Jane had never felt so raw and aching, so fundamentally distraught.

It was as if every inch of her skin has been peeled from her body, inch by inch.

Even the slightest breeze was enough to double her over in agony.

Without her, she cannot even function.

Her mind spent all the energy she produced trying to pretend that Maura was still alive.

She was so far past exhausted that she could collapse at any moment and not notice.

Or care.

People were always saying that you don't know what you have until it's gone.

She knew.

She fucking knew.

The past week was a blur that she would probably never recover as a set of coherent memories.

It was probably better that way.

The only thing she remembered, in vivid technicolor detail, was the moment they all realized.

They were standing around the stretcher in the middle of the street, snow hurtling down at them like unforgiving shards of glass, sirens and lights filtering in and out of their awareness, complete and utter chaos surrounding them.

Korsak stood at her feet, facing away. He was the protector, and he was doing everything in his power to shield her from the press, the prying uniforms, the public.

Frankie stood to her left, one hand clutching desperately to the gurney, the other resting forlornly over the badge at his hip as if it might protect him from the tragedy swirling around him. He was her brother, even if not by blood, and he would never fail to do his duty, regardless of the cost.

Frost stood on her right, one hand wrapped like a vice in hers, the other clutching her gun against his stomach as if it might become necessary for someone to fire it, one more time. He was her ally, and he was going to support her until he was knocking on the gates of hell.

Jane stood at her head, looming over her body. One of her hands was pressed to Maura's neck in a desperately useless attempt to stem some of the bleeding. The other hand was whispering softly across her forehead. She was her best friend, and she was everything.

Korsak had been the first to allow the reality to settle around him like a shroud.

A paramedic had tried to push past Korsak to access Maura and he had simply shaken his head, stood his ground.

The young medic looked panicked in his moment of desperation but he quickly surveyed the scene before him, the four officers standing around their fallen comrade, and backed away with a reverent nod.

Jane can only imagine the picture they presented from the outside.

Each one of them guarding their rightful place at Maura's side, covered in her blood, battered by the wind, assailed by the snow, haunted by the previous moments.

Playing them over and over.

Trying to deny what they all knew to be fact.

They were her steadfast guardians, defending her in death in the way they had failed to do in her life.

Failed.

She had failed Maura.

In her one and only duty, protecting Maura, she had failed.

And now, she would pay for it.

Until the day she died.

Dear God, she prayed, let that day be soon.