Disclaimer: Don't own. No money. ETC.


December has an air about it that seeps through the cracks of everything, and today is no different. Jane sighs blissfully as she steps through the door. It's Christmas Eve, and if home and happiness had a smell it's this.

For a moment she's ten again and racing inside her front door just in time for dinner. If she closes her eyes she can smell the food coming out of the oven, and hear her mother yelling at her for dragging her wet shoes across the carpet and not hanging up her coat. The best part is when she came back downstairs in fresh-out-of-the-dryer clothes a wide smile on her face because it's Christmas, her mother would wrap her in the blanket from the back of the couch and put a cup of cocoa in her hands, like love in a mug.

Standing here just inside of her best friend's house feels like that.

As she comes in from the work day – nothing but paperwork – with snow clinging to her dark hair, hugging her coat tightly to her body, nose and cheeks so red she is sure she could lead Santa's sleigh, it hits her. Right there in the foyer of Maura's house.

Home.
Love.
Companionship.

Her dog runs up to her tail wagging furiously behind her. Someone, her mother no doubt, has put bells on her collar and forced her into a red knitted sweater. Even Bass makes an effort to turn in her direction, a red bow, she notices, stuck to his shell. Her mother is yelling at Tommy for sneaking a cookie and Frankie is sitting on the couch with a beer in his hand as he talks with Lydia who is holding baby TJ.

And then Jane's eyes finally land on the one person she desperately, unknowingly had been looking for.

Her eyes land on Maura and it's as if she's the last puzzle piece, as if Christmas is now complete. She's wearing a Santa hat and a Christmas sweater and jeans and Jane thinks she's never seen the woman look so perfect in her entire life. The hat is red and the white rimmed fuzz sticks out against Maura's nearly blond hair and she's barely wearing any makeup and that wide smile graces her face when their eyes meet.

Jane wants to do so many things, be so many things, say so many things in this moment. But it all gets clogged like a traffic jam and she doesn't even know what it is she wants she just knows she wants something. And Maura's already standing in front of her, hazel eyes full of warmth and happiness and giddiness and love. And Jane wants to know what kind of love, but instead she just mumbles a 'hey' and knows the redness on her face isn't just from the cold.

Maura's smile broadens with a hint of concern. "Jane, you must be freezing!" She reaches out and rubs the brunette's arms for a brief moment before pulling the coat from the detective's lithe form and hangs it on the hook next to hers. She loops her arm through Jane's and leads her away to the guest room where she's already set out a pair of fresh clothes for her on the bed. "I can't believe you had to work on Christmas Eve." Maura says absently.

Jane laughs because she can remember a time almost four years ago when it was Maura steadfastly trapped in the basement of the morgue waiting on a dead body that would never come as the sun sets on a Boston Christmas Eve. Jane laughs because Maura is now chastising her for working on a holiday and it's Christmas and her house feels like home.

When Maura steps away from her she immediately regrets the distance, the lack of body heat. "Cavanaugh needed that report in." Jane untucks her shirt and sits on the bed to kick her boots off. Her bottom lip juts out slightly, after stepping into a puddle to get to her car her socks are wet. She looks to Maura about to ask if she could borrow a pair only to have a ball of the softest socks she's ever felt already in front of her with the quirk of a perfect eyebrow. Of course Maura has a pair of socks for her to wear, of course. "Thanks." She takes her wet ones off and puts the new pair on. "What's that you're always telling me about procrastination?"

Maura laughs. Jane feels her heart soar. "Don't do it?"

The detective nods and stands, her fingers go to the buttons of her shirt. After an entire day of fastidious typing and writing they are slow and hardly work and it's a struggle to undo the three buttons she gets to. Suddenly, she feels like crying because it took her five minutes to put the stupid thing on and Maura is watching and how is she supposed to explain that sometimes winters and snow and hands don't go well together? She's in the middle of fighting the fourth button loose when steady hands cover hers.

"I got it." Maura's breath is hot against her face and smells of hot chocolate and sugar and Jane can't help but smile. She can't see her face properly, doesn't want to, but Jane knows with the delicate way she's unbuttoning her shirt, with the way Maura's words hang between them that she's smiling and it's okay that her hands don't work sometimes.

Jane sighs as the last button falls loose and Maura pushes it from her shoulders. It's Christmas and she really ought to get her mind out of the dark path it's headed towards, before the pain in her hands becomes a pain in her head. And Maura's hands are there again pulling at her tank top and unfastening her belt. And she tries not to get lost in that feeling, in the way delicate hands push against her clothes, against her skin. Maura doesn't notice the way her heartbeat increases, the way her mouth goes a little dry, how her eyes lose that edge. She seems to be getting carried away in the task and Jane lets her. She focuses on the why instead.

Her entire immediate family is in Maura's living room, has been for who knows how long. And Jane knows what that feels like, what it must feel like to Maura who never had any of this before. No matter how many years went by with a full house of the same people Jane knew it would always be slightly overwhelming, slightly unnerving.

So she lets Maura pull her tank-top over her head, listens as she scolds her about wearing thicker clothing, lets her pull the long-sleeved shirt in its place and the sweater over that before going for her pants.

They fall heavy to the floor still ladened with her gun and badge and cuffs and phone, the carpet softens the sound. And she knows by the relief she feels as it all falls away from her, the way her shoulders finally fall in relaxation that it's been a long year.

She knows she looks ridiculous standing there in her thick socks and Christmas sweater and underwear. But Maura is still talking about winter lines and winter clothing and Jane can hear the smile in her voice as she bends down jeans in hand and tells her to step into the pants – like this is normal and Jane suddenly wishes it was.

She uses Maura's shoulder for balance and pulls them all the way up once they get to her knees. Maura turns away as she buttons them and Jane thinks she's about to leave but then there is a bright red Santa hat thrust into her hands.

Maura smiles. "Please?"

Jane can only nod because this is Maura and of course she'll wear the stupid hat. She takes it and places it crookedly on her head. She takes a moment to fix her hair and then quirks an eyebrow at her friend, smirking. "How's it look?"

There's a slight pause between her question and Maura's answer. There's a slight pause in which Maura's eyes don't run down her body or stare wantonly at her lips. Her smile grows wider showing off dimples and she brushes a stray dark curl away from Jane's face and underneath the bright red hat. "Perfect."

Jane and Maura are both thrown straight into the chaos the second they step out of their sanctuary.

Korsak and Frost have joined in on the festivities and her mother is talking to Lydia's mother. Everyone has some sort of drink in their hand. It's loud, the baby is talking gibberish, Frankie laughs obnoxiously from the couch at something Frost says and Jane feels Maura take a tiny step backwards into the hallway.

She reaches out because that's what she does, who she is. She takes Maura's hand in her tired one and squeezes giving her a reassuring smile while she's at it. "It'll be okay." She says. She wants to say more, say better but she's Jane Rizzoli and more and better don't always happen, so she settles for what she knows.

Maura swallows hard giving herself a big nod. She's grateful that Jane understands, that she doesn't have to explain how exhausting this is. So she holds tight to Jane's hand and takes the step forward because with Jane she can always step forward. Jane gives a tiny imperceptible smile and holds on just as tight.

Angela greets them in surprise wondering when Jane snuck into the house. Korsak nods at her over an eggnog and nobody talks about their intertwined fingers. Jane sneaks a cookie sticking it in her mouth as she makes herself a cup of hot chocolate one handed. Maura looks on amused. Jane laughs as she throws some marshmallows into the concoction. She starts to make a second one for Maura but the cookie in her mouth starts to crumble. Maura catches it before Jane even asks her too. They both laugh, their fingers still tightly wound together.

And Jane has that feeling again.

Home.
Love.
Companionship.

Big words, that mean big things. But in this moment in Maura's kitchen where she knows where the doctor keeps all of the silverware and the good china and the secret stash of unhealthy food Maura would vehemently deny the existence of and her instant coffee – those words aren't so scary.

She feels safe and secure in everything they refuse to say, in everything they dance around. She feels safe and secure with Maura's hand in hers. She feels safe and secure. She never feels safe and secure. But she does here, she does in that kitchen on Saturday mornings in her running gear, she does with Maura's head on her shoulder after a long movie. She feels safe and secure and it's Christmas and her insides explode with warmth because they're both wearing Santa hats and Christmas sweaters and Maura gave her a pair of socks without her ever having to ask.

She laughs when Maura takes a sip of her cocoa and her nose comes away from the mug covered in foam and whipped cream. Maura pokes her in the ribs laughing as she wipes her face off.

Angela looks at her daughter from the kitchen table a knowing smile on her face. That is all she has ever needed and wanted for her children. She shares a knowing look with Vince and they both nod approvingly.

The kids are alright.

When it's time to open presents they all sit in Maura's living room. Filled to the brim with people it doesn't feel so huge, so empty. The tree takes up a good portion of the space as do the presents underneath, but no one seems to mind. Everyone is laughing and cheering as Frankie passes the presents out to everyone. Jane and Maura are both on the floor cross legged with their knees touching. Conversation is light which is refreshing considering most of everyone's line of work in the room.

Maura glances at Jane out of the corner of her eye as she catches a present from Frankie. She's smiling wide and her nose crinkles at the bridge when she laughs. Maura has never felt so drawn to someone in all her life. She just wants to be around Jane, right where she is, knees slightly touching. She wants to have this moment forever, wants this family forever.

Korsak is sitting next to Angela – they are both laughing. Lydia and Tommy are talking and Lydia's mother is holding the baby while talking with Frost. They make a scrappy bunch, a ragtag clan of misfits is what they are but she wouldn't have it any other way. This is the life she chose, the life that chose her. This is how she always imagined Christmas was supposed to be – full of life and love and laughter.

"Heads up!" Frankie yells as he throws a small neatly wrapped box at Maura. She's too slow, too caught in her reverie but luckily Jane caught the box before it hit her in the face.

"Better pay attention there, Slick." Jane teases bumping their shoulders.

Maura rolls her eyes at the nickname. She insisted they go running in the snow a week ago. And of course after telling Jane to be careful of the ice she's the one who slipped and fell. Jane had to carry her the rest of the way home because she was limping so badly and she hasn't heard the end of it yet.

She takes the box from Jane's hand before letting this all sink in. Her living room is enveloped by the cacophonous sound of ripping wrapping paper and Christmas music and Frankie finally sits down with his own pile of presents. She tries to keep her eyes from welling with tears.

This, all of this, is more than she ever thought of, ever dreamed of.

Jane stares at Maura as she shuts the door after escorting her mother to the guest house. Maura is smiling her cheeks a pleasant rosy color as she picks up stray wrapping paper and gift bags and mugs. Jane blinks.

They are survivors.

She doesn't know why it's hitting her now. She doesn't quite fully understand herself sometimes but it is and it's unmistakable.

They are survivors.

As she looks at Maura, as the faint songs of a Christmas album plays in the background and the glow of colorful lights illuminate the space and the air of December fills the room, it's the only thing going through her head.

They are survivors.

There are years she can name with moments when she thought she would never make it to Christmas. And here she is. This has been one of the best Christmases of her life. Her mother had all three of her children under the same roof for once, there was even a grandchild, and work friends and Maura. Jane's heart does that flutter thing it's been doing lately when she thinks of her. She closes her eyes for a second.

Maura has survived too.

Maura, a neglected child turned neglected adult. She has had countless number of people walk out on her, treat her badly, turn her around and against herself. Maura goes to crime scenes in her high heels and fashionable dress regardless of what people think. Maura still feels freely, thinks freely, acts freely, lives freely despite all of the things that have been put in front of her. It's like she's winning at poker with the worst hand dealt.

Jane still has nightmares about death closing its grip around them. She still wakes up in a cold sweat with images of a man long since dead at the forefront of her mind. Her hands don't work and she has a scar on her side she forgets about sometimes unless she's in the shower. She's guarded and hostile and hurt. But she's gotten through it. They both have.

Together, they have survived.

Together, they are survivors.

Maura looks up. Their eyes lock. That smile is playing on her lips and her hazel eyes are light and mysterious and Jane knows.

She steps forward as Frosty the Snowman plays on the stereo, as the wind howls outside of the windows.

They are safe.

They are secure.

She is mere inches away from Maura. Jane feels her drop the trash sack she is holding and lace her fingers through her belt loops instead. There needn't be any words. No flashy sighs of affection or big confessions. It's just them and December and Christmas.

Stiff fingers trace over lightly freckled cheeks. There is a sigh, a tilt of a head. "Jane." The word falls from her lips in just a whisper before Jane finally, finally gains the courage to close the space between them.