"I said no, Ma!"
Angela huffed and slammed a wet rag against the counter, startling Jane into sitting up straight. Stanley barked at her from the register, and Angela pretended to be cleaning the area near Jane's plate. She began to speak out of the corner in her mouth in what Jane and Frankie used to call her "Italian mobster wife Soprano whisper."
"That woman is your best friend, Jane."
"Thanks for the reminder."
"What, Ma?" Jane asked, furtively glancing across the café at Maura, who was rather morosely staring into her coffee cup. Jane had gotten up to order her a Danish, not realizing it was going to wind up including a lecture from her mother. "Yeah we're friends, that doesn't mean we do everything together."
"You ran that race with her once."
"Yeah, once. Never again."
"You went to her mother's art show with her, and you hate going to museums."
"I also hate seeing my best friend hurt, that's why I went. To confront her mother."
"And your best friend doesn't look hurt now?" Angela said through her teeth, gesturing quite noticeably in Maura's direction. Jane frowned and followed her mother's gaze, internally admitting that was a fair point. "That slimy jerk dumped her like a safe, and you know all she's been talking about for weeks are those salsa classes they had signed up for!"
Just at the mention of them, Jane had to roll her eyes. "I know, Ma. And I've been here, holding her hand, giving her tissues, helping her get through all this. Isn't that all more important than—salsa dancing? Besides, it's not like Maura doesn't know how to have fun on her own. Hell, she could go back to those classes by herself and probably get dates with half the guys there, if not all of them."
"I'm sure she could go by herself, Jane; that's not the point," Angela chastised her. "Look at that girl. She's been alone for so much of her life. She's felt unwanted for so much of her life. You know what she told me when Paddy Doyle was in the hospital?" She saw Jane tense just at the mention of it. "When you two weren't speaking? I tried to comfort her, and you know what she told me?"
"That salsa dancing would help her get over it?" Jane grumbled.
Angela didn't dignify the poor attempt at humor with response. "She said she was used to being alone." She let that sink in as Jane frowned, knowing her daughter felt ashamed for the unfunny quip she had let slip a moment ago. "You know, it's possible even for a pretty woman to feel alone in a crowd, Jane. Can you honestly tell me you don't want to make Maura's day? Because you could do it, you know. Just go back over there and tell her you'll go to one class with her. She'll be so happy."
For a moment, Jane indulged herself in one of the fantasies that was becoming more and more frequent: being the one who made Maura happy, having that one special smile reserved strictly for her; coming home after a long night of investigating to the arms of Maura Isles, who was there with a kiss, not just a comforting hug.
"Maybe," Jane muttered, grabbing the Danish dish her mother had finally produced. She walked back to the table where Maura was sitting, and gingerly placed the plate in front of her. "Eat up, pal."
"Mm. Thanks," Maura sighed, reaching for the pastry.
Jane put her chin in her hand, staring thoughtfully at Maura for a few moments. Angela had overstated it slightly by saying that Dennis had dumped Maura. They'd dated a few times—and from what Jane gleaned, hadn't even slept together yet—and he'd gotten her all excited about these stupid salsa lessons. And then he was off and away with no word or apparent intent of coming back, despite Maura's many attempts to get in touch with him.
What an idiot. Seriously, what kind of man just up and take off when you have Maura freaking Isles wanting to jump you?
Maura's voice jarred her from her reverie. "Maura."
"You look unusually unfocused." She gently touched the back of Jane's palm. "Is everything all right?"
Jane turned her hand over, lacing her fingers with Maura's and clasping her other hand on top. "Hey, yeah, I'm fine. I'm just hurting on your account, sweetie."
"Don't," Maura sighed. "If Dennis doesn't want anything to do with me, I don't want anything to do with him. It's just…" She sighed again and looked at Jane, and the detective saw her gaze go from sorrowful to hopeful.
"Maura, no, please," Jane whined, desperate to hold out for as long as possible. "Look, I'll open an investigation and track down Dennis for you. I'll shoot him the balls for being such a jerk. I'll take a bullet for you. Please, please don't ask me to go salsa dancing with you!"
"But Jane, it would be so much more fun than taking a bullet for me!" Maura said, smiling despite herself.
"Yeah, and more humiliating," Jane grunted, pulling her hand back to she could petulantly fold her arms and sit back in her chair.
"Really, Jane, it's fun! You get all dressed up, and the music is so catchy," Maura said, swaying her shoulders to Jane's great amusement. "Ooh! You could wear that red Michael Kors we picked up at Lord & Taylor last month! That would be fabulous for this kind of dancing!" When this did not appear to make a dent, Maura went for a different tactic. "There are plenty of health benefits also, Jane. Research recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine has found that dancing at least twice a week makes people less likely to develop dementia!"
"Dementia? We're not exactly collecting social security over here, Maura!"
"Well, not just that, then! It increases stamina, spatial awareness, balance—these are all things that would be beneficial for your line of work, Jane!"
"I just…I wanna make sure I understand something first," Jane said, leaning forward again. "If I went with you, would it be like …would we be dancing together, or…" She tried to make it sound as if the notion would be totally ridiculous.
"There are usually enough men to go around," Maura said. "Although now that you mention it…"
"What?" Jane asked quickly.
"Well, I don't know."
Jane groaned and put her face in her hands. Voice muffled, she said, "Fine. I will go with you." She cringed at Maura's little gasp of delight, but couldn't keep her scowl totally in place when she looked up and saw that woman's smile. "But it's not fair, Maura! Whether we dance together or not, there's—you've been, so you'd be better than me!"
"Jane, do you really think I'd laugh at you?"
"Not you, maybe, but other people, yeah! I don't wanna look stupid."
Maura scoffed. "Oh, you—big, strong, fearless detective. Tackles junkies in a single bound, and scared of salsa dancing. This is ridiculous. Tonight, after work, I'm coming over and giving you a pre-class lesson. The class isn't until Saturday, so you have a few days to catch up."
"Fine," Jane sighed, as if she'd just made an appointment for a root canal. "But I'm gonna have a beer handy."
"Whatever will work."
True to her word, Jane had a beer in hand when she opened her door that night to Maura Isles. The doctor walked in with her computer and a disapproving look at Jane's attire (a sweatshirt and sweatpants). But she said nothing as she walked inside and opened her laptop, pulling up a ready playlist of salsa music. Before pressing play, she stood up and shrugged off her jacket, handing it to Jane to hang up. This left her in something she might have worn to yoga class, with one alteration: black leggings peeked out from beneath a casual red skirt, striking in comparison to a loosely fitting blue top, draped perfectly to her figure.
"I guess we're getting right into this then, aren't we?" Jane asked, dutifully lying Maura's jacket over one of her chairs.
"No use procrastinating," Maura said in a sing-song voice. "Now what would you say is your level of exposure to the art of salsa, Jane?"
"Do I look like I know the first thing about salsa dancing, Maura?"
"It's easy, watch."
Maura cleared her throat and put her left foot forward. "Do this on one, right? Then on two, put the weight back on your right foot." She stepped back, giving her hip a bit of a dramatic tilt. Jane grinned a little. "On three, you bring your feet back together, and four is a pause. See?" She repeated the four steps, eyes on Jane to make sure she was absorbing it all, while Jane's eyes were focused solely on Maura's sashaying hips. Maura raised an eyebrow. "Do you need to see it again?"
Jane licked her lips and tilted her head slightly. "Yeah." After Maura had complied, Jane finally looked her in the eye, then laughed a little and sat down on the couch. "I can't do that, I'd feel silly."
"Come on, give it a try," Maura insisted, taking the near-empty bottle out of Jane's hands and placing it on the coffee table. She took Jane's hand next and pulled her to her feet. "Perhaps it would help put you in the mood if we had some music." Jane's response was a simple shrug, and Maura leaned over to press play on her computer. Ignoring the fact that Jane was clearly fighting back laughter, Maura shook her hair out of her face in a dignified manner and said, "On one."
Jane's moves were very stilted at first, mostly due to an unwillingness to cooperate. When Maura accused her of acting childishly, Jane said "fine, fine," and promised to be better. She completed the simple four steps quite elegantly once, then twice—but on the third go-around, she made a point to exaggerate the hip-swaying, knocking purposefully into Maura. This had the intended effect, which was to make Maura finally laugh.
"See? You're having fun, aren't you?" she giggled.
"Yeah, I can feel any oncoming osteoporosis just withering away…"
"Okay," Jane groaned, picking her beer back up and settling on the couch once more. She propped her feet up on the coffee table next to Maura's laptop, and said, "I guess I'm almost good enough to be in a pre-beginners' class now. Show me some more, hot-shot."
"Think you can handle it?" Maura teased her. "I'll challenge you to try and keep up with anything I do."
Jane finished off the beer and waved Maura on. "Do your worst, Dr. Isles."
A new song had come on, and it was faster with a noticeably louder brass section. Maura lifted her arms, bending them at the elbow and letting them sway in time to her hips. Jane's mouth fell open slightly as Maura approached and stepped back, sweat starting to curl the hair nearest her forehead. She twirled and Jane sat a little straighter, stiffening when Maura yanked out her hair tie and tossed it at Jane. The detective fumbled for the hair tie, keeping her eyes on Maura. Lyrics were introduced to the song, and there was something incredibly sexy about the fact that it was in a foreign language and Jane had no idea what they were singing.
"It's not quite the same without a partner," Maura said, flipping some of her hair so it fell over her shoulders.
"You're doing okay," Jane assured her.
Maura reached down and pulled Jane back up. "Just try to follow my lead?" she asked, placing one hand on Jane's shoulder while still holding the other.
"Oh geez," Jane muttered, her eyes roving all over Maura's body. "Uh—I'm suddenly having flashbacks to mandatory ballroom dance classes in high school, for P.E. There were always more girls in our class, and because I was all tall and gawky, my teachers always made me do the guy's part."
"Hm. Bad memories of ballroom, Jane?"
"I wasn't really a fan, no."
"Well, if you prefer, you could put both hands on my hips," Maura suggested.
Rather than verbally respond, Jane nodded her assent and shifted her hands. She breathed in sharply when Maura started trying to dance with her; all Jane could focus on was the way Maura's hips were gyrating under her hands. Maura took a step closer, indicating Jane should step back to compensate, but Jane remained stiffly in place, leaving very little space between them.
"Maura…?" she whispered.
Her mind was at a blank for words, and all she knew was that she'd been waiting months for a moment like this. She'd waited through unworthy boyfriends and slogged through double dates waiting for this chance, and now she had no words.
Thankfully what she did have was an intuitive detective's eye, and even if Maura had no words either, all Jane needed for a green light was the look in those hazel eyes.
She leaned down and brushed her lips against Maura's, making the kiss gentle but also long enough that she wouldn't be able to take it back. Maura wouldn't have given her the chance anyway: her arms went up and around Jane's neck in no time, pulling her into a much more heated kiss. Jane moaned her approval, but it was so quiet that if they hadn't been so close, it might have been drowned in the music. Maura grinned, curling her hands in Jane's hair as Jane tugged Maura closer, bringing their hips together. She broke off the kiss with a small gasp when Maura started to shimmy a little again; Jane shivered and Maura kissed her with a sly smile.
Jane's hold on Maura's hips tightened as she thrust forward a little, and before she knew it, she had her best friend up against the wall, and her tongue in her mouth. The new song now playing was as sweet to Jane's ears as surrender, the heat it hoped to inspire now closing in on her and Maura from all sides; she honestly felt as though she were on fire as Maura's tongue started to swirl around her own. Her left hand wandered down to Maura's thigh, and Maura reflexively lifted her leg, curling it around Jane's waist. The other leg soon followed, and she moaned in eagerness as Jane's lips moved down to her neck. Maura's grip returned to Jane's hair, pulling slightly as she tried to rub herself against Jane's washboard-hard abs.
"You gotta promise me something," Jane said, her voice raspier than usual.
"What?" Maura breathed, kissing Jane's forehead.
Jane kissed her again, still holding her up. "If this is what your salsa dancing does for people, I don't want you going to those classes anymore."
"Private lessons for you, hm?" Maura asked.
"Got that right," Jane responded, tightening her hold.
Maura's grin widened. She kissed Jane's neck before whispering into her ear, "Then you're probably going to ask that I quit my pole-dancing classes as well, aren't you?"
Jane's knees went weak and the two of them collapsed to the floor.
A/N: Thanks for reading, y'all! The gesture of a follow is appreciated, but there's no more story to tell here. Just a one-shot I thought would be fun :)