Author's Note: Thanks for reading!

CH 3: All I Want For Christmas

It was around noon by the time the tree was all wrapped up and lashed tightly to the roof of Maura's car. They set off for the ride home. Maura couldn't stop herself from turning to stare at Jane, a huge grin on her face as she watched her friend drive. Jane could feel the eyes on her and shifted nervously in the seat, swallowing hard and letting her eyes dart to the side to catch Maura's gaze for a brief moment.

"Thank you," Maura said softly, clenching her hand into a fist to try and keep herself from reaching over to take Jane's hand in her own. Jane tried to act tough and hard all the time, but deep down Maura knew she was really a softie, and that she tended to bring out the most tender displays in her friend. In that moment she wanted to show Jane that it was ok to be that person around her.

"Don't thank me yet, I've still got to get the dang thing in the stand without wrecking your living room," Jane smiled and focused on the road ahead, trying desperately to ignore the urge to reach over and take Maura's hand and hold it for the remainder of the trip.

When they were almost home, Jane spotted the familiar dollar store sign situated conveniently next to a grocery store and pulled over. Maura crinkled her nose and raised an eyebrow in curiosity. "We need a few more things for the complete tree decorating experience," Jane explained, "I'll be right back."

She returned with one small sack from the grocery and several plastic bags sagging on her arms from the dollar store. Maura could see a few errant Christmas decorations climbing out of the bags as Jane put them in the car. Jane shrugged, a sly smile on her lips as she started the car again, "It's a big tree. I was afraid we wouldn't have enough."

"I got this!" Jane insisted, half buried beneath the lower boughs of the full Blue Spruce.

Maura giggled, clasping her hand over her mouth so Jane wouldn't hear her. She sneaked up behind her friend and reached out to steady the tree while Jane tried for the fifth time to get the stand fastened around the base of the trunk. When a growl of victory burst forth from the branches, Maura removed her hand and smiled as the tree stood.

"Now, we decorate?" Maura asked, reaching to pluck a few stray tree needles from Jane's hair.

"First," Jane held up one finger and made her way to the kitchen, retrieving two mugs from the cabinet and the bourbon and eggnog she had bought at the grocery store. "To get us in the holiday mood."

"Jane, you do realize that eggnog has almost 350 calories per serv…"

"Maura…." Jane cut her off and handed her the spiked Christmas beverage. "It's Christmas. I'll…run an extra mile with you tomorrow if that'll make you happy."

Grinning, Maura took a sip of the beverage and nodded.

There were enough tiny white Christmas lights to decorate the tree in Rockefeller Center. Jane set her mug aside and uncoiled one set, "Always start at the bottom. Weave under and over the branches as you go, like this…" She began to wrap the lights, "Now you," letting Maura take over until the strand reached the point where Jane had to help it to the top.

Spiraled in a string of lights, Jane plugged the tree in to make sure everything was working before they continued. "It's beautiful!" Maura gasped.

"You ain't seen nothing yet," Jane replied with a wink, unpackaging all of the decorations and laying them out so they could take their pick. "Tell me where to start and I'll hang the high ones and then you can do the low ones."

"Better Homes and Gardens suggests the key to the perfect tree is layering…" Maura retrieved long strands of holly berry dotted garland from their supplies.

Jane cleared her throat and winced, "You know…holly can be…"

"Toxic to small children," Maura looked over at Jane, "and dogs. Don't worry; it's fake. Very realistic though, don't you think?"

Jane smiled and gathered up some of the garland and began strategically weaving it throughout the tree, "It's nice."

For someone who had never decorated a Christmas tree before, Maura had a system. She turned to the Christmas balls next: gold, silver, and white in matte, metallic, and glittered finishes. Standing back to direct Jane on the tall branches she ordered the colors and finishes alternated as Jane circled back and forth around the tree. Soon they were hanging the ornaments together, balls cradled in the crooks of their arms as they made pass after pass, at one point racing to see who could finish a ring around the tree first.

Jane turned to the pile of dollar store ornaments, "I saw you only bought balls, and I thought that was kind of boring."

Amongst the Christmas baubles they hung an assortment of angels, nutcrackers, reindeer, Santas, and gilded words that read: "Peace," "Hope," and "Joy." Jane unwrapped one final ornament from tissue and held it out to Maura, a fat little Santa dressed in a policeman's uniform.

Maura took the ornament and held it for a moment, smiling, a slight twinkle of tears forming in her eyes. She blinked and sniffled and then placed the ornament right in the front of the tree, "I think we'll have to find a Doctor Claus to accompany him."

"Yeah," Jane chuckled, "Detective Claus can't be up there all alone."

They spent a few minutes pushing the furniture back to make room on the floor in front of the tree for throw blankets and pillows. Maura hauled out all the gifts she had already wrapped and situated them on the skirt at the tree's base.

"How early do you start your shopping?" Jane asked, shocked that there weren't just one or two boxes but a scene reminiscent of one of her childhood Christmas mornings. She helped Maura arrange them, trying to peek slyly at the names on the cards: Angela, Tommy, Frankie, TJ, Barry, Vince, and Jane. And then another Jane…and another.

"I shop all year," Maura replied. "If I see something I think would be the perfect gift, then I get it, lest I forget."

Jane folded the card of one of the boxes back down, "You didn't have to…get me a gift…three gifts," she motioned at the boxes. Maura tried to cover a smirk and looked away. "There's more than three!? Maura!"

"You didn't have to buy me an eight foot Blue Spruce Christmas tree, and ornaments…" Maura countered.

Jane shrugged, "I wanted to."

"I wanted to," Maura echoed.

She stood and dimmed the lights in the room, lit a fire in the fireplace, and then plugged the lights in. They stood back together, looking at the tree. Maura cocked her head from one side to the other. "Something's missing…"

"Oh!" Jane exclaimed, returning to the dollar store bags and producing a glitter-covered silver star topper. Straining, she managed to adorn the tree with its crown.

"Just like yours," Maura smiled as they cozied up on the blankets in front of the fire, fresh cups of hot cocoa in their hands.

"Well, we're a pair, right?" Jane smiled, taking a sip.

Maybe it was the eggnog from earlier, though Maura knew it wasn't. More likely it was staring at the most beautiful tree she thought she'd ever seen, and the presents so artfully arranged underneath it that made her think about the one gift she truly wanted for Christmas. She set her mug of cocoa aside and took a deep breath. As she did her shoulder brushed against Jane's and she knew then there was no turning back.

"How much longer are we going to go on like this?" Maura crossed her legs in front of her and let her hands settle on her knees, squeezing to try and release some of the fear that was simmering inside of her.

Silence. Jane stared intently at the tree. "Like…what?" She finally summoned the courage to ask.

"Really, Jane?"

"Hey, that's my line," Jane quipped.

"Don't." Maura answered quickly. "No joking. Not now."

They sat for a moment, neither comfortable with the conversation they knew they were on the verge of having. Jane didn't like to talk about her feelings and Maura knew she just wasn't always good at expressing hers.

"Talk to me," Jane said quietly, turning to face Maura she watched the woman next to her keep flexing her fingers nervously into her knees. "Hey," she reached out and tentatively took one of Maura's hands in her own. "Hey…just…say it."

Closing her eyes, Maura took a deep breath and slowly expelled the air. "Ever since…what happened with Dennis…I think about what if there's a day that comes when it's all gone. And I'll be left with this regret that it's too late to fix. I've spent all these years focusing on my career and never just on the me that's behind it. I let Ian come, I let him use me, and I let him leave and I thought it was love. I told everyone I was alright with being alone, that I was used to it, and I tried to make myself believe that…"

"You're not alone, Maura. And you haven't been for a long time," Jane squeezed her hand.

"But, I feel alone," Maura said softly, finally turning to look at Jane. "Don't you understand? You keep giving me pieces of yourself, a little here, a little there. I don't want the pieces anymore, they're not enough."

She felt lightheaded all of a sudden but Jane steadied herself, "What do you want?"

"You." Maura replied. "I want you, Jane." Tears began to streak down her already flushed face. "I love you."

Jane sniffled and her voice shook as she responded, "And that makes you cry?"

Maura shook her head, "Fear. Fear is making me cry. Fear of what you'll say now."

Jane took a breath and stared up at the ceiling. She closed her eyes and tried to fight it, they couldn't both be sobbing wrecks. Maura's hand was still in her own, tight, warm, and slightly trembling. It was what she had wanted all day, to hold her hand. It was what she wanted almost every day but had been too scared to admit.

"You know I can't stand it when you cry," Jane choked out as she reached for Maura's face and tried to wipe the tears away with her thumbs. "Please…" Maura only whimpered in response, more tears flowing freely.

Jane kissed her. Pulled her forward until their lips met. It was light at first, as if their lips were only comforting one another with the faintest of touch. Jane half expected Maura to pull away and tell her she'd misunderstood. Instead, Maura's hands found their way to Jane's cheeks and held her in place as she deepened the kiss, taking the control that Jane ceded as her lips parted. As the intensity of the kiss waned, they slowly separated, eyes opening and meeting.

"So, all this time, all I had to do to make you stop crying was kiss you?" Jane smiled as her thumb stroked across a dried tearstain.

Maura crawled forward and settled into Jane's lap, their cheeks brushing, arms wrapped around each other. It was a completeness that made her realize how incomplete she had felt all along.

"No more pieces of me," Jane murmured, gently pushing Maura back out of the embrace. "All these years and you're really the most intimate relationship I've ever had…except…we weren't in a relationship," she chuckled softly as she thought about it. Jane looked up at the woman straddling her lap and there was a rightness in it that quelled any doubt. "No more pieces." She reached for the bottom of her shirt and pulled it over her head.

Maura's hands dragged slowly from Jane's face, down her neck to her shoulders, pushing the straps of her bra off as they moved. She ran her palms over prominent collarbones and paused for a moment to feel the quickened pace of Jane's heart under her touch. Her fingers searched lower and teased just inside the edge of Jane's bra until they met in the center and then returned to stroke the expectant face that was staring back at her.

"I'm sure," Jane said anticipatorily.

Maura kissed her again, harder, more fervently as she stroked Jane's back and finally unclasped her bra and tossed it to the side. "I love you," she whispered through the dark curls shielding Jane's ear as she kissed slowly down her neck.

"I love you too," Jane answered, closing her eyes and trying to stifle a moan as Maura's lips trailed across her chest and kneaded the soft swell of her breast with kisses until closing securely around one of her nipples.

Jane took hold of Maura's shirt with a playful smile and watched as Maura raised her arms and slinked out of it as she eased backwards out of her lap. Her fingers reached for the button of Jane's jeans and unfastened them, dragging them and Jane's underwear down her hips until the pants were pulled completely free and tossed aside.

Maura kissed each of Jane's knees, still closed tightly in front of her. She let her cheeks graze them as her hands stroked lightly up and down the top and outside of Jane's thighs. "This is all I want. You're all I want," she whispered, kissing Jane's knees again and pausing to hold her gaze. "Lay back for me?"

Jane nodded, settled back, her head resting on one of the pillows they had placed on the floor. She'd never been more terrified of being with someone in her entire life. People always said it was different when it was with someone you loved and she'd always dismissed it as overly sentimental romanticism. Now, she understood.

Maura parted her legs and hovered over her, kissing her until Jane feared she might implode from the anticipation. Finally, Maura moved lower, lips mapping ever part of her now lover, flicking her nipples with her tongue and fingers, delighting in how Jane couldn't stifle the whimpering moans when she did so. Lower still she slinked until she finally settled between Jane's legs, her sex wet and flushed rosy with arousal.

"Oh…" Jane gasped as Maura's tongue made contact and began to sate her desire. She grasped at the blanket underneath her and clenched the soft fabric in her fists until she could feel her fingers digging through the cover into her palms. Maura's touch was unlike anything she had felt before. Warm and soft, sensual and playful she circled the apex of Jane's sensitivity and slid down to slip inside her. Subtle moans escaped her as she tasted her lover for the first time.

Jane released the blanket and wrapped one hand in Maura's hair, desperate to have some part of Maura under her touch. "There," she moaned, rolling her hips as Maura's lips wrapped tightly around her clit and began to suck gently. "Oh!" She cried out one last time as the release overtook her, the lights from the tree ahead of her filling her vision and blurring momentarily. The orgasm claimed her whole body as she trembled and continued to anchor Maura between her legs to ride out every last delicious wave of it.

Spent, her grip loosened, though she continued to twirl a strand of Maura's hair between her fingers as she watched her lover delicately kiss up her inner thigh. Jane sat up and pulled Maura close, their lips hovering so close they were almost touching, but not quite. She breathed in softly and wondered if she would taste herself on the kiss. She closed the gap and lost herself in the softness of Maura's lips, fingers using the distraction to loose Maura's bra and then fumble with her pants in order to make her intentions known.

Maura eased back and shrugged out of the last of her garments. With amusement she watched Jane's eyes drag down the length of her body and rise to settle again on her breasts. Again she straddled Jane's lap and took her hand, placing it first over her heart, and then guiding it lower until Jane cupped one breast and then the other. She kissed her, humming in pleasure as Jane grew more confident and began to roll her hardened nipples between her fingers, the sensation traveling through Maura's body and prompting her to grind softly against Jane's abdomen.

Jane could feel Maura's arousal on her skin; she pushed her back, one arm looped around Maura's lower back as her left hand continued to massage the breast that her mouth and tongue weren't given attention to.

"Don't make me wait," Maura whispered shakily.

Impatient herself, Jane released her breast and slid her hand down between them, eyes widening when silky wetness met her aching fingers. She explored her lover for a moment, two fingers stroking back and forth through the arousal and giving short bursts of attention to the erect nub at her apex. Maura rocked against the touch, quieting her moans against the skin of Jane's neck as the fingers slipped inside.

"Yes," she encouraged, bucking harder against Jane's touch as lithe fingers pumped and curled inside her. "Jane…" her voice grew more ragged as the seconds passed, one hand tangled in a muss of black waves as the other clawed and tightened into the skin of Jane's back. Maura gasped, her body going rigid until it succumbed to wave after wave of tremors in Jane's arms.

Finally, she relaxed, holding her breath as Jane pulled free. She felt two, long arms envelope her as she relaxed and let her head fall to Jane's shoulder. They sat like that for several minutes, the muted tunes of a Christmas playlist barely audible in the background, the primary sound: their own breaths and the pulsing heartbeats echoing in their heads.

Jane carefully rolled Maura out of her lap and pulled her to rest her head on her chest as they both laid down. Maura reached for an extra blanket and drew it over them as they both again looked at the Christmas tree.

"I don't want to ever take it down," Maura mused as she tried to memorize every ornament, how they looked with the tiny white lights glinting off of them, the soothing yellow glow that colored the room, and the way the colors tinted Jane's chest and enticed her to trace the reflections with her finger.

Jane smiled, "We'll take pictures of it. Then, we'll always have it."

"Can we get the same kind of tree next year?" Maura asked, propping herself up on an elbow to look down at Jane.

"Yeah," Jane nodded, smiling as she reached up to run her fingers down Maura's face. "It'll be our tradition."