Disclaimer: I'm pretty sure I should be doing coursework instead of this.
In retrospect, I realize I am a total ass. Forgive me.
"I have a brain tumour."
The way she says it, with such a lack of emotion, such a lack of information; it makes Jane's heart clench in her chest as her knees buckle beneath her.
Maura watches, completely stoic, as Jane slumps down into Maura's couch. Her mouth opens once, twice, trying to find anything to say, anything at all. What is she supposed to say?
"It's inoperable." Maura states, face devoid of any emotion.
Jane's hands tremble as she runs them through her hair, rubs them against her temples in some useless attempt at trying to relieve the ironic heaviness she feels in her mind. Her mouth is dry with grief despite the fact that Maura's still right there- Right in front of her, just an arms distance away.
She already feels lost to her.
"How long?" Jane manages to stammer out, finally looking up at Maura for the first time since those fateful words had escaped her lips.
"Just inside a year." Maura answers plainly.
Jane can't prevent the desperate cry that tumbles, unbidden, from her lips. Her hands reach out, seeking, but Maura stays carefully out of reach. Doesn't meet Jane's eyes, instead keeps them fixed firmly on the ground.
"I won't make it that long, Jane." Maura whispers, and, for the first time, Jane hears some emotion weaving throughout her voice. "I know what will happen. How I'll slowly lose myself to this disease. And I-I can't let that happen."
Jane wishes that she could find her feet; longs to stand and wrap her arms around her best friend. So beautiful and lovely and intelligent and- and dying? Yet when she tries to rise from the couch, her legs simply buckle beneath her again and she slumps, still in some strange mix of shock and grief and all-consuming terror. Maura doesn't seem to want to be anywhere near her.
"What are- Are you trying to tell me what I think you're trying to tell me?" Jane chokes out the words, feels tears beginning to well in her eyes.
Slowly, Maura's eyes raise from the floor and meet Jane's gaze. "When the time comes, when I feel I'm in my last stages of my true self, I want to take my life. Yes. And I hope you'll respect that."
"Maura- No, Maura, please."
It's the isolated look in Maura's eyes and the knives she feels driving through her heart that force her shaking legs to work. She stumbles to her feet and grabs Maura's shoulders, sighing at the way Maura shakes beneath her touch. She's much more frightened than she appears.
"Jane, I know what's going to happen to me. I know how I'm slowly going to deteriorate. And I don't want that. So, please." Maura begs, reaching out and gripping Jane's forearms with strength she didn't know she possessed. "Let me enjoy these last few months."
Jane finally allows the tears to fall freely, not that she has much control over them anymore, and then Maura's poker face finally crumbles and they fall into each other, clutching desperately as though there's something left to fight for. As though just one hug and an act of comfort can make all of this go away.
For the first time since the case with Hoyt, Jane stays over.
Except for this time, they fall asleep clutching each other.
The next day, Jane wakes to find that Maura's still asleep. She takes the time to memorize the lovely shapes and lines the construct Maura's elegant face. The plump of her lips, the flutter of her long eyelashes against her cheeks and the soft waves of her honey-colored hair that splays across the pillow.
Jane's chest tightens at her beauty. How can such a lovely person be crushed by such a horrible disease?
Maura's eyes flicker open slowly, drinking Jane in with drowsy eyes. Just for a moment.
Then she sighs and leans forwards, captures Jane's lips with her own soft ones.
Jane stiffens immediately, until Maura's hand reaches up to cup her cheeks, softly stroking along Jane's cheekbones with her index fingers. Jane lets herself fall into the kiss. Adjusts to the softness of Maura's lips; so different from any man's that she's been used to. But, rather predictably, Jane feels this new and unfamiliar feel of lips sliding against hers so perfect, so right. Let's herself sigh softly into the kiss until Maura pulls away.
"We don't have to make this into a big deal." Maura murmurs softly, continuing to stroke Jane's cheek.
"It is though, isn't it? It always has been." Jane replies, leaning into Maura's touch.
Maura smiles. "I suppose it has."
And she says nothing more.
Maura wants to stay at work. She wants to stay for as long as she can. Help others with her walking Wikipedia brain and her science until she loses the concept of it all.
And she warns Jane not to tell anybody. Anybody at all. Not until the time is necessary.
Jane finds it so surreal- Walking into work side-by-side with Maura, as though nothing's wrong. As though her best friend doesn't have a tumour in her brain that is slowly turning her into a woman she never has been. And the world continues on, officers and detectives wandering around them as they solve drug rings, gang violence, homicides. So unaware of what really is so, so important right now.
But Jane is.
The ache in her heart won't go away.
They don't tell a soul for weeks.
Jane thinks of them as a they now. After all, Jane hasn't spent a night apart from Maura since she had told her about the brain cancer 5 weeks ago. They cuddle up on the couch, clasp hands and exchange kisses but never define what this is. What they are. What they always have been.
What they're losing.
And Jane stays by Maura's side though it all. Catches her elbow when she sways, fills in the word when she forgets, holds her when she cries.
But then Maura's first seizure comes along. Out of the blue. Jane supposes she should've expected it to happen eventually, but she doesn't know how much of her online research could be trustworthy, and Maura keeps most of the information from her. ("I know what it's like living with the knowledge, I don't want you to go through that too").
She collapses in the bullpen, in the middle of updating them on some new tests she ran on the victim's hair, body violently twitching as her eyes roll into the back of her head.
Jane falls to her knees instantly, yelling at Frost to call an ambulance as she cradles Maura's head in her hands, trembling and completely at loss for what to do.
Eventually, Maura's body stops shaking and her disorientated eyes open, finds Jane's own with too much sadness there. Wets her dry lips. Doesn't say a word. Doesn't attempt even the faintest of smiles.
Jane doesn't have the heart to tell her that it will all be okay. Simply rides in the ambulance with her, grief heavy in her chest.
After that, she doesn't return to work. No surprise. But Jane stays, temporarily, claims that she needs to help look after Maura. Cavanagh understands.
When Ma finds out, she reacts the same as Jane had. Falls to the sofa, trembling hands running through her hair, staring at Maura with wide eyes. Eventually, she mumbles a strangled, "Maura, come here."
Maura falls into her easily, despite her reluctance for comfort and attention. But she allows Angela to hold her, cry softly, and stroke her hair tenderly. Jane can't stand the sight because it is breaking her heart, so she turns away.
"I've always thought of you as my own daughter, you know." Angela confesses quietly, kissing Maura's forehead.
Maura tells her own Mom over the phone. Because her Mom can't find the time in her schedule to visit and she has two months left, tops.
Afterwards, Maura sits in a stunned silence, eyes staring at the wall but not really seeing. So Jane hauls her from the couch and lies her down on the bed, pulls her shoes off, presses a tender kiss to her forehead as she lies beside her and wraps her up in a crushing hug.
Maura tilts her head towards Jane, brushes her lips in a kiss. "I'm sorry too."
The silence of all the things they're not saying is deafening.
Frost and Korsak visit soon after. Unexpectedly. It's Angela who answers the door to them- she hangs around most days now, hovering uselessly, wishing there were anything that she could do- and ushers them inside.
She creeps into Maura's room, where Maura rests for one of her now frequent afternoon naps. Jane is lying beside her, content to simply watch.
"Frost and Korsak are here." She tells Jane in a whisper.
Jane smiles softly, running her hands through Maura's silky locks. "Good. She could use with a little socialisation."
"I think she's quite content to spend the rest of her life with you, honey." Her Ma says gently, smiling.
The tears well easily in Jane's eyes as she softly sides a hand from Maura's hair to caress her cheek. "I know." She murmurs.
When Maura eventually wakes, she pulls on her best clothes and runs a hand through her hair, using Jane as a crutch when her steps falter slightly from a bout of dizziness.
Frost and Korsak are waiting on the couch for them, beers in hand and melancholy expressions lingering. But when they see Maura, they put on their best grins as well as easy-going expressions. As though this situation isn't serious at all, as though they can act all the pain and the heartache and the grief away.
"Detective Frost." Maura greets them easily, pressing kisses to their cheeks. "And Sergeant- Sergeant-"
Jane slides beside her when she struggles, placing a comforting hand on the bottom of Maura's back. "Korsak." Jane supplies when Maura forgets the name.
Maura's eyes slide closed in frustration, trying to battle the tears away. She should be used to this by now. She's forgotten names and words far too many times these past few weeks.
"Right. Korsak." She mutters, leaning into Jane with a sigh.
Tommy and Frankie come two days later. Maura manages their names just fine, but stumbles over the words popcorn and football. But at some point between the laughing, drinking and pretending that everything is fine she takes herself back off to her room, clutching the banisters for support when walking up the stairs.
Jane follows her without a second thought. Finds her sitting on the middle of the bed in a flood of tears.
"Oh, Maura- Maura." She stumbles to the bed, reaching for her.
Maura allows her head to fall into Jane's shoulder, hand reaching out to grip Jane's waist fiercely.
"I can't see out of my left eye, Jane." She whispers.
She sounds so terrified.
Maura's Mom and Dad come the week after. It's the first time that Jane has ever met Maura's Dad, but he doesn't seem too bad. Not as bad as she thinks of Maura's Mom, anyhow.
She tries to leave, but Maura begs her to stay in a quiet voice, clutching to her hand as though her life depends on it.
Jane stays and listening to all their regrets they feel the need to spill, now that their daughter is dying. Funny how people turn to saints when someone they love is dying.
Instead of focusing on their regrets (not spending time with Maura; not making time for Maura; making Maura feel as though she's unloved) she watches the quiet resignation in Maura's eyes, knowing with a clench in her gut that, all too soon, the end is approaching.
Jane turns from the sink and washing dishes to Maura, who stands just apart from the island, illuminated by the soft lights of the lamps from the front room.
"Hey, I thought you were sleeping."
Maura smiles, eyes watering. "I just- I haven't said it before and I just… I love you, Jane."
Jane grins, moving away from the sink and towards Maura.
"Maura…" Jane sighs, taking her hands. "I love you, too."
"I know." Maura giggles softly. "I've always known."
On a relieved sigh, Jane leans towards Maura, brushing her lips in softly. It starts out chaste, tender, but then Jane reaches up and tangles her fingers in Maura's soft hair as Maura's hands reach around Jane's hips, pulling hem flush together. Jane gasps, tearing her mouth away from Maura's, lips swollen, to stare at her with wide, dark eyes.
Maura bites her lips coyly, staring up at Maura with the same dark look reflected in her own eyes.
"I thought that if I distanced myself enough from you, didn't take anything too far, then it would make it easier on you for when I'm gone. But," Maura slides a thumb across Jane's swollen lips, breathing ragged, "I think I'm too selfish for that. I'm sorry."
"Maura," Jane gasps, tightening her hands in her hair, "I want you to-to live while you can. If I'm what you want, then just… Just say."
"Have you ever done this before?" Maura asks shyly.
Jane swallows, a lump in her throat. "No… Have you?"
Maura shakes her head softly. "No."
Twining their hands gently, Jane tugs her from the room and up the stairs, settles her down on the bed. Handles her as though she's made of china, something inherently fragile and ready to break.
Jane memorises the soft flush that spreads across Maura's skin, the darkness lying in the pool of her eyes, the way her chest heaves softly. Runs her hands across the soft skin and commits the feel to memory, the play of her muscles as her fingers skim across her ribs, the slight tremble in her shallow breathing as Jane's mouth presses against her skin. The way love sounds when she gasps Jane's name.
And she tries not to cry when Maura shows Jane how much she loves her, too.
"You're going to kick ass, huh?"
Jane runs her fingers along Maura's arm, barely brushing, lets them whisper up and down.
"Yeah." Jane croaks, emotional. So this is what a morning after with Maura is like.
Maura sighs gently, eyes fluttering sleepily. Her lips twitch slightly into a small, smug smile. "My detective."
"Yours, huh?" Jane laughs, hand finally settling on Maura's cheek as they lay staring at one another.
The morning sunlight seeps through the blinds, painting the shadows of Maura's face with reds and oranges. Jane feels her heart stutter at the sight, can only think of one time Maura looked more beautiful than that moment. From last night.
Maura circles Jane's wrist with her own fingers, peppering kisses to the pads of Jane's fingers. Doesn't say anything more.
Jane smiles and slips from the bed, dresses for work half asleep and half filled with this magical glow from loving Maura and being loved in return. Maura watches her lazily, a small smile never leaving her face, yet a melancholy look in her eyes.
"I'm only doing a half-day today." Jane tells her once she's finished brushing her teeth in the en suite of Maura's room, brushing her hair as she walks back in. "It's all just paperwork I need to catch up on. I'll be back about lunchtime."
Maura's smile wavers slightly. Then she reaches out from the bed and pulls Jane in for a kiss. Jane follows, surprised, using her elbow on the mattress to prevent her from tumbling down on Maura.
Jane smiles when they pull away, eyes glittering with happiness that hasn't been there ever since they'd learned of Maura's cancer.
"I love you. So much." Maura whispers, fingers curling tight in Jane's hair.
"I love you, too." Jane replies lightly, stealing one last quick kiss from her before leaving for work.
Maura waits until she hears the front door shut before she reaches for the bottle of pills.
"Maura?" Jane calls out when she arrives home and finds that Maura isn't awake downstairs. Strange. Normally Maura doesn't feel weak until about 2pm, which is when she takes her naps.
So Jane shrugs her work blazer off and throws it onto the couch, along with her gun and badge. She'll put them away later. And she knows Maura doesn't like the sight of them; knowing Jane will be out there and she can't help in any way. Her brain can't catch up with what it used to be any more.
Maura lies beneath the sheets when Jane walks into the room, exactly where she was when Jane left for work this morning.
As she approaches, Jane notices that Maura's face is just a little too pale compared to normal, and the muscles of her face just a little too slack for what would be sleeping. She pauses a foot away, assessing, barely believing.
There's an empty bottle of pills on the bedside table.
"God, Maura, no!" Jane cries, falling to her knees and pressing two fingers to Maura's neck. They tremble. "Please, please, please. Maura."
There's no pulse, but she refuses to believe it, even though her eyes blur with tears and her throat clogs with long anticipated grief.
"No, Maura, c'mon. Don't do this to me, Maura. Please- please!" She yells, shaking Maura's lifeless body by the shoulders.
"Oh God, oh, please…" Jane sobs, slumping into the bed, one hand resting above Maura's heart. No heartbeat. There never will be again. "Please come back. Stay with me, Maura. Please. Don't leave me."
But she's already gone.
It is frightening how lonely it is to be the one who's left behind.
She doesn't care that her Ma, Korsak and Frost all see her in this broken mess when they come for Maura's body. Worse off than she was after Hoyt. Doesn't care that her Ma wraps her up in a hug and rocks her back and forth before Korsak and Frost, doesn't care because she just wants Maura to come back, more desperately than she's ever wanted anything. But her body remains lifeless as Jane stays huddled against her Ma on the bedroom floor, until they take her away and Jane's left with nothing but the smell of Maura on the bed sheets.
It's three hours later and Jane is curled up on the very spot Maura died.
Angela sits beside her on the bed and strokes her hair lightly. "Honey, I have something you need to see."
The words barely make it into Jane's ears. They just sound like empty noise.
"It's from Maura."
Jane turns at that, eyes flickering with recognition for the first time on three hours, focus on the disc in her Ma's hands.
"I found it downstairs. It's addressed to you."
Jane takes the disc from her hands and stumbles downstairs to the TV, trembling with the grief at the exertion, the strain it takes to make her body move as it normally would.
Maura's face fills the screen, and Jane simply stands before it, motionless, eyes drinking in that face that had been so alive this morning, so lovely.
Jane feels Angela's hand on her shoulder, doesn't even flinch at the contact.
"I've just taken the pills, so I don't have long now. And, um, I realized perhaps I wasn't very fair on you for doing this. Any of it."
Jane swipes at the tears on her cheeks, wills them away so that she can see Maura's beautiful, alive face clearly. So alive. So in love.
"But I couldn't bring it up around you. I knew that if I did, you'd probably take the pills away, or insist that I just wait. Perhaps it was unfair of me to hide what would happen to me if I really lived this disease through to its full extent." Maura sighs, runs a weary, pale hand through her hair but keeps her eyes focused on the camera. Though it's through a screen, Jane feels as though she's right in front of her. Like she had never really left at all.
"Everybody else had already said goodbye to me, Jane. Frost and Korsak, your brothers, your Mom, even my own parents. They were all ready. But I knew that you couldn't- wouldn't ever say goodbye." Maura smiles slightly on-screen, and Jane can see tears gathering in her eyes. "But I understand that. I couldn't ever ask you to. I don't think I could ever say goodbye to you, either, which is why I took the cowards way out and let you go thinking I would be here when you returned."
Jane takes a step forward and lays her hand over the TV screen, where Maura's cheek is. She can remember the feel of the soft skin against her fingertips. If she closes her eyes, she can almost fool herself into believing Maura is still here.
"I don't know what to say, really." Maura lets out a nervous giggle, but the tears are falling steadily down her cheeks now, and it makes Jane whine low at seeing her in pain. "I don't know what to say that hasn't already been said. You know I love you, Jane. I know you love me. I hoped last night proved that- It was probably the best night of my life, and, ironically, I've never felt more alive."
"Maura." Jane whispers brokenly, feeling her lungs tighten, and her ribs feel like they're bursting out of her skin, and she aches all over with love and loss and heartache.
"Do something for me please, Jane?" Maura thumbs her tears away, smiling. "Keep kicking ass. Do what you do better than anyone else. Live your life. Move on. It's okay to forget me."
As if Jane could ever forget her.
"I guess the one thing I regret is that I didn't step up and tell you how I felt sooner. That it was my disease that forced us to admit what we'd known forever. But, then, I don't suppose I'd change any of our time together. I'm so glad I met you."
"Me too, Maura." Jane replies to the face on the screen.
Maura shrugs. "I still don't know what I believe about what happens after death. Nothing I ever learned showed me what happens. Though I don't suppose I'll remember it, really, not now, not with this disease. It's taken so much of me already, except for how much I love you. But anyway," Maura says, pressing a hand over her own heart. "Just know that, wherever I am, wherever I end up and however long it may be, I'll be waiting, Jane. Until you come to me."
Maura's hand comes to rest atop the camera and Jane's heart quivers in her chest because no, this cannot be the last time she sees Maura, she needs this to keep going on forever.
"I love you, Jane Clementine Rizzoli." Maura murmurs.
Jane's hand stays resting on the screen, even once it fades to black.
It takes her three months to return to work, but she does it.
It takes her six and a half months to visit Maura's grave, but she does it.
It takes her three years and two months to go a day without thinking about Maura, but she does it.
But she doesn't ever stop loving her. Not really.
It's Maura's face that shines behind her eyelids when, seven years and eight months later, she dies from a second bullet; on the ground of a dusty warehouse with a murderer looming over her, doing what she does better than anyone else.
And it's Maura that welcomes her home.