Characters aren't mine. They belong to Tess Gerritsen, Janet Tamaro, Turner Broadcasting, Warner Brothers, and other assorted important people. I gain nothing from writing these stories but the fun of doing it. Please don't sue me.

"Hello?" Maura stepped into her house and gently closed the door behind her. There was a light on in the living room, but the room was silent. "Angela?" It was late. She'd accidentally spent far longer at work than she had intended. The dead may have all the time in the world to reveal their secrets and tell their stories, but Boston's finest didn't. Maura had spent over 2 hours after everyone had left finishing reports she knew the detectives would need to complete work on their current cases.

With a final glance around her home and a heavy sigh, she shrugged out of her coat, placed it in the closet, and made her way slowly into the kitchen.

"Hello, Bass. Are you hungry?" She smiled down at the large animal looking up at her. "How about a strawberry? Hmm?" Opening the fridged, she pulled out a strawberry for her tortoise and a premade salad for herself. "Here you go. Keep me company while I eat?"

She slid onto a stool at her kitchen's island. Flipping open the lid to her salad, she again signed. "There was a time when it didn't bother me this much to eat alone." She glanced at the clock. It was nearly 9. "Angela wouldn't mind if I knocked on her door, but it's really too late for that." She picked at her salad, pushing the leaves around with the prongs her fork. "I could call Jane. What do you think, Bass? Think she'd come over?"

Bass, for his part, continued to munch on his strawberry.

"Yes, I agree. I'm sure she's probably halfway through her third beer and trying not to think about Casey," she scrunched her face in disapproval, "or Dean."

Closing the lid back on the salad, she stood up and placed it in the fridge. "I'm suddenly not hungry."

Switching lights off as she went, she slowly made her way to her bedroom. The bed was still made, the air still smelled lightly of apples and cinnamon, and her night gown was still waiting for her on the bed where she'd left it that morning.

As she stopped to take her shoes off, she let her eyes roam over her most personal of spaces. It was, as planned, as uniquely her as the rest of her home, or even her office for that matter. Everything screamed eccentric quality with a flair for bold splashes of color to accent. Still, even in this most personal of areas where she should feel the most peace, something didn't feel quite right.

Her eyes finally landed on what, exactly, it was pulling her balance to one side. Jane's sunglasses rested on one of the nightstands by her bed where the lanky brunette had accidentally left them that morning.

Maura smiled at the memory.

"Really, Maura, no one will care if your shoes are the ones from last season. They guy's dead. He's not going to notice. Come on! We're already running late." Jane hopped up to sit on the side of Maura's sharply made bed, placing her sunglasses and keys on the bedside table before crossing her arms in a stark mark of impatience. "I told Frost we'd be there 10 minutes ago!"

"And he can wait 5 minutes more." The doctor called from where she stood, looking over the shoes in her closet. "The dead aren't going anywhere, Jane, and this outfit requires the correct pair of shoes to accent it properly."

"Man," the other woman huffed. "This is ridiculous. We need to go. People are waiting on us. I called you on the way over here to pick you up so you'd have enough time to get dressed." She grunted, voice becoming a little whiny. "Besides, I thought you said you always planned out your outfits for the next day."

Stepping out with a pair of Prada in her hand, Maura answered with a frown, "Ordinarily, I do, but Ian called me last night, and it distracted me from my normal routine."

"Ian?" At the mention of the doctor-turned-criminal who had broken her best friend's heart more times than Jane liked to think about, her attention fully focused. "What did he want?"

Despite herself, the honey brunette smirked at the protectiveness in the detective's voice. "To talk." She shrugged, slipping her shoes on. "To see if I'd help him acquire some much needed medical supplies..."

"He's a user, Maura." Jane's eyes sparkled with disdain for the man in question. "I don't care that he takes care of 3rd world countries. I don't care that he's a doctor who is wanted because he does dangerous things to help people. I mean, I know I should, but there's something about him." She stood, snatching her car keys in one hand while pointing with the other to emphasize her comments. "The only time he shows up in your life is when he wants something. He puts you and our family at risk every time he does that, and he doesn't even care. You're a means to an end for him. You deserve better than that prick."

The smaller woman patiently waited for the rant to be over before finishing her reply. "And I told him to find a new supplier as I was done being his go-to person whenever he needed something."

Jane's hand quickly dropped to her side, a surprised look on her face. "You did?"

"Yes, Jane, I did." Picking up her purse, Maura turned and walked out of her bedroom without bothering to check to see if she was being followed. There was no question. Jane's footsteps deftly echoed in her wake. "I told him I had people in my life now, and they needed me. I could no longer afford to put myself at risk for him."

Shaking herself out of the stunned moment she'd found herself in, Jane tried, and failed, to sound nonchalant, as she replied back, "Yeah, that's exactly what I'm saying."

"I know, Jane." Opening the front door and holding it, Maura watched Jane walk by through eyes that said she knew more than she often led other to believe. "I know exactly what you mean."

Maura picked the glasses up and held them between her fingers as she considered the woman who owned them. She'd known the feisty, bullheaded brunette for over half a decade now, yet she still found herself surprised by the breadth and depth of emotion and complexity hidden behind the self-depreciating humor and bravado of the other woman. Time had woven their lives together more soundly that an attempt to separate at this point would result in serious harm to both.

"Like tearing apart conjoined twins," the doctor muttered to herself before setting the glasses back on the nightstand. There was thump on the ground behind her, and she turned to see Bass making his way into her room. "You're lonely tonight, too? I suppose we can be lonely together."

As she walked by on her way to her closet she bent down to pet his shell. "I wonder if you miss Jo as much as I miss Jane when they're not here?" She smirked at the mental picture of the bouncy bundle of energy running circles around her poor pet. "Probably not."

She carefully undressed, placing things in their proper place before heading into the master bath for a shower. By the time her nightly routine was complete, the time was reaching near 10:30. Much to her surprise, Bass was still in her room when she stepped out to head to bed. "You really must be lonely, Bass. You rarely stay around humans this long." She frowned. "Are you getting accustomed to the Rizzolis, too? The house does seem emptier when they're not here, doesn't it?"

Sliding into bed and picking up her phone to do a final check, she allowed herself a spare moment to play a few rounds of Plants VS. Zombies, a game Jane had insisted she give a try.

There she was again. Jane.

"She's everywhere," Maura groaned, letting the phone drop from her hand and onto the bed, not bothering to catch it before it slipped in among her bunched covers, landing somewhere against her side. She shifted, trying to catch it but only succeeding in allowing it to slip under her behind.

In a day of things being off kilter or simply going completely wrong, that was the last straw. She didn't even bother to retrieve it. Instead, she let out a frustrated groan.

"When did my life become so unorganized and beyond my control?" She huffed. "God, there was a time when coming home to an empty house, no offence Bass, would not have bothered me in the slightest. I was perfectly happy in my own company. Now? Now I can't go an entire day without seeing…" She paused in her rant to her pet, who was quietly listening from his place on the floor. "Without seeing…" she shook her head, voice cracking with pent up emotion. "Jane."

Her phone rang, startling her out of her half sleep. Jane looked at the clock. It was nearly 11 at night, and, at this late stage in the day, if someone was calling her it was either because someone was dead or about to be dead.

Clawing out of the cocoon of covers she'd managed to wrap herself in, she lunged forward and retrieved her phone, checking the ID as she pulled it to her ear. It was Maura. She sighed. Someone was probably dead. "Rizzoli."

When no one said anything immediately, Jane's instincts immediately said something was wrong. She and Maura had been through too much, had too much happen to them, for her not to worry when Maura called her but then said nothing once she answered. "Maura?" She called a bit louder into the receiver.

When, again, there was no reply, she held her breath and listened, straining to hear anything that would help her figure out what was going on with her friend.

What she heard was her friend talking to someone, but it sounded muffled, as if she was far way.

"I was perfectly happy in my own company. Now? Now I can't go an entire day without seeing… without seeing… Jane."

Jane swallowed down the lump in her throat. It was clear Maura's phone had accidentally dialed her. This wasn't a conversation she meant to hear, and, for a split second, she considered hanging up the phone, but she was curious. She wanted to know who Maura was talking to and why they were talking about her.

So, to help her hear better, she breathed shallowly as she listened intently.

"I can't get away from her. Everywhere I go, both in my personal life and in my professional life, she's there."

Jane's frown deepened. She hadn't realized that Maura thought of her as a nuisance.

"There's nothing I do and nowhere I go now that I don't think about her. Has she ever been here or done this? Would she like to if she hasn't? Would she like to do it again if it was with me?"

The detective gave a start. This was not the rant of someone annoyed that another person was constantly in their lives.

"Honestly, I don't know what to do anymore. I feel like I'm stuck. I can't move forward because I'm certain there's no way that would end well. She's not… she's just not." Maura sighed heavily. "And I can't go back. I need her in my life. She's half of it now."

Taking in a deep breath, Jane's mind flipped through all the possible meanings behind Maura's words, but, even if she could find more than one conclusion, her gut told her she knew exactly what Maura meant. She flinched, yet continued to listen.

"I can't have these thoughts." There was a sound somewhere between a self-loathing laugh and a groan that broadcasted through the phone. "I can't. It would ruin everything. If I've told myself this once, I must have a dozen times or more by now. I need to be happy where we are and how we are. She'd never… she's in love with Casey." Maura's voice was thick with frustration and sadness.

"And you're in love with Ian," Jane whispered into the quiet of her room. "Right?" She knew Maura couldn't hear her. It was a question she wasn't sure she honestly wanted an answer to anyway.

"Maybe I should take a little break? Go somewhere for a couple of months to give myself a reprieve? I have plenty of vacation time stored up. I rarely use it. I could go to the family villa in Florence and take some time center myself, pull myself away from it all. Maybe, if I gave myself some time away from her, these feelings would dissipate. What do you think, Bass? Would you be a good boy for Angela while I was away?"

Bass? Jane pulled the phone from her ear and stared at it as if it had just told her the Pats had lost to the Cowboys. "Bass?" Her voice was incredulous. "Really? You talk to your turtle like that?" She ended the call as she yanked the covers off of her and headed to the shower to wash up and think.

It was midnight, but she wasn't sleepy, and what she'd just heard had her mind's gears spinning in overdrive. All these months of thinking it was all one-sided, of thinking that Casey would have to do because who she really wanted wasn't obtainable, of being grouchy whenever Maura mentioned a new conquest… it was all for naught.

They were both being silly, and, if there was one thing Jane had learned over the past 4 years, it was that life was all too short. She'd nearly died too many times in too many horrifying ways to continue to care. Action. That's what she did best, and maybe it was time.

She stepped into the warm spray of the showerhead and let her mind wander over what she was going to do next.

Maura opened a groggy eye to check the clock. It was nearly 2 in the morning. She had to be at work at 8. Who in their right mind and sense of decorum would be ringing her bell at this early hour? She groaned, reaching for her dressing gown and pulling it on as she made her way to the front door.

Through the windows, she could plainly see an antsy Jane Rizzoli waiting to be let in. Maura quickened her steps. This early in the morning, something must be wrong for her friend to be at her door. She opened it swiftly and asked without preamble, "What's happened?"

"A lot," Jane answered in a quiet growl. "Let me in?"

"Of course," the smaller woman stepped to the side, taking note of the bag slung over her visitor's shoulder. "Jane, what's going on?"

The taller woman dropped her bag beside the sofa and turned around slowly, as if gathering courage for something. "I got an interesting phone call tonight around 11." She fidgeted, not sure what to do with her hands. "Found out some interesting stuff that I think you should know about."

"Oh?" The look of worry on Maura's face increased. "What is it?"

"That you talk to Bass like he's an actual person when you think no one's around to hear you," Jane answered with a very small smirk on her face.

Maura paused, frozen still as realization quickly struck. "How much did you hear?" Her voice was emotionless, flat.

"Well," Jane began to slowly make her way to the smaller woman, moving deliberately so as not to scare her away. "I'm glad you can't go a day without seeing me somewhere other than work because I have the same problem with you. My day sucks when I don't get to spend some time with you that doesn't involve talking about cases. And I wonder about you all the time, too. Can I get you to wear this polyester jersey? Would you like playing in a water sprinkler? Would you say yes if I wanted to take you to the symphony?"

Stopping just a few inches away from Maura, Jane shrugged. "I feel stuck, too. I mean, you're right. I'm not, yet here I am, having these thoughts and these feelings anyway. But I'll tell you something, Maura."

The other woman swallowed thickly, her voice barely a whisper. "What's that, Jane?"

"If you leave, I'll follow you, and if you don't tell me where you're going, I'll find you. You're half my life, too, and, if you leave, what would I do? What would we do? No," Jane reached forward, placing a hand upon Maura's still slightly pale cheek, "you don't get to run away, and," she gave a small smile, "neither do I."

"But, Casey…"

"Is my second choice, and, if I were honest with myself, he's always been my second choice because my first choice wasn't an option." Jane gently ran the pad of her thumb across Maura's cheek before starting to pull away only to be held in place by the honey brunette's hand upon hers. "At least, I was pretty sure you weren't."

"You're not afraid? You've always said you weren't that way. You've always said that wasn't something that interested you in any way. What's changed? You know what they'll say at the station, and your family... Jane, what about the people in our lives? You're not worried?"

"I just don't give a damn anymore." Despite the seriousness of the conversation, Jane laughed. "Maura, do you know how many times you and I have almost died since we've known each other? Do you realize how much shit we've gone through. I mean, have you really thought about it because I have. I think about it a lot, and, after this last go around where we almost like TJ, Tommy, and Frost, it finally hit me while were watching Casey walk off to where ever he's going to 'spare me'. I realized that life's short and the people who really matter in our lives are not people we should take for granted, they're not people we should push away because we're afraid of inconveniencing them, and they're sure as hell not people we should run away from when things become hard."

She let her hand rest against Maura's cheek, indulging in the feel of the other woman's hand holding her there. "After Hoyt and Rockmond and Doyle and almost dying in that flooding car and the crap with my parents' divorce and everything going on with your biological family, I just… at some point, Maura, you became more important to me than what other people think about me. It took me a while, and I realize that, for a few months, I was a real jerk to you, but it's because I was scared."

"Are you now?" Maura's voice was soft, tentative. "Are you scared, Jane?"

"Oh yeah, I'm terrified, but," the taller woman stepped a bit closer, leaving a sliver of distance between them, "when did I ever let fear get in my way?"

The honey brunette licked her suddenly dry lips as her eyes ran over the taller woman's face. "Never."


"Jane Clementine Rizzoli, you get your butt up and open this bedroom door. I mean it, missy. Open it right this second!" Angela Rizzoli's voice boomed through the soundly shut and locked door.

Jane groaned, looking at the clock beside her to see it was only 6 in the morning. She'd had less than an hours' worth of rest.

"One of you better open this door before I knock it down. Both of your phones have been ringing off the hook for twenty minutes now. They need you at the station. Vince's called me twice this morning, and so has Barry. GET UP! I'm not your personal secretary."

"She'll go on like this until we open the door," Jane groaned, rolling over to find an equally tired but smirking doctor looking down at her from where she was reclined against the headboard on her side of the bed.

"I suppose we should get dressed. We are on call, after all."

Jane's eyes ran over the very perky body of the woman next to her, taking in the physical picture and editing her mental picture for later reference. "I guess this is what we get for not getting any sleep last night, huh?"

"Yes," Maura said as she slid from the bed, not bothering to cover her nude form while heading to the master bath for a quick shower, "but I'm not really complaining this time. Are you?"

"Well," the dark haired brunette's eyes followed every move of the woman crossing the room. "No. No, I'm not. But Ma…"

"I don't give a damn if you two are buck naked in there," Angela's voice broke into their happy little moment. "You're going to open this door because I am not going to keep getting phone calls at 5 something in the morning because you two decide to lock yourselves away and not answer your phones WHEN YOU'RE ON CALL!"

The door shuddered under the pounding of the elder Rizzoli's fist.

"Whoa. Ma's pissed." Jane huffed, sliding from the bed and pulling on the pants and shirt she'd worn over the night before as she made her way to the door. "She really needs some serious de-stress time. She's normally not this… wait a minute." She turned to Maura, who had watched her move out of the bed. "Did she just say she didn't care if we were buck naked?"

"I believe she did." Maura raised an eyebrow in challenge. "Still don't give a damn?"

"Nope, still don't care." Jane shrugged, reaching for the door handle, "But, unless you want Ma to know about that cute little birthmark on your butt, I'd say you better go take a shower." Without further preamble, she opened the door.

"Here," Angela shoved Jane's phone in her face. It flashed, indicating missed calls and voicemails. "I found this on the floor in the kitchen." The older woman looked rough. Her face was still oily from sleep, eyes wildly angry, and her hair in complete disarray. "Maura's was somewhere under the coffee table. I didn't even bother." It rang again as she held it in her daughter's face. "Answer. It."

Gently prying the phone from her mother's hand, Jane answered it. "Rizzoli."

"It's about damned time, Jane. Where the hell have you been?" Korsak's voice was harsh.

"At Maura's. In fact, I'm still here. We had a late night. What've you got?" She didn't even give him time to think about what she'd just said.

"A suspect in custody. Frost pulled him in thirty minutes ago." He huffed. "More like forty-five now. We want you in on the questioning."

"I know." She sighed, pinching the bridge of her nose. "The guy's a pig, Korsak."

"Which is why we need you in the interrogation room. Get your ass down here, Rizzoli."

"Don't guess I have time for a shower, do I?" She glanced at her mother, who was watching her from the doorframe, eyes still shining with her anger, arms crossed in impatience.

"A quick one, so tell Maura she can't come play." Korsak's voice didn't hold a hint of humor. "Get over here."

"Yeah, I'm on it," she groaned as she ended the call. "Look, Ma, I don't have a lot of time to talk about this right now, but Maura and I…"

"It's too early, Jane." Angela cut in, voice sharp with ire. "I know. I don't care. Good for you two. Next time answer your phone so the rest of the world can sleep." She huffed, turned on her heels, and left, mumbling on her way out to the guest house.

For a moment, Jane stared after her, mind trying to catch up with the events of the past few hours. A thump from the floor finally pulled her out of it, and she looked down to see Bass moving slowly across the bedroom floor. "Next time, buddy, you answer the phone, okay?"

Bass pulled his head into his shell.

"Yup, that's my thought, too." Before going out to retrieve her bag and hit the guest bathroom, Jane stuck her head in to tell Maura what was going on. "They caught the guy, and I need to be there for the questioning. I'm going to go take a quick shower and head over to the station. Ma knows; she doesn't care. She's pissed at us for Korsak and Frost calling her to find us so early in the morning."

"Okay," Maura's voice floated out from the shower. "I'll bring breakfast when I get there."

Jane smiled. There it was, the evidence of how much a part of the other they already were. Nothing fazed them. Maybe it would later, but not right now, and she was good with that.

"I'll see you in a bit," she called as she headed for her shower and the long day ahead.

I'm a little rusty. Sorry if it shows. Thanks for reading, and, as always, reviews are very much appreciated. :-)