See Ch 1 & 7 for disclaimers…

IMPORTANT: DOUBLE POST TONIGHT – Please, please go read chapter 12 first.

Jane turned on Maura's kitchen lights and glanced around at the empty house. Immediately she noticed the baby monitor was gone from the kitchen island. Her hands and fingers went cold and she dragged her eyes to the counter and stared at the spot where the bottle warmer had been that morning.

Her throat swelled tight and the kitchen swam out of focus until she blinked the tears out of the way. Jane realized the gasp in the quiet was her own and she stopped fighting the urge to cry. He was gone. She rubbed her hands up and down her arms as the tears quietly fell. It didn't matter that he'd still be in her life. It was different. He wasn't hers. He wasn't Maura's. And he was gone.

She left the lights in the living room off and felt her way through her tears to the couch, grateful when Jo was eagerly scrambling at her feet, begging for attention the second Jane sat down. She scooped her up into her lap and pushed her head gently away when the dog enthusiastically tried to attack the tear tracks with her tongue. She tightened her arms around the terrier.

Suddenly, surrounded by all of Maura's things, but without Maura there, she desperately wanted to see her. She needed Maura, here, with her, more than anything. Jane fumbled in her pocket for her phone, pulling it out, scrolling to Maura's name when the hollow ratting of the front door being unlocked and the echoing click of the deadbolt stopped her.

Pensively, Jane put Jo down and braced against her knees, words stuck behind a wooden tongue. She wracked her brain on what she would say when Maura turned away from the front door and saw her.

Maura double checked the deadbolt, pausing, hand over the cool metal, loath to turn around and face her dark and empty house. For a moment she debated going over to the guesthouse but Angela would tell her to call Jane and she wasn't exactly sure how to explain why, in the end she couldn't. Sitting on Jane's couch she had pulled her name up on her phone at least 10 times but couldn't hit send to connect. After the last try she had given up and feeling foolish, lost as to what she would say when Jane actually came home, she left.

With a snap, the lights in her hallway turned on and Maura turned partway around, noticing something white under her hallway table. Crouching down she pulled it towards her and picked it up. She stared at the object. Soft, tiny, white. Slowly standing up, her fingers curled into pliable cotton, squeezing hard.

Unfurling her fingers Maura felt her pulse start to pound. Staring at the perfect little sock, her lungs refused to expand and she sucked in air on a labored gasp. Everything pushed to roll out of her at once. Dennis and his promises of soul mates, raising her hopes, letting him in beyond the surface of the woman she made herself into, letting him push her outside her comfort zone. Dennis, in the end wanting her hands and her blood, her heart was of no consequence.

Then the baby, the calm in her storm and an unexpected chance at a part of life she thought about but never imagined she'd experience. Pure innocence, a balm against the evil in her world, he gave her an unexpected chance to protect for once. To save a mother and a child from the skeletons that haunted her past. She spared them but the cost ached in her.

And Jane. Jane wound in, around and through the chaos, as a friend, as her protector, as her family, before unexpectedly claiming the role of lover in the middle of the turmoil. And then she just let Maura push her away without another word. Left her here to face this quiet house alone.

God damn it. It was not supposed to be like this. Her life was not supposed to be like this.

The first sobbing gasp had Jane on her feet. The next one startled her into motion, cursing as her shin bounced off the coffee table.

The warmth along her back should have startled Maura but it didn't. A familiar hand covered hers with the sock, sliding their fingers together, pressing the cotton between their palms and Maura started to sob harder.

Jane gently pulled her hand and the sock away, slipping it into her pocket before turning Maura around and wrapping her in her arms, absorbing her tears and letting her own run free. This was where she was supposed to be, needed to be.

As her tears slowed Maura pressed herself into Jane and felt the arms around her tighten. This was the only thing she needed. Jane's arms were firm, strong, unyielding, secure and warm. She pressed her forehead into the hollow of her throat. "Jane."

Her name sounded like a quiet plea and it hung between them. Jane pressed her lips against the crown of Maura's head. "I'm so sorry." The words were inadequate. How could she apologize for not figuring Rockmond out quicker, for not catching Lydia before she disappeared that first night, for not realizing Maura's order to stay was a plea to come hold her together?

"You weren't at home. I went looking for you, but you were here." Maura pulled back, finally looking up at Jane.

Jane nodded. "My apartment isn't." She bit at her lip, trying to explain. "It was empty. I couldn't go there." She ran her hand up and down Maura's back, unable to stop the brush of her lips against Maura's forehead, peppering her words against warm skin. "I want to come home."

Confused, Maura said the first thing that came to mind. "You want to move in here?"

"No!" When Maura's face fell, Jane struggled to build a coherent sentence from the words tumbling along the tip of her tongue. "Wait. Not no, someday, but that isn't…" Jane kissed Maura's forehead again, letting her touch linger, taking a deep breath, trying to slow down.

She opened her eyes into Maura's. Those eyes. Those god damn beautiful eyes. "Damn it." Lowering her head, Jane groaned in relief when Maura met her halfway.

It was everything Maura felt before and more. The touch sparked from her lips and singed down, ripping over her thighs. Maura grasped the hair at the nape of Jane's neck, drawing her down, pushing their mouths together harder, her senses burning. This was what she needed.

Jane shuddered as Maura traced her way along her lips, drawing the peak gently between her lips and against the flat of her tongue, swirling along and sliding forward. Embers from earlier roared back to life unchecked, with each touch, scorching words and reason away. She needed this.

The second Jane's hands slid under her top, along the bare skin of her abdomen, Maura poured herself into the kiss, needing the touch, needing more. Breaking away, with a light gasp, they stared at each other. Looking at Jane, meeting her gaze, Maura felt her hands start to shake. She stepped into Jane.

She had lost the baby. Maura pressed forward, pushing lightly backward with another step.

She had almost lost her life. Another step, Jane's breathing was becoming rough, unregulated and her irises were piercingly dark. Maura closed her eyes briefly as hands rubbed along the dip of her waist.

She was not losing this.

Jane ran her hands up Maura's sides, smooth skin gliding by, groaning as lips torched a path up her neck and over her jaw before stealing her breath and taking control. Deft hands pulled at her jacket, tugged at her top, lips left her skin as she helped both come off. Her tank top slipped over her head and her bra was ripped off her arms. The cool air wrapped around her skin, and Jane shuddered.

Pulling Maura up and in, Jane captured Maura's lips asking silently for more, moaning at the flush press of their bodies and the answering stroke of a tongue against her own and curves grinding closer.

Maura skated palms over puckered nipples, ran peaked flesh through her fingers. Jane's hands wound into her hair and kept her close, sharing kisses, sharing breath.

Jane tried to breathe, tried to focus, Maura's hands were sliding purposefully down her ribs, along her sides, fingertips pushing under her waistband, palms pressing down against her flesh. Teasing until she was running her hands up and down Maura's back helpless. There was the sudden loss of touch and the tug of her belt being pulled apart, the metal teeth of her zipper lowering.

Maura pressed Jane against the wall, bringing her lips close, hovering, waiting for permission.

"Please Maura."

Maura pressed forward, kissing her slowly, drawing out the first dragging touch. Pausing to catalogue the flushed skin, the ragged breathing and waited until she could look into dark eyes. Locked together, she pressed her hand between cloth and tense thighs, stroking lightly, until seeking hips pressed forward and she thrust into wet heat.

Jane's eyes fluttered closed, Maura was pressing in, sliding out, taking her breath, taking her reason. Each stroke mirrored by the touch of Maura's lips against her throat, her collarbone, her jaw, her mouth. Her body writhed of its own accord, reaching for something urgent, vital, pushing towards it faster, harder, winding tighter and tighter.

A keening gasp filled the air as Jane's body squeezed tightly around her, fingers grappled wildly along her back for long moments as Jane held her close and gave her everything, flying apart as Maura continued to press into her and stroke over her. It was fast and it was beautiful.

Jane's body eased and Maura kissed her shoulder and up her neck.

Gently pulling her fingers free, Maura slipped her hand from the warmth of Jane, moving impossibly close to bury her face against the side of Jane's neck. She hadn't lost this. Jane was hers.

Her pulse was still beating hard when Jane realized her fingers were still gripping along Maura's back tightly. Opening her hands she wrapped one along Maura's lower back and slipped the other one into her hair, holding her close, dipping her chin to breathe her in. She belonged here.

When her breathing returned to normal, Jane loosened her hold. Reaching down she took Maura's hand, pushing them both away from the wall, her voice came out on a whisper. "Come with me."

Anticipation built with each step she took towards her bedroom. Maura stroked her thumb along the back of the hand held tightly in hers.

Jane hovered for a moment outside the doorway, grabbing Maura's other hand, looking over swollen lips and tousled hair before pulling Maura in. They came together, perfectly, wetly. Making Jane want to touch, making her need to feel. Breaking apart for air, Jane leaned against Maura for a long quiet moment, combing her fingers through Maura's hair and down her back, grabbing her hand and pulling her towards the bed.

Jane's hand had touched her shoulder asking her to stay, kissing her forehead. Maura watched as pants and clothing dropped to the floor, until every inch of Jane's skin was there to see, there to touch.

Jane brushed her fingers along Maura's forehead, against the side of her face, cupping her jaw, stroking her cheek with her thumb. She had almost lost this. Rockmond could have stolen this moment from her and she knew beyond a shadow of a doubt she wouldn't have survived it. Maura owned a part of her she was never going to get back.

And she didn't want it any other way.

Running her hands down Maura's arms, over her hips, Jane plucked at the hem of her top, looking intently into Maura's eyes as she pulled it free. Her hands found purchase on bare shoulders, her lips found purchase against soft lips before traveling down, memorizing each sound, each taste and the feel of lace over hardened flesh.

With relief Maura felt the edge of the bed pressing against the back of her knees and she let Jane push her down, holding on to her, until Jane dropped down with her, reveling under the weight of the body pressing into hers. Lips trailed a languid path along her neck, marking wetly, taking. Deep in her chest, sounds struggled free when teeth scraped over a lace covered nipple.

Each moan pushed Jane along, making it hard to remember her intention to go slowly, to savor. The feel of Maura's abdomen against her lips and cheek, spun silk over firm muscle, fingers winding in her hair as she kissed along the waistband of Maura's pants before dragging all barriers off and pushing them away. Curves and valleys beckoned. Moving upward, Jane traced a finger along the edge of Maura's bra, hooking under a strap and tugging gently.

Sitting up Maura cupped Jane's face in her hands, taking her lips, feeling the brush of her hands along her back until her bra fell free. Breaking apart Jane slipped it off her arms and there was nothing between them. They sat facing each other and Maura closed her eyes as Jane drifted a hand from the top of her head along the sensitized skin of her neck, over her breasts, and down her abdomen. A rustle of motion and lips sucked gently under her ear, a palm encouraged her down until warm skin covered hers and her hips pressed instinctively up.

Jane moaned quietly as the body under hers shifted, pressing up and she involuntarily pressed back, cupping a hip with her hand and encouraged more, whispering into the ear under her lips. "I told you I was not going to let you be the sacrifice."

The quiet words barely had time to register before fingers pressed against her, covering her clit. Surprised, the moment unexpected, Maura arched into the pressure. Fingers circled, once, twice before pausing. "You can't do that anymore. Not for me and not with us."

Jane watched the body come alive under her. Pale skin flushed, eyes slowly pressed shut before opening blinking, breathing escalating as Maura registered each touch. Lost in limitless hazel, Jane could not stop looking. Could not stop touching. The sketches did not do her justice. They could not begin to capture this. Maura was art brought to life.

Maura reached up and pulled Jane to her. "I need you." Groaning, opening as Jane answered her plea with the weight of her body. Lips blazed along her skin until her nipple was pulled into wet heat, teeth teased as Jane's finger started to move again along her clit in time with each sparking tug at her breast. Emotions, thought, whirred through her mind in chaos, control lost to primal response when fingers advanced lightly inward, teasing, until she gave a desperate arch they plunged in deeply and a cry wretched free.

Maura's call was thundering through her. This was not what she had expected, not what she imagined. Jane had never experienced anything like the moment she pressed into Maura and every sense was surrounded.

Jane took in the sight of Maura's arched neck, struggling with the mounting pressure in her body before she buried her face into her shoulder breathing the scent of her in. She heard the gasping pleas for more and she answered instantly, pushing harder, longer until the body under her hovered, taunt, squeezing her fingers, begging for release. Maura's skin tasted salty against her tongue as Jane sucked lightly before turning her face to bite tenderly down on the pulse point jumping pulsing against her lips.

In a blinding moment Maura felt her body spring free, vaguely aware her breath and voice were mingling in echoing gasps, surprised to feel herself rocketing upwards again, her body spiking for a second time, leaving her trembling in its wake.

Their breathing echoed hard off the walls around them. As her body relaxed, Maura felt fingers slip free and Jane's arms moved around her, tightening firmly, the grip secure.

Jane would not let her drop.

Jane shifted, moving off to the side and sliding down, resting against Maura's chest, her leg along Maura's torso, anchoring them together. Pressed the way she was, Jane realized she could hear the hollow whoosh of Maura's breathing and the dull thudding of her heart against her ear. She tightened her arms and closed her eyes, lost to the sound, listening to the cadence as it slowed.

Her mind clearing, Maura let her hands wander over what places of Jane she could reach. Weighted by Jane's body on her shoulder, her left hand gently stroked the hair against Jane's temple.

"Did I hurt you?"

The words were muffled against her chest and Maura struggled to understand them. "Hurt me?"

"I forgot how sore you were from fighting Rockmond." Jane reached up and kissed Maura's jaw before settling back down. "He came so close." She listened to the heartbeat under her ear. "I can't lose you. I can handle almost anything else but I can't lose you."

Maura felt her heart seize. "I'm okay and you didn't lose me."

"No, you don't understand. The baby was gone and I thought that was it. I lost you again." Jane ran her hand down along Maura's arm, linking their hands together. "After you left this afternoon, I was with Tommy, with Frankie, even with Ma. I didn't want to be alone. I couldn't even head back to my apartment. I was surrounded by everyone and I have never felt so alone."

She sat up partially, looking into Maura's eyes, willing her to understand. "I wanted my family." Jane squeezed the hand in hers. "You are my family."

Maura blinked hard, she was not going to cry again today, not over this. She had been wrong earlier thinking she was sacrificing everything she had ever wanted. She pulled her hand free so she could reach up and wind her fingers in the hair at the nape of Jane's neck, toying with the curls. For all the pain, for all the confusion, for all the heartbreak of the past few days, in the end she had more than she ever thought possible.

Jane's words from earlier bounced back and in a rush of clarity Maura understood. Home. Jane had said she wanted to come home.

She melted into dark liquid eyes as she pulled Jane down, offering her understanding as explicitly as possible, brushing their lips together again and again, until the body above her quickened and she pulled away.

Maura pressed their foreheads together, letting their eyes connect, letting Jane in. Smiling softly, she cupped Jane's cheek, tenderly stroking the surface.

Family in the palm of her hand.

The one thing that mattered the most to Jane.

The one thing that mattered the most to her.

Maura pulled her down again, Jane's plea from earlier echoing in her mind as she whispered the only words she could against her lips.

"Welcome home Jane."


A/N - Much appreciation to anybody who stuck with me through this. I learned through reviews and PMs that I have phenomenal readers. You propped me up through the rough spots and I thank you for it.

I almost hate to say this, but if anybody finds themselves bored, I would honestly suggest a reread on this. It was designed to be much shorter than it turned out to be and reads better as a whole I think.

Now that we're at the end I hope people will let me know how they felt about it. Good and the bad, guest reviews are always left on. I always enjoy hearing from old and new readers alike, either to improve or know you simply liked it, be it now or months after it's complete.

And now that we're at the end perhaps you can see why I might have originally decided not to tackle the whole baby scenario until Carolm007 asked, it's a convoluted thing, children and family.

To me, the story was never about Jane and Maura as parents. That would be only one small facet of having a child dropped into a family so abruptly. Couple his arrival with the questions surrounding his conception and birth, having him arrive on the exact day that he was left and what a complicated scenario. But often something as innocent as a baby can be the most powerful of catalysts. With this baby on R&I there was love and there was hurt, but he exists and he belongs.

With all the outside influences and emotion, can people overcome that? And what happens when they do? That was the question I set out to explore in this story. And perhaps use it as an excuse to put the leading ladies together. Perhaps ;)

Family is dynamic and fluid. Like snowflakes, they are unique and complex up close, yet sparkle from afar. It only takes a moment of heat to melt a snowflake back to nothing, but under the right conditions it forms again.

To me that is like family. It does not take much to shock a family back into liquid state of change. Birth, adoptions, marriages, divorces, troubled adults, troubled children, adultery and death hit families all the time, occasionally seeming to evaporate them and you wonder how they can ever recover.

But time pushes on and somehow everything becomes calm and it freezes back together, unique and new, possibly more complex but no less stunning. Perhaps it comes back together as one or splits into new parts. But together or apart, people's lives become intertwined forever, perhaps by choice, perhaps by circumstance.

In the end, altered or not, it becomes family again.

And it is beautiful.