A/N: Well, here we go with our rating change.


We ordered our usual pizza, half mushroom, half pepperoni and settled in on the couch to watch a comedy while we waited for it to be delivered. After that afternoon, we both needed a little comic relief. I jokingly moaned to Maura that I couldn't have a beer, and she politely refrained from having a glass of wine in solidarity with my medically imposed sobriety. I had no idea how long it would be before the doctors gave me clearance for that stuff, but I hoped it wouldn't be long. Something about resected bowels and lacerated livers and terms I was too grossed out by to find out more about was keeping me from enjoying a cold one, and it bothered me.

"I don't care what the doctor says. When I come home for good, the first thing I'm doing is having a beer," I said resolutely.

"Really? That's the first thing you're going to do?" Maura quipped as she leaned forward to grab the remote and pressed play.

"Okay, well, you know, after we do, um, other stuff," I said, grinning at Maura's sarcasm.

"What other stuff?" Maura asked, feigning innocence.

"You know," I mumbled.

"Maybe I don't. Maybe I want to hear you say it, Jane."

The way she said my name gave me butterflies in my stomach.

"God Maura, how do you do that?"

"Do what?" She asked, the flirtation in her voice obvious.

"Send a shiver down my spine while making me very hot and bothered?"

"It's easy with you," she said with a smirk. "So, do you think you'll be ready for that other stuff when you come home permanently? It's only a month away, if we're both lucky."

"I hope so. I don't know. I want to be. I just don't feel very attractive, and I haven't even been given clearance for that kind of activity yet. But emotionally, if we keep going the way we're going right now, I'm probably going to combust if we don't do it the second I get home after they release me to outpatient therapy." I gave her a sheepish smile.

"Based on the surgery you had, your pelvis is still healing. And intercourse after a hysterectomy is tricky. You should be at a point though, where you are physically healed enough to participate in it," Maura paused, choosing her words carefully. "You may not enjoy penetration very much at first. It's going to feel different, and not just because you'll be with a woman. Your anatomy is a bit different now, and we'll have to… make adjustments for what feels best for you. Even if you can't or don't want to be penetrated though, there are still ways to make you feel good."

I shuddered. "Do you think it's going to hurt?"

"Not if we're doing it the right way," Maura said with a wink. "No, seriously, by the time we are ready to take that step, you will be well on your way to healed. We're going to have to get to know what each other likes anyway, just like with any new partner. I wouldn't worry, Jane. As an expert in human anatomy, I know more than one way to please you," Maura said confidently.

"I'm worried that I won't know what to do," I said suddenly.

"You will. And like I said, we're going to take our time and learn what each other likes. I think the beauty of it is really going to be that what normally feels good for you is likely also going to feel good for me. That's one perk to having a partner of the same sex."

"I was reading up on some of my medical conditions a few nights ago, on the tablet you gave me. Everything I read said that women lose their appetite for sex after a hysterectomy. Do you think that's true?" I was genuinely worried about that.

"Well, everyone is different. And in your case, your hysterectomy didn't include your ovaries. That is good for a few reasons. The first is that your body is still producing hormones, so eventually your sex drive will come back."

"I didn't have much of a sex drive to begin with, remember?" I interrupted her.

"I just thought… never mind," Maura trailed off, blushing.

"What did you think? Please, tell me," I encouraged.

"I just figured that you didn't have a lot of sex because you wanted me. I realize how egotistical that sounds, and that wasn't my intention. It was simply an illogical thought," Maura said, embarrassed.

"No, it wasn't illogical at all Maura. As usual, you are spot on. And I didn't have a lot of sex, but I usually took care of myself," I admitted.

"Oh really?" Maura's interest was definitely piqued.

"Yes," I said, blushing furiously.

"So did I," Maura said with a shrug. "Usually on nights after we'd be at the Robber, squished together in one of their booths. If you decided to go home instead of coming here, I'd usually come home and take care of myself," Maura said, lowering her voice as she told me her secret.

"I usually decided to go home instead of coming here because I needed to take care of myself," I said shyly. "I had no idea that you were just as turned on."

Maura was definitely warming up to this conversation, and admittedly, so was I, in a prudish, rather embarrassed sort of way. Maura continued her admissions. "I used to love it when you'd put your arm behind my shoulders in the booth, or if you'd lean in close to tell me something. I used to crave you doing that. Or doing anything that brought you closer to me."

"You don't know how many times I had to stop myself from kissing you when I did that. I wanted to, so badly. There were even times when I thought I would just do it and then blame it on the alcohol if you reacted badly. But in the end, I didn't want to risk being rejected by you." I shrugged a bit, embarrassed to admit it but glad to finally get it out in the open.

"I wouldn't have rejected you," Maura responded earnestly. "As a matter of fact, Murray probably would have banned us from the Dirty Robber because I'd probably have taken you right then and there, in the booth. In front of everyone."

"No, you wouldn't have," I argued, scandalized.

"Maybe. My feelings for you ran that deep, and I wanted you that badly."

"And now?" I asked.

"Now I want you even more," Maura said. "Now that I know that I can have you, that you want to be mine as badly I want to be yours, that we are actually a 'we', well, let's just say that if I was home alone tonight, I'd take care of myself."

I gulped, and I know Maura heard it.

"But we're not at that stage yet, and I'm not going to rush things. We're going to let you heal and get medical clearance and then we're going to do it right," Maura said confidently, reassuringly.

"You don't mind waiting?" I asked, knowing just how long it could take me to feel comfortable with the idea of sex, even when I was healthy and feeling like my normal self.

"I've waited years for you Jane. I'm certainly not going to rush things now. Besides, the anticipation will make the moment that much better when it finally arrives."

"Thank you," I said sincerely. "What were the other reasons, by the way?"

"Other reasons?"

"Yes, you were talking about my hysterectomy and you said it was good that they'd saved my ovaries for a couple of reasons. I interrupted you before you could tell me all of them."

"Oh, well, the other reason it's good that they saved your ovaries is because that means we can have your baby. If you wanted. I mean, I don't even know if you want children and I don't want you to think I'm rushing anything and I didn't want to be too forward and-"

I leaned over and kissed Maura. "You're beautiful when you're flustered and using run on sentences, did you know that?"

"Sometimes it's easy for me to forget that most people don't talk about things like that when they're dating."

"We're beyond dating, don't you think? I mean, I'd like to take you out on dates, and do things properly, but you and I had years of dating each other, even if we didn't call it that. So now is as good of a time as any to have that conversation, if you wanted."

"Do you? Do you want to have kids?" Maura asked shyly.

"I gave up on the idea when you started dating William. You were the only person I ever wanted to raise a family with. Now that I can't have a baby, I don't know what to think. I wasn't all that upset when the doctor told me I couldn't have kids anymore. My mother, on the other hand, was very upset. I'm still not sure though, if I ever really wanted to carry a child. It's one thing to be a mother, it's another thing to be pregnant and go through childbirth. But the idea of raising a child, especially with you, is enticing even if it is terrifying."

"You were wonderful with TJ as an infant," Maura pointed out gently. "You'll make a wonderful mother, Jane. And if we wanted to find a donor and harvest your eggs, I could carry your baby. Then it really would be our baby."

"Do you want to have kids, Maura? Even after what you've been through?" I asked gently, not wanting her to get upset.

Maura looked up, over my shoulder for a moment while she gathered her thoughts, then looked back at me. She spoke slowly, clearly, as if what she was recounting was a history that wasn't her own.

"I was so scared, when I first found out I was pregnant. For a lot of reasons. First, it meant that everything with William was permanent. It was happening whether I wanted it to or not. I'd spent two years telling myself that I wanted a life with him. I made myself believe it. But the day that pregnancy test came back positive, I suddenly realized that what I wanted no longer mattered. We were getting married in two weeks and we were going to be parents in just under nine months. There was no turning back at that point, despite the quiet voice in the back of my head that kept urging me to."

She sighed, then continued.

"But I was scared for other reasons too. I was afraid of the kind of mother I would be. I wanted so much to be the best of my mother, the best of Hope and the best of your mother, all rolled into one, and I didn't know if I could do that. I wanted my baby to grow up knowing that he or she was loved no matter what. I never wanted my son or daughter to wonder, like I had, if he or she was loved. Even though that pregnancy was accidental and unplanned, I never wanted that baby to feel like an unwanted occurrence.

"But despite all that fear, I was excited too. That baby was a chance to love someone, cherish them, and experience motherhood. I spent hours daydreaming about what it would be like to hold the baby for the first time and experience things like the baby's first words or first steps. I was devastated when I lost the baby, Jane. But if I had the chance to try again, with you, I wouldn't hesitate. If it was something you really wanted, I would try again, only as long as it was with you."

I wiped a tear off my cheek that I didn't know I'd shed, then I leaned over and kissed her gently. "Maura, I have no doubt in my mind that you would have been the world's best mother. When I'm better, when we're settled, we can make plans for that, if you want."

She smiled at me, her eyes a little red and ready to spill over. "I think we'd make good parents."

"I don't think it, I know it," I said with a smile.

We sat there, snuggled together for a few minutes. The doorbell rang and our dinner had finally arrived. Maura got up to get the pizza and came back into the living room with everything we'd need to eat.

We started out like we always had, at opposite ends of the couch while we ate our pizza. Eventually we finished eating, and when we shifted to put our plates on the coffee table, we each wound up closer to one another. Then as the evening progressed, we wound up closer still, until eventually Maura was resting her head on my shoulder and I had my arm wrapped around her back. Maura was absentmindedly drawing figure eights on my thigh with her finger, a habit she'd had since we first started doing this years before. I was amazed that even after so much time apart, she still did that without even thinking.

I thought back to the years before William, when Maura and I would end up this way on the couch without even thinking about it. How stupid were we? How could we ignore the magnetism between us? How could we deny ourselves for so long?

"I was so stupid," I muttered.

"What?" Maura asked, using the remote to pause the movie and shifting slightly so she could look up at me. "What did you say?"

"I was so stupid, Maura. How many times did we sit here, just like this, and do this in the past? How could I have never said to you that I loved you? I just sat there and told myself to be happy that I was sharing space with you. All it would have taken was three little words, and our entire world would have been different." I shook my head, ashamed of how much time I had wasted.

"I knew that you loved me, Jane! And I wish that you knew that I loved you too. You can't dwell on that, though." Maura squeezed me, but it did little to assuage my feelings.

"But it's all I do. It's all I can do," I said despondently.

"We can't go back. We can only move forward. I could have told you I had feelings for you too, but I didn't."

"Do you regret it?"

"Yes, I do," Maura said, and the regret was evident in her voice.

"You seemed so happy with William though." I said it softly, with no malice. It was simply the truth, something we both accepted as part of the past. William was not someone or something to hold against Maura. She'd loved him, in her own way, and that wasn't something she'd done to hurt me.

"There was a time when I thought I could be happy with him. We were a lot alike, and he was fun and sweet and easy to get along with. But he was never you, Jane. With you I always felt safe, protected and loved. With William I felt loved, but I never felt complete, and the way he loved me was so different from the way I knew you loved me. I kept waiting for that moment with William. I kept waiting for him to make me feel complete. I thought if I was patient, it would come, but it never did." She looked down at her hands, as if the answer to that problem had been there all along.

"What if I can't keep you safe and protect you now, Maura?" I whispered.

"Jane, I don't know what the future will bring. I don't know if you're going to be as physically capable as you were before your accident. But I already feel safe and protected with you. Although you kept me physically protected and saved me from bodily harm more times than I care to count, it was my heart that you protected more than anything else, and ever since that night at the rehab when you told me you missed me and you loved me, I realized that you never really stopped trying to protect me."

"I thought I dreamed that," I said quietly. "I wasn't sure that was real. But if it happened the way I thought it did, I meant everything that I said, Maura."

"You were sedated," Maura explained gently. "And at first I didn't think you knew what you were saying. But your reaction to seeing me told me more than any words could. You keep saying that you are afraid that the Jane you were before your accident is gone, but she's right here, sitting with me and looking out for me, and she was there in full force that night at the rehab."

I blushed. "You kissed me that night. On the forehead. Before I ever said anything to you."

"I did," she admitted softly. "I needed to feel you. I needed to make sure I wasn't dreaming. I wanted you to feel my relief. It was the first time I'd seen you since you were off of life support. I figured you wouldn't remember any of it," Maura laughed dryly. "I should have known that a mere sedative wouldn't stop Jane Rizzoli though."

I smiled at her. "If you give me a chance Maura, I will try to make you feel happy and complete. And I'm going to try really hard to get back to the way I was, so I can protect you physically too."

"I hope we won't need protecting. But if we do, I have no doubt that you are capable of protecting us both, even now."

"You have too much faith in me," I disagreed.

"No Jane. You just don't have enough in yourself, so that's why I have enough for both of us," Maura said as she hugged me close to her again.

"The only thing I'm certain of, is that I love you. I never stopped loving you. I want to go back to being the detective you knew, the brave and foolish badass you loved so much, but I'm terrified that I will never be able to. I'm trying so hard, Maura. I'm scared though. I'm scared that I'm going to fail. I'm scared that I'm going to let you down. I'm scared that you're going to realize that I'm not worth all of this effort and money and caring that you've put into making a life with me, and I'm scared you're going to take it all away. I need you, and I can't do this without you, but you deserve more than this." I paused, trying to keep the tears out of my voice. "You deserve someone whole."

"Oh Jane," Maura shook her head sadly. "We've come too far for that, beautiful girl. You've overcome so much, and you get better with each new day. I want to be a part of this with you. I watch how far you've come, and how hard you're trying, and I fall in love with you over and over again. I'm not going anywhere. Not without you. You must believe me. I promise you that."

"I love you. I'm going to make sure you know that, every day," I promised.

"I already do know, but I certainly wouldn't mind if you showed me," Maura said with a grin. "And likewise, I'll do the same for you."

"Good." We snuggled in next to each other, and Maura unpaused the movie. We watched the rest of the movie in silence, but it was a comfortable silence punctuated with our laughter at the actors' antics.

When the movie was over, Maura stood up and stretched, then carried our empty dishes and cups into the kitchen. "Do you want to watch something else?" she asked when she came back.

"What time is it?" I asked.

"A little after eight."

"This is really pathetic, especially since we had a nap this afternoon, but I'm exhausted and I doubt I'll be able to stay up for another movie."

"I have a suggestion for what we can do, but I don't know if you want to. It might be too much."

I cocked my head to the side, puzzled. "What did you have in mind?"

"I'd like to take a bath. Would you like to join me?"

"Oh, um…" I blushed. Yes, I did want to join her. But no, not looking like I did, and no, because if left to my own devices I'd probably not be able to control myself.

Maura noticed my dillema. "Just a bath, Jane. In the tub, with the jets, and some nice candles and bubble bath. A good way to unwind after the day today."

"I'm not sure. Why don't you take a bath and I'll wait for you in bed?" I asked.

"It's okay. It was just an idea," Maura said, her tone completely neutral.

"It's just, it's hard for me to let you see me like this. And I'm nervous."

"I understand," Maura said with a smile. "Let's go up and get ready for bed. Tomorrow's another day."

We let Jo Friday out to take care of business and waited for her to come back in before inching our way up the stairs. By the time we reached the top, I was sore and out of breath. Maura looked at me with concern. "Are you in pain?" she asked.

"I'm just not used to that yet," I told Maura as we made our way into her bedroom. I didn't want to tell her that I ached all over. We hadn't done much, but coming home was hard work. My body still had a lot of recovering to do.

"Come on," she said, taking my hand gently. She led me into the bathroom and started filling the tub. "Don't worry," she said quickly, but gently. "I won't be joining you."

"No, Maura, it's okay. And maybe you should take a bath. I think I'm making you tense. I'll be fine once I lie down."

Maura was busy taking things out of her cabinets and arranging arranging candles. "Nonsense." She put a few drops of bath oil in the water, then some bubble bath. "This will soothe your muscles and help you to relax and fall asleep tonight."

I sat down on the edge of the tub, resigned to the fact that I'd be taking my second bath of the day. It's not that I had anything against bathing so much, just that I felt like I'd taken it away from Maura.

"Here, let me help you with that," Maura said, taking the crutches from me and leaning them against the wall.

I waited for her to walk out of the bathroom after that, but instead she returned to me and lifted off my shirt.

"I can do this," I said quietly.

"Oh," Maura said, clearly embarrassed. "Yes, you can. I'm sorry. I don't know what I was thinking."

She turned, and started to leave. I felt terrible for embarrassing her.

"Wait!" I said, grabbing her hand and pulling her gently back toward me. I stood up on shaky legs and kissed her hand before I released it.

"Stay with me," I said, without even realizing the words had come out of my mouth. "Come in with me."

"Really?" Maura asked, confused. "I thought-"

I quickly finished undressing and got into the tub, covering myself with the bubbles as fast as I could.

"I know what I said, Maura. But you wanted to take a bath, and here's the bathtub."

"Are you sure?" She was very hesitant. I could tell she very badly wanted to join me, but was afraid of crossing a line.

"Yes. Please come in."

Maura watched me as she took her pants and underwear off, leaving them in a pile on the floor. She pulled her sweater off and let it drop to the floor as well. I couldn't take my eyes off of her as she reached back and unclasped her bra. She let go of the bra and reached over, turning off the light in the bathroom. The light from the candles flickered along the walls, giving Maura's beautiful skin a soft glow as she made her way to the edge of the tub.

"Are you sure you're okay with this, Jane?"

I nodded and reached a hand up for her. "Yes. Sit with me."

She climbed into the tub, and leaned back against me. I wrapped my arms around her waist and bent my legs at the knees to make room for her to sit back between them. She sighed as she leaned back and our skin made first contact.

I kissed her neck, slowly.

"Mmm," she hummed. "This is nice."

"Yes, it is," I said between kisses. After a few more kisses I reached over and grabbed the washcloth, gathering up some of the bubbles and starting to wash Maura's shoulders. "You're tense, Maura." I kneaded her shoulders, working the warm bath water into her skin. "What's wrong?"

"I just think it's residual."

"Residual?" I asked.

"A culmination of nine months of anger, sadness, fear and stress," Maura said simply.

"I'm sorry," I said as I massaged her shoulders and neck. "I wish I had a way to undo all of that."

"Not all of it was your fault, Jane."

"I'd still take it all away if I knew how," I whispered sadly.

"Keep doing what you're doing," Maura said simply. "That feels wonderful."

I continued massaging down Maura's back, then made my way up to her shoulders again, thoroughly enjoying the sounds she was making. When I got back to her shoulders she leaned back to rest against me, turning her head so she could kiss me.

"I like this," I said quietly.

"Me too," she said, her eyes several shades darker than normal.

I picked up the washcloth and washed down her arms, over her flat stomach and down over her thighs. I let the washcloth glide over her center, making my way back up to her stomach, when she whimpered.

"Jane," she whispered.

I kissed her neck. "Mmm?"

"Touch me," she whispered, so low I almost didn't hear her.

I froze, one arm wrapped around her waist, the other holding the washcloth out in front of her, my lips against her neck.

"Please Jane," she repeated, more urgency to her voice. "Touch me."

I let the washcloth drop into the water, but I couldn't move my hands. I was just stuck, unsure of myself. Maura reached forward and took my left hand, that had been holding the washcloth, and brought it down to her center, taking my breath away. She took my right hand from her waist and brought it up to her breast, cupping it and giving it a gentle squeeze. "Touch me," she repeated.

I took a deep breath and resumed kissing her neck, began kneading her breast, and finally, I let my hand slip between her legs.

Maura's gasp at the contact sent a tingle down my spine.

I let my hand circle, lazily, at the same pace I was kissing her neck. "Are you sure?" I asked quietly against her.

"Yes."

A few more strokes and Maura whispered "Are you sure, Jane?"

"Yes. I mean, you did say if you were home alone tonight you were going to take care of this yourself, right? So I'm just helping you out."

"Is that all? Is that why you're doing this?" Maura asked, and I stilled my hand.

"Of course not. I want to do this for you. I want to please you. I want to show you how much I love you, Maura. Do you want this?"

"Yes. Don't stop."

I resumed circling her clit, gently, and kissed her neck again. We continued like that for a few minutes, and I listened to Maura's breath quicken. Maura shifted slightly, turning so that she could kiss me.

"I love you," I whispered against her lips. "I love you so much, Maura Isles."

She wrapped one hand around my neck and kissed me hard as she came. I continued stroking her, until it became too much and she cried out, gently pushing my hand away as she melted back against me. I wrapped my arms around her and held her, kissing her neck.

"Mmm," Maura moaned after a few minutes. "Jane."

I smiled against her shoulder. "Maura, have you lost your verbal communication skills?" I asked jokingly.

"Mmm," Maura hummed again, nestling back against me in a sated haze.

"Are polysyllabic words a problem for you at the moment?" I continued to push.

I felt Maura nod.

"Yes!" I exclaimed, pumping my fist in victory.

Maura laughed, a full, throaty laugh that I hadn't heard from her in years. I could have come just from that sound alone and the joy it brought me.

"I love you," she said finally.

"She speaks!" I laughed, and she pinched me.

"Ow! Watch it lady! What kind of a thank you is that?" I wailed with fake hurt.

"Oh, I haven't properly thanked you. But I will. In fact, trade places with me." Maura had started to sit up and shift in the water.

I shook my head. "It's okay."

"No Jane, it's only fair-"

"I'm not ready," I blurted out. "I'm sorry. I'm just not ready. And I'm not keeping score, okay? I liked doing that for you. I liked seeing what it did to you. I liked pleasing you. But physically and emotionally, I'm just not ready for that for myself. Not yet."

"Okay," Maura said, cupping my cheeks. "I'm sorry Jane. I didn't mean-"

"You didn't do anything wrong. I'm okay. I'm just not in the right state of mind to have the same thing done to me. I don't feel sexy. I don't feel attractive. I feel like someone who, three months ago, was considered among the dead. I want to feel alive and loved again, and you help me feel like that every day. But I'm not ready for that step yet, and I'm sorry." I shuddered, more from the thought of making Maura feel bad than anything else. I wasn't lying though. I really wasn't ready.

"I didn't mean to make you feel forced or uncomfortable. I'm sorry. We said we were going to go slowly and look what I've done." I thought Maura was going to start crying, and I felt even worse for ruining what had, up until that point, been a very special moment between us.

"I don't regret it, Maura. Not at all. You didn't do anything wrong, okay? I just need more time."

"Okay." Maura looked at me uncertainly, and I kissed her to reassure her.

"Everything's all right, Maura," I squeezed her gently, and kissed her cheek. "It's really okay. I'm sorry I'm not ready yet, but I don't think it will be long. I just need time to look and feel less… broken. I need more time to feel confident about myself and my body. I don't think I could do that tonight, because I'm just not ready."

"I understand." I wasn't sure that she did, but she wasn't capable of lying, so I let it go.

"Let's go get dressed for bed. The water's starting to get cold."

"Okay," Maura said, standing up. She got out of the tub and then held a hand out for me. "Jane?"

"Yeah?"

"Just so you know, I think you're beautiful. And strong."

I stepped out of the tub and wrapped my arms around her, relishing in the contact between us. "And hopefully I'll feel that way soon. I really want to make love to you. I really want you to make love to me. But I want to be in the right frame of mind, so that I can truly enjoy that moment with you. Please understand that's the only reason why I'm not ready, okay? I'm not afraid of that moment. I'm not afraid of you. I want you. I want to be with you. I love you, Maura, and I know that you love me too."

"When you're ready, I'll make sure it was worth the wait," Maura said with a smile. "And I'll wait until the end of time, if that's what you need."

I smiled at her and wrapped a towel around her shoulders before wrapping myself in a towel.

"Thank you."