Disclaimer: I own nothing.
A/N: I tried to forget the mess that was 3.14, but I really just couldn't.
This is a continuation of the ending—that may be completely out of left field, but a girl can dream—so beware of the spoilers.
It's only after Jane notices Maura is shivering that she leads them upstairs and gives Maura a pair of warm clothes to change into. She takes them graciously—enjoying nothing more than being able to wrap herself in her Jane's smell and imagining, just for a moment, that one day she may always be able to do this.
The baggy pair of sweat pants pool around her feet and drag the floor with each step she takes down the narrow hall. She's too tired and too emotionally drained to even bother pulling them up, because the past few days weren't just hard on Jane. They were hard on her, too, because like so many other things—what affects Jane, affects Maura. They are one and the same. Two parts of a whole.
But it's her turn to be the strong one, her turn to pick up the pieces and comfort Jane through the night. So she steels herself, plasters on the best smile she can muster as she walks into the bedroom and makes eye contact with Jane.
Jane pulls back the blanket on the opposite side of the bed—an invitation Jane knows won't be refused.
And it isn't.
Maura slips in the bed, rolling on her back to look at the ceiling. There's no where she'd rather be—nowhere besides her side of the hard mattress with slightly scratchy sheets rubbing against her arms. She laces her fingers against her stomach and thinks about the past few days—tries to sort through her emotions and figure out exactly what she's feeling.
After long moments, she hears the sheets rustling and then, "What's wrong?"
Slightly tilting her head to glance at Jane from the corner of her eye, she gives a small and wistful smile. "Nothing."
"C'mon, Maura. I can tell when something is going on in that big brain of yours," Jane says, her voice a mix of playful and concerned.
Maura swallows thickly. There is a lot she's thinking about, a lot she wants to say.
But even she knows it's not appropriate to confess her love to someone that just spent the past thirty minutes crying over someone else.
Finally, she takes a deep breath and settles on what to say as she turns her head to look back up at the ceiling. "Was it really so bad?"
She hates the way her voice breaks. Hates the way Jane picks up on it, and the way Jane's voice drops to a soft whisper as she says, "Was what so bad?"
But she chose this path, chose to bring this up. So now she has to keep going with it—use this discussion as a distraction of everything else she's feeling, even though it still dredges up the hurt she had felt from the way Jane had treated her. She pulls the blanket up just a little bit higher in a weak effort to shield herself from the vulnerability and weakness she's about to let Jane see. "To just let me on your team?"
She dares to glance at Jane's face and swallows against the thickness in her throat. "When we played a couple of years ago, I wasn't so terrible. I even got to the first base. So why couldn't I be on your team this year?"
But the blanket didn't help, and Jane can see the hurt and betrayal etched all over Maura's face. Jane didn't mean to come across as unkind and uncaring as she had—didn't mean for Maura to feel like not being on her team was a full-out rejection. She's competitive and just wanted to win.
It's clear now that she should've thought through her actions more carefully.
"Maura… " She sighs, unsure of what to say. She rolls on her side, fully facing Maura now. "At least you won."
Maura scoffs. "No. My team won. I did nothing but walk, remember?"
Jane cringes. She probably shouldn't have given Maura such a hard time about that, either.
"But…it was the best walk I've ever seen."
She shakes her head, not letting Jane off the hook that easily. "Jane…"
Grinning, Jane props herself up on one elbow to look down at her. "No, really. I've never seen someone strut to first like that before. I even took some mental notes so I'd remember how."
Picking up on Jane's slight laughter, she rolls onto her side. Her forehead creases as she tries to read Jane's face. "Are you making fun of me?"
"No," Jane says, instantly sobering in an attempt to show Maura that she really is serious. "I'm sorry for being an asshole. You didn't deserve that."
Maura only pauses for a moment before nodding. "You're right. I didn't."
Sighing, she reaches out and takes one of Maura's hands in her own. "It's just that Casey was back and I was so confused…and you're always here. It's like I know that you'll never leave no matter what I do, so you always end up catching the brunt of my shit," she pauses for a moment as she realizes the intimacy of rubbing her thumb across the soft skin of Maura's hand, before continuing anyway. "I'm sorry."
"It's okay," Maura replies with a forgiving smile and a quick squeeze to Jane's fingers.
"No, it really isn't. I wasn't any better than those kids that always picked you last," she says before biting her lip as she realizes how insensitive her words over the past few days had really been. Never had she thought she would be the person to hurt Maura so badly—the person that would open up one of the several wounds Maura carried from her childhood.
Not when Maura had always been so kind and open and giving towards her. Not when Maura was the one person she could rely on for everything—the person that was always by her side no matter what. The person that cared about her and made her laugh and loved her. Or at least Jane hoped Maura loved her.
Because she loved Maura. Had damn near loved her from the very start.
And although being a dyke detective was so stereotypical and expected—that's not what bothered her about loving Maura. Neither was the fact that she had been raised as a devout Catholic.
It was the fact that she had always loved Maura more than herself.
And because of that, Jane wanted to protect her. She had already made Maura bear witness to—and be a part of—the work of Hoyt and dirty cops and deranged men that had kidnapped and broadcast the results. She had to see the pain and worry on Maura's face, time and time again—and it was almost always her fault.
How could she ever be with someone—regardless of loving them so much—when all she did was bring pain and darkness and hurt and anguish?
So Jane had refused to open up, refused to let Maura get pulled down with her ever again—shoved her feelings into a little mental box, and decided to never act upon them in an effort to protect the one thing she loved most.
But Maura's lying beside her—in her bed—looking just as dejected and hurt and anguished as ever, all because of her stupid and constant worry over Casey.
Her worry about a man she was only going to be with because she thought it would be easier to come home to him whenever she was hurt on the job—because, in all honesty, he would probably give the injury a quick glance before moving on—than to come home see Maura's eyes dull and the crease on her forehead as she frowns in all-consuming worry.
The man she was going to choose because it would be easier to leave him at home and not think twice about him until she came back in the evening, than to constantly worry about her girlfriend—or lover or wife, whatever they would be—all day, every day. Because even though she worries about Maura now, it would increase tenfold if she had ever uttered those three little words.
She really didn't think she could handle that. Any of that.
But as she looks at Maura now, she realizes what she really can't handle.
The look on Maura's face right at this very moment.
It's the look of being second best; the look of being replaced.
It's the look of being unloved.
And to Jane, Maura is anything but. She could never be second best and she certainly couldn't be replaced.
And Jane could never not love her.
So now it's gotten to the point where she's just hurting them both.
Taking a deep breath to calm her nerves, she swallows harshly and scoots closer to lessen the gap between them. "You deserve to be picked first," she almost whispers, her voice unintentionally dropping with the weight of her words.
Maura shakes her head once again, but a small smile forms on her lips just from the ounce of niceness Jane was trying to convey. "I'm really not any good."
"No," Jane shakes her head, making up her mind about what she should do. "You're the best."
And then she rolls over on top of Maura. Her arms hold her up so she can barely hover, before she leans down and softly presses their lips together. It's gentle and soft and barely there, but she feels more from that quick kiss that she has from all the ones in her life put together.
But then Maura pushes against her shoulders until she pulls back—looking up at her with wide, concerned eyes.
But they're also filled with love and everything else Jane had hoped she would see. Everything she's immensely, overwhelmingly glad to see.
"What are you doing?"
Jane lightly shakes her head, her eyes flicking from Maura's lips back to hazel eyes. "I don't know. But it feels right…doesn't it?"
"Jane, you've talked about Casey nonstop for the past three days," Maura says, anger now flicking in her eyes. Moving to sit up, she pushes Jane to the side. "I can't just be your backup as you wait for him to come back. I won't be. I deserve more than that, too."
"I know," Jane whispers, fully aware of Maura deserving more than that.
Maura's brow furrows as she tries to understand. "So why did you do that?"
"You didn't want me to?"
Maura's answer is not immediate. She did want to kiss Jane. But she had been hoping for better circumstances.
She finally shakes her head and wraps her arms around her knees. "Not if I'm a replacement, no."
"You're not," Jane assures, scooting closer and resting her hand on Maura's own.
"Maura. I know this seems half-assed and spur of the moment—yeah, even I know I could've planned that better—but Casey leaving wasn't a bad thing," Jane starts, ignoring the quirk of Maura's eyebrow. "Yeah, I was upset and I cried and whined like a little kid because I've never taken rejection well. From anyone. I want to be the best, first and foremost. And…it nearly killed me to think that I'm not enough for someone."
At Maura's lack of response, she takes a shaky breath and forces herself to continue her somewhat-jumbled speech. "At the end of the day…who is always there for me? You are, Maura Isles. For family dinners and movie nights and hell, half my family has lived with you at some point. I've never felt more comfortable with anyone in my entire life. And I wanted Casey because it would've been easier to settle down with him and get married and just be normal," she pauses, looking away as her eyes start to water again and her throat starts to burn.
Then she finally looks back to Maura's own watery eyes. "But why have easy and normal when I could have perfect?"
"Jane," Maura rasps, unable to keep the emotion from her voice. "Don't say that if you don't mean it."
"But I do mean it. Look at us," Jane waves her hand between the barely there space between them on bed. "I can't imagine coming home to anyone else at night. I can't imagine waking up next to anyone else. Can you?"
And Maura couldn't even say yes if she tried.
She shakes her head and then everything catches back up with her, and a new determination is in her voice. "What if Casey had stayed?"
"You don't like what ifs."
"Answer me," Maura nearly demands. Jane may already have her heart, but she's not sticking around to be played a fool.
Jane shakes her head, throwing one hand up. "I don't know."
"I'm a coward Maura," Jane sighs, finally looking back up. "I would've picked the easy way."
"And that wasn't me, was it?"
Jane watches Maura's jaw clench, watches the metaphorical walls slowly rebuilding around Maura's heart. Hears the dejection that's already put in Maura's voice. But she can't lie now, not to the one person that means the most.
"No," she finally replies, her chest clenching as she sees Maura's façade break and the tears in her eyes.
Maura quickly moves to leave, but Jane gently grabs her wrist before she can walk away. "When I see my future Maura, I see you. No matter how much I liked Dean or thought I loved Casey, it was always your face I saw—no matter how hard I tried for it not to be. It's always been you. It will always be you. Just give me a chance to prove that I mean it."
And she doesn't care that she sounds like she's begging.
No, because this is the one person she should be begging to say. Not some man that put his pride before anything else. So she feels no shame in this because this is Maura, and she would beg Maura to stay every single day for the rest of her life if it meant finally being with Maura—wholly and completely and forever.
Maura studies Jane's face. Hard. For long moments with her arms crossed against her chest. She can see the honesty—wants to believe it. But with her childhood and the events of the past week? That's incredibly difficult to do.
"What if he comes back?"
Jane shrugs. "Then I guess I'll say hi, and you'll be friendly, but I'll still be with you."
"How do I know you mean it?"
"Do you trust me?"
"Yes," Maura replies instantly. Because she does trust Jane. More than she's ever trusted anyone in her entire life.
"So trust me," Jane rasps as her shoulders slightly shrug, vulnerable and completely open.
"It's not that easy, Jane! For months I have thought you were in love with Casey. For months I had resigned myself over to never being anything more than friends with you," Maura exclaims, pausing to bring her voice down to a normal level—not even caring about the tears rolling down her face. "And now you're telling me that you want to be with me? After I just sat on your stoop for half an hour as you cried over him?"
Exhaling harshly, Jane drops her head to her hands. "This isn't looking very good for me, is it?"
"No, Jane, it isn't," Maura replies, finally stopping her pacing.
Finally, Jane raises her head and pats the bed beside her until Maura sits down again. Taking one of Maura's hands in her own, she focuses on it as she speaks. "You deserve honesty and I…I would have settled for him, Maura. But…it just didn't compare to you. To us."
"I like Casey. A lot," Jane interrupts, looking back up to focus solely on Maura so she understands. "But I love you, Maura. And I have always loved you."
Maura chokes back a sob, her hands shaking. "Do you mean it? Jane, I need you to mean it."
Jane nods once, not caring that she's crying because this is Maura—this is someone worth crying over. "I will prove it to you every day if you let me. "
And Maura nods, her whispered I love you, too echoing in the small space between them.
Wow, that got out of hand. I literally did not plan on writing the last half of that.
Reviews are welcomed if you have time to leave one. Thanks for reading!