A/N: This impromptu ficlet was a last minute submission for the RizzlesSecretSanta on Tumblr for Sasha-Sexual. Please pardon the jumpiness, I didn't have as much time as I normally do, and while my betas tried their best, this is what came out of it. Much thanks to El, Rizzleseverywhere, and socks-lost for all their help!
This universe wants revisiting. I think I will explore it a bit more with another short or two. This story, however, is COMPLETE and will not be updated. Thank you in advance to those of you who review as Guest!
A Festival of Nine Carols and Ten Lessons
"Oh fuck!" The shovel skitters across the pavers, its attempt at escaping the sole reason for its existence is almost as desperate as Jane's attempt at staying on her feet. The pavement is pitched just enough that there's no way to just stop. Gravity and physics win, and the impact of her ass on the icy brick-paved driveway snaps her teeth into her tongue.
"Motherfucking fuck fucker!" The string of obscenities is a groan, and no longer trying to save face, she remains sprawled out on the drive, slowly sliding towards the liberated shovel.
"Jane! Oh god, are you alright?" Maura's concerned voice rings out from the doorway. Jane can hear Jo's tags jingle as the little dog slips past Maura's leg and runs across the yard to lick Jane's face. "Hold on, let me put on my boots—"
"No, don't. Dammit Jo, stop." She pushes against the little terrier then raises her voice, hoping the sound will carry through the brisk air, "Maura, stay in the house. You saw me just bust my ass out here on this rink of a driveway." She levers herself up on her knees and spits bright red blood into the pristine snow. "No need for both of us to be auto-luging across the bricks."
"Just stay in there and let me collect my dignity and that renegade-fucking shovel and I'll be in to warm up and try to heal my wounded pride." Jane's arms pinwheel at her first attempt to get up, and she almost bites her tongue again as she pitches forward onto her palms. At this point, Jane would win gold if cursing were an Olympic event. She's almost making herself blush; the pain, and more importantly, the embarrassment seem to be eased by the steady stream of filth muttered under her breath. Jo, now finished snuffling in the snow-covered grass, returns to jump against her as she braces herself on all fours and contemplates crawling to the snowbank bordering the drive.
"Jane, you might have broken your tailbone…"
"Please, Maura, for the love of all that's holy, let me bear this indignity without thinking about my broke ass!" Crawling wins out because she sure as hell doesn't want to fall again, even though it seems the only witness to her disgrace is Maura. There's not enough pain in her behind to merit a broken coccyx, but she's confident that the bruise she'll be sporting will earn her some sympathy from her friend.
Maura remains in the open doorway, nibbling at her lower lip and putting a bit more force into the action than usual so she doesn't smile. She's torn between laughter and legitimate concern as she watches Jane creep slowly across the icy path on hands and knees. The cold finally gets to be a bit too much and she slips the door closed and walks to the kitchen to make something warm and comforting. She'll let Jane collect herself and have something soothing for her for when brunette decides to surrender her mission to make the walkways walkable and come in from the cold.
"Coffee or cocoa, Bass? Which do you think she'll enjoy more?" Maura can hear the shovel scraping across the ice again, and she shakes her head as she pulls the tin of finely grated Belgian chocolate from the cabinet. Cocoa it will be, with a healthy touch of Maura's best brandy to add warmth. The blond knows Jane will be looking for sympathy when she finally comes in, and Maura is more than willing to offer as much tactile commiseration as Jane will allow. In fact, there is a part of her that is secretly pleased by the tumble. There's no better excuse to put her hands on that long, lean body than an injury check.
The muffled bang of the shovel hitting against the siding pulls her from her pleasant reverie. "I'm going to throw some salt and then run Jo around. I'll be in in ten, alright?" The brunette calls in quickly through the front door before snagging Jo's leash off the hook right next to the doorjamb. Maura has ten more minutes to daydream about sliding her hands along slim hips and fitting her thumbs into the dimples on Jane's lower back. As she pours milk into a saucepan to heat she smiles, imagining how Jane will relax into her hands.
"Oh god, that feels amazing. Yes, right there…ohhhhhhh yeah." The husky moan is punctuated by soft gasps and groans as Jane buries her face into one of the throw pillows. Maura's thumbs are digging into the knotted muscles along Jane's neck and shoulders and Jane's are digging into the arm of the couch. Two empty mugs sit on the low coffee table, but brandied chocolate still perfumes the air. Both women are in slouchy clothes; although Maura's slouchy is more Ritz than Rizzoli. Jane looks like she borrowed something from Rondo: her sweats are faded; the waistband holding only the memory of elastic, and her oversized, soft, plaid flannel shirt is frayed along the hem and cuffs. Maura is mildly concerned that the fabric might tear under her massaging fingers.
"Fuuuuck, my mother is going to pop in here in a moment…" Maura stops the motion of her hands, her eyebrows drawing together in a frown.
Jane shrugs once, and when Maura doesn't start back up, she shrugs again and shimmies her shoulders in what she hopes is a stronger hint. "Because whenever I am finally happy and comfortable," Jane reaches back and grabs one of Maura's hands and returns it to its former position on her back, "she can sense it and she rushes to wherever I am to make sure I get tense and bitchy as quickly as possible." She shrugs again and sighs in resignation when Maura pulls her hands from Jane into her own lap. "It's her mutant power or something? See…just the mention of her made you quit touching me."
Maura flushes a bit, secretly exhilarated by Jane's confession. "Y-you're happy and comfortable?"
"Duh?" Jane raises an eyebrow and playfully sticks out her tongue, "I'm with you. What else would I be? Although, I'd be happier and comfortabler if you were working out that kink right next to my left shoulder blade…" Her dimples dig deep as she grins mischievously, eyeing Maura as the blond struggles against the compulsion to correct her. Jane watches her squirm a moment, gleeful, then takes one of Maura's hands in her own.
"So, I've changed my mind about what I want for Christmas." Jane is still smiling, but Maura's heart jumps into her throat. She had searched high and low for the proper Patriots jersey, and then called in a few favors to get it autographed. It had taken weeks. Maura takes her hand back from Jane and begins to anxiously twist and spin the ring on her left hand.
"Jane, it's Christmas Eve. Even using just about every resource I have, I don't think I'll be able to have it for you by tomorrow. If you don't mind, we can order whatever it is tonight and wait to open gifts until it arrives?"
Jane's eyes soften and her smile becomes more warm as she puts her hand on top of Maura's, stopping their nervous motion. "Stop with the fidget, you're making me jumpy." The brunette laces their fingers together, the caress far more intimate than what friendship dictates, and angles her body so that they sit knee to knee. "It's not a thing Maura, so you don't have to fret about it. It's more a favor than anything; it would really make my Ma happy, and in turn, me happy because then she'll leave me alone for the next couple of days."
Maura nods, smiling at their entwined fingers, ready to agree to anything if she can continue running her thumb along the heel of Jane's palm. "Of course. Anything."
"Oh, I wouldn't go that far. What if I wanted to save money and sell my condo and move into your guest room, violating your one-guest-at-a-time rule? Remember, Maur, everyone'll be able to see the hives tonight when they show up here for appetizers. I'm not sure about the neckline on that dress you've laid out." Jane tugs at Maura's hand until the blond moves against her side. Eye contact is lost, but Maura thrills at the hint of jealousy in Jane's voice. She snuggles up to Jane, laying her head against a bony shoulder and reveling in all of the physical closeness that Jane is permitting.
"I wanted to know if you would go to midnight mass with me and Ma. I know you don't really believe in any of that stuff, but the church is so beautiful and there's a choir and they start singing at 11:30 and—"
Maura's heart thumps wildly in her chest. Today has brought a whole new level of intimacy between them, first the extended hand holding and sweet snuggling and now an invitation to a tradition that is inherently Rizzoli family only. If this is just Christmas spirit, she wishes the holiday would last all year.
"That sounds wonderful. One doesn't have to believe in the mythos to enjoy it; look at all the fun we've had with TJ and Santa Claus. I would be honored to attend mass with you and your family."
Jane's fingers tighten against her own and she feels the weight of Jane's head rest against hers. Maura sits, content to stay this way for the next hundred years if Jane will let her.
"Maura! We have to go!"
The evening had been as boisterous and haptic as Maura has always found Rizzoli evenings to be. She'd been hugged more times than she could count, TJ had managed to drool on the bodice of her silk dress and get bits of candy cane stuck in her hair, and none of the canisters on her counter were put away correctly, but none of it matters. Jane had hovered over her all night, light touches on her lower back, her elbow, her shoulder, one time going so far as to curl those long fingers around Maura's hip to move her aside. Nothing really out of the ordinary; the two of them were always touching each other, except this time the touches lingered, fingers dragging along in a caress each time. With each touch, Maura's heart had gotten lighter and lighter until she was practically giddy, all social awkwardness and compulsive organizing forgotten.
"Maaaaurrraa!" Jane whines again, taking the steps two at a time until she's standing right outside the master bedroom door. "We've got to go or we'll be relegated to the standing room only section that'll be populated with every Christmeaster in Southie."
"I'm trying to hide the…wait, what's a Christmeaster?" The comment is muffled, so the blond pulls open the door, resplendent in a deep green dress and towering heels, brow furrowed in bewilderment. She is shoving a bobby pin into a messy chignon. Jane cannot speak for the moment it takes her eyes to travel along Maura's exposed neck down to her flexed calves.
"It's a, um, it's someone who's Catholic who—" Jane stops in an attempt to swallow and wet her suddenly dry mouth. Maura interrupts, a frown marring her beautiful features.
"What's wrong? Is this dress not appropriate either? It's the most conservative one that I own in holiday colors, and I had planned on wearing a pashmina as well. The intention wasn't to wear my hair like this, but it's sticky in places and I haven't time to wash and redo it before we go."
"No, nono, I mean, yes, yes that dress is fine. Better than fine. You look absolutely gorgeous." Jane's flustered response is accentuated by a blush across her cheekbones. "I'm going to look like a slouch next to you. My Ma will never let me live it down."
"You are beautiful, Jane. I meant it the first time I said it and I'm saying it again." Maura is sincere in her appreciation of Jane in her simple black dress slacks and holly-berry red silk blouse. Their regular banter is carrying a decidedly romantic undercurrent—both of them pushing the invisible boundaries that have previously contained their flirtatious behaviors. She's surprised that Jane is still engaging so she's willing to continue pushing for more. The moment Jane looks to bolt, she'll pull back. "I'm almost ready…just need you to finishing zipping me please?"
Maura turns expectantly and Jane catches the zipper pull with trembling fingers, pulling it up and smoothing out the neckline as an excuse to brush her fingers across Maura's soft skin. The blond shivers and, smiling a thank you at Jane over her shoulder, steps away to retrieve her shawl. Much to her surprise, Jane waits at the top of the stairs to escort her down with a hand on the small of her back.
The car ride to the church is relatively quiet as they listen to Christmas music in the back of Frankie's cruiser. Jane has taken Maura's hand again, and is sitting with both clasped together on her thigh. Angela is singing along with Andy Williams on the radio and Frankie is cursing under his breath, muttering about how terrible their parking space is going to be when they finally arrive. Maura is blissfully relaxed despite the mess left behind in her kitchen. She's in full agreement with Mr. Williams that it is indeed the most wonderful day of the year, and if she could have one wish for the season she'd wish for the night to never end.
"Christmeaster. Jane, you were explaining what exactly that was when we got sidetracked by the approach of our departure time." Jane squeezes her hand, and sotto voce, tells Maura to never use the word again in her mother's presence.
"She thinks it's blasphemous, which, in all honesty, is probably true. It's a Catholic person who only goes to church on Christmas and Easter. The church is always packed to the gills on those two holidays and the especially pious," Jane rolls her eyes and gestures emphatically in her mother's direction, "get annoyed that they can't get a seat because of the "holiday Christians." So,basically, Christmeaster is a fancy word for hellbound and me."
Maura smiles and shakes her head as Jane helps her out of the car. "I'd hate to hear what the "especially pious" would call me." She slips her arm in Jane's as they walk toward the church. At the heavy wooden doors Jane stops and leans in to whisper in her ear. "The especially pious would call you an angel, Maura. Especially if you leave some foldable faith in the collection basket."
"You have to pay to attend mass?" Maura turns to her friend, astonished. Jane just rolls her eyes again and pulls Maura's hand from her purse, gently pushing her towards an empty pew.
The mass passes in a whirlwind of beauty. The choir almost brings Maura to tears twice, and the homily is about love and acceptance and the importance of family and friends. Jane holds her hand the entire service, pulling her into a hug and pressing her lips to Maura's temple during the peace offering. Angela, Frankie, Tommy and TJ hug her then as well, TJ also offering a slobbery, open-mouthed kiss to her cheek and she is so full of emotion she might burst.
The ride back to her home is all contemplative silence, Jane laying across the seat with her head in Maura's lap, Maura's fingers slowly combing through the wild mess of curls. Angela smiles at her whenever the older woman catches her eyes in the vanity mirror on the sun visor. The time in the car could have lasted forever and Maura would be content.
"Thanks for the ride, bro." Jane squeezes Maura's leg as she stretches from her curled position, ruffling Frankie's hair upon her exit. He huffs and swats at her hand, but his eyes twinkle and Maura sees him wink at his sister as he backs out of the driveway, leaving the three of them waving on the newly cleared path.
"Janie, thank you so much for humoring your old mother and bringing Maura to mass with you." Angela holds out her hand to Jane and beams when her daughter takes it and pulls her into a rough hug.
"I still don't like hugging, Ma, but you were right, and I owe you."
Maura just stands quietly with her hands tucked into her coat pockets until Angela moves to her and holds out her arms. She steps forward and accepts the hug and kiss and earnestly returns them, whispering in Angela's ear. "Thank you."
The older woman pulls back and gives her a puzzled look. "For what, honey?"
"For Jane," She pauses a moment trying to gather her thoughts. For letting me love her and treating me like your own. For loving me too. "And letting me come with you all to mass."
"I hope this won't be the only time, Maura. You're family too." And Angela hugs her again and pushes her gently towards the open front door. "Goodnight and merry Christmas!"
"Merry Christmas!" She crosses the threshold and steps out of her shoes, ready to change and climb into bed. She locks the door, arms the alarm, and flips off the switches dousing the room in darkness. She hesitates a moment, then turns the Christmas tree back on and jumps when Jane clears her throat on the landing.
"I was hoping that we could open one gift tonight." Jane is already in her pajamas, one bare foot tucked behind the other ankle. "Please?"
Maura chews at her bottom lip as she slowly ascends the stairs, heels hanging off the fingers of one hand. "But I only got you one gift, aside from the little stocking stuffers and those aren't wrapped."
"Well, I have something small I'd like you to have tonight, and then maybe you'll have something else for me to open." Jane's words are a puzzle, but Maura is still on an emotional high and is only focusing on the fact that the master bedroom's light is on and the guest room's is not.
"In that case, I think I'll allow the break in tradition." She walks past Jane and drops her heels next to the bed. "Let me get ready for bed and then we can proceed with your little deviation?"
Jane grins and climbs up onto the king-sized bed to wait.
Freshly scrubbed and feeling a bit more awake after her shower, Maura walks in to see Jane curled around two of her pillows sound asleep. A small wrapped box is clutched in one hand and the other still has a strand of hair wrapped around a finger. Maura stifles a giggle when she realizes Jane fell asleep mid-twirl. She pads over to the bed and slips up onto the bed next to Jane, scootching herself into the middle of the C that Jane's body is making. The room is lit only by the reflection of the moon off of the snow outside and Maura hesitates for a moment, admiring Jane in the soft silver light.
"Jane." She whispers, tracing her finger down the bridge of Jane's nose, over furrowed eyebrows, and finally, around the cupid's bow of her lips. She unwinds the strand of hair from Jane's finger and tucks it behind the brunette's ear. "Jane, I thought you wanted to open presents."
"Present, not presents. Just one." The brunette responds groggily, her voice just a rasp.
"Let me go down and get yours then." But as Maura goes to rise, Jane's hand grabs her wrist.
"No, open mine first please. Then maybe I'll open one after."
Maura arches an eyebrow as Jane pushes herself to a sitting position, folding her legs together and mirroring the blond's own posture. She drags her left hand across her eyes and yawns, then holds out the gift in her right. When Maura takes it from her outstretched hand, she rests the now empty fingers on Maura's bent knee.
"Before you open that, I want to tell you that today has been one of the best days of my life. I've never been happier, and, well..just open it."
Maura holds the box in her hands, her body is stiff and her breathing shallows with sudden apprehension. "Should I be afraid?"
Jane's fingers tighten on her knee and although she smiles, there's more than just happiness in those deep brown eyes. Despite her calm, sleepy demeanor Jane is uneasy as well. She's just doing her best to hide the fear.
"Maybe? I sure as hell am."
Maura bites her lip as she runs a finger under the taped flap on the edge of the box. The paper springs open and she then makes quick work of the rest, driven now to see what it is that puts fear in the fearless Jane Rizzoli's eyes. A black velvet box tumbles out of the paper onto the snow-colored duvet between the two of them. Maura's eyes jump to Jane's as she reaches over to pick it up. It fits in her open hand, larger than a ring-box but too small to hold anything but jewelry. She hesitates again, and Jane scoots closer, unfolding her legs and stretching them out on either side of Maura so that the blonde is almost in her lap.
"Just open it."
To young Maura, the opening of a jewelry box was like the gaping yawn of a hippo, and that image pops crazily into her head as she prepares to lever the lid. She bites back a nervous giggle, the image from her childhood putting a damper on her trepidation. The box squeaks open and there on the blue velvet of the box lays a platinum heart. An anatomical human heart. Maura looks up at Jane quizzically.
"So like, forever ago, after the Hoyt thing." Maura reaches out to take Jane's hand as she talks, she needs the grounding that Jane's touch provides. "I was having chest pains so I went to the hospital and, convinced I was dying, I let them admit me for tests."
"Where was I?" Maura looks at Jane in surprise. She knows Jane must have went far out of her way to keep this visit from her. She feels Jane tighten her fingers.
"You were in Quantico for another consultation. Now, I'm pretty sure that's one of the reasons I was having the chest pains, but then I was pretty sure all those mayonnaise-heavy lobster rolls and half-pound cheeseburgers were conspiring to kill me." Jane tugs on her hand so that Maura moves even closer, her hip pressed against Jane's center and one of Jane's legs across her lap. Despite what it looks like, their proximity is all comfort. Jane is opening up to her in a way she never has before.
"One of the tests was a 3D scan of my heart, and I thought it was pretty neat so at first I thought about making it into a print and hanging it in my apartment à la Abby Sciuto on that Navy crime show. But then there was Paddy and Dennis and that fucking asshole golfer and I could have lost you any of those times and I had to face the music. So I took the scan to a jeweler and had him scale it down and cast it in platinum." Jane looks up and Maura gasps. The brunette's eyes are swimming in tears, but she's smiling. "And now I'm giving it to you, Maura Dorothea Isles, if you'll have it, because you have my heart and you've had my heart since that day that Hoyt almost took you from me. It was the first day I realized I couldn't live without you in my life."
Maura gently pulls the necklace from its box with trembling fingers. It hangs from a delicate platinum chain, a small charm engraved with a J chimes gently against the heart as the necklace sways. She touches the J with her forefinger and then reaches up to catch one of the tears that managed to escape Jane's blinking.
She has no words. Maura Isles, of genius-level intellect and a decidedly logophilic bent can only hand the necklace to Jane and turn away slightly, reaching back to lift her hair. She can hear Jane exhale in a rush and she recognizes that Jane honestly wasn't sure if she would accept. The brunette raises her arms to loop the necklace around Maura's neck, but before fastening the clasp she presses three kisses on each of the visible vertebrae there. Maura relaxes back into Jane's embrace, the hand that isn't entwined with Jane's is resting on the necklace. They sit together in comfortable silence, but when they do speak, they do so at exactly the same time.
And those two words say everything for now. Jane moves to lay on her side and tucks Maura against her, holding her in the way she has always wanted and never dared. Maura slips into slumber with a smile on her face, Jane's arm around her waist and Jane's heart in her hand.