"I know you're in love with me, sweetheart."

When her eyes open, Jane is looking at her, watching her, trying to gauge a response.

"Jane," Maura whispers, "I'm in love with you, too."

It should feel like a release. It should taste like finally and breathe as freely as liberation.

Jane inhales deeply. "What?"

Maura doesn't answer, or clarify, or explain. She just stares back at Jane, waiting for the execution. Jane knows. Jane must know how much, how long Maura has wanted this.

Jane feels her entire chest tighten with shame and uncertainty. Her gaze drops, and falls on Maura's naked chest. Two beautiful, full breasts, bare. Nipples hard and tight. For Jane. Because of Jane. And Jane has played her. In too many ways.

"Why did you just say that?" Jane's voice sounds as broken as her confidence.

"Because I can't stand living a lie anymore," Maura breathes.

At Jane's silence, Maura shifts in the brunette's lap. Jane's fingers fall from Maura's thighs onto the couch, as if she's been frozen.

Lies. A life of lies. A list of lies. A tower of trust in turmoil. "I wish you hadn't said that."

Maura feels anger flush through her at Jane's regret, and climbs of off Jane's lap. She reaches for her bra, then her blouse, hating that Jane has such an effect on her.

"I used you," Jane breathes. She looks stiff and wasted when Maura turns back towards the couch. "And you used me. We tricked each other into this."

Maura's eyes are dark, unbelieving. "You stopped using me when you fell in love with me," she bites, her voice shaking with the fear that Jane is going to run. That's she's already gone.

The shock of hearing the words claps a light on and off in Jane's mind.

"I've been waiting for you to tell me," Maura whispers as she holds her shirt up to her bra-clad chest. "I've felt so dreadful about putting you in this corner, trapping you into marriage under false ideals when it doesn't have to be like that, when we both feel the same way. And then you kissed me like that and I…why should this go on any longer?"

Jane stands, her face pale.

Maura's lips part, trying to get the words out. "I...I love you, Jane."

"Why didn't you tell me sooner?" Jane whispers, and the words have the bitterness of an accusation.

The anger reignites in Maura. She is a woman on fire. "Don't you dare do this to me, blame this on me," she says, her voice so steady and threatening that Jane wonders how differently their relationship is valued by the doctor. "We can still get married."

"No, we can't. We did the worst possible thing we could have done. You lied to me. You lied to me."

"Tell me. Tell me how I lied to you!"

"You pretended...that this was exactly what we said it was!"

"This," Maura waves her hand between them, "was never what we said it was. Not when we were friends, and certainly not when we made love. Not the first time, and surely not the second. And you knew that. Even before this started, you would climb into my bed and sleep with me, hold me, touch me. Friends don't do that, Jane!"

"Why didn't you say anything? Call me out on it if it made you so uncomfortable?" Jane asks, exasperated.

"Because it didn't make me uncomfortable! I craved it! But after this started and things became more…by the time I recognised what was happening, it had already gone too far. If I said anything, I knew you'd be so overwhelmed by guilt and shame that this would happen! We'd finally tell each other and you'd run!"

"I'm still here!"

"Are you?" Maura fires.

Jane brings her hand to her forehead and rests her head back against the couch. "What did you think would happen? That we'd get married and then we'd both find out how the other felt and we'd have a happy ever after? I hate to think that what we have is so dark and manipulative."

"What we have is once in a life time!"

"What we have is ugly," Jane says, and her voice drops. "It's ugly, Maura. We've made it ugly."

The words don't feel right on Jane's tongue. The moment she says them and watches Maura's expression blanch, Jane knows that she doesn't really feel that way. It's true, Jane knows. They've hurt each other. But it was never ugly. It's hot and loving and so far from unrequited that Jane couldn't touch solitude if she reached out and tried.

"Your shame and denial has made this ugly and I won't have it ruin me any longer, Jane. I won't."

"I can't do this." Jane waves her hand at the couch, at Maura's open blouse. "Don't you get that?"

Silence.

"So you can't do this," Maura gestures to her half naked breasts, "but you can hold me at night and make me breakfast every morning? Tell me what our children will look like and how you'd love to fix up a triple-decker down by the water? You can't do this, but you can do all of those things?"

Jane leans forward on the couch, her elbows resting on her knees, her cheeks flushed with shame.

At Jane's silence, Maura breathes a shuddering sigh. "You can handle the romance but you can't handle the sex? It's the same thing, Jane. With us, it's the same thing."

When Jane looks up, tears are caught in Maura's eyes.

"Sex is just the trigger for you, Jane. You're in love with me. And you are so. Deep. In. Denial. God, why can't you just say it? Why does loving me hurt you so much? What are you afraid of? Why are you so afraid of it being real?"

Jane feels dizzy with shock and doubt.

"I don't think I can marry you."

"You don't think?"

"Maura." Jane swallows over the lump in her throat, but it doesn't disappear. "Nothing is the same anymore. We're not committed. We're involved."

Jane looks up. She catches Maura's stare, the crackling fire burning in her hazel eyes.

"Jane. I'm so in love with you." The words come from Maura, but they choke Jane.

Jane stands.

Maura steps closer. Her pursed lips plead don't run and the fingers at her collarbone breathe you're the best friend I've ever had.

"I know that you came when you were inside of me," Maura confesses in a last attempt to keep her.

Jane freezes, feels her blood turn to icy water, her veins not yet numb. Her entire body grows stiff. Her eyes are wide, wild. She is raw.

Maura stands taller, a shudder running through her veins at the way Jane is looking right through her. "I know that you came with me," Maura whispers, and she can feel herself beginning to ramble. "When I did, when I—"

"Stop talking," Jane snaps.

Embarrassment holds Jane from moving towards the door. The multitude of emotion is crippling her. Maura is looking at her like she doesn't need anything else, like she never will need anything else but Jane. Like she's never had anyone like Jane.

And that's the thing. That's the needle in the haystack of this confusing, lust-driven mess, Jane assumes. Maura has talked herself into feeling this because she's never had anything real, and Jane is too real. Too honest. Too raw. Maura must be in love with the idea of being in love with Jane. Jane tells herself that there is no possible way that being with Jane could fulfil a woman like Maura the way that being with Maura could fulfil a woman like Jane.

"This has been hell for me." It slips from Jane's tongue without her permission. Her gaze falls from Maura's eyes, to her slender neck. Her exposed chest. Her smooth belly that Jane had always dreamt of kissing but had never had the chance.

"I can't stop thinking about you," Maura admits. "I don't understand why you don't want me enough. This is me, giving you everything."

Jane's eyes widen again, and her entire disposition softens. "Honey…you think I don't want you enough?" she whispers, and watches Maura swipe at two stray tears on her pale cheeks. "All I ever wanted was you, and you never saw me."

"I saw you," Maura stresses. "We were friends. Close friends. Maybe even more. And we fell in love. You can say it was unrequited, but you knew how much I loved you. How I loved you. You were the one who never wanted more from me."

Outside, the snow falls, blanketing the hope they had in tomorrow's promise.

"I couldn't, Maura. I can't," Jane whispers.

Maura feels empty. "Because I'm not worth the risk."


Maura wakes up alone on the 23rd of December.

They're to be married on Christmas Eve, but Jane is nowhere.

Not in their bed to say good bye, until tomorrow.

Not in their home.

Jane is nowhere.

In the shower, flashes of memory rain over Maura's shoulders, her chest, her body.

Flashes of Jane closing the door behind her.

Leaving.

The sound of Jane's car starting.

Headlights shining away from the window, and down through Beacon Hill.

Gone.

Maura cries in the shower.

In the kitchen.

Maura cries until she no longer wants to cry.

Tears stop falling as Maura watches her coffee steam.

An hour later, at 7am, she looks fresh.

Normal.

Nobody would guess that she had been crying.

Angela comes in on tiptoes at 8am.

Has Jane already left?

Yes. She's gone.

So she'll be back after you leave?

I…I don't quite know when she'll be back.

Angela squeals with delight.

Maura lets her.

Maura will not be the one who ends this.

Maura will not tell anyone.

Because maybe.

Maybe.

Jane may be back.

Before lunch, Maura shovels the thin layer of snow out of the driveway and lays her plastic wrapped wedding dress over the back seat.

Angela asks her if she's sure that she wouldn't like company the night before the wedding, and when Maura says that she's sure, disappointment briefly flickers across the older Rizzoli's face.

Be with Jane tonight. She's your daughter.

You're like my daughter, too. Drive safely. Enjoy your last night of being alone. God knows Janie demands attention!

Angela. Maura sticks her head out of the driver's window, into the Boston cold. When you see Jane, tell her I love her. If she needs me, she knows where I'll be.

I'll see you tomorrow, sweetheart. You're going to look so beautiful.


That night, in the studio guesthouse at the Radnell Estate, Maura looks at the ring on her finger and wonders about Jane.

Constance has called. She landed an hour ago, and will meet Maura at the Estate in the morning, before the wedding. To help Maura put her veil on and be the mother she never thought herself to be.

Angela has called, asking about Jane. Where is she?

I don't know.

The plump, elderly Estate owner arrives before nightfall with a hot meal for Maura and a change of plans for the next day. They'll have to have the ceremony indoors, she says. The snow is predicted to be too heavy on Christmas Eve. But the Estate has a beautiful indoor rotunda with views of the ocean, and a large fireplace. It's equally as beautiful. Thinking of their fireplace at home and kissing a naked Jane on her sofa until Jane breaks, Maura nods, and gives away her dream of a garden wedding with the words it will be lovely, thank you.

Alone in the homey guesthouse, Maura pulls her robe tighter around herself as she looks out to the North Atlantic Ocean. The snowfall is heavier. Maura things how wishful it was to want an outdoor wedding in December. Somehow, the snow had held off, had stayed light. Until now.

Maura draws her gaze away from the ocean and watches as a yellow glow brightens slowly in the woods, bending around the driveway, and ceasing when I reaches the entrance of the estate.

Jane.

Minutes later, there's a soft knock on the door.

Maura feels the weight of a thousand inches of snow brushed off of her shoulders.

When she opens the door, Jane is waiting, her lips parted, her eyes solemn and clear. Fire and ice.

"You didn't call off anything, did you?" are the first words from Jane's lips.

"No," Maura says softly. "I didn't."

"Did you think I'd come home?"

Maura's eyes fall to the snow on Jane's thick coat. "I wanted you to."

"You didn't call me."

For a moment, they stand uneasily, unsure of what needs to be said.

"Can I come inside?" Jane whispers.

Maura nods and turns back inside. Jane watches as Maura's blonde plait swings across her back.

"You're worth the risk," Jane manages, her voice faltering.

Maura turns. Their eyes meet.

"I'm so proud," Jane says, the words broken but so complete. "So proud to be with you."

Maura feels her heart hammering.

Maura has been numb all day. Unfeeling. Untouched.

Sensation rushes through her in volts.

Maura leans back against the dresser in an attempt to steady herself. "Where have you been all day?"

"Around," Jane shrugs.

"I could have stopped everything," Maura says gently. Jane does not move. "I thought you didn't want to get married. But all I could think about was how happy you were when I asked you to marry me, and that you said yes. And I thought, there's no way that was not real. There's no way that the way you kissed me in that park was ugly. There's no way you wouldn't come back to me."

"I'm sorry that I ran. I needed time. I needed to clear my head. But I'm done running."

Maura swallows. Her heart is pounding.

"Have you slept?"

Jane shakes her head. "I couldn't stop thinking about you."

Maura licks her lips.

"Maur…I was so…wound up after you told me. I kept telling myself there was no way that you wanted me. Really wanted me. But I know it now. I do." At Maura's quizzical stare, Jane clears her throat and stuffs her hands into her pockets to stop herself from reaching out and touching her fiancée. "You are in love with me. And that scares me so much."

Maura watches as Jane's hands clench in her pockets. Her lover is aching. Maura's voice is gentle, "Why does it scare you, Jane?

"I'm afraid of it being real because I'm not right for you. We don't match."

"Jane…" Maura's eyes drop to Jane's belt buckle as she steps closer. The intensity of Jane's stare is too much when she's too close. It will make her come undone. On shaky legs, Maura moves close enough that she can feel the heat radiating off of Jane. "It feels like we match when you have your hands on me."

It happens suddenly, like it always does between them. Jane's hands are on Maura's waist, and Maura's back is against the wall. "I've wanted you for so long," Jane whispers hotly, and presses a leg so tightly between Maura's that her robe separates and the blonde can feel the harsh fabric of Jane's pants high between her bare thighs. Maura whimpers at the sensation of Jane. Jane. Jane Jane.

"I need to know…when you made me have sex with you, when you asked me, would you have left me if I said no?"

"Of course not. It wasn't like that," Maura exhales. "I knew in my heart that you loved me. That you'd say yes."

Jane's forehead falls against the bare skin of Maura's neck.

"That I'd do anything for you?" Jane's breath is hot there. Maura rakes a hand up the back of Jane's neck, and threads her finger through messy curls.

"I knew that you loved me, too," Maura pants, and fights the urge to grind against Jane's thigh. "That you wanted me like that."

"Then you knew how much that hurt me. Why did you let me hurt?"

"Because I needed to feel something with you." Maura cries out as Jane's hands slide down, over the small of her back to grasp at her full curves. "And I needed you to know that you felt something for me." Her fingers tighten in Jane's hair.

Jane grunts into Maura's neck, and flexes her hands.

Maura shivers. "Why did you say yes, Jane?"

"Because I want this," Jane whispers. "I want to marry you."

The words are heavy. They are mountains.

Maura gently pulls away. Jane's heart clenches at Maura's joyful expression. Sweet. Pure. Hers.

"Does this change things?" Maura dares.

"No," Jane says honestly, and smooths her hand down over Maura's perfect braid. "It just makes it real."

Jane takes pause. Maura's eyes flicker down to Jane's lips. I want to kiss her. I want to kiss her and to be truly happy.

"It wasn't hell. None of it was hell."

"What?" Maura refocuses.

"I said earlier that it was hell." Maura tilts her head. "I was hurting, but it was still heaven."

For a long moment, their eyes don't flicker away from each other. Jane does not feel an ounce of guilt for staring.

"Will you stay?" Maura asks.

"No," Jane says, and does her best to ignore Maura's fallen features. "We should do this right. I'll see you tomorrow."

Jane turns to leave, and Maura tries to get her bearings without Jane's hands touching her, holding her up.

"Wait."

Jane stops at the door.

"We're getting married inside," Maura says.

"Pardon?"

"Tomorrow. The snow. We'll be getting married inside. The rotunda." Maura licks her lips. "A fireplace."

"Right." Jane smiles, and shrugs her coat more firmly against her neck. "I think that, inside, we've been married for a very long time."

Maura thinks that she might pass out with relief and adoration for her detective.

"I'll see you tomorrow, Dr Isles."

This time, when she leaves, Maura knows she'll come home.