A/N This….got completely out of hand. This was intended to be a dark, angsty thing looking at the whole Jane/Casey thing and why Jane is so heartbroken over him it's damn near out of character…and it grew into this monstrosity.

"I need him to be okay, Maur. I need him to pull through this, need him to be willing to make this work. I can't just – I need him in my life." She sat there, letting deceptively strong arms hold her tight, letting a chin rest on her head, doing everything she could to ignore the position they were in, and simply take comfort in the embrace. After all, that was what the gesture was intended for. Comfort. Nothing more, nothing less.

"Why?" It was a simple question, and she hated it. She needed Casey. She really, truly, honestly did. She didn't want to imagine what her life was going to be like if he wanted no part in it. She needed Casey, because if she didn't have him, it meant that everything that she tried to keep pushed down below the surface, everything that she tried to desperately to ignore about herself, it was all dangerously close to the surface without him.

"Because."

"That's an informative answer." She shrugged free of the comforting embrace she was in, standing to open the front door of her apartment building, wanting to put some space between her and Maura, because being so close to the woman was damned near claustrophobic.

Whenever she got too close to Maura it was like she was drowning.

She wasn't surprised when Maura followed her up the stairs. "I think I still have some of that wine you left here in the fridge." She opened up the appliance, poking around, pulling out a bottle of sauvignon blanc and holding it up for proof. At the slight nod she got in response, she pulled out a glass, filled it for her friend and fished out a beer for herself. "Hope you're not hungry. Haven't gone grocery shopping in like, weeks." She watched a nose scrunch for a second, before Maura bit back the chiding she'd been expecting. It felt almost wrong, to not get a reproachful comment or two about her lack of ability to take care of herself. "But I think I might have some spaghetti left around here-" She started rummaging through her closets, giving her something to do. Something that was not look at Maura. Was not acknowledge that the woman was there, being someone that she should be able to lean on, being there for her.

She busied herself with washing out the stock pot on her stove that was left there from the last time she'd made spaghetti, scrubbing furiously at the sides of it. She thought she heard her name called quietly, but she ignored it. Maura was there for her, wanted to be a comfort, she knew that. Logically, she knew that this was what best friends did. Sat there and were a comfort, and a shoulder to cry on. But Maura, Maura didn't get what she meant when she said she needed Casey. And if she had her way, the woman never would get it.

She couldn't help the startled jump as she felt a hand on her shoulder. "Jane, it's all right."

"No. It's not." She kept scrubbing at the pot, even though it was already shining.

"Ok, maybe not right now, but it's going to be."

"No it won't. He doesn't want me. And it's – I need him. I – what am I without him?" She knew exactly what she was without Casey. Casey was the last thing she had that allowed her to pretend that she fit in just fine to the world, and the assumptions, and the fucking societal norms that she despised but so desperately wanted to fit in to. Maura would be able to tell her all kinds of fun facts about natural human desires to conform to expectations and shit like that, and if it wouldn't broach the one topic she didn't want broached, she would have asked exactly what it was that made people want to conform.

She just knew that Casey was the last thing she had left to allow her to lie to herself.

"The same strong, intelligent beautiful woman you were before you got involved with him, the one you were when he was in Afghanistan, the one that you still are now." She shook her head. Maura just – she loved her best friend, but the woman just didn't understand. "You've never let a relationship define you before."

"Yeah, but Casey – without him, I –" She paused, letting the pot clatter heavily against the bottom of her sink. "He was it, Maur. He was the only one that I could – we just got along so well. He's smart, funny, he's a good guy. And it's like, he's the only guy that I could ever imagine doing the whole marriage, family, white picket fence American dream BS with." It's the truth, in a sense. He was everything she had just described. He was a man that she could see herself settling down with, as much as she would ever settle. It wouldn't be bad, and she could see herself actually enjoying that little bit of normalcy.

"You'll find someone else that you want that with, Jane." She gave a derisive snort before taking a long swig of beer, not wanting to admit that Maura was right. Was always right. But she sure as hell wasn't going to admit that, especially not to Maura. She had found someone else she wanted to marry, to spend the rest of her life with, to raise a family with and have the house with the white picket fence, and the dog, and everything with.

And they were standing right in front of her.

"You don't get it, Maur. It's like, I – it was so easy when he was halfway around the world. It's like, I had all this pinned on this relationship. That I wasn't married, didn't have kids, wasn't normal was because I had someone who was in the middle of the damned desert serving his country. I had all these ideas of what my life would be like growing up, and I kept thinking that Casey would come back, and we'd sorta have – whatever, and I wouldn't be a forty year old whose married to the job, and I'd have what everyone else has."

There was a comforting hand on her arm, and she was torn between shrugging it away and letting it linger there. She looked down at where perfectly manicured nails rested against her bare skin, feeling the warm heat seeping into her, wishing that Maura would just drop the subject, but she knew better. "In all the years I've known you, you've never given a rat's ass about what other people have. Why are you letting it effect you so strongly now?" She blinked, taken aback by the sudden use of profanity by a woman who frequently chided her when she used the same.

"Rat's ass? Nice job, Maura! You're actually getting the hang of cursing."

"Jane-" So her attempt at distraction had failed. She hadn't seriously expected it to work, but it was worth the shot. "If Casey can't see what an amazing, wonderful, intelligent, beautiful person you are, if he doesn't think you're strong enough to make a relationship work even with his disability, than he, quite frankly, is an idiot. You deserve better than that, Jane. You will find someone better than that." She shook her head, turning her attention back to the pan in the sink, grabbing a dish rag to start drying it.

"You don't get it."

"What is there to get? You're not going to be alone forever. You can have anyone you want." Another derisive snort. She knew the words were meant as a comfort, but they stung. She couldn't have anyone she wanted. The one person she wanted was the one standing so close she could feel the hair on her body standing at attention from the sheer proximity.

"You – you wouldn't understand."

"Try me. I know what it's like, Jane. I've been in your shoes. Having someone halfway across the world that you think you love. You're right, it is easier when they're there. When Ian came back, I realized something. I loved him, so long as we had an ocean, had whole continents between us, because it was easy to fall in love with the fantasy of what could be. It's easy to pretend that everything is going to be roses and fairy tales. And then the realization that it's not, that when he was here, in flesh and blood in front of me, it was like any other relationship, that there are the same trials and tribulations, the same problems as every other relationship." She shook her head. Maura thought there was understanding. True, there were similarities between the men in their lives, but Maura didn't get that there was more to it than just the distance.

"If Ian came back, got a job here, wanted to be with you, would you be with him?" She needed Maura to affirm that. She needed another reason to keep her safe, comfortable distance with the woman. They were friends, nothing more. They'd been teetering on the edge of something more, and she had done what she did best. She drove a wedge between them on purpose, found Maura's weaknesses and played them like a fucking violin, because she needed to put that space there. She hadn't meant to shoot Paddy Doyle, but it wound up working to her favor, being able to play the aftermath to her advantage, making sure Maura knew that she was capable of causing great amounts of pain.

Even now that they had rekindled their friendship, her friendly teasing had taken an almost acerbic tone. And yet, Maura was still sticking by her, no matter how hard she tried to force the woman away. She couldn't live without Maura in her life, but at the same time, she couldn't stand having the woman so close to her, so tantalizing, so desirable, and be so unable to act on those desires. "I-" She kept her eyes steady with hazel ones, surprised to see how much emotion was swirling there. She had expected an easy yes, not thought, not a faraway look for a moment. "I don't think so. I loved him, and I'm not sure I'll ever love anyone the way I loved him. But then again, it's impossible to love anyone the same way, as it's impossible for two relationships to ever be exactly the same. Heraclitus of Ephesus pointed this out famously with the aphorism that sums up his philosophical idea of panta rhea – everything flows. When he said that you cannot step twice into the same river because it has changed and so have you. But even if Ian were to come back – I realized the last time that he left that I couldn't see myself waking up next to him every morning for the rest of my life. As much as it hurt for him to leave, I was glad that I could go back to the same thoughts you had. That the reason I'm not married, don't have a family was because I loved someone thousands of miles away." She frowned. That was not the answer she had been counting on. She had expected a nice easy yes, I still love him. Something that could go further to remind her that Maura was definitely out of her reach.

"He's better than any of the jerks you've dated since." There was a slight tilt of a head as Maura considered her words.

"Yes, you're right. But I haven't been searching for a serious relationship. I'm quite content with the way my life is."

"Why not? Don't you want that fancy-ass wedding in a volcano and the gown with the twenty foot train, and the chocolate ganache cake?" She hated that sparkle in Maura's eyes, when they shifted from brown to green to fucking gold. Her friend seemed genuinely surprised that she had remembered the details of the fantasy wedding they had talked about.

"I've come to look at life more realistically. While it is nice to fantasize about such a wedding, I am rather happy with my life as it is, even if it means being unmarried. I have a career I love, wonderful friends, I'm closer to my parents than I ever was in my youth. I'm sure I'm happier now than I would be if I had a dream wedding to someone that isn't –"

"Isn't what?"

"One day of making childhood dreams come true isn't worth a lifetime of wondering if you settled for someone simply because he was the easier option."

"What do you mean, the easier option?" She could see Maura's gaze shift to some unfocused point beyond her, and started to get the feeling that they were wading into dangerous territory.

"I mean that if I were to marry a man, be it Ian, or someone new that comes into my life, at this point in my life, I would be concerned that I was only marrying them because it is easier than admitting that perhaps I don't want what society dictates I should want. I'm quite happy with my life the way it is, but because I am unmarried and childless and nearly forty, our society has dictated that it must mean something is wrong with me. When I know that that is not the truth. I used to think that it was, that because of my –eccentricities that I was somehow freakish. I think that's why I accepted Garret's proposal, why I fell so in love with Ian. But now I know better. You showed me that. There is nothing wrong with me, and there is nothing wrong with you."

"You don't get it, Maur. It's not just the not being married thing. I mean, yeah, that's a part of it, but –"

"What is it then? What is it that you have so pinned to Casey that makes you think you need him in your life?" There was a tense challenge in Maura's tone and she found herself meeting a steely hazel stare when she dared to look Maura in the eye.

"You wouldn't understand."

"Try me." The words were a challenge, and Maura took another step forward, driving a path into her personal space. She was suddenly very aware of Maura's presence, of just how close they were together, could smell nothing but expensive perfume and strawberry shampoo, and wonderfulness that made up Maura. And this close to her, it was hard to think, hard to breathe, hard to do much of anything.

Whenever she got too close to Maura, it felt like she was drowning.

"No, Maur. Just – drop it already."

"What is it that makes you refuse to see yourself for who you are? What happened to the cocky detective that doesn't let anyone stand in her way? What happened to the smirking swagger? It's like ever since you found out Casey was back, you've become a shell of yourself. What's so damn important about him that has you crumbling to pieces? Why do you need him so much?" Maura's voice had been rising steadily throughout the entire interrogation, and was just shy of a shout, and she could feel the hair on the back of her neck on end. What right did Maura have to pry into her private life like this? What right did Maura have to tell her she had changed? She had, and she knew it, but she didn't need it thrown in her face like this. To have a woman that claimed to be her best damn friend telling her that she wasn't herself because of this whole Casey thing was definitely under her skin.

"You want to know why he's so damn important to me? Because he was my last damn chance to not be a middle aged woman with a roommate-" She pulled out the air quotes to emphasize her point "-Who plays ringer in a softball game. And I can't be that person." There. She'd said it. Wasn't this whole thing supposed to be freeing? Didn't they say that coming out was the best thing that could happen to someone? Cause it sure as hell felt like there was a fifty pound weight on her chest. Fuck that, make it a hundred pound weight. Maybe more.

"Why not?" The words were quiet, almost a whisper.

"Why not?" She looked at Maura incredulously. Did her friend really just ask that? "Why not? Maura, look at me!" A blond head tipped to the side, genuinely confused.

"There's nothing wrong with it."

"Yeah, for other people. Not for me." She didn't even need to hear the self-loathing in her voice to know it was there. The look on Maura's face, the pain and the sympathy that damn near radiated off of every line, every crease, every damn pore on flawless skin, told her just how present it was.

"Jane, it's okay. Look at how everyone reacted to Camille and Robin. No one would think any less of you." She was vaguely aware of Maura wrapping her in another hug. "We'll all still love you." She was staring at the door to her refrigerator, not really seeing it, or much of anything really. This was her deepest, darkest secret, and she'd just gone and blurted it out. And while it had gone better than she expected, it still was jarring.

"You still don't get it. I can't be, y'know. I spent my whole damn life trying to prove that I wasn't some damn stereotype or another. I wasn't a girly girl. I wasn't going to play with barbies, or have tea parties. Hell, even when I took ballet I still wanted to dance as the Mouse King when we did the Nutcracker. And then I got so good at the tomboy thing that everyone just sorta assumed – you get called dyke enough times and it's enough to really put you off of the idea, y'know? And it's just such a stereotype. Female cops, I mean, everyone just assumes that we're- And I mean, it's not like I hate guys or anything. It's just Casey was the only one that I was comfortable enough with to think we might have a future. If I don't have him, who the fuck am I?"

"You're you." The words were said with such conviction that she thought she could believe Maura. She was very much aware of the fact that the woman still had her wrapped in a tight hug. "You're still brave, strong, unbelievably caring and compassionate. You're still smart and funny even when you're mocking someone. You're one of the best detectives that Boston has ever seen, you're still able to beat Frankie at basketball, you're still the only amateur I've ever lost to in chess, still this amazingly loving person who put a bullet through yourself because you wanted to save your brother. You're still one of the most amazing people in the world, and nothing can change that."

"It's just – I've spent the last twenty years thinking I just had to find the right guy. And I did. I thought that me and Casey, that what we had – I didn't think I'd ever have to worry about what it meant when I find myself y'know, noticing another chick. That I wouldn't have to worry about all the drama, and bullshit that comes with the territory. I kept telling myself that I could be happy with a man, that I would be happy with Casey, that I'm not into women, that I was going to settle down with Casey and lead this perfect little straight life, and without that, I'm just another damned stereotype."

"No you're not."

"Look, Maur, thanks for taking this all so well, but – this, you d-" The embrace was suddenly broken and she was surprised to find a finger in her face and a surprisingly angry glint in Maura's eye.

"No, don't try and tell me that I don't understand. That I don't get it. You've been saying it all night, but don't for a second fool yourself any more by thinking I don't know what it's like. You think I don't know? Think I haven't stayed up all night wondering what it means to be floored by a beautiful woman? That I haven't considered if it makes me even more of an oddity? Give people another reason to mock me? Don't think I know what it's like to wonder if it was just so expected of me, that I was just going along with people's expectations. I'm an artist's daughter, I went to an all-girls boarding school, therefore everyone assumes that I must have experience with women. Don't you dare try and tell me that I don't understand." She was fairly sure that she was standing there looking like a fish out of water, mouth opening and closing with no sound coming out. "You want to know why I nearly married Garret Fairfield? Because I thought that my attraction to women was only because I had gone to an all-girls school. And there he was, handsome and charming, and so in love with me that it was intoxicating, and I thought that I'd grown out of being interested in a same-sex relationship. That it was simply a schoolgirl thing. I know exactly what it is like to think that things would be so simple if I could just find some man to sweep me off my feet."

Her head was swimming, and one hand reached out to grasp the edge of the sink, fighting for something solid to ground her in reality. This was getting to be all too much at once. First Casey calling things off for good between them, and then finding out that he was keeping the fact that there was a very good chance he wouldn't even survive the surgery secret. Admitting the second deepest, darkest secret that she had, only to find out that Maura didn't just sympathize with her, but knew exactly what she was going through? That the last barrier she had to remind herself that she didn't have a snowballs chance in hell with Maura was now gone too? Maura being straight was something that she had used to convince herself that they would never, ever work out. To have that last thing eroded as well, it was all too much.

"Maur – I think you should go now." She did her best to try not to flinch at the hurt look in Maura's eyes.

"Why?"

"Just – it's been a long day. First everything with Casey, and now this – I – I –" She found Maura once again wrapping her in a hug, and she tried to squirm free. "Maur- please." The fact that Maura had been with women was pinballing through her mind. She couldn't help but wonder what they'd been like. How they'd touched Maura, if they'd worshiped that perfect body the way it deserved to be worshiped, or if they'd carelessly just used it to sate their own personal needs. "Please, leave." She fought her away out of the embrace, hating the lack of contact instantly.

"What? So it's all right for you to tell me you're gay, or at the very least bisexual, and the second I do the same you don't want me in your house anymore?"

"Yes!" The second it was out of her mouth she regretted it.

"I thought you were a better person than that." She was surprised not to hear anger, or indignation, simply – disappointment in Maura's voice, and somehow that hurt worse than if she'd been yelled at, screamed at, punched. But instead, she just got a disappointed response, as Maura gathered up that fancy ass designer purse and headed for the door.

"Wait, Maura, I didn't mean it like that – it's just –"

"Just what?"

"Just, finding out that you – y'know, you too – it's a lot. And that – I - I don't trust myself right now, all right?"

"What do you mean?" There was instantly Maura in full on concerned mode. "Jane-" There was an almost pleading note, and she realized how that last sentence sounded in the context of the evening.

"Just – right now, I'm afraid I'm going to do something really stupid that's going to fuck things up between us. Big time." She was surprised to find Maura stepping even closer to her. They were so close to each other in the doorway, and she found her breath hitching at the smoldering look on Maura's face.

"Like what?"

"Maura-" She did not need this right now. Wasn't she supposed to be heartbroken over Casey? This was Maura, this was the one person that she pined for because she knew it was an unobtainable goal. Only now, the unobtainable had come within reach, and she really had no clue what to do with it. All of her senses seemed like they were on overload. She couldn't feel anything, she couldn't even think with this woman standing right there in front of her, with all of the lies she had told herself collapsing like a house of cards in a hurricane around her.

When she was this close to Maura, she felt like she was drowning.

"You know, when I was sitting on the bench waiting for my turn to bat, Robin asked me how long we'd been together. And even though I played it off, the same way I always do when someone assumes that we're a couple, I realized that after that, after listening to you go on about Casey for half an hour, that I wanted to be able to tell Robin that while we may not have been together for long, it feels like we've been together forever. That when you talked about Casey that I was jealous. I'm not proud of it, but when you called, right after Casey had told you goodbye, I was elated." There she was doing the fish impression again. Was Maura really admitting that she had considered this too?

"Maura, you don't want this." If nothing else, she was going to be a good fucking friend. There was no way that Maura was thinking straight if the woman was admitting to wanting to be with her. She was a terrible person, especially in relationships. She had a history of cheating – not just Dean while Casey was in Afghanistan, but her last serious relationship, she'd gone and slept with some guy she'd met in a bar one night, because she tried to actively sabotage her life whenever it started going well. That her last serious relationship with someone outside of Casey had been before her first run in with Hoyt. That she was a cranky, sarcastic bitch who had a bad habit of taking it out on people she was closest to. She drank more than she should, spent days at a time at the precinct when they had a rough case, was terrible at remembering birthdays and anniversaries and-

"Jane, I know all that already." She hadn't even realized she had been speaking out loud until a hand laced with hers. "Believe me, I know your faults. And you know all of mine. And even with all your faults, I'm still here, aren't I?"

"Maura I – I don't know if I can do this. I've spent the last twenty years trying to convince myself I'm straight. I can't just go hiding in the supply closet, wait for Frost and Korsak and Ma to come in one day and jump out and go 'Surprise! This was a metaphor!', I don't know if I can go out with you, and hold your hand, and dance with you, and treat you the way you should be treated by a girlfriend. And there's Ma, I mean I know she loves you, and I know she'd be cool with this at first, but that's just at first. She's open minded, but she's still catholic. And once the realization hits her that if we're together she's never going to get to see her baby girl get married in the same church she got married in, that she's never going to have to do her page as the mother of the bride in a pre-cana workbook, that even though we can get married, it's not the same. And even if she moves out of your guest house, I don't want her to be all mad at you even though I know she won't know why." She was very aware that she was rambling, but she couldn't help it. She was fucking terrified. This was worse than any of their run ins with Hoyt, even when she found herself seriously thiking that the demon he was was going to rape Maura just to break her that much more. This was worse than Dennis. This was the most terrified she'd ever been. This was big. This was life changing. "And I've spent so long trying to convince myself I didn't actually like chicks that I'm – I mean I've only slept with a few, and I know I was terrible and –"

And then Maura's lips were on hers. It was soft, and it was gentle, and it was not at all insistent, was not at all forceful, wasn't demanding anything. It was just softness and sweetness and Maura. It was everything that Maura was. It was the complete opposite of the last kiss she had shared in this very spot, which had been full of desperation and fear and want. This was full of hope and promise and fucking love. It was so unlike any other kiss she'd ever had with anyone. And just as quickly as it had started, it was over. "You're right. It has been a long day. I should leave."

"Maura-"

"Maybe - being who everyone else expects us to be isn't so bad. Both of us – we could have anyone we want. We don't need to be alone forever." There was another brief kiss pressed to her lips before the door opened. "Good night, Jane. I'll see you at work tomorrow." And like that, the door was shut, and Maura was gone, leaving her standing there, reeling, tingling from head to toe.

Whenever she got that close to Maura it felt as though she was drowning.

But now, maybe, she had a life preserver to save her.