A/N: So this is the first of two stories that came from the Buffy Challenge in Touch Me. My prompt was "Jane pulls Maura back from the edge, saves her life in more ways than one." There's some self-harm references in here, but nothing too explicit.
Jane zipped up her jacket as she stepped out into the crisp fall night, quickening her pace as she crossed the campus. Her hands were clenched into fists in her pockets, her chin tucked down so her nose was covered with her scarf. She hated Fridays. It meant she had to stay on campus until 9, with a four hour gap between classes. That wouldn't have been too much of a burden if she had lived on campus, but she didn't have the money or patience for that. So she spent her Fridays twiddling her thumbs and sitting around like an idiot until her stupid English class started.
And now that she was finished, she had to walk to the subway stop in the dark. The second problem with Fridays. And of course, the third, worst reason, was that she had to pass by all the raving drunk students stumbling around the campus after being kicked out of the bars. Especially since the fastest way to the station was directly through the street of sorority housing. She had no choice, though, so every night she'd rush through, ignoring the pounding music, the hysterical laughter and chanting.
Tonight was the same as she rushed by, but as she neared the last house, something seemed off. A group had been gathered in a circle, yelling drunkenly at something, but now that she was closer, the group had dispersed, strangely silent for being drunk. Her stomach clenched in that way that told her something was wrong, and she stopped, eyeing them warily. None of them looked at her, instead just walking faster to get back in the door. Jane's eyes darted to where they had been standing before, and she saw a girl, passed out on her back.
"Hey!" Jane barked, the severity in her tone stopping all of the group in their tracks. "You just gonna leave her there?!"
"She can sleep it off," one guy slurred as he swayed slightly.
"You couldn't even carry her inside to sleep it off?" Jane asked angrily, taking a few steps toward them.
"She's…she's not with us," a girl stuttered. "Shewasjust…at the party. We dunno what houseshe's in…"
Jane was just glad she could decipher the girl's muddled words, and she was about to reprimand the some more when the girl on the ground started coughing. Jane's attention was immediately on her as she ran over and knelt down. She carefully pushed the girl onto her side and waited for her coughing to subside, gently rubbing her back.
A weak 'thank you' came from her lips before she was out cold again. Jane turned back to where the group had been, only to find they were gone, dispersed to God knows where. All she could do was sigh and rest her weight back on her heels. What the hell was she supposed to do? She stared down at the girl sprawled out in front of her, her eyes sweeping carefully up her body. The honey-blonde was curled into herself, her mouth hanging open as she took in labored breaths. Her cheeks were absent of all color, dark circles under her eyes. To be honest, the girl looked like death warmed over. And Jane didn't have the heart to abandon her.
She checked her watch. Damn it was late. Jane was well aware of the violence on the streets, and how susceptible she was to it, just for being a girl walking alone at night. She also realized that dragging an unconscious girl along with her would only put a bigger target on her back, so, after letting out another frustrated sigh, she dug around in her pocket for the campus police escort team's number. Yes, it was stupid, but she wasn't going to risk getting hurt just because of her pride.
She dialed the number, told them where she was, and waited patiently, using the time to get the girl to her feet. She slung the girl's arm over her shoulder, the motion rousing the girl slightly, at least enough that as Jane yanked her to her feet, the girl had enough mind to steady her knees, keep herself standing. The officer showed up, eyeing the girl in her arms warily, but saying nothing.
"Where'd you need to get to?"
"Subway station," Jane said, straining as the girl leaned into her, with almost too much weight.
He nodded, and without another word, went to the drunk girl's other side and ducked under her arm to help Jane. They walked in silence, passing by person after person, all of whom Jane would've been scared of without the officer's presence. When they arrived at the fair booth, Jane flashed her monthly pass in a habitual fashion, only then realizing she was taking care of someone else too. She pushed the girl lightly into the officer, so he would hold her full weight, and she carefully slipped from under the girl's arm. Why did her Pop always have to be right? He'd told her to buy extra one-way passes for emergencies, and as she searched her backpack for them, she felt both relieved and annoyed.
Jane handed it to the attendant and took her place under the girl's arm once more. She had expected the officer to leave, but he didn't. He just stood and waited with them until the train rolled up. He gave her a sad smile.
"You're a good friend," he murmured as he left. "You'd be surprised how many casualties we have of kids dying in their own puke, just because someone didn't take the time to turn them over. Much less get them home."
Jane wanted to say something. Tell him she appreciated everything he did, but he words surprised her. She could only stare at him as the subway doors closed and the train started off. She stumbled as the girl swayed and her knees buckled, but somehow she managed to keep them up. She eased the girl into a seat, but she herself stayed standing as the stops rolled by. She pressed the stop request button and waited for the train to jolt to a stop before she went to pick up the girl. She mumbled something Jane couldn't distinguish, her head lolling forward as they walked slowly. It was the only time in her life Jane was glad her house was so close. One hand holding up the girl, the other unlocking the door, she fumbled awkwardly until the door gave way, hiking the girl up the step.
"Frankie!" she called.
He jolted awake from his spot on the couch.
"What?" he grumbled.
"Help me!" she hissed, tightening her grip around the girl.
"With what?" he asked in a gravelly voice as he stood, rubbing sleep from his eyes.
He stopped his movements at the sight of his sister, his hands dropping lamely to his sides.
"Just carry her upstairs for me, will you?"
"Yeah," he managed, rushing over and letting Jane transfer the girl to his arms.
Jane watched worriedly as he swept her up into his arms and started the treacherous journey up the staircase. She expected her parents to come running out with all the noise they were making, when it hit her. Her parents were gone for the week. Well at least that was one bullet dodged.
She ran up the stairs after her brother had made it all the way, following him to her room, where he tossed the girl on her bed and turned to face her.
"I don't wanna know," he said simply.
"You don't," Jane laughed, shaking her head.
He smiled ever so slightly at her, pulling her in for a hug.
"Night little brother," she mumbled as he pulled away and left.
Jane turned to the stranger on her bed. She had to admit the girl was beautiful, probably more so when…awake, but she didn't know. She surveyed the scene, and saw the throw up on the poor girl's shirt. Jane sighed. She placed herself gingerly on the bed next to the slumbering figure, checking to make sure the girl had on an undershirt before she started to undo the buttons. She started at the bottom ones, working her way up. She flushed slightly as her hands brushed the swell of the girl's rather prominent breasts, quick to get the last button undone before carefully peeling the fabric away. She gently wiggled her hand under the girl's head, using it to pull the girl's torso off the bed. With her free arm, she pushed the shirt off her shoulders, then carefully put her head back down on the pillow.
The next step was to pull at the long sleeves of the shirt, and that revealed something far worse than the rest of the situation. The girl's wrists were littered with scars, all the way up to the crook of her elbow. The ones closest to her wrists were fresh, so fresh that her whole debacle had reopened them. Jane felt the air rush from her lungs as she jumped to her feet, her hands flying to her own arms, tracing her own still visible scars. Jane's eyes stung and her jaw set, the room spinning slightly. Her recovery had been recent, but she was in fact, recovered. Her friends and family had stuck by her, and that's all she had really needed. She knew, though, that that wasn't the case for everybody. Some people needed more, and she decided right then and there that she was going to be whatever this girl needed.
Maura awoke the next morning from a deep throbbing in her head. She let out a pained sigh, rolling over. What? She sat straight up. Her bed wasn't big enough for her to roll over. She squinted into the sunlight peeking through the half-drawn shades to find herself in a strange room. She looked down to examine herself, and her heart skipped a beat to see she was wearing a different long-sleeved shirt. Her hands immediately went to her wrists, to find them padded under the sleeves. She gingerly rolled back the left sleeve, revealing a white bandage, written on with black sharpie. 'It will' was drawn in bold block letters. Her brow furrowed and she looked curiously at her right arm. Pulling back that sleeve as well, she couldn't believe the other words she read. 'Get better.' She moved her arms mechanically together, wrist to wrist. It will get better. Her heart beat just a little faster as she read the words again and again, and for some reason, they felt true.
She looked around the room again, taking in more details now that she was more awake. On the nightstand there was a plethora of supplies. A new toothbrush and toothpaste, a glass of water, two aspirins, and a note. Maura reached for the note, setting it in her lap as she read.
Morning. Sorry if you're a little weirded out right now. I know I would be. If you don't remember anything from last night, I really can't be much help. I found you passed out on the lawn of a sorority house, and I didn't wanna just leave you. So yeah. You're at my place. If you're reading this, I had to go out for groceries, but I promise I'll be back. I don't advise that you go, but if you want to, I'm in no position to stop you. There's a booklet of subway tickets in my backpack. You take the inbound line and get off at the fifth avenue stop. And your shirt's hanging up in the bathroom. I hope you're alright. Just know you're not alone. Ever.
Maura couldn't help but smile just a little. She did, however, remember the previous day, all up until she passed out. It didn't matter…
She took the aspirins and chugged the water. It reminded her of some of the worse effects of drinking. Pounding headaches. Throwing up. She grimaced at the taste in her mouth and wasted no time putting the toothbrush to good use. After that, though, she wasn't sure what to do. She didn't feel right just sticking around in a strangers house, but for some reason, she really didn't want to go.
So she made her way carefully down the stairs, craning her head to peek around the corner. When she saw no one, she padded quietly into what looked like the kitchen. After checking the fridge, she concluded this Jane character was right to go to the store. There was absolutely nothing.
Maura yelped at the voice, jumping and turning to face the intruder as the fridge door slammed shut.
"Hey…" she managed warily.
Frankie smiled at her.
"Sorry. Didn't mean to startle you. I just don't usually get to meet any of Janie's one nighters."
Maura's mouth opened like she was going to say something, but all she did was gape at him. He grinned wider at her, then chuckled.
"I'm kidding. Jane wouldn't have a one night stand even if she could find someone. She's too good a person."
Maura managed to conclude from his statement that he wasn't Jane's boyfriend. He gave her a once over as he walked closer, taking a seat and lounging back in a chair.
"You look way better than her in that shirt, though."
"I wouldn't know," Maura said, slightly confused.
"She's got no chest. "
"Are…are you hitting on me?" Maura finally managed.
He laughed, grinning.
"Hell no. Janie'd kill me."
"Yo, Frankie! Get your lazy ass up and gimme a hand!" Jane's voice echoed from the front lawn.
"Yeah, coming!" he yelled back, standing and smiling at Maura. "Don't go anywhere."
And then he was off, out of sight before Maura could protest. Maura watched the door he'd exited from, listening carefully as a few slams came from the general area. Footsteps approached, and Maura gasped as she saw Jane. She looked….well she looked quite nice. Her muscles were straining as she struggled to hold all the bags. Her hair was pulled back in a high ponytail, her brown curls splayed wildly behind her. The girl was gorgeous, as far as Maura was concerned, but what really got to her was how Jane's face lit up when she saw her.
"Hey!" she exclaimed, dropping all the bags at once. "You're up!"
Maura smiled politely and nodded.
"And you stayed!"
Her smile grew a little more when she saw the girl's chocolate brown eyes shining slightly with joy.
As Jane approached, Maura noted the bags under the girl's eyes.
"You stayed up all night."
Jane blushed ever so slightly, her gaze dropping to the floor for a moment.
"I wanted to make sure you were okay."
"You didn't have to," Maura mumbled. "You'd done enough already."
"I don't believe that."
"Hey, stranger!" Frankie called from the hall. "You a pancake or omelet kinda girl?"
Maura smiled a little as Frankie reentered.
"Pancakes. And my name's Maura."
Jane smiled warmly at her.
"Well I see you've met my wonderfully annoying brother, Frankie. I'm Jane."
Maura's heart fluttered slightly as the name hit her ears with the girl's deep, scratchy tone. It was the most wonderful thing she'd ever heard. In fact, she was so caught up in it, she didn't notice the girl had extended her hand. She blushed furiously when she did, in fact, notice, and extended her hand to shake Jane's firmly. The action pulled her sleeve back slightly, exposing a piece of the bandage. Both girls' eyes darted to it, and Maura pulled away, tugging at the sleeve.
"I, uhh, I'll be right back…" she mumbled as she dashed away for what she hoped was the bathroom.
Jane was right on her tail though, blocking her from closing the door on her. Maura felt her eyes burning with unshed tears as her knees gave way. She let herself lean against the wall as she collapsed to the floor in a wave of sobs. Jane carefully shut and locked the door before placing herself on the floor next to Maura. She took the girl's hands in her own, clutching them tightly.
"Hey," she whispered. "Can you look at me?"
Maura sniffled, blinking away the few tears she had to look Jane in the eye. Sincerity greeted her. Sincere worry. Sincere pity.
"You're okay. I know, I don't know what you've been through, or who you are, but you're okay. I'm right here, and nothing's gonna happen as long as I'm here," she murmured soothingly. "I'm sorry."
Maura's lip quivered as she felt Jane's thumbs rubbing the backs of her hands gently, as if any more pressure and she'd break.
"What're you sorry for?"
"I am personally apologizing for the rest of the world. I am sorry that anyone hurt you. I am sorry if the world screwed you. All of that doesn't matter. But I'm telling you I'm sorry, because you deserve to hear it. They don't know what they're doing. They're dumb and ignorant, and if they knew, if they really knew, they'd be sorry too."
Maura's eyes stung with fresh tears, as each of Jane's words lifted a weight on her heart she didn't know could be lifted. She felt like she could breathe again, and all she could do was cry. She was the happiest she'd ever been, and she was crying because of it. Jane didn't hesitate to take her in her arms, hug her tightly to her chest, run her fingers through Maura's hair. She murmured comforting words to Maura, her lips resting on the top of her head. When Maura was sure she couldn't cry one more tear, she took a shaky breath in, shuddering as she let it out. She pulled back enough to look Jane in her beautiful eyes, the brunette's hands never leaving her body, as if her touch was the only thing keeping Maura grounded.
"You're worth it."
Maura didn't mean to, but her body surged forward, her lips pressing firmly to Jane's in a fierce, desperate kiss. The sensation of those soft lips against hers made Maura's whole body come to life. Her heart pumped faster than it had in years, her nerve endings on overdrive. Jane kissed her back gently, but only for a few seconds. Her hands were pulling Maura away, and immediately Maura was in more tears.
"Oh, God, I'm sorry. That wasn't right, was it?" she mumbled, tears spilling onto her cheeks.
This time Jane chuckled lightly, then, realizing the mistake of her actions, reached over to brush the tears away.
"No, I don't think that was the right move in most circles."
"I just…I-I screw everything up—"
"—but since you're not in most circles at the moment…"
Maura peered up at her hopefully, to which Jane smiled warmly.
"How about we go get breakfast that my brother so thoughtfully prepared. You can tell me some vital information about yourself. Like, oh, I don't know, your last name? What you like? Then at least I can have a shot at picking a good first date spot. Sound good?"
Maura's eyes lit up and a smile bubbled up from a place in her soul she'd missed for quite some time. She bit her lip, fighting the urge to kiss her again. Jane noticed and laughed again. She leaned forward slowly, giving Maura the softest kiss she'd ever felt, her lips barely ghosting against the honey-blonde's.
"It'll get better," she whispered as she pulled away.
As it turned out, she wasn't wrong. They ate breakfast with Frankie, and the two Rizzolis managed to keep Maura laughing most of the time. Of course she wasn't better, but it gave her hope. Hope that she would get better. And time was what she needed. Time and love, both things Jane was willing to give her, right from the start. She felt pieces of her shattered life, her broken spirit coming back, as if Jane had found them in the dark. By the end of it all, she'd come to believe the most important thing.
She was worth it.
A/N: I hope you know that this applies to all of you, too. You're worth it, and I hope you all know that.
and yes, I know, the end is sudden, but I don't have the time to make this a full story, no matter how much I wanted to, and I wanted to give you a decent ending. I'm no good with sad.