DISCLAIMER: Don't own, don't profit.

NOTE: I was supposed to write a Part II to my Rizzles ship manifesto, in essay form. Instead, I got this. Go figure.

Their tipping point is Hoyt.

But Jane's tipping point is always Hoyt. He has always been that little extra weight that upends the balance of her world. Hoyt shows up and there are too many people trying to circle the wagons around her. It's her own fault; no one knows that she has safe haven, now. No one knows that when the whole fucking city starts growling at her, nipping at her heels, she can go to an overpriced brownstone in Beacon Hill and be safe.

Safe haven is what alters them, the first additional element to their equation. Because that first time that she goes to Maura, when Maura lives in the rental house and they're only kinda-sorta friends, she opens herself up to being protected. Says "I've never been so scared in my life" and that's all it takes for Maura—Maura, Maura, merciful Maura—to take on the role of safe.

In the morning, she wakes up with Maura's arm thrown over her stomach and their faces nestled together on the same pillow. What startles her most is that she feels rested. When Maura asks how she slept, she cracks a joke about the Buddhist wall hanging putting her in some serious zen space; Maura just smiles at her with that genuine softness in her eyes.

Safe haven leads to guardian angel, when Maura rattles off the specs of a Glock 22 like her oath to do no harm doesn't mean shit in the face of… them. Them, the thing that is Jane+Maura.

(They are a plus sign, not an ampersand, because whatever they are is bigger than just the conjunction of their names.)

Guardian angel is Maura sitting in her living room all night with her service weapon—and how many rules she breaks giving her gun to a civilian, she can't even count—after a full day's work and then going in the next morning like it's no big deal. Going in the next morning and interrogating the fuck out of Hoyt in day-old clothes. Maura is something else, and even when she wavers at the end of the day, confesses her insecurities to Jane, she is still so much more than Jane ever thought to hope for.

Jane watches that interrogation three times, after Frankie shoots Emily Stern. The first time is with Maura, both of them trying to see if they'd missed something, some clue Hoyt dropped. He was careful—answered candidly when asked where Emily Stern was, cattily when asked where her body was. Maura blames herself, says she should have seen it, but Jane just cues the video again and watches Hoyt dismiss Dean as completely irrelevant to Jane. Dean doesn't even warrant an attempt at unnerving.

No, Hoyt smells Jane on Maura the second he walks in the room—and damn those day-old clothes, damn the Febreeze on her couch—and that's it, that's all he needs. Jane watches him hone in on Maura, lay verbal traps and weave a web of threats, and watches Maura maintain eye contact without flinching for a second. And then two more elements tack on to their sequence. Hoyt threatens to rape Maura and then kill Jane; Maura drops eye contact for a split second and only when he says he'll kill Jane.

Since her bedroom is a crime scene—again—she stays at Maura's that night, in Maura's king bed with the laptop on her left. Maura, exhausted, falls asleep quickly and curled into Jane's right side, but she stays up and watches the recording for a third time. They've unbalanced themselves, unraveled themselves, and in front of Hoyt. She looks down at Maura, sleeping for the first time in forty-eight hours, and thinks, We are so fucked.

Then she accidentally tells Maura she loves her, because she thinks she's speaking to Paddy Doyle. And it's only through the grace of God—because she's Jane Rizzoli and nothing besides the apocalypse can get her to say "I love you" to anyone—that it doesn't blow up in their faces. Because she's Jane Rizzoli, what she really says is "Whatever you want, I can get it," and Maura is sufficiently rattled by being kidnapped by her biological father to never bring it up again.

Could she even know what Jane was really saying? For Boston Homicide to pick up the phone on hostage negotiations with Paddy Doyle and open with whatever you want, I can get it is betrayal of the Order. If it was really Paddy on the line and he asked her to hand over every box of files on him, if he asked her to be his eyes and ears—he could have owned her from the second she picked up that phone and as long as she got Maura back without a hair out of place, she would have let him.

(Whatever you want, I can get it. Sometimes she whispers it to whatever is behind the stars.)

What she does is just as bad. She takes that phone and goes up to the bullpen, flips it open, dials and keeps it in her hand as she goes over to Frost and says "So it's Tommy O'Rourke, for sure?" And then she hangs up and gives the phone to CSRU.

Element 6: Jane is a dirty cop, now, for Maura.

On a scale of one to Marino, she's maybe a 3, so it doesn't fuck with her too much—because in the end, none of the worst possibilities happened, Maura came home safe and no one will come after her again—especially not in the haze of morphine of that autumn. What actually fucks with her is waking up to Maura slumped over the edge of her hospital bed wearing MassGen issue scrubs while Ma sits next to Frankie's bed on the other side of the curtain. What fucks with her is that when she manages to make enough consistent sounds to resemble "Maura" and tries to smile, all she gets in return are red-rimmed, weeping hazel eyes and a fervent, whispered Thank God.

Maura doesn't believe in God and doesn't leave her side for the next three days. Jane's been out for four and Maura apparently hasn't left her for any of those days, either. They all try to get her to go home, but she just shakes her head, uses her credentials to get into the physician's locker room to shower and change into fresh scrubs. Jane refuses to let her sleep in the chair for any additional nights and Maura doesn't fight it, just curls into the narrow space between Jane's hips and the bed rail and whispers Don't ever leave me into her ear. It sounds like Thank God and Jane is so hopped up on morphine that for months afterward, she thinks she dreamt the whole thing.

She realizes it was real when, after the hero bullshit banquet (where Maura, a civilian, sits next to her at her squad's table, when all the other civilians including her own mother sit at the back tables) and the car explosions, Maura runs through the fire zone and skins her knees on the sidewalk and holds Jane close and says, over and over, Stay with me, stay with me, stay with me.

But then it all goes back to normal, easy, Jane+Maura. Maura dates guys. Jane maintains this… thing… with Casey. Rizzoli drama expands and Maura's involved and maybe, maybe it's all okay, it's just an expanding family. Jane almost believes it.

But then Ian happens, and Jane has to laugh, because who the fuck was she kidding? She's never once believed that they are friends or family. They are nothing so tame.

Every hour that Maura doesn't talk about Ian becomes an hour Jane devotes to not throwing up on her shoes. Every second of sitting on the counter watching Maura not meet her eyes and not touch her the way she always does becomes a second of Jane feeling crazy and paranoid and worst of all, fucking stupid. Because even if Maura is not her friend, she is Maura's friend. She doesn't know which relationship spurs her to run Ian's name, doesn't know which relationship makes her tell Maura, but it is as Maura's friend that she listens to the words "the love of my life" and it is as Maura's friend that she offers to drive her to the airport.

Jane herself wants to call Interpol to give them a heads up and then do a victory dance when she realizes he's gone. Jane herself wants to wrap Maura up in her arms when she starts to cry and just say, over and over, It will be okay, I will love you better and truer, it will be okay. Jane herself merely tucks Maura in when she is all cried out and then pukes up everything she's eaten in the past two days in the courtyard out front.

And then a prison release murder becomes another Hoyt rabbit hole, and he is so goddamn good at rabbit holes. She's so shocked at his presence that she doesn't realize that he's spinning webs again. Fat cop goes, but the good Doctor Isles can stay. Webs, webs, webs. Hoyt always plays the long game and Jane's forgotten everything but the old lesson: a gambit is a sacrifice.

Up until the taser baton starts buzzing, she is resigned to being that sacrifice. As long as Hoyt keeps his eyes on her. As long as Hoyt acts out all of his fantasies on her, she will try gambit after gambit until he's taken all the blood from her body. But then that blue light pulses and the baton buzzes and Maura makes that small sound—that kitten whimper—and everything in Jane snaps with tension and with whatever their plus sign means.

Hoyt, pressed up against her, holding her down, feels it. And then he looks over at Maura, and Jane feels him and sees the interrogation video and it's all there in his crooked smile. He's always known what she's too chickenshit to say, and he is going to keep her down and make her watch while he rapes Maura, Maura, Maura whose eyes are shocked open, who won't even be able to scream. And then he will cut on Jane, slowly, and make Maura watch.

He will kill Jane but he will violate Maura, body and mind, and that's the last thing she understands.

She is screaming and crying and screaming but all she really knows is that she's driving a scalpel deep into Hoyt's chest and there is blood bubbling out—slowly, not nearly fast enough. And then there are gunshots and her boys, Vince is holding her and Barry is with Maura and there's blood dripping into her eyes but Maura is okay. Cut on the side of her neck, but okay.

And that, the whole three day nightmare, that's the final element, that's what finally pushes into the more that Jane's always felt lingering between them. Ma throws that fucking birthday party and once presents are out of the way, Maura sits next to her and doesn't let go of her hand and all that more blossoms all the way up her arm.

And now it's a year later and they've fought each other and everybody else and clawed their way back to them, Jane+Maura. Jane isn't stupid. She is fully aware that Maura stops dating, which means Maura isn't having sex, and Jane tries not to focus on that. She tries to tell herself that it's because of Ian, that Maura won't settle for anyone less than the love of her life. She tells herself that when she goes to talk to Casey, because maybe they're both destined to be with men who don't know how to stick around. She keeps telling herself that no matter how hard it gets, tells herself when she wakes up in Maura's bed again and again: Maura loves Ian.

(But Maura didn't get on a plane, she walked into a jail.)

And then she can't say it anymore, because Maura is snuggling with her on a mattress on her living room floor, sniffling from a cold and drinking wine slowly like she has no plans to go anywhere—and where would she go? Neither of them can sleep alone anymore. Maura curls in close and listens to her dumb ideas about a wedding she won't ever have and asks, in the smallest voice Jane can remember hearing, Can I come?

She wants to say, "Can I propose first? Jesus."

She wants to say, "You're kind of important for the whole thing, so yeah, I guess you can come."

She wants to say, "Only if you kiss me first."

She says, "Maybe."

Maura laughs, Jane relaxes, they chat and doze and chat and doze and then at four in the morning when it's actually cold and they cuddle together under the blankets, more is not solid enough. She needs to know exactly what they are, what this weight, this push between her ribs, is.

Maura wakes up when Jane shifts, murmurs something sleepily, and curls deeper into her arms. It's just that easy, then, to whisper in her ear, kiss from her earlobe to her lips, greet her the way she's longed to every morning.

Hoyt's been dead for over a year and maybe Jane does want to get married, and maybe if they get married at Fenway they can blow a ton of cash on a honeymoon in Santorini. Maybe they're more than a pair, maybe the weight of all the ways they say I love you pushes them up a class entirely.

Maybe Maura kisses her back, still drowsy but happy and awake enough to whisper Finally. Maybe Maura's been waiting for her all this time.

(Maybe, in the morning, when Jane tries to explain how she needed them to add up to something she could understand, first, Maura will smile and get it and kiss her stupid mouth, again and again and again.)