What if they were just indicative of Maura's social cluelesness and were never intended to actually be flirty?
"I will say I hate that the reading so often chosen for weddings begins with Corithians chapter 13, verse 4, because love is not patient, and it certainly is not kind. But it does protect, it does trust, it does hope, and most of all it does rejoice with truth. Rejoice in that truth."
"But I mean, we've been friends for so long, how can we- what if we y'know, mess that up."
"When the perfect comes, the partial shall pass away. And perfect love casts out fear. What are you so afraid of?" She fought the urge to give a bitter laugh. What was she afraid of? Everything. Wasn't that what she'd been saying over and over again since she walked into the rectory with the man?
"I'm just – she's everything. I mean she was my best friend, but recently it's like, we're raising this kid and I see her with him, and all I want to do is kiss her. She's not just my best friend anymore, she's the mother to our child, and I don't care if we ever get to the y'know-" She gestured wildy with her hands, and Father Benjamin just smirked, "But I just want to hold her while we watch TV, kiss her when she – right before I came here, we were in the kitchen, and she was cooking dinner, and everything was just so – perfect it was like, there weren't any words for it, I just wanted to do something to show how perfect it was.
"Jane, you know that before one gets married within the church, that every couple must go through Pre-Cana classes with the priest that will be performing the wedding." She nodded. "I will say that out of the hundreds of couples I've married, nearly all of them were not half as in love as I can tell you and Maura are. And the last time I saw the two of you together you were trying to convince me you were just friends."
"There is no fear in love." The words were said with a quiet conviction, and she looked up at the craiggy face at the man who knew some of her deepest, darkest childhood secrets. She joked about making up things for the forced weekly confession, because she refused to confess to things that she felt no regret for, but this man also knew what few regrets she had. This was a man who had seemingly endless wisdom, and she felt as though she had no choice but to believe him when he said that. "Well? What are you doing still sitting here, bothering me? Go home, go be with the woman you love. With your family. Where you belong." She smiled, standing when he did, surprised to find him wrapping her in a hug. "I still expect to see you start attending more regularly. It would be a pleasure to have all of you here."
"Still trying to pad the collection plate, Father?"
"Well, we could use a new roof-" She found a scrap of paper being handed to her. "Go, be with your family, and look this up when you get home." She glanced at the slip, and nodded, giving the man a parting handshake, feeling decidedly nervous, but decidedly at peace.