See Ch 1 for disclaimers…
"Hey!" Jane spun to the side to hover over her sausage as they made their way through the concourse, dodging excited kids and long beer lines on their way to their seats. "I offered to buy you your own."
Pressing her shoulder into Jane's and reaching across her body to wrestle the sausage out her hands, Maura took a triumphant bite. "Yours tastes better." She wrinkled her nose as she looked down at the mess of onions and peppers crisscrossed with red stripes. "Though it could do with less ketchup. Honestly I can't see the appeal of that much processed corn syrup and red dye over steamed onions and peppers."
"I repeat, get your own." Plucking the sausage out of Maura's fingers, Jane rolled her eyes and shoved the rest of it into her mouth.
Reaching up Maura brushed her thumb against the corner of Jane's mouth. "Your statement would be more succinct if you didn't end up with ketchup all over your face."
"Hey!" Jane batted the offending thumb away.
With a smirk Maura stuck the digit in her mouth and when she realized Jane was staring, gave her a slow wink.
For a second Jane forgot she was supposed to be chewing. Cheeks bulging she managed to choke out. "We're here." Swallowing quickly she pointed to the sign overhead and pulled out their ticket stubs to hand over to the attendant.
Following behind Maura Jane paused as she stepped out from under the concrete arch and soaked it all in.
There were the people milling in the stands, the buzz of conversation. Somebody hooted until another person yelled back. The light breeze wafted over her carrying the promise of popcorn and hotdogs. She sucked in the air as if she could taste it all.
Partway down the steps Maura realized she couldn't feel Jane at her back. Turning around she finally located Jane's lean form outlined by the early afternoon sun. For the first time in days Maura finally saw the tension gone from Jane's shoulders. She could see the smile and animated laugh when a family asked to move around her and Jane let them by.
When Jane spotted her waiting she gave a little wave and Maura pulled her hat brim down a little so she could see Jane's smile as she bounded down the concrete steps towards her. The tickets were worth every penny she had spent to see a happy Jane.
"You rushed ahead too fast." Jane caught the back of Maura's sweatshirt with her fingers as they continued down the steps through the crowd. "I keep telling you, you have to learn to stop and breathe Fenway in. There is nothing else like it."
Maura glanced around at the clamor of people and jumble of sensations and choose to nod in response and let Jane translate that into whatever response she wished. Jane's hand on her shirt tugged once before moving to grab her hip.
"This row is us." Jane murmured her thanks as they squeezed by the other people in their row and stood in awe when they stopped at their seats. "Unfucking believable." She didn't even care that the netting was in front of her. If she paid attention, she could literally hear the tap of a bat on home plate as a batter warmed up. "Who did you have to kill to get these tickets?"
"I'll never tell and you'd never figure out it was me." Maura sat down and looked up but Jane had barely reacted to what she had just said. Amused she continued. "In fact most ME's would never notice the metabolites for oleander poisoning in the Northeast so unless I had Susie order it in a panel it would be ruled as likely stroke related. It would almost be the..."
Jane tore her eyes off the field at the words 'perfect murder' and caught the glint in Maura's eye. "What was that?" She waved towards the Yankee's catcher warming up with the pitcher. "I was just reminding myself about how awful the Yankees are."
"Historically the Yankees have won…" Maura didn't get another word around the fingers pressed tightly against her lips.
"Uh no Doc." Jane shook her head. "And I know you know better. You say something like that and somebody is going to say something that will force me into defending your honor, and I'll end up in Red Sox jail."
"You'd do that for me?" Maura stood up to let a couple and their children squeeze by.
"Maybe, and I mean maybe." Jane checked to see if anybody else was coming before sitting back down. "I mean, my family would probably disown me. The oleander poisoning murder for these tickets they'd totally understand. But me saving you after you wax poetic about the Yankees at a live game?"
Jane reached up to tug Maura back down to the seats. "They'd likely turn me out on my ear, never to speak to me again."
Maura settled herself shoulder to shoulder with Jane. "I don't know. I think they love you enough that they'll accept almost any part of you." She reached over and squeezed the arm next to hers. "Even the part that would defend my historical accuracy of the Yankees' success."
At the serious tone Jane glanced at Maura out of the corner of her eye. "I don't know. People have their limits."
"We all do but those limits change for the ones that we love. Even if it might mean it takes them a little while to adjust." Maura turned to face Jane. "You'd still be my friend if I was a Yankee's fan right? Even if this whole time you thought I supported the Red Sox?"
It seemed easier to pretend that she was looking down the row for more arrivals but Jane eventually nodded. "Of course I'd still be your friend." For a moment she thought a group of people at the end of the row was staring at them. Jane shifted in her seat when she realized how it must look with Maura leaning against her.
Jane glanced over again but the two older women and what had to be their husbands were talking with each other. She went to move away from Maura slightly but when she looked over Maura was sitting there, leaning against her, eyes closed, face tilted into the sun.
Jane glanced down the row again and sighed to herself. Let them all look. She was happy. Maura was happy. She let her weight lean into Maura more. "I mean I totally draw the line if you start showing up for games in pink Yankees gear though."
Maura cracked an eye and pursed her lips. "Okay I'll take that under advisement if you buy me popcorn."
"Only if you promise to share and not to coat it in oleander oil." Jane craned her neck around finally spotting a vendor yelling out a few rows back and waved her hand in the air. "And do I even want to know how many ways you could kill someone without anybody figuring it out?"
"Probably not." Maura reluctantly shifted away when Jane had to dig out her wallet. When a cup of dark gold liquid was passed to her she frowned. "This is not popcorn."
"That's true." Jane pointed up the row. "Popcorn is all the way back there. I'll get him later but for now, drink up!"
Maura tentatively sipped at it.
Jane groaned. "I promise it's not a Bud. It's actual, overpriced, local brewed, craft beer made especially for the Red Sox."
Maura let it roll over her tongue. The liquid was a little nutty in flavor, light, crisp. She settled herself back against Jane's shoulder. "It's quite drinkable. The malt flavor comes through nicely."
Swallowing another sip Jane nodded and watched Maura continue to discuss the variations in flavor and carbonation, while she thought about what the other woman had implied earlier. It didn't take her detective skills to understand what Maura meant by her whole Red Sox versus the Yankees friendship analogy.
But what did she even do with that information? Maura was Maura. It wasn't a reach to guess that she was saying that it didn't matter if she decided that after Casey she was dating women. After last night the bigger question was if the whole friendship metaphor thing was supposed to let her know that friendship was the only thing Maura was interested in.
Because that was not what it had felt like when she'd considered the past couple of days last night. It's not what it felt like now with Maura's warmth at her side at a sporting event Maura would never pick as her first choice of activity on a Sunday.
Jane looked up the aisle again and found one of the women from earlier staring at them. She gave her a hard stare back and the woman quickly looked away. Thanks to the past few days it didn't take her much to figure out what that woman was seeing right now either.
The loudspeaker snapped and the crowd roared to life.
When Jane passed her a second beer Maura didn't object. The warmth of the alcohol was welcome as the sun continually disappeared behind gathering clouds. For the sake of her sweatshirt she leaned away from Jane. Experience with the first beer had taught her that regardless of whatever was in Jane's hands at the time, she would still extravagantly demonstrate her feelings regarding the game's progression.
Or lack thereof apparently from a yelling Jane Rizzoli's perspective.
Despite the staining on her arm it was worth watching a very passionate Jane in action. Life was something Jane Rizzoli experienced in an all encompassing way. Maura jumped slightly when Jane grabbed her wrist and squeezed hard.
Groaning Jane pulled her hat brim down and held onto Maura. "I can't watch. I can't. Every base is loaded and I already finished my beer. I need support. What is wrong with the Sox tonight? Just let me know when it's over."
Sipping her beer Maura didn't bother answering. It used to surprise her how often Jane was in her personal space and how it never made her feel uncomfortable. Jane was one of the few people that it felt natural to have that connection with.
There was a resounding crack from a bat and Jane leapt to her feet. "Damn it! Can we get a pitcher on the mound that doesn't belong in the minors?"
Maura ducked the falling popcorn as gracefully as possible and stood up to pull the bag of popcorn from Jane's fingers. "I'll hold on to that."
"Crap I did it again?" Wincing Jane reached over and brushed a stray kernel off Maura's shoulder.
It was an impulsive action, one Maura usually avoided in principle but for today she let herself go with her instincts. She caught Jane's hand and pressed it down just under her clavicle. "It's okay. It goes with the beer stains from earlier."
Jane was about to retort that beer hardly stained when Maura's fingers closed around her hand. Part of her realized something must have happened down on the field because people were hollering all around them. "Sorry."
Maura shook her head and reluctantly let Jane's hand go. "Don't apologize. I like when you're passionate about something."
Jane stared at her hand before looking back up to Maura's eyes. It was a strange sensation to be standing in a crowd and yet be so aware of every freckle dusting Maura's cheeks. They had stood this close at least a thousand times before but right now Jane had to force herself to bring her hand back to her side.
The crowd exploded with cheers and Jane sucked in air as she moved back and looked around. Everyone else was sitting down and she turned her attention slowly back to the field. The Red Sox were jogging back from outfield. The Sox must have finally gotten the Yankees out. She slowly sat back down with Maura and studied the score board.
Maura drained the last of her beer. Jane was staring off into the baseball field and Maura didn't care if she was caught looking. If she had any doubts about what Jane was feeling she didn't have them anymore. They were sitting side by side yet she felt strangely bereft.
That feeling made Maura scrutinize Jane more thoroughly. No matter how many times the physical nature of their interactions had crossed boundaries normally set between friends she had never been left feeling quite like this.
She felt… Maura let her eyes travel along Jane's face and down her torso, landing finally to where one hand was fisted on her thigh.
Maura nibbled at her lower lip. She was sitting close enough that she could practically feel each breath Jane was taking right now, yet she felt untouched. It was entirely unsettling and rather illogical. This day was nothing out of the ordinary. They'd done nothing usual.
Jane must have finally realized she was staring and turned to face her. Their eyes held and Maura felt her heartbeat quicken. Suddenly Jane was blushing as she quickly looked away and the exact nature of the change hit Maura all at once.
Awareness. Jane was aware.
Maura tried to make certain her face remained impassive as everything made sense all at once. What it meant or didn't mean she wasn't sure but part of her wanted to reach out and make Jane face her so she could be positive she was correct. Instead she tried to figure out what was happening in the game.
Jane resisted the urge to turn and look at Maura again. She was vaguely aware that the Sox had just scored a run because the guys behind her were chanting "Yankees Suck". She joined in, forcing each word out louder and louder, trying to care about the next guy at bat when all she wanted to do was reach out and touch some part of Maura.
Maura's voice was suddenly near her ear and Jane became very aware of every place their bodies touched. "The Red Sox have won three World Series titles in the past 11 years. The alleged curse, such as it was, is long over. I believe this rivalry may be a little passé at this point."
"Maura!" Jane turned her head and realized her error when she could make out each fleck of color in Maura's eyes. Could almost feel Maura's exhale against her cheek. Swallowing Jane carefully turned away enough to be able to breathe. "First of all, you never take "Curse of the Bambino' so lightly. Secondly, this is known as the Greatest Rivalry on Earth. I've told you before; I'm still emotionally scarred from Bill Buckner letting that ball roll through his legs in the 80's." She pressed a hand against her chest. "I may never love like that again."
"Well I certainly hope that isn't true." The words were out before Maura had thought to censor herself but she didn't regret it when Jane turned back to face her. Maura could see confusion in the lines of Jane's forehead and her eyes slowly became dark and intent.
Jane was saved from replying when everyone around them sprung to their feet. She grabbed Maura's hand and pulled her up quickly assessing the game. "Bases are loaded and, holy shit, Nava's at bat."
Maura didn't know if she was disappointed or amused at the abrupt change. She would have thought Jane was entirely engrossed by the game except for hand still holding hers.
The crowd was hushed. There was a crack and a collective groan. Foul ball. Long fingers slowly pressed between her own and Maura returned the grip. Another crack and Jane squeezed her hand tightly and whimpered. Maura looked at the scoreboard. It was only the first strike. Another pitch, another strike. Beside her Jane was practically bouncing in place.
Jane tried to keep her focus on the game, tried not to realize she was holding Maura's hand. Tried to block out what it even meant. She stared intently down at the field just in time to admire the perfect strike of bat to ball that sent the hit flying over the Green Monster.
Runners went sprinting. Nava jogged the circuit, while the crowd went wild. Jane whooped and grabbed Maura into her arms a split second before she realized what she was doing. It was stomach to stomach and legs that slid together.
Maura shivered and returned the hug, leaning into the contact. It didn't matter that there were hundreds of people around them as she tucked her face against Jane's neck. The noise of the crowd was dying down and Maura reluctantly loosened her hold enough to lean back and look up.
Jane clamped her jaw tightly together. As she watched Maura's eyes seemed to focus on her mouth, the hazel color partially disappearing under falling lids. It almost seemed unnatural not to lean the rest of the way in see how Maura lips would feel against her own.
Carefully pulling back, Jane couldn't stop herself from running a hand down Maura's arm. "I'm going to run to the restroom, you need anything?"
Blinking, Maura shook her head and watched as Jane pushed her way down the aisle. The untouched feeling from earlier was buzzing under her skin. She watched Jane bound up the steps until she disappeared.
With a sigh Maura turned her attention back to the game, watching a player desperately sprint towards first base only to end up with an out. The analogy amused her.
The entire time she was in the bathroom line Jane tried to push the feeling of Maura in her arms out of her mind. Last night after she'd cried herself into a pounding headache staring at those stupid post-it notes on TV she'd finally started to wonder how you ever went from best friends to something more.
It was hard to work out in her head how you ever made it to that first kiss without feeling awkward and strange. No matter how she had tried to imagine it, her playing it cool, Maura making the first move, going out on a date first, every single time it felt like it would be strange.
Until about five minutes ago when she realized she was in the middle of Fenway Park and not kissing her best friend was what was strange.
The uneasiness lasted through the entire time she was in the bathroom and when she was finished washing her hands she found herself staring into the mirror again trying to see if she really did look the same.
Somebody tapped her arm to get her attention and Jane realized she was in front of the paper towels. "Sorry." Stepping aside she realized it was one of the women from the aisle that had been staring at her earlier.
Something must have shown because the woman looked right at her and smiled. "Sorry if I made you uncomfortable earlier."
Jane didn't know what to say.
The woman continued drying her hands. "The wife and I can't help it sometimes. It's so nice that today you younger women can be so comfortable together out in public. It reminds me that it's safe to at least hold hands in Boston these days." She shrugged. "We've been together 25 years and I never thought I'd live to see how open you and your girlfriend can be. Young love is always so invigorating."
Jane blurted out the first thing that came to mind. "You're not here with your husband? I thought those two men…"
The woman laughed. "The boys?" She laughed harder. "Oh no, no. Husbands with each other but not with us. Those drama queens are making us leave because of the rain." She leaned towards Jane "I could never be married to a man that can't take a little weather for the Sox."
Jane moved back when more women pressed forward to use the sinks. "I didn't realize it was raining."
"It isn't yet, but a drop hit Bill's hand and that was it. We're leaving but they promised to buy dinner. They're all waiting outside for me." The woman shook her head. "But again, sorry if I made you uncomfortable."
Jane started to follow her out of the restroom. "It's okay."
"Look at that bunch of wimps." The woman pointed to a group huddled against a wall. "Well, enjoy the rest of the game. Like I said, you and your girlfriend are adorable together." She turned back to Jane. "Have you been together long?"
Jane opened her mouth to correct her but it wasn't as if she'd see these people again. It seemed safe to try the words here where she knew it would be okay, a test to see what it would feel like if it were true. "Maura and I have been friends for years but the girlfriend thing is new."
The woman reached out and squeezed Jane's shoulder. "Like I said you make a beautiful couple. I can tell she's crazy about you. You're lucky, enjoy it."
Jane nodded, "I will." She turned around but instead of heading right back to her seat she walked the concourse randomly stopping to read menus at the food vendors or study the people around her.
"She's crazy about you."
The words repeated themselves over and over through Jane's mind. It was one thing to think maybe and another to hear it from a perfect stranger. Jane stopped and looked around her. She had this strange desire to buy Maura something but somehow a bear wearing a Red Sox jersey or a coffee mug didn't say Maura Isles to her.
The desire to buy something turned into the desire to see Maura and she rapidly moved back towards the stands. She jogged down the steps and realized the sun was completely gone and more than one stray drop of rain hit her hat.
The game must be close because the stands were still packed, even with the weather, but Jane couldn't even be bothered to look towards the field. She found their aisle and saw Maura sitting there with her arms wrapped around herself, staring out at the field.
She didn't stop herself from reaching out to stroke the back of her fingers against Maura's cheek.
Jane's fingers were warm and Maura looked up. "Hi. The Sox are still ahead."
"Hey yourself, you're a little cold aren't you?" Jane reluctantly pulled her fingers away. "Want to head out and beat the rain?" She offered Maura a hand up. "I think the Red Sox have this one in the bag without my support."
Maura nodded and let herself be pulled up and fought the urge to learn forward and find that safe spot against Jane's neck. "As long as you remember you promised me dinner."
Jane ran her thumb along the back of Maura's hand. "Do veggies on pizza count as a healthy dinner option?"
Maura stared at the way her hand looked wrapped around Jane's. "I'm not going to dignify that statement with a response."
"Fine, no pizza." Jane finally let go of Maura's hand. "Vegetable tempura?"
Maura enjoyed the banter between them as a light misting drizzle started. "Not even close."
"Okay." Jane sighed dramatically. "Nothing edible, got it."
"Jane." Maura shoved Jane's shoulder until she stumbled backward. "Just take me home."
A/N: I can't believe we're almost done with this story. Sniff.
All my thanks to beta babe charlietheCAG who is currently about to go on an adventure to hunt down a box she shipped out. Or visit a GF. I think the two objectives are linked. Either way, cause some trouble ladies.