Jane wakes to a grey sky and Maura. Maura, dressed in her black satin robe, standing at the bedroom window and looking out into their Beacon Hill street.
Clutching the bed sheet to her bare chest, Jane sits up. "Hey," she whispers, her voice gravelly with sleep.
Instead of turning towards Jane's voice, Maura wraps her arms tighter around herself. She can feel the blush on her cheeks, and knows, just knows, that Jane must be able to see her flesh colour. Jane notices everything. Maura can't fight the urge to smile.
When she looks at Jane, hair wild and eyes glassy, her chest aches with happiness. The fact that Jane is wild is no secret, but the realisation that Jane Rizzoli is womanly? Maura will keep this in her heart forever.
The strap-on that was thrown thoughtlessly to the carpet at Jane's side of the bed catches Maura's eye. Jane follows the trajectory of Maura's focus. Their eyes lock, and Maura bites her lip coyly.
"It's first snowfall," Maura whispers, and nods towards the window as she moves closer to kneel up onto the end of the bed.
Jane looks out to the window and nods. Soon, it will be Christmas. Very soon, her hands will ache every morning.
"I want to thank you, for what you did for me last night," Maura says, and the words are released as heavy, nervous. The weight of what they have done does not escape Jane. But Jane is surprised that it sits so largely on Maura's shoulders.
"It's okay." Too soon, Jane looks down and rubs at the scars on her hands.
"I've never felt so safe, Jane."
The way Maura's voice breaks on the two syllables of never makes Jane feel light headed and heavy bodied.
"Good," Jane whispers hoarsely. Is it possible to feel anymore fulfilled and wanted than she does in this very moment?
It is not. When Jane swallows and looks up, the tears Maura has quietly cried are running down her cheeks, wet bullets that Jane knows are hot, like Maura's skin. Jane wants to wipe them away with the pads of her thumbs, the press of her lips.
Their eyes lock as tears continue to gently, slowly trail over the curve of Maura's cheek. "I'm sorry," Maura apologises with a blushing smile, but makes no effort to wipe the tears away.
Jane grins softly. "Are you okay?"
She knows that Maura is okay, she just doesn't know what else to say. She is not overwhelmed, or hurt. She is relaxed; there is no sadness in Maura's eyes that stabs at her heart, no passion in her stare causing her to bleed. Just the bittersweet blankness that quiet comfort brings.
"I used to cry during sex," Maura whispers as she finally brushes away the tears. "I haven't in a while."
"Really?" Jane asks, trying to understand, trying not to feel hurt. Does this simply mean that Jane has pleasured Maura equally well as those men? Has she not made Maura feel...better?
"Sometimes release built up, but what they gave me was never enough and I always seemed to…release myself in more emotional ways. I don't know how to explain my crying now."
"Maybe it's a delayed reaction?" Jane jokes, but the sting of her words hurts them both.
"You brought me to orgasm twice," Maura whispers, and Jane feels her mouth go dry at Maura's bluntness. "The only logical explanation would be that we were too close and now my body is reacting to the pleasure of such intimacy in the only way it knows how."
Jane feels herself growing wet between her legs.
"I don't think you understand how important it is for me, Jane. To feel safe."
Jane closes her eyes at the serenity of it all.
"I do. I understand," Jane breathes, feeling the trepidation of risk take flight in her chest and stalling her confession.
Jane understood the night before when Maura fisted her hands in her hair. When she pulled adamantly at the straps at the side of Jane's hips. When she cried out and moaned and grunted. When she closed her eyes and let Jane love her roughly, deeply, slowly.
"Can I tell you something?" Maura asks, feeling the heat of the dare rise on the skin of her neck.
"Yes," Jane allows in a rushed breath.
"I want to make you come as hard as you made me come last night."
Maura watches as Jane's eyes grow wide, but instantly mistakes desperate arousal for unadulterated fear.
What it would be like to lay back and let Maura eat her out, Jane thinks. To feel Maura's hot, full lips wrapped around her in a sucking kiss. A wet, soft tongue gliding over her, coaxing her, pulling at everything coiled up inside of her. She's so wet she's embarrassed. It would be so easy to give in, to just make it another factor, another moment of what this is between them. Companions, best friends, with benefits. No 'in love' feelings. Just admiration and happiness. The respectful friends who have agreed to have occasional, dirty sex. Nothing in between.
But Jane can't nod, lean back and spread her legs, because her arousal would give it away.
Jane, why are you so wet for me?
Jane swallows. "I have to go into work, Maura."
Embarrassed, Maura toys with the sash of her robe. "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have said that so crudely."
"No, no, it's okay. Really, it's fine," Jane assures Maura as she attempts to modestly disentangle her nude form from the sheets.
But Jane can hardly breathe.
In the shower that Saturday morning, Maura discovers three, coin-sized purple bruises on each hip. Jane's fingers, in their frantic quest to bring Maura closer, left their mark.
Maura closes her eyes and lets the spray of the shower rinse away thoughts of tainted desire and Jane Rizzoli's powerful thighs.
Lunch at the usual? 1:30, ok? It's important.
It's not long before Maura opens the text that she's making her way to downtown Boston to meet Jane. She feels guilty to find herself surprised that Jane has the courage to want to be around her so soon after…last night, this morning, but is excited by Jane's insistence.
It is only when Maura steps into the café and meets Jane's eye that Maura realises this impromptu lunch meeting has nothing to do with them.
"What's wrong?" Maura asks as she sits down opposite Jane at their small table by the window.
"It's Korsak. He's getting laid-off."
The news has obviously hit Jane hard.
"Yesterday, Cavanaugh asked me to come in today if I could, and I didn't know why, you know? Honestly?"
"I honestly thought he was going to say that I'd been offered a position somewhere else. Better benefits or something, you know? I thought I'd have to make a choice. Have to tell you, ask you if you wanted to move somewhere else."
That Jane truly considers what they have real enough to exist in a state outside of Massachusetts, a world separate from theirs, makes Maura feel warm all over.
"Is that something you want?" Maura wonders.
"No. I want to stay here, in Boston."
Maura pauses. "Does Korsak know?"
"He will tomorrow." Jane sits back and runs a hand through her unruly curls. "I can't tell him, Maur. I would have thought that I could, that I would want to. But now it seems as though…it would be like a child telling her father that she earned more than him." She pauses. "What should I do?"
Maura doesn't hesitate to reach across the table and take Jane's hand in hers. "Be there for him. He loves you like a daughter, Jane."
Jane's voice is deep when she says, "Before you came along, he saved my life."
"Yes," Maura whispers, and clutches Jane's hand harder. "He did."
For a long time, they didn't talk about the future. Jane didn't want to. Jane couldn't see it clearly.
But as Maura sits on the couch, TJ cuddled up to her just like Jane is every night in bed, Jane can.
Maura wants a baby. Their time is running out. Jane thinks, maybe, she would like a kid, too.
It doesn't just stem from wanting to make Maura happy. A lot of it does, sure. But there's another part that comes from the image of Jane, Maura, a kid or two, and how that would feel for Jane. To have more than Maura, with Maura. When Jane stops and asks herself what the best outcome would be for her right now if she had never agreed to start this with Maura, the greatest, happiest possibility is a family.
"Don't suck your thumb, sweetheart," Maura whispers, and pulls TJ's thumb from his mouth. "You're getting far too big for that," she says as she brushes his blonde hair back from his eyes.
"Okay," he simply sighs, and presses himself further into her side.
Family. Jane sees herself with a pregnant, glowing wife. Jane feels a rush of emotion take hold of her. It's dark- arousal and possession, and then it's light- happiness and fulfilment.
For a moment, Jane couldn't recognise her own denial even if it shrank down to Jane's level and looked her straight in the eye.
Two weeks after Korsak packs up his desk, the snow stops. Like their lives, the way they go about things, the weather is tepid. Bored.
It's a waiting game, Maura thinks. I want more. I want my life to start.
"Can we go somewhere?" Maura asks one night after dinner. "Maybe get coffee and just take a drive?"
Jane reaches for the TV remote and switches off a recorded Red Sox game. "Sure."
Maura grabs her keys, but Jane is the one who drives them first to The Coffee Bean, and then out to a park in Brookline.
"There's a lake in the middle of the park," Jane tells her, and Maura nods with a small, contented smile.
There are only a few streetlamps in the park, but it seems relatively safe. They walk hand in hand around the perimeter of the lake. When they stop, Jane watches the way Maura delicately brings the rim of her coffee cup to her lips.
"Are we here to make out?" Jane jokes, and Maura winks before leaning up to chastely kiss her cheek. Jane can't help but to be a little bit disappointed. There hasn't been any heavy petting or deep, drawn-out kisses for a long time.
"This is a nice spot."
"Yeah," Jane says, admiring Maura's profile, her neck, her posture, her swing coat. "It is."
Tell her, a voice encourages. She must love you, too.
But Maura doesn't kiss Jane like she used to. Maura doesn't let her gaze linger like she used to. Now, Maura blushes and looks down to her feet.
Maybe she has fallen in love with me, Jane dares to hope. Maybe being close to me feels like a lie when we're not acknowledging it, and that's why she's staying away.
In that moment, Jane realises how wrong she was to ever think of asking Maura to marry her. It wouldn't be fair to either of them, not when it's all so intense. The sex is intense. The love-making is intense. Just looking at Maura is intense.
"Would you ever leave Boston? If you could get a transfer?" Maura asks.
"I don't want to transfer." Jane shakes her head. "I want to stay here in Boston."
Jane's fingers dance in Maura's grip. Nothing has ever felt better than this. There is nothing more natural.
Maura looks up when Jane clears her throat. "I had my first kiss here."
"In Boston?" Maura asks, and this earns a chuckle from Jane.
"No. Right here. This park."
"See that tree over there?" Jane points to a Willow Tree.
"It was there."
"Who was it?"
"Just some boy."
"It seems odd to think of you like that."
"As a teenager?"
"Yes…and with a boy." When Jane doesn't say anything to this, Maura doesn't bother apologising. Jane must know what she means. Bisexual, straight or gay, there is no way Jane could be as enthusiastic, as responsive to a boy when she made love to Maura they way she did— both times. Jane's energy, even as a young girl, would have thrown a boy off his game, Maura is sure. Now, Jane's denial would deter a lesbian. But with Maura? Everything seemed to add up for Jane, and Maura knew it. She had known it in the thrust of Jane's hips, the way she cradled Maura in her arms, panted against Maura's chest.
"Was it nice?" Maura wonders.
"It was nice, yeah."
Nothing like kissing you.
Jane drops Maura's hand, and leads them to a nearby bench. "You know I've been thinking about stuff, from when I was younger."
"What kind of stuff?" Maura asks as she sits down beside Jane.
"Just stuff that would add up now," Jane says softly. "To being gay."
Maura's breath catches in her chest. Her heart slows.
Does this mean Jane has feelings for her? Or just feelings about the way she is perceived, how everyone had been so quick to accept them as a couple? Almost…expectant that this would happen.
"There's nothing," Jane says quietly when Maura doesn't speak up. Nothing that explains how I feel about you. "It can't be true, can it? I mean, you're my best friend. We're just close, right?"
Jane meets Maura's stare.
Yes. It can be true. It is true. It may not have a past, or a root, but there is noting that has ever been truer or better.
It's now or never.
I'm tired of waiting. I'm tired of being scared that you'll run.
It is Maura who asks, who traps them, distances them from the truth of a thousand morning kisses and the reality of a thousand nightly caresses.
The doctor bites her lip, and Jane waits for the long explanation that always comes after Maura rushes, knocks her over with something exciting, something exciting. Like cracking a case.
Jane breaks before Maura can say any more.
The brunette leans forward and smoothes her cold hands around Maura's neck. Her thumbs swipe at Maura's cheek.
"Are you sure, Maura?"
Jane crashes their lips together. She can feel Maura's smile, can feel Maura's laughter. Jane pulls away, and she looks into Maura's eyes. Wonder. Freedom from want.
Maura's laughter is quickly speared by the way Jane's eyes darken, silencing her. Then, Jane's parted lips are moulding against hers, differently this time. Maura's tongue slides against Jane's. She tastes like good coffee and warmth.
Maura moans, and Jane pulls back. "Maura."
"Would you like to be married to me?" Maura tries again, breathlessly.
Jane brings their fingers together again. "Yeah, I'll marry you."
There is no guilt.
I tried to tell her.
There is only relief.
She can't be in love with me. She couldn't ask me to marry her if she loves me like I love her.
It's a shame, really, that Maura has learnt how to lie.
AN: So I know that this chapter is shortish, but now we are getting to the meatier chapters. Not many more to go! As always, your comments mean a lot, and reading each and every one of them is the best present a girl could ask for! I hope you liked this one!