A/N: Okay so here's the thing, guys. I really should've had a more concrete idea of what I wanted this story's trajectory to be when I started it, because frankly, I don't find it very interesting to write anymore and I can't imagine it's interesting to read at this point. I do plan on finishing it, but know that it really is almost over- just a chapter or two left, and maybe an epilogue dealing with Kate's death (for those who would be interested).
I'm sorry for the wait- on that note, I might recommend skimming the previous chapter to re-catch yourself up on the conversation Jane and Maura had.
Ah, well. Almost done!
I just pulled up. Are you here?
Kate's finger hovered over her phone, preparing to send the message, but she quickly deleted it and just got out of her car. It was a little after 2:00, the time when Jane had said she would be at the shooting range Kate had just arrived at. She went inside, rented a shotgun, and was led to the firing range. Finding Jane was quick work; she was towards the end of the line, preparing to fire.
There was that strange sensation again, some relative of desire stirring in Kate's stomach. She had always rolled her eyes at Tony's insistence that a woman wielding a gun was sexy, but Jane Rizzoli lining up a shot was just further evidence to back his point. Kate had seen countless other female agents, and her fair share of female cops, but there was something uniquely stunning about Jane. It was everything from her comfortable but steady stance to her trained, determined gaze. It was her tall legs and long arms and muscles visibly tightening as she shot the weapon, sure and steady. She was breathtaking.
When the targets were brought forward, Jane glanced at the doorway and saw Kate standing there. A smile couldn't quite work its way to her lips, so she nodded, and Kate slowly walked over.
"Not bad," she said, looking at the bullet holes which had perforated the center of the target. "Impressive even."
"Guess so," Jane snorted. "I've always been good at target practice."
"Me too. Were you as surprised as I was?"
"How unhelpful it is. I mean, it's good to know you can shoot on target, but..."
"There are so many other elements at play when you're in the moment," Jane said, and Kate nodded. "The light, whether or not you've been wounded, whether you've got anything to hide behind, whether you've got a partner, whether it's an ambush and you're on edge..."
Kate laughed dryly. "Yeah. Still...doesn't hurt to keep it in practice, though."
"Practice," Jane muttered, leaning against the barrier as new targets were put into place. "I need practice."
"On the contrary, Detective Rizzoli. You seem exceedingly apt at work and at play."
With a hollow laugh, Jane said, "I always thought it might be fun to bring a girl here. I could do that cheesy thing that guys do in movies where they help the girl's stance or whatever, just as an excuse to get close to her."
"I had a guy try that with me at a pool hall when I was in college," Kate said. "I rammed the back end of cue stick in his groin."
"Ouch!" Jane laughed. "Well, I'd certainly know better than to try something with you here, anyway. You probably know what you're doing, huh? Care to take a turn?"
"Watch and learn, slacker," Kate chuckled, pulling on her headphones.
When her results came back, Jane whistled in appreciation. "Nice formation, there."
"Thanks. I was always good, but Gibbs really helped cinch it. I'd only been working for him a while when he took my phone at a shooting range and tied it around my target."
"Sadist! Did you hit it?"
"Too bad it didn't come with bullet insurance, huh?"
Kate was about to ask if they could get out of there, but it seemed Jane had chosen this place as a meeting spot for a reason, and she went for another round. Kate turned down an offer to go again, happy for the moment to just watch Jane in action. Most of all she was grateful that Jane had been willing to see her, and was also being more than cordial—more than what Kate felt she deserved.
"Are you objectifying me, Agent Todd?" Jane asked, lowering her headphones for the last time.
"I'm admiring your form," Kate tried.
Oh gosh, that smile was adorable. "That what they call it these days?" Jane caught Kate's eye, and Kate just shrugged with a grin. "Look, um... I guess it's kinda late for lunch, but do you wanna maybe grab coffee or something? Just coffee, so we can, um... talk."
"I'd love that."
Driving in their own cars, Jane led the way to a local diner that brewed the best coffee away from the Division Cafe. Most of the lunch crowd had dispersed by then, giving them some degree of privacy. Once they'd been served, Jane decided it was her turn to start the conversation.
"So," she said somberly. "You said in your message that you had talked to your brother."
"Big mistake, apparently," Kate sighed.
"I told him about my assignment to date you, and how I'd wound up enjoying your—ah—company more than I had anticipated."
"Didn't take it well?"
"Nope," Kate said, trying to laugh. "Not at all. I thought I could talk to him because—well, he hasn't always had the easiest time staying within the, um... moral parameters set for us by our parents. He knows how it feels to be judged, and have people think poorly of his choices—or actions, I mean actions. So I thought it'd be good to talk to him about it, but he was really not okay with it."
Jane tried to imagine Frankie or Tommy giving her grief about her sexuality, and nearly shivered at the thought. You grew up bonded to your siblings, through better and worse, and imagining one of them being disgusted with you was difficult to bear. Not that it was any easier than a parent expressing that disappointment.
"Got a similar reaction from my dad last night," Jane said gruffly, cupping her mug of coffee with both hands and staring into its depths. "We don't see him much; none of us have been in much contact since he walked out on my mother a few years back. He was my idol growing up, though. He was like Superman to me, you know? And I wanted him in my life, I wanted to forgive him. I—I still want to forgive him, so bad, for what he did to my mom. And I think I might have, but he came by last night and just sort of blew his top."
"You told him upfront?"
"No, that's almost the worst thing about it. I didn't even get to break it to him, Ma did. He'd called to find out what was going on with everyone, I guess, and she told him." Jane laughed bitterly. "Oh, I'd love to know how that conversation went." She put on her parents voices: "'So Angela, how is my special girl, Jane?' 'Oh she's just fine, Frank! She decided to become a lesbian, so good job letting her play all those sports as a kid and not having her do ballet like I asked!'"
"Your mother's all right with it though, isn't she?" Kate asked.
Jane shrugged. "Yeah, she's been cool about it. I think she always kinda knew, she just didn't press it. Apparently, she's been gunning for me and Maura to get together for a while." She cleared her throat, not quite wanting to address that aspect yet. "Is there anyone else in your family who might be okay hearing about it? Or friends, have you got friends you could talk to?"
"I might try my sister. She lives in West Chester."
"Philadelphia. It was just a conversation I wanted to have in person, not over the phone, and my brother was closer."
"I do have one friend at work who's been really helpful, though." Kate finally smiled again. "I talked to her obsessively after my dates with you."
Jane smiled back. "You talked to one of your friends about me?"
"Oh, yeah," Kate said, her tone sufficiently stoking Jane's ego. "Abby and I always talk about the people we date, and she sort of helped me out with you. I mean, I was really—you made me really nervous. I was so sure I was going to screw up."
"Screw up your assignment?" Jane clarified.
"No, screw up being with you. Frankly, I didn't think the assignment would work. I didn't think I could get close enough to you in time to make you comfortable telling me about Paddy Doyle."
"But you went along with it anyway."
"Ever seen Lord of the Rings, Jane?"
"Do you remember the scene where Boromir says 'one does not simply walk into Mordor'?"
"Eh, sort of?"
"Where's Tony when I need him?" Kate muttered, though clearly amused. "Anyway, one does not simply ignore an order from Gibbs. And besides, like I've said, I really was intrigued by you, Jane. I wanted to know how it would feel to date you."
"And how was that?"
"Well first of all, you made an exceptionally good first impression, which is obviously key," Kate said. "But even more importantly, you exceeded that first impression each time we met. Sometimes a date is just a means to an end, right? I mean I'm sure we've both been there."
"Yeah," Jane muttered. "That's kinda where I was at before I met you."
Given Jane's serious tone, Kate wasn't quite sure how to address that. She continued the thought she'd started a moment ago: "It's fun sometimes, going out and being made to feel sexy, all that. But you made me feel more. It's something that hasn't happened a whole lot for me in my dating experience. I really felt like you were present. I felt interesting and cared about."
Jane leaned over the table a bit. "Just to clarify, though: I did make you feel sexy, too, right?"
Kate smirked. "Totally. That's what was so surprising."
"Oh hey, speaking of surprises, your friend Abby actually dropped by Maura's place last night."
"Yeah. I happened to walk in later, and she got very paranoid, like she thought I was dating Maura and had been two-timing you, even though I was the one who was actually getting played. Technically."
"It's okay. I mean I don't think we really managed to set her straight, but I just wanted to tell you that. You definitely have an ally in Abby. And Gibbs, too."
"Gibbs? How can you know that? The man's about as transparent as a cement wall."
"Walls crack a bit now and then. He gave me a copy of McGee's first book and basically told me to read the paragraph that introduces your character. Your team thinks very highly of you, Kate. That's valuable."
"Um...thanks. Wow, I ask you here to apologize to you, and you're the one trying to make me feel better?"
"You were doing your job," Jane said quietly. "I'd have done the same thing in your place, sorry to say. It sucks, but there you have it."
"Are you still angry at me?" Kate asked. Jane waited a moment, then slowly shook her head. "So..." She bit her lip and raised her eyebrows hopefully.
Jane's smile looked a little defeated. "You're going back to D.C. after Abby's conference, aren't you?"
"And I'm staying here." Jane shrugged.
"Is that the only reason?"
"No. I really liked you, Kate. A lot. And I was totally ready to help you through these new, uh, experiences. And in some way I still can't really explain, I think I needed you. You came into my life at just the right time, to sort of help me stop hiding." She laughed, trying to boost the spirit of their conversation back up. "You were that irresistible. I saw you, I talked to you, and I just couldn't leave it there. Something snapped into gear, and I knew I had to contact you right away, definitely for something more than a hook-up. Talk about good first impressions."
Kate smiled, still genuinely touched that she had helped Jane move out of the closet. She was also profoundly glad that she had decided to be straightforward with Jane about her mission, rather than high-tailing it back to D.C. without a word.
"All that, and yet...?"
Draining a bit more of her coffee, Jane's smile faded. "I'd been avoiding a lot of things, I guess. I accepted that I was attracted to women, but I wasn't ready to accept that the woman I'd already fallen for was what right in front of my eyes every day. My best friend."
"Is that what caught your eye about me at the Merch?"
"At first, yeah. But you and Maura are two really different people. Both cool, but very different. You're not interchangeable."
Kate smiled bracingly. "That's good to know, I guess!" An awkward silence settled between them for a few moments, and Jane finished off her coffee. Kate sighed. "Just don't wait too long then, okay?"
"To tell her." Kate swallowed. "Tell her how you feel."
"She kind of has an idea already," Jane said, scratching the back of her head. "We had a talk after Abby left last night. Seems like I wasn't the only one harboring feelings."
Hearing this made Kate feel oddly sad. She had no claim on Jane; even if their dating hadn't come about as part of an assignment, they'd never decided to make things exclusive. She shouldn't take it personally that Jane had very strongly developed feelings for someone else—someone who lived in her city, someone who she was close to, someone she could trust. Still, it hurt a bit, even if Kate acknowledged she had no right to feel that way. Her heart was having a hard time keeping up with her head.
"Don't give up on yourself, either. If you wanna keep pursuing the uh, 'lesbionic' lifestyle, don't be deterred by all this."
"Are you going to give me the 'it isn't you, it's me' send-off?"
"No, I'm giving the you-dated-me-as-an-undercover-cop, and we-live-in-different-cities, and it-would-be-dishonest-of-me-to-keep-going-out-with -you send-offs," Jane said, not unkindly. "You're a hot cop. Use that to your advantage! Lots of ladies go nuts for that, trust me."
Kate laughed out loud. "Oh, wow. I don't know if I could handle lots. You may be a unique circumstance in my life, Jane."
"Well, if that's how you feel about it. Either way, I think you're gonna end up just fine in the relationship department."
"Thank you. I hope things work out for you, too."
They left a few minutes later, Jane needing to return to work. She walked Kate to her car, falling into stride next to her. It would be a lie for Jane to say she wasn't curious about what might have happened between the two of them in another time and place. But knowing how Maura felt about her made it difficult for Jane to see any other woman as a potential dating partner.
When they reached Kate's car, Jane stooped down to kiss her on the cheek. "Take care of yourself, Agent Todd."
In response, Kate held out her arms for a hug, and Jane obligingly returned it. "You too, Detective Rizzoli."
They pulled apart, and Jane said, "You've still got my number, yeah?"
"Yes, and you have mine?"
"Yup. So, y'know, call if you ever need to, uh..." (Kate couldn't help imagining that if Tony was there, he'd have suggested, "get off?"). As it was, Jane somewhat more politely ended, "Talk to someone."
"You are a class act, Jane Rizzoli. Thank you."
"My pleasure, Kate. Guess maybe I'll be seeing you, or... talking to you, anyway?"
"I guess maybe you will."