"I love this song," Maura sighed dreamily. "It's so beautiful."
Standing, she closed the distance between herself and Jane. Jane looked up at Maura warily from the uncomfortable sofa, her eyes narrowing in suspicion.
Maura extended her hand to Jane, immensely satisfied that it wasn't shaking. She tried to exude calm, confidence.
Inside, she was terrified.
"It's just a dance," she coaxed softly. "What's the worst that could happen?"
Jane looked poised to protest, to offer a thousand things that could go wrong, a million reasons why it was a bad idea.
Instead, she remained unmoving, her dark, shimmering eyes searching Maura's for something.
Maura wasn't sure what Jane was looking for.
The longer she stood there, empty palm outstretched towards Jane, the more her confidence wavered.
The more her lips trembled, the more her heart pounded, the more her mind raced.
She waited, agonizingly long moments passing. And she began to doubt.
She began to doubt the things she'd started to believe, very late at night. She doubted the assurances she had given herself. The encouragement she had offered herself.
Because she had needed it.
At some point, she had realized she was falling in love with Jane.
And she thought… some girlish, foolish part of her thought Jane might return those feelings.
To keep from going absolutely mad, Maura had let herself think that. Had told herself, only under cover of darkness, that Jane found her attractive too. Wanted to kiss her too. To date her too.
Might be in love with her too.
Now, that seemed too preposterous to fathom.
Maura let her hand fall back by her side.
"I'm just not in the mood," Jane rumbled, her voice a sorrowful rasp against Maura's skin. Maura's eyes fluttered closed and she swayed slightly, as if they were ocean bound and had just sailed out into rough seas.
Calling on every ounce of social grace drilled into her as a child, Maura managed to nod. Her lips turned up in a rough approximation of a smile.
"Of course," she demurred, but her voice was so hoarse she hardly recognized it. "Perhaps another time."
Jane didn't respond. Maybe it was better that way- silence meant she didn't have to lie.
"If you'll excuse me," Maura mumbled, stumbling blindly towards the door. She needed air- it was suddenly impossible to breathe in her office.
"Maura wait," Jane's voice chased her. "Come on, Maur."
Maura moved towards the elevator on autopilot, single-mindedly focused on getting air.
The basement was a tomb and she was suffocating. Being buried alive.
She needed air.
When she burst out onto the pavement in front of the precinct she realized it was cold. Freezing. And she'd forgotten her coat inside.
It didn't matter.
She was already numb.
Without thought to the destination, Maura walked away from the precinct.
She wasn't sure how she'd face Jane now, feeling so vulnerable and exposed.
Her colleague, her best friend… the woman she'd fallen in love with.
She couldn't pinpoint the when or the where or even most of the how but she'd learned to accept it. Awake in the middle of the night, she'd come to terms with her feelings.
In the stark light of day, she couldn't face them.
But late at night she'd move around her home in complete darkness. She'd make a cup of tea and the words of Tom Waits would soothe her, comfort her. His smoky, whiskey-laden heartbreak made her feel just a little less foolish.
Made her feel a little less ridiculous for falling hopelessly, madly in love with her straight best friend. The only best friend she'd ever had. The only real friend she'd ever had.
A woman so bold, brash, and beautiful that it made Maura's breath catch. She couldn't have fathomed the depth of emotion that Jane evoked in her. The sheer magnitude of what the other woman made her feel.
Maura's thoughts raced, her heart pounded.
Everything else was simply white noise. Everything else was just distraction.
She was in love.
It was exquisite.
It was utterly agonizingly, heartbreakingly, devastatingly beautiful.
Maura let every feeling settle over her, wrap through her. She opened her heart and accepted the endless myriad of feelings that her unrequited love encompassed.
Closing her eyes, she inhaled deeply, letting the city air fill her senses. And she thought about the way Jane smelled, how her unique scent was more intoxicating than any drug or drink Maura had ever consumed.
She thought about the smoothness of Jane's skin. The sleekness of her muscles. The cadence of her laughter. The rumble of her speech.
A light snow began to fall but she couldn't turn back now.
She ached for Jane.
Wished, most fervently, that Jane could return her feelings. That she might love her back.
At night, thoughts of Jane kept her from falling asleep. But the excruciating knowledge that Jane would forever be just out of reach kept her from dreaming.
And without dreams, sleep was just a depthless, black chasm into which she plunged each night.
So she resisted.
Fought the darkness.
Tried to keep the shadows at bay.
Inevitably she fell asleep, tossing for a few restless hours before her alarm would blare. The routine was exacting a high toll on her, and she knew her friends and coworkers had noticed.
In the light of day, she considered therapy. Transferring precincts. Confessing.
But at night, she acknowledged that none of that would help. Jane was in every crack, every crevice- every infinitesimal space of Maura was tainted with her now.
And the fissure in her heart, splitting open by degrees as her love for Jane grew stronger, would never close.
So she had waited.
For what, she didn't quite know.
A sign, perhaps.
For fate or destiny or kismet or all the unseen forces of the universe that she never believed in before she met Jane to act upon her, take the decision out of her hands.
And now, she had done it.
Broken them wide open- but she was the only one left shattered, bleeding.
The despair was an omnipresent ache. Always with her, always lurking below the surface, waiting to tug her down.
Her toes, vulnerable in the peep toe pumps, began to tingle. She knew she had to return to the precinct- she didn't have her purse, her phone, her coat… anything.
But the thought of seeing Jane, of having Jane see through her, was excruciating.
At the steps of the precinct, Maura caught sight of her savior.
Calling his name, she moved swiftly towards him.
"Maura?" his concern was immediate. He stripped off his jacket and draped it around her shoulders. She realized she was shivering. "Are you ok?"
"I'm fine," she tried to smile but found she was too cold. "I need you to go to my office and get my purse and phone. And please, don't ask why."
For some reason, Frankie didn't ask anything else. Didn't press or pry.
"Will you please wait inside?" he asked. "It's freezing out here. You'll get sick."
Maura appraised him warily before nodding. She allowed him to lead her inside but she stopped before he could coax her any further than security.
"I'll wait here," she whispered.
Frankie nodded, looked poised to argue, but disappeared without argument.
The next day, Maura acted as if nothing was wrong. Jane tried to pry, to press, but Maura avoided the subject of her urgent departure.
She didn't lie, couldn't, but she avoided, demurred, fled.
Jane seemed to realize Maura wasn't going to divulge the source of her anxiety so she let it go.
The rest of the week passed without incident and Maura began to relax.