Maura rolled over onto her back, inhaling deeply through her nose and out through her mouth.
It didn't help.
Sleep seemed to be so elusive these days.
Ever since she'd had that conversation about Jane's fantasy wedding, her mind refused to think of anything else. It was always there, lurking in the background.
She had been next to Jane on that damn mattress, talking about her wedding, and it had popped into her brain unbidden and completely unexpected.
Out of left field.
Elegance is overrated.
In that moment, it was overwhelmingly clear to her. Elegance was overrated. That's what she'd thought to herself.
And she had pictured herself in her dream wedding gown standing across from Jane, home plate between them. In her mind's eye Jane wasn't wearing a Red Sox jersey but she was wearing a mile-wide grin.
They would do everything else Jane wanted- host a reception on the pitcher's mound, offer peanuts instead of rice, drink frozen lemonade...
Without analyzing why, exactly, Maura found herself Googling 'Fenway weddings.'
How much would it cost? How far in advance did you have to book? What kind of catering options were available?
She tried not to read too much into, to pretend she was interested so that she could help Jane plan her wedding when the time came.
But deep down she knew she wanted to be planning that wedding as the bride. The other bride.
When she walked out of the bullpen, she wanted Jane to be waiting for her at the plate.
And she kept replaying Jane's response over and over again.
"Can I come?"
It was far from the answer she was hoping for.
At the moment when she asked, she hadn't even realized what answer she wanted.
But in retrospect it was so painfully obvious.
She had wanted Jane to say, "I wouldn't be getting married if you weren't there."
Or something to that effect.
Something like, "Of course- I want to marry you, Maura. I love you."
So in that moment, Maura was surprised by her own disappointment.
She was taken aback by the sinking feeling in her stomach and it had taken her three and a half days to figure out why.
Now, she simply couldn't stop thinking about it.
Every fantasy she had ever entertained about her wedding paled in comparison to the seed Jane had planted about her baseball wedding.
No elaborate centerpiece or well-arranged musical composition or coordinated bridesmaid and groomsmen attire seemed to matter when she conjured up her fantasy wedding and Jane wasn't standing across from her.
It was quite bothersome.
Everything else in their relationship looked different in this new light. She thought back over the history of their friendship and began to notice things- thoughts, feelings, fleeting touches.
Things that had seemed so innocent or unimportant at the time took on entirely new meanings.
Innocuous teasing looked like flirting. Friendly contact seemed like romantic touching. Helpful favors felt like loving gestures.
When she stepped back to really look objectively at the situation, all the indicators lead her to one conclusion- they had been dating for months.
She wondered if Jane knew.
If she should tell her.
How she would tell her.
How to broach the terrifying revelation that she wanted to be the one across from Jane at home plate.
How to tell Jane that home was with her, whether it be at a plate in a ballpark or a cramped apartment or her sprawling urban home.
And that maybe haunted her.
All week long, it rang in her ears.
Echoed down empty corridors.
Haunted her office.
She couldn't shake it.
And she began to wonder.
To obsess, really.
Why wouldn't she be invited to Jane's wedding?
They were colleagues, friends…
If not the bride, she should be the maid of honor… a bridesmaid… something.
She should be invited, at the very least.
It crawled into her consciousness and took root.
She couldn't shake it.
By Friday, it was all she could think about.
They were supposed to meet for dinner after Jane's pick-up game with Frankie. Maura decided to meet them at the court, to ask Jane about her equivocating answer as soon as possible.
There would be no peace for her until she confronted Jane.
She finished her reports and arrived just in time for the game to wind down. She chatted with Frankie and Jane for a minute before Frankie skittered away.
"Is everything ok?" Jane asked as soon as he disappeared. "I was going to meet you after I showered."
"Why wouldn't I be invited to your wedding?" Maura blurted.
Jane's brow furrowed, her eyes narrowing as she tired to put Maura's question in context.
"What?" she asked.
"You said, maybe," Maura replied. "Why wouldn't I be invited?"
Jane was still looking at her as if she'd gone completely crazy.
Maybe she had.
"When you talked about your fantasy wedding," Maura explained in exasperation. "I asked if I could come and you said, maybe. Why wouldn't you invite me?"
The look on Jane's face made Maura's gut tighten and she licked her lips nervously. There was something in her eyes that made Maura shrink away. Perhaps it hadn't been such a wise idea to approach Jane about this.
She hadn't really considered how the answer might make her feel.
Now, it seemed like it was going to hurt.
"On second thought," Maura recanted softly. "Perhaps you shouldn't tell me."
"Maura," Jane's voice was placating, gentle. Confused and pleading.
"Don't, Jane," Maura shook her head, crossing her arms protectively across herself. "It was silly of me to ask. I'm sure you were only teasing."
"I was," Jane assured, but there was that something again, lurking in the background.
"Of course," Maura plastered on a smile as best she could. "I don't know why I'm being so ridiculous."
She wondered when it had become so easy to lie.
"Maura," Jane skimmed Maura's arm with a soft hand. "Are you ok? I was just joking around. Of course you'd be invited to my wedding…"
The fleeting touch awoke every nerve end in Maura's body.
"I can't help but think there was more to it than that," Maura admitted. Her voice was tremulous, wavering, but she spoke anyways. The truth had to be voiced, no matter how hard. "Is… is there?"
Jane opened her mouth but then immediately closed it. She looked away, her eyes fixed on some distant point over Maura's shoulder.
When she looked back, her eyes were filled with abject helplessness. Fear.
She'd never seen Jane look so despondent, so unsure, so afraid.
It tore at her, dug into her skin like a million tiny pinpricks.
"I'll play you for it," Maura looked down at the ball resting on Jane's hip.
"What?" Jane scoffed, her eyes meeting Maura's.
"I'll play you for it," Maura repeated, holding the gaze.
Jane's brow furrowed.
"Come on," she groaned. "Be serious."
"I'm quite serious," Maura assured her, swallowing harshly. "If I win, you have to… acknowledge it. If you win, we'll continue pretending for as long as you'd like."
Jane appraised Maura for a long minute. Maura barely resisted the urge to fidget under the scrutiny.
"Ok," Jane nodded, tossing the ball to Maura. "Deal."
Maura caught the ball, barely managing to catch it and keep her balance.
"What?" she was surprised Jane had acquiesced.
"Deal," Jane repeated gruffly. "We'll play for it. First to ten. Loser gets ball. Check."
Jane crouched slightly into a defensive position. Maura looked at the ball and then back at Jane.
This was how they were going to determine the fate of their relationship? She suddenly hated herself for suggesting it.
Jane was bound to wipe the floor with her.
But it was better than nothing, she supposed.
"Check," Maura echoed, bounce-passing the ball to Jane. Jane returned it immediately.
Maura dribbled uncertainly for a moment before attempting to drive the basket. Jane easily blocked her, forcing Maura back out towards the foul line.
Maura took her time, tried to think strategically. She had watched Jane play basketball countless times and could predict the way she'd move with some amount of accuracy. She used it to her advantage, changing directions without warning and putting in an easy lay up.
"1-0," Maura recited.
Jane looked at her with wide eyes, clearly impressed.
She checked the ball wordlessly. Maura tried valiantly to defend against Jane's drive but it was hopeless.
Defense was about instinct.
Jane scored easily.
"1-1," she chirped. "Check."
She tossed the ball to Maura. Maura caught it, brushed some hair from her face.
The game continued, growing increasingly antagonistic.
Half an hour later it was 9-8 in Maura's favor. They were both sweating and panting and Maura could see the fear in Jane's eyes.
"Check," Jane passed her the ball. Maura rested the ball on her hip.
"We don't have to," she offered softly.
Jane looked at her for a moment, trying to put meaning behind the words. Maura could tell the second it dawned on her. That she understood Maura was trying to offer her an out.
"Check," Jane reiterated, a hint of anguish in her tone.
"Jane," Maura tried again, soft, understanding.
"Check," Jane repeated, harsher. Her teeth were gritted, her jaw clenched. "Do it."
With a deep breath, Maura shot the ball from where she was standing.
They both watched it arc through the air, agonizingly slow, and fall through the hoop with a swish.
In any other time, at any other place, Maura would have been elated. Would have bragged.
Nothing but net.
Might even have done a tacky, unsportsmanlike victory dance.
As it was, she was so nervous she thought she might be sick.
The ball bounced for a moment before rolling to a stop against the chain-link fence.
Jane's back was to her, shoulders rigid, spine straight.
Maura wanted to reach out, to broach the distance between them, to offer Jane a chance to forget the silly deal…
But she didn't know how.
Didn't really want to.
She wanted to know.
Needed to know.
So she waited.
Jane didn't move, and other than the steady rise and fall of her shoulders that indicated she was breathing, there were no signs of life.
Maura's panic began to grow. The fear ballooned inside of her, filling every crack and crevice until even breathing hurt.
"Jane," she whispered when the waiting became unbearable.
"Of course I want you at my wedding," Jane responded, her voice guttural. She didn't turn around. Her voice was barely loud enough to be heard. "But I don't want you to be a guest. Ok? There. You win."
And without waiting for Maura to respond, Jane stormed away.
Baffled, fear warring with elation, Maura walked over and picked up the ball.
She hated guessing. Hated connecting the dots.
That wasn't her job- it was Jane's.
Maura compiled facts, data, information. She ran tests within defined limits, clear parameters. She controlled for externalities. She presented scientific certainty.
Someone else made the leaps in logic.
But here she was, trying desperately to connect the dots Jane had just left painfully unconnected.
She wanted Maura at her wedding.
She didn't want Maura to be a guest.
If you're at a wedding and you're not a guest…
You were the bride. Or the groom. Or the minister. Perhaps the caterer, photographer, or wedding planner… a wedding crasher, even.
There were too many variables. Too many options.
The hope that flared to life inside her was tempered by her rational mind.
What was Jane trying to tell her?
Maura berated herself for the silly bet, for pressing the issue, for forcing Jane's hand.
Lost in thought, she was startled when someone grabbed her, fusing their lips together.
Her body responded before her mind. Her body knew that smell, that heat, that touch, even before her brain processed it.
Jane was kissing her.
Not a particularly chaste kiss either.
She was licking and nipping Maura's lips, cupping her cheeks with both hands. Her lips and tongue were demanding, unrelenting. The basketball was trapped between them.
"I'd consider wearing something other than a jersey," Jane admitted raggedly, pulling back to rest her forehead against Maura's.
Maura's breath was coming in sawing, gasping pants. She was dizzy, and her body swayed instinctively towards Jane's. Her fingers were turning white against the ball.
Jane's hands were still gently cradling her cheeks, thumbs rasping lightly against her.
"And they don't have to throw peanuts at us," Jane added. "I'm not sure I want to give the people in my life shelled foods to chuck at me."
"Jane," Maura breathed tremulously.
There was too much stimuli to process at once.
Jane had… had kissed her. Was touching her, firmly and possessively. Wasn't backing away or running.
"I'm wearing a real wedding dress," Maura blurted.
She flushed slightly.
It was the first thing that had popped into her mind. She was fine with all Jane's other fantasy ideas, but Maura was wearing a wedding gown, damn it.
"I'd expect nothing less," Jane whispered, kissing Maura again.
Maura dropped the ball and wrapped her arms around Jane's shoulders, pulling her close. She opened her mouth greedily, deepening the kiss. Jane groaned, her tongue seeking Maura's. Jane's hands skimmed Maura's hips covetously, holding her tightly.
"And about the hotdogs," Maura mumbled against Jane's lips.
"Maura," Jane groaned playfully, silencing her with another bruising kiss.
"I just think we should be sure they're 100% beef-"
"I'll play you for it," Jane sassed, nipping Maura's lower lip.
"You're on," Maura replied, pulling Jane impossibly closer. "But… in a minute."