Summary: Jane put her life back together as best as she could after the one person she loved the most walked out on her. A year has gone by when she suddenly finds herself looking into Maura's eyes again. How do you find your way back to something you thought was gone and how do you start over when it turns out you never really moved on?

Pairing: Rizzles - because we all ship it like there's no Tamaro.

Rating: T, mainly for language and some suggestive themes.

Disclaimer: I don't think I need to tell anyone that anything you recognise doesn't belong to me.

Chapter 1

The early morning light filtered through the curtains and slowly, as the minutes began to pass, it filled up the room. The sound of her alarm had roused her from her sleep fifteen minutes earlier but Jane Rizzoli wasn't ready to get out of bed. It was Thursday morning and she was supposed to meet Frost in half an hour so that they could interview a possible suspect in the homicide they were investigating but Jane was still in bed, with the covers wrapped tightly around her, trying to zone out the rain rattling against her bedroom window. It was monotone and would easily lull her back to sleep, were it not for the sudden sharp ringing of her cell phone.

With a frustrated groan Jane felt around on her bedside table and found the offensive device partially hidden under yesterday's blazer. Without checking the caller id she brought it to her ear and answered. "Rizzoli." Her voice was still thick with sleep and Jane felt a sharp pang of disappointment that surprised her after even all this time when the voice on the other side of the line wasn't the one she had once been so used to hearing.

"You awake?" Frost asked.

"I am now."

"You're gonna be late, huh?"

She glanced at the alarm clock. There was no way she was going to be on time. "Looks that way." She knew she should say something else; something better than just acknowledging her partner's great perception of her inability to get out of bed this morning. Barry Frost was a great detective and he had known Jane long enough to understand the way she was wired and one of these days she would actually tell him thanks. "Cover for me?"

It wasn't the first time she'd asked. They both knew it wasn't going to be the last.

"I'll pick Korsak up along the way," Frost answered. He didn't ask questions. He didn't need to. He had Jane's back. That's what partners did. They covered your ass. "Drive safely."

Jane wasn't so sure she should be driving at all and when she ended the call she flung her cell phone across the room. It landed a few inches away from her laundry basket. It was piled high with slacks that needed ironing, socks that needed sorting and three Boston PD shirts she'd worn to the gym in the last week. She rolled onto her back and folded her hands behind her head as she stared up at the ceiling. The sound of the rain once again found its way into her ears and she couldn't stand it. She slipped out of bed, her feet making contact with the carpet, and padded across the room to the bathroom.

Jane took a shower and mentally chastised herself when her thoughts began to wander. She couldn't allow herself to keep doing this, not anymore. The hot water was flowing down her back and she had barely washed the shampoo out of her hair when she turned her head. She had once been so used to the sound of footsteps outside the bathroom door, knuckles rasping against the wood before a soft voice would call her name. She hadn't heard that voice for a while. A very long while. She hadn't heard Maura's voice for a year.

Jane abruptly turned off the shower, wrapped a towel around her body and walked back into her bedroom. It looked like a bombsite. Yesterday's clothes littered the floor and bedside table. One boot lay by the door, the other at the end of the bed. An empty beer lay on the floor, next to the half-eaten pizza she'd brought home with her after another long day at work.

She had one foot in the only clean pair of slacks she could find when her cell phone rang again. Jane hopped across the room, grabbed it from off the floor and groaned when she saw her mother's name flash across the screen. For just a second she contemplated not answering it at all but the thought of her phone ringing throughout the day until she had spoken to her mother wasn't something Jane enjoyed. She heaved a sigh. "Hi, Ma."

"Detective Frost said you're going to be late," came Angela's almost offensively awake and bright voice from the other side of the line.

"Detective Frost will soon be looking for another job if he doesn't learn to keep his nose out of my business."

She didn't mean it. She knew he had only called Angela because he was worried. She knew they all were. She didn't hold it against them but she wished they wouldn't all walk on egg shells around her. Sometimes she could see their faces change when she was snapped out of her thoughts and she knew they would have seen just a glimpse of the emotions she tried so very hard to hide.

"He cares about you, Jane."

"You're a councillor now?" Jane retorted as she attempted to pull a white tank top over her head whilst on the phone. "What's up, Ma?"

"I was just wondering if you'd heard anything," Angela said. "You know…"

"No." Her reply was hollow and her dark eyes scanned the mess that was her bedroom. It couldn't hurt for her mother's obsessive cleaning habits to do their magic in here. Jane stared down at the carpet underneath her feet, suddenly aware of the heavy feeling in her stomach. It had been lingering there for days but now it was really here and she couldn't deny that she felt like absolute hell. The tears in her eyes were unexpected and she hoped, prayed, that her mother didn't hear them. "I haven't heard anything, Ma."

"I'm sorry, baby," Angela answered. "Do you want me to come pick you up?"

"I've got a drivers licence, Ma. I think I can take myself to work."

"It was just a suggestion!"

"I know, Ma. I know." Jane sighed and ran her hand through her damp hair. "I won't have time for breakfast. Can you make me something and have it ready for when I get there?"

"Sure," Angela replied and Jane was convinced she could hear the smile that undoubtedly had appeared on her face. "What would you like?"

"Pancakes," Jane answered before adding, "but not the bunny ones."

"But you always liked the bunny pancakes!" Angela countered.

"Yeah, when I was six."

Angela ignored Jane's last sarcastic comment and hung up with the promise that the pancakes would be ready for her when she got to the precinct. Jane left her cell phone on the dresser and quickly grabbed the rest of her clothes. After that she left the bedroom and made her way into the kitchen. She finished off the bottle of orange juice in the fridge without spilling any of the liquid down her clothes and left the empty bottle on the side. She was about to walk to the door when her eye fell on the piece of paper folded out on the coffee table. It was right where she had left it the night before.

Jane circled the couch and sank down into the comfortable cushions before picking up the paper. It had been folded and unfolded so many times that it had started to wear out across the lines. She knew the handwriting almost as well as she knew her own and she knew every word, every sentence, inside out. She had read it more times than she could remember and every single time it was as if someone poured ice cold water into her heart. She'd be left freezing cold, from the inside out, and every single time she was left wondering what had happened and where things had gone so wrong. She took a deep breath and her fingers followed the lines along which the letter had been folded. She had lost count of the amount of times she had done this. It never changed anything about the way she felt. The words just flooded back into her mind, without even really looking at the paper.

Dear Jane,

By the time you read this you will know that I am gone. I am so sorry, Jane, but I don't know what else to do. I knew you'd come looking for me eventually. You have a key. Not just to my house but also to my heart. And that is the reason that I must leave.

I should be there with you right now, supporting you through all of this, but I can't. I tried, Jane. I tried and I can't do this any longer. I can no longer look at you and see how your eyes light up when you mention his name. I can no longer bear having to see the look on your face when he walks in or out of your life. Both the joy and the sadness break my heart. I wish you could look at me tnat way, the same way you look at him. I don't know what's going to happen today but I know your future will change whatever happens in that operation room and I know mine will too.

I love you, Jane Clementine Rizzoli. I don't know how it happened or even when, I only know that it did. I love you like I have never loved anyone else. It is the kind of love I see when my father looks at my mother after all these years and she still brings this smile to his face. It is a smile that isn't just on his lips, it reaches his eyes and all the way down into his heart. That is what you are to me. It is the kind of love I always hoped I'd find. We spent a lot of time together and maybe it was something that was just inevitable eventually, but who can say? Maybe it was a case of opposites attract. Or maybe, maybe it was just the fact that I fell in love with my best friend and my best friend can never love me back.

You will not find me, Jane. I know you'll try. You'll be racing down to the station the second you finish reading this letter and do everything in your power to track me down. I know you, Jane. I know you better than anyone else but some day that will change. I can't wait for that day to come, Jane, because that will be the day my heart will truly break. I have to leave. What kind of friend would I be if I chose to stay at your side, watching you love someone else the way I wish you could love me? My heart would have broken before your eyes and I don't wanna be around to know, to see, that I am the one to have caused that hurt in your eyes.

You've changed me. You've changed me more than you will ever know. I got to experience the beauty and warmth of friendship and wherever I go, I will take that with me. Wherever I am, there you will be also.

Goodbye, Jane.

All my love,

Jane put the letter back down and glanced at the picture frame in her bookcase. It was a picture of her and Maura, the only picture she had of the two of them, with their arms wrapped around each other. It had been taken at Frankie's birthday party about two months before Maura left and had just blown out the candles. Jane couldn't think of a time where she had seen Maura smile more than that night and as her eyes lingered on that smile she felt the sudden sense of loss close in on her.

She stood up and grabbed her keys, gun and badge from the shelf near the door. She left some food for Jo Friday and stepped out of her apartment. Closing the door behind her she sighed and turned the key. Her legs felt like lead as she walked. When she stepped out of her building she realised it hasn't stopped raining and looked up to the skies, silently cursing them. The feeling of the cold rain on her face brought on the burning sensation of the tears behind her eyes.

It had been a year since Maura left. One morning she had just not showed up for work and after about an hour or trying to call her, Jane had gone to her house. She'd gotten worried when she noticed Maura's blue Prius was still parked in the drive but it wasn't until she reached the front door that she knew something was wrong. It was locked. She used the spare key Maura had given her and stepped into the kitchen. It had been tidy, as always. The envelope with the letter had been right there, propped up against the fruit bowl. When she read it her world fell apart.

It had been the day before Casey's scheduled surgery to remove the piece of metal from his spine. He was the other person Maura was referring to in the letter. She knew the dangers and the risks, even if Jane chose to ignore them. She ignored them like she always tried to ignore things in her life that could cause her pain. It wasn't until the operation didn't go the way anyone had expected and Jane couldn't deny it any longer that she allowed herself to admit that she was scared. During the surgery the piece of shrapnel dislodged and cut into the aorta. He bled out on the table. There was nothing the doctors could have done. He was gone. And Maura was too.

Jane forced the memories back into the darker corners of her mind. By now she was already drenched and she hurried across the sidewalk to her car. She got in, started the engine and switched on the heater before driving off, leaving her apartment building behind her. She swirled her way through Boston's busy morning traffic, swearing under her breath at most of the other road users around her, and turned up the radio when they announced the sports results from the previous night.

By the time she parked her car at Boston PD she was not just late, she was really late. Jane walked in to the building and straight into the cafeteria. Her mother's eyes snapped up when she discovered Jane by the coffee pot and she left the til and joined her.

Angela gave her daughter a once over. "You look like hell."

"And I love you too," Jane answered as she added cream to her coffee. "Where are my pancakes?"

"You haven't got time for pancakes, Rizzoli," announced a male voice and Jane turned around to find Cavanaugh standing in the café doorway. His eyes softened when he noticed how wet she was. "Where the hell have you been?"

"Flat tyre," Jane lied and she could hear her mother hiss in disapproval. She forced herself to make eye contact and her face remained straight. "Sorry, sir."

Cavanaugh didn't answer. He just turned around and left. Jane met her mother's gaze shook her head. "What? Did you want me to tell him I overslept? He'll put me on desk duty for a week!"

"Maybe that wouldn't be such a bad idea," Angela said critically. "You look like you've slept under an overpass, Jane."

"What's with all the compliments this morning?" Jane sarcastically answered and she sipped from her coffee. It tasted revolting and she spat it back into her cup before wiping her mouth with the back of her hand. Wide eyed she stared at Angela. "What the hell happened to this?!"

"New flavour," Angela shrugged. "I thought it was time for a change."

Jane rolled her eyes as she abandoned the cup of coffee on the side. "And the new flavour is sewage water?"

"I know what day it is, Jane." Angela's words came out so much softer than anything else she had said that morning and the gentleness in her mother's voice made that Jane's shoulders dropped. "I know it's been a year." She attempted to catch her daughters gaze but Jane averted her eyes. "It's been a year today."

"I know," Jane whispered. "I know."

"Maybe there's a chance…"

"There is no chance, Ma!" Jane suddenly snapped and her dark eyes were blazing with anger that reached the surface. "Like you said, it's been a year. What's going to change now? Life goes on. It's what people do!"

Angela seemed taken aback by her daughter's sudden outburst and quickly grabbed the cup of coffee from the side and was about to turn around when Jane reached for her mother's arm to stop her. When their eyes found each other Angela was reminded of how much Jane really looked like her, whether the dark haired woman liked it or not. They were so alike. She smiled weakly when Jane stepped closer to her. It was as close to a hug as they were going to get.

"I'm sorry," Jane said softly.

"It's ok, baby. I understand."

"It's just that…" Jane's eyes subconsciously fleeted to the door of the café. So many times she still expected to see Maura standing there. She hadn't gotten used to her not being here. She wasn't sure she ever would. "Sometimes I still think…"

When Casey's surgery failed and the doctors told her that he hadn't made it, it felt as if the world around her just crumbled. Like someone had taken a match and set everything on fire, leaving her with only the ashes running through her fingers. But it wasn't until she went home to the emptiness of her apartment that she realised that it wasn't just Casey who was gone. She realisation that Maura wasn't there at her side, holding her hand, whispering words of wisdom and kindness in her ear, left her even more broken than the loss of the man she thought she loved.

She had looked for Maura in desperation but she had failed to find any trace of her. It was as if Maura Isles had just disappeared. The world is a big place and Jane didn't know where to start. Casey's funeral came and went. She just remembered that she couldn't cry. The service had been beautiful and with full military honours. It was the first time she laid eyes on his ex-wife and when she saw the grief in her eyes she realised that the other woman's pain over his death was far greater than her own. When she stood next to his grave she wasn't sure who she mourned.

Angela's hand found Jane's. "You loved her, didn't you?"

Jane's head whipped back around. She had never spoken those words out loud and she didn't know how her mother even knew. She hadn't even known herself until it was too late. Just like everything else in her life she had been too late once again. She hated herself for her stupidity. She had been so focused on Casey, so focused on the life she never knew she even wanted to have, that she overlooked something that had been right in front of her for all this time. Now it was gone.

"I…" Her voice faltered. She wasn't sure if she had been about to deny or admit it. She didn't even know the answer. She just knew that the things she had known, that had seemed most familiar to her, were no longer that. Everything had changed and Maura was gone. "Ma, I…"

"Don't say anything," Angela answered softly. "It's been a difficult year, Jane." Her thumb stroked the back of Jane's hand. "Maybe there will be a day when…"

"No." She said it so dismissively that she even surprised herself. She pulled her hand back and gestured to the empty doorway. The pain in Jane's eyes and in her voice made Angela realise for the very first time just how much Jane was really hurting behind her mask.

"Maura's gone, Ma, and she isn't coming back."